Weekly Musings

Thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

It's funny how often a seemingly innocuous conversation sparks an idea for an edition of a letter. Which is the case for what you're about to read. At least, in part. The basic idea had been bouncing around in my skull for a while, but a question and the response to my answer kicked what's below into a higher gear.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Paying for Services

A few weeks before putting fingers to keyboard to write this musing, someone asked about which email provider I use. When I told him, he replied that he'd never heard of Fastmail and was curious about. I mentioned that I paid a certain amount every couple of years to get a level of security and privacy, along with some useful features like adding email addresses with custom domains (of which I have a couple or three).

When the word paid crossed my lips, I could see a mix of confusion and bemusement on his face. He told me, with tinge of smugness, that he happily uses Gmail and would never, ever pay for email when he can get it free.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, an edition of the letter that's a something of a continuation of Musing 018. What you're about to read is more a set of observations, thoughts, reminiscences, and opinions rather than something resembling a somewhat cohesive essay.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Libraries (Again)

Over the past few months, I've had quite a bit of cause to regularly drop by my local public library. There are a few reasons for that, reasons with which I won't bore you. But each visit to that small library a few minutes' walk from my home reminded me of what wonderful places public libraries are. I've been reminded of how lucky we are to have institutions like that. I've been reminded how important it is to keep public libraries alive and to ensure that they thrive.

Libraries are, in the words of a good friend, one of the great egalitarian institutions in our society. They bring information, knowledge, and learning to anyone, regardless of their means. Regardless of who they are or where they come from. Regardless, at least to a point, of their abilities.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This week, thoughts on a subject which I didn't expect to write about. As it turns out, it's a subject about which I have more than a little to say.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Goals

Goals.

We all have them, in one form or another. In one size or another. That goal might be to lose a kilo or three. It might be to study at a foreign university in a language other than your own. Your goal might be to learn the basics of wood turning, or found your own company.

Goals can be wonderful, and they can be worth aiming for. That said, I have something of a like/dislike relationship with goals. I see them as inherently useful as a route to learning or achieving something. But goals can easily, and quickly, become troublesome.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, a slightly longer edition of the letter. An edition with some thoughts about technology and its sustainability. At least, what I believe that sustainability entails.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On the 10-Year Device

Towards the end of 2021, the laptop that had been my workhorse for seven years or so was showing the signs of a steady, inexorable decline. It was time to put that computer out to pasture and to buy a new one. Which I duly did just after Christmas that year.

In the interval between clicking the button to submit payment and receiving the emailed confirmation of the order, I was stung by a pang of guilt. A pang of guilt that kept coming back while I waited for that laptop to arrive.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

And welcome to 2023! I hope you had a good break (assuming that you were able to take one), and that you're rested and ready to try to face the new year.

This time 'round, a slightly more personal edition of the letter. One that looks at a subject that's close to my heart, and I hope to yours.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Engaging with What We Read

If nothing else, 2022 was a good year for reading. I managed to work my way through a number of new or new-ish volumes, a couple of classic I'd never read before, and re-read a handful of books that I hadn't set my eyes on in decades. I even managed to cap the (reading) year off with Thomas Piketty's tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century. A book that left me drained and overwhelmed, but also excited.

What might surprise you, though, is the number of books I read in 2022: 21 of them. A couple of people I know pointed out, oh so helpfully, that there are others out there who read eight, nine, or even 10 times that number of books in the same 12 months. And, continuing their efforts to be helpful, those acquaintances pointed me to articles that purport to explain how anyone can wade through 100, 150, or even 200 books in the space of 365 days.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, something a little less cranky and a bit more personal. This edition of the letter is a mix of an amble down memory lane, a paen to the titular item, and a reminder that aspiring to own something can bring its own joys.

