A few days ago I'd heard that my paternal grandfather, Gramps, was diagnosed with Lymphoma and was going to have some tests done to see what treatment was required. Today I woke up and found out via email that he had died. I gather that it wasn't terribly unexpected to those around him, but it took me by surprise.
I've always been obsessed with automation. When I had a house I had automatic robot lawnmowers to mow my lawns and a matrix of motion detectors to control my lights. These days I have a simpler life that doesn't necessitate such extreme solutions, but I still benefit from automation.
There's a saying among programmers: if you have to do it three times, automate it. That may be a bit extreme for non-programming tasks, but maybe the equivalent is: if you have to do it every week or more, automate it. Here are a few interesting automations that I have set up.
I think that bitcoins are a big deal. Maybe not this year or next year, but within the next five to ten years, I believe that there's a good chance that they will revolutionize online financial transactions. So I bought some a few months back with the intention of holding them for many years, selling only once each one was worth thousands of dollars.
And yet... I was obsessed with the ticker price of a bitcoin. I had a plugin for Chrome that always showed the current price at the top of the window. On my phone I had a widget to see the price at all times. For weeks, I was never more than a few dozen minutes out of date with the price.
I'm always starting (and ending) new habits and campaigns. I tend to write about them when I first start or first see results, but I'm not always good at follow up. Sometimes, too, the progress isn't really exciting enough to warrant special mention. Today I thought that I'd follow up on all of those that I can think of (probably biased towards ones I didn't quit, since they're the ones on the front of my mind), and that maybe as a collection they would be interesting.
I work to be a perfect writer, a perfect friend, a perfect programmer, a perfect son and brother, a perfect motorcycle rider, and a perfect violinist. I also want to have perfect discipline, be perfect at picking where to focus my energy, and be perfect at things I don't even know how to do, like painting. At the same time, I realize that I will never be perfect at any of these things, even the ones I'm fairly good at. Some I will never be better than terrible at.
It's been a long time since I've shared book recommendations, but I've been reading a lot and have stumbled upon some great books recently. I normally read non-fiction, but I've been integrating some fiction as well. I used to think of it as a less worthy use of time, but I've since read that reading fiction increases empathy (something I'm bad at), and I think/hope that it will improve my own writing. These are all books that I rated five stars.
When I was a freshman in college, MP3s weren't all that easy to come by. I had about a hundred of them, five of which were Eminem freestyles. His freestyles were amazing, but my favorite was one where a DJ would throw him words like "Peanut Butter" that he had to rhyme a few bars with. It wasn't the best rap in the world, but his skill was amazing.
I've had a few friends who've gone through quitting smoking. The hard part, they say, is that certain things trigger wanting to smoke. Stressful situation? Time to smoke. Driving a car? Time to smoke. Drinking at a bar? Time to smoke. The reason that bad habits are so hard to quit is that we have these many triggers that start us down that path almost automatically. A compulsive eater might get into a stressful situation and have a hamburger halfway into their face before they even consciously think about whether or not they should be eating.
The silver lining of this nuance of human nature is that we can also harness triggers to create positive habits. Just as bad habits are so hard to break because of our triggers, good habits can be made resilient using the same mechanism. And just as bad habits are built slowly and incrementally, so are good habits.