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.

Welcome back. If you missed the announcement I sent out last week, then you might be pleased to know that I've published the latest collection of essays from this letter at Gumroad. It's a free download, but if you're so inclined you can pay what you want for the collection. You're not expected or obliged to toss any money my way, though.

But back to our regularly-scheduled letter. This time 'round, some thoughts about a communication technology that's been around for what seems like forever. One which we all use, and one which more than a few people complain about and rail against. A technology, though, that isn't as bad as some people make it out to be.

With that out of the way, let's kick off year four of the letter with this week's musing.

On Email

Email's dead. The communication technologies that have sent it to the digital glue factory? Those are many. Old school instant messaging. Skype. Social media. Modern group messaging apps like WhatsApp, Slack, Discord, and Teams. The list goes on.

The death of email is a narrative that's been bouncing around the online world for a long, long time. But for something that was supposedly killed a while ago, email is still alive and kicking. I dare say it's thriving.

Each day, many millions of messages — long and short, important and trite — wend their way through the intertubes, landing in various inboxes waiting to be cracked open and read. So much for the rumours of email's death.

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No, this isn't a new edition of the letter. You're going to have to wait a week for that. Sorry!

I do have an announcement to make, though. The latest collection of essays from this letter is now available to download as an ebook.

This collection, titled Weekly Musings: The Third 52, collects Musing 105 through Musing 156. As an added bonus, the ebook includes a foreword by Bryan Behrenshausen.

That ebook is a thank you letter to each and every one of you who reads this letter. It’s a free download (and always will be), although I’ve set it up to be a pay-what-you-want kind of deal. Remember, though, that you’re not expected or obliged to pay anything.

Thanks for reading. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled schedule in seven days.

Scott Nesbitt

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 idea that popped into my head for seemingly no reason. I was halfway through another musing, but (as regularly happens) the idea for what you're about to read dropkicked that other musing out of the ring and took control. So, here it is.

A quick announcement: there will be no edition of the letter next week. A few reasons for that, but nothing scary or sinister. I just need some space to complete a task or four, which won't leave much (if any) time to tap out a new musing. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled schedule on May 11, 2022.

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

On the To-Do List

The to-do list. The task list. Whatever you want to call it, a to-do list is (in many ways) the centerpiece of most systems for productivity.

The to-do list is also many things to many people. It can be useful, but it can also be a crutch. It can be a source of exhilaration and a source of stress and frustration. It can be a guide or a millstone around your neck.

More often than they should, people have a list of tasks that can go on for pages (whether digital or analog). Looking at a list like that can be daunting. It can be demoralizing. It can block you from starting to do the work that you need to do.

But does it have to be that way? I think not. But before we get to that, let's look at what's wrong with the to-do list.

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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 shorter edition of the letter. Why? Mainly because the subject doesn't need a massive discourse written about it. It came out to just the number of words that the idea needed, rather than being forced into some optimal length decreed by someone else.

And, in the interest of transparency, part of what you're about to read first appeared in an entry in my public notebook.

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

On Doing Things Wrong

It came up again. In the form of an article about, of all things, paella. It being the idea that if you're not doing something in the way someone else does that something, you're not doing it right.

Which was rather ironic, considering that paella haS very humble origins. Like sushi (at least, to some degree), paella didn't begin life as a gourmet dish. Instead, it was a way to use up whatever you had around the house. By that measure, it's hard to do paella wrong if only because there's not (always) been a proscribed way to do it right.

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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 edition of the letter looks at something that I've been struggling with a bit as of late. Something that some people around me don't fully appreciate, don't fully embrace when it comes to some of the more important undertakings in their lives.

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

On Needing a “Why”

In early 2021, my wife decided to take a language course at a local college. It had been a while since she'd done something like that and, in an effort to keep up with the other students in her class, my wife threw herself into her studies. To be honest, it was good to see her (at times) losing herself in something new.

As she does when she wades deeply into waters like that, my wife tried to push me into joining her in learning that language. To say that I was reluctant and resistant is something of an understatement.

Of all people, my wife should have known better than to suggest that I try to learn another tongue. It's not just that I lack a brain wired for learning languages. It's not just that I was a complete failure in my previous attempts to learn a new language (one of those failures my wife witnessed up close). It's just that I didn't, and still don't, have a why to learn that language.