And just to let you know, the letter is going on hiatus to two weeks. We'll be back to our regular schedule on 4 January, 2023. Until then, stay well and safe.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On the Jukebox

In my life, there have only been two material items, both out of my reach financially, that I've truly coveted. Not which I just thought that would be nice to have but ones for which I borderline ached. Those items? An Aston Martin Vanquish sports car and a jukebox.

The Aston Martin ... well, it's pretty obvious why I coveted that. It's a beautiful piece of design and engineering, and which can go like a bat out of hell. But they jukebox?

It all started when I was about seven or eight years old. While I'd seen jukeboxes on TV and in movies, it was in 1974 or 1975 that I saw one in front of me. I can't remember where, but I do recall the fascination that I felt upon seeing that big, solid, loud, and gaudy Wurlitzer model. It wasn't the aesthetics of the machine that caught my attention (I was a bit too young to appreciate that). It was more a visceral attraction to the machine. And I was taken by the fact that I could hear any song I wanted with the press of a button.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

As I note in the /now section of my home page, I've been trying to reevaluate my relationship with the technology world and with technology in general. There are a few reasons for that, which I'm more than happy to discuss over a beverage of some sort.

This edition of the letter isn't a discussion about, a paen to, or a defense of the titular technology. It's more a use of that technology as the starting point for a musing about my dissatisfaction not just with technology in general, but also with pockets of the tech world. In some ways, it's (once again) me being a cranky old man yelling at clouds.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On (the Idea of) Chromebooks

In early September, 2022 a tech blogger published a post about why he uses devices running ChromeOS (the operating system that powers on Chromebooks and similar devices). That post had the dubious honour of making the front page of a certain technology news aggregation site. The comments on the post were, to be kind, interesting. More than a few of them questioned the blogger's choice of using something running ChromeOS as his daily driver. Just as many pretty much stated that the blogger had made the wrong choice, that he had better options.

Once again, it was a group of strangers telling someone what's best for them. I find that attitude more than slightly arrogant and more than a bit condescending.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This week, another idea that's been floating around in my brain for a while. I've discussed this idea a bit in previous musings, but it's been starting to take a fuller, more cohesive form in the last couple or three weeks. What you're about to read isn't my definitive statement on the subject, but I'm getting there.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Tweaks, Not Hacks

Hacks the thing in productivity circles. They have been for as long as I can remember, and I can point to far too many examples of people going to absurd ends with their hacks.

What's a hack? In my view, it's a drastic change, a big adjustment to way in which you do things. That could be altering your workouts, how you take notes, how you cook, or even just ride transit. All with the goal of saving time or becoming more productive or solving problems in fanciful ways.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, a look at something we all forget from time to time, no matter how hard we try. And I'm one of those people who sometimes forgets (even though I won't admit it!).

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Context

For me context is the key — from that comes the understanding of everything.

Kenneth Noland

I have a few habits and quirks that tend to annoy my co-workers at The Day JobTM. One of those annoying habits is continually asking for context.

It doesn't matter what the situation is. I know some of my co-workers dread hearing me ask, or dread reading a comment from me that asks, Can you give a bit more context around that, please? Or something along those lines. At least I try to be polite about it ...

I don't do that to play dense or pretend to be the devil's advocate. And I definitely don't do it to be a jerk or to troll or to be that person. You know the person I mean.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, a musing that focuses on something that's been on my mind for a while now — longer than I care to admit or remember, to be honest. Something that has to do with the way in which I earn (at least part of) my living.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Content

Unlike some writers I know and read, I don't obsess about every little detail. I don't obsess about every word. I don't lose sleep over every term. I don't stress about whether or not that phrase or sentence or paragraph is perfect (whatever that means).

I doubt that makes me unique among writers, but I really don't sweat the small stuff. There is, however, one word I'm struggling with. It's one I've been struggling with for quite a while now. That word? Content.

I'm definitely not a fan of that term, and haven't been since I first heard it applied to writing online many a year ago. I admit, though, that I'm sometimes as guilty as the next person of referring to what I read online as content.

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