Weekly Musings

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

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

This time 'round, you might wind up learning something. And what's that, you're asking? An idea that's been tugging at various lobes of my brain on and off for the last couple of weeks. It's another one of those ideas that isn't quite fully formed, but it does provoke a few thoughts. At least, I think it does.

Let's get to this week's musing.

On an Internet of People

The spark for an idea can come from unexpected corners. You never know where those ideas will take you.

Case in point: in October, 2015 was in the kitchen at what was The Day JobTM heating up my lunch when I spied the brochure for an Internet of Things (IoT) conference that was held in Auckland. I didn't attend, partly because I'm not all that interested in IoT. Mainly, I didn't attend because the conference fee would have put a massive crater in my wallet. I am just a poor, struggling writer after all ...

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

Some of you might be familiar with The Plain Text Project. That's a site I maintain which looks at living and working in, you guessed it, plain text.

About 18 months ago, I started thinking about creating a companion site called The Analog Project. That site would have focused on life and work with pen and paper, and other non-digital technologies. The Analog Project went by the wayside, if only because I had too much on my plate and didn't want to face burnout in the way that I did in late 2016.

The ideas underpinning The Analog Project still linger in my head. This week's letter is the first in a series of essays that revolve around analog. I hope you enjoy it.

On Pen and Paper

Confession time: I have some of the worst handwriting in the known universe. Sometimes, it's so bad that I can't decipher what I've jotted down in whatever notebook I'm using. Still, that hasn't stopped me from embracing pen and paper.

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

Late last week, I had what developed into a somewhat heated conversation with an acquaintance. The spark that generated the heat in the conversation? Our differing ideas around the concept of mastery.

It was an interesting chat, and it remained civil even when our voices got a bit loud at points. That conversation jump started the idea for this week's musing. Let's get on to it, shall we?

On Mastery

There’s no universal law that says you have to master everything you ever learn. Life requires tradeoffs, and there’s nothing wrong with exploring something new, learning a lot, and then deciding to explore something else.

You don’t have to be a black belt in everything to live a satisfying life.

— Josh Kaufman, The First 20 Hours

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

I really can't think of anything pithy or mildly amusing to write, so let's get on to this week's letter.

On Slow Reading

So much to read. So little time in which to read it.

That’s how it feels, doesn’t it? There’s so much writing out there pulling at our limited attention from so many directions. Books, articles, long-form essays, blog posts. Consciously or not, we often skim through much or all that material. Consciously or not, we don’t engage as deeply as we should or need to with what we’re reading.

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

One of my projects outside of this letter is an ebook that I'm working on in fits and starts. I don't have a title for the book yet, but its working name is Project Crimson and it will be a collection of slightly (sometimes more than slightly) contrarian essays on technology and our relationship with it.

This week, I'm sharing an essay-in-progress from that book. The essay is still a bit rough. It's still a bit unfinished. But I hope you enjoy it.

On What You Don't Own

In the not-so-distant past that was April, 2017 someone going by the name R Martin ran into a spot of bother. Martin had bought an internet-connected garage door opener called the Garadget from Amazon.com. As much of the tech we use these days is wont to do, the smartphone app controlling the device suddenly decided to stop working. On a Saturday evening.

So, like many people in this age of entitlement and easy outrage, Martin left a nasty complaint on the Garadget message board.

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

Over the last couple or three weeks, the human resources or people experience or whatever they call themselves department at The Day JobTM have been pushing mindfulness. They recommend employees install an app on their phones, do mindfulness exercises, and generally be more mindful of mindfulness.

As you might have guessed, I haven't done any of that. It's not because I find mindfulness to be a crock. I don't. I just don't agree with some interpretations of it. And I definitely don't agree with mindfulness being the panacea for everything that ails us in the workplace or in our lives.

Anyway, mindfulness isn't something you can embrace by downloading an app or doing a handful of exercises. Mindfulness is something you slowly develop over the span of months and years. Mindfulness is wrapped up in time.

It's that idea which informs this week's letter. Let's get to it, shall we?

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

Remember, in the introduction to last week's letter, how I was moaning about two or three essays that just we're coming together? Well, they finally started to. And this week's musing is the one that I didn't expect to come together first. Funny how that works, isn't it?

And remember: if you enjoy this letter and know someone who might also enjoy it, please feel free to point them to the subscription page. Subscribing costs nothing, and they can cancel at any time.

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

On Wider Reading

Who doesn't like a good read? Sometimes, in pursuit of that good read (and the next ones after it), we all get stuck in a groove. We focus on a particular genre, a certain set of authors, a narrow topic, or a specific era.

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

This week's letter is shorter than usual. It's not that I'm phoning it in, though it might seem that way. I've been jumping between writing three musings on three very different topics. None of them are coming together in the way that I want them to. I can see the end, but that end is still a bit of a ways away.

Once those essays are done, though, they'll see the light of day in your inbox. I'm hoping that one of them shows up next week.

Until then, I leave you with this short thought inspired both by my being a poly-not (as opposed to a polyglot) and by some reading I've been doing over the last few weeks.

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

Music's been weighing heavily on my mind this last while. Partly because I've been digging into a lot of music I haven't listened to for a while. Partly because I've been trading song recommendations with a few friends over email.

The thoughts that listening and recommending have triggered in my mind inform this week's letter. So, instead of me prattling on, let's get to this week's musing.

On the Sounds of Music

I was eight or nine years old when I made a discovery that enriched my life. It was 1975 or 1976. I was poking around in the basement of my parents' house in Toronto when I found them: two stacks of 45 RPM singles, each about 20 cm (around eight inches) high.

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

When you live at the bottom of the world, overseas travel can be a hassle. It's expensive. It takes a long time. And you often have to deal with gaining then losing a day.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't take the occasional trip or longer journey. The rewards can often be worth going through the various hassles and the expenses. But I've noticed that when people travel, they often overlook a key portion of their trip. That's what I'm looking at in this week's musing.

On Stepping Off the Plane

I’m not sure if travel does, in fact, broaden the mind. I know that the kind of rapid fire, see-all-the-sights and take-gigabytes-of-photos travel that many people to do these days doesn’t broaden much at all. But travel is definitely an experience.

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