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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 edition of the letter focuses on an idea that bubbles to the surface of my brain every few decades. An idea that, despite having been in my head for a long time, still hasn't fully crystallized yet. That said, since that last time I tried to put my thoughts about this on paper, those thoughts haven't changed all that much. Funny how that works.

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

On Mars

Ah, the Red Planet. An almost mythical ball of dirt. So near our own Earth and so close in size, too. Mars is also a place both foreboding and exotic. A world that has been a source of fascination. Of wonder. Of dread.

Mars has fueled speculation about long-dead civilizations that built planet-spanning canals. It's been the locale for science fiction tales, with warring races or others intent on invading this world. Mars has been an endpoint of exploration and travel, both in fiction and in real life.

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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's edition harks back to the topic of Musing 141. What you're about to read flows from the same vein, but branches off a bit. I hope you find it interesting.

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

On Tools for Thought

Over last while I've been, to borrow the name of a podcast on the subject, thinking a bit about tools for thought. By that, I mean tools like wikis, outliners, zettelkasten, note taking software, and popular applications like Obsidian, Logseq, and Notion. Like so-called second brain apps. Alla those kinds of things.

Tools for thought are software that have gained a lot of traction in certain circles in the last few years. Software that purports to help us collect and organize and categorize the information that we acquire or generate. To help us make sense of all that information. And, when needed, help us to turn that information into knowledge.

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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 did last time 'round, I'm stepping back from ranting about technology for another week. It's not that I don't enjoy doing those rants, but I'm sure that you need a break from them. I definitely do.

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

On Repairing, Rather Than Replacing

Just before the New Zealand's first COVID-19 lockdown back in early 2020, I bought myself a wireless keyboard in anticipation of having to work from home. It turned out to be a good purchase. I've been using it, for both The Day JobTM and in my civilian life, ever since.

Admittedly, that keyboard — a Logitech K270, in case you're wondering — isn't a higher-end model by any means. It's more than serviceable and it meets my needs. The keyboard has lasted well over these past 24 months. And while I try to take good care of my possessions (no matter what they are), things do happen.

And a couple of things did happen with that keyboard. I ran into a couple of problems with the fold-out legs, about half that size of my thumb, that raise the keyboard to an 8 degree angle, making it a bit more comfortable to type on. The first incident, about six months back, involved part of one leg breaking. In early February of this year, the other leg went walkabout and hasn't been seen since.

Both times, I seriously pondered replacing that keyboard, despite it still being in good working order. I went so far as to visit the websites of various electronic retailers in these parts to research some new ones. Instead, I replaced both legs with some mouldable plastic.

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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 was outlining what was supposed to have been this week's edition of the letter, the idea decided to collapse in on itself. What lay in front of me was a broken, jagged pile of bullet points that even someone with more talent and skill as a writer than me would have a hard time piecing back together

What was a boy to do? Find something else to write about, obviously. I duly turned to a list of ideas I keep in a note taking application. The one that jumped out at me formed the basis of what you're about to read.

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

On Urban Oases

Earlier in this century, I spent many a year working in the centre of Toronto. Like the centres of most large cities, Toronto's is densely packed with glass and concrete and steel towers, along with more than a few smaller buildings. And, of course, there was the constant heavy traffic and throngs of pedestrians and bike couriers darting back and forth at breakneck speeds.

Due to the situation at the company for which I worked, due to both the interior and exterior surroundings, I wasn't always in the greatest of moods. I was, at best, cranky a lot of the time. Angry the rest of the time. During the work day, I needed to get out of that environment.

One July day, two co-workers and I decided to get out and about at lunch time. Take a walk. Maybe buy a sausage and a soda from a street vendor. That's when we stumbled across it.

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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.

A little more crankiness from me in this edition. Why? My dissatisfaction with what technology has become and where it's lead us is bubbling over once again. The only way to deal with that dissatisfaction is to write about it.

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

On Needing an App to Do Anything

Whether we realize it or not, many of us give away some control of what we own, some autonomy over. In exchange, we get some convenience. The perils of that came to light in late 2021 with something simple and innocuous. Something that millions around the world do every day. Something that failed. Miserably.

The problem I'm talking about was one faced by owners of electric vehicles made by Tesla. Because of some problem or the other with a server somewhere, those owners suddenly found that they couldn't open their car doors or start their vehicles via a smartphone app.

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