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.

Another digression, this time into the realm of productivity. What you're about to read was sparked by an email discussion I had with a former co-worker. A former co-worker who is, in their words, all over the place and struggling to stay on track. This edition of the letter is an expansion of the advice I gave them. Which I hope works out for them ...

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

On Building Habits

Isn't it interesting how, before we realize it, we get caught up in particular ways of doing things? We get stuck in certain patterns of behaviour. In certain patterns of thinking and doing. We build habits, whether bad or good.

Many of us tend to focus on the bad habits, and trying to flip those habits around into something less bad. Sometimes, we shift away from one good habit to another that we believe will be even better.

Making that shift in habits can be difficult. It can be frustrating. But it can also be rewarding. I've seen all three up close. Not just with myself, but with more than a couple of other folks I've done some work with.

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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 has been sitting in various stages of completion for a few weeks now. But over that time, other ideas in other areas pulled me away from what you're about to read. This week, though, everything jelled rather nicely.

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

On Technology Before Its Time

In late 2021, a short documentary wandered into my field of vision. A documentary that almost immediately gripped my attention. A documentary that appealed to both my interest in technology and my nostalgia for technologies past.

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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.

Recently, I've received a complaint or three about my recent shift away from musings focusing on technology. While it's still within range of my scanners, technology isn't what's gripping my attention most strongly right now. Instead, simpler, more human and seemingly mundane matters are. Matters that I find fascinating and, at moment, more relatable than technology.

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

On Cooking

It's hard to believe that nine years have flowed by since Soylent (the food substitute, not the food rations derived from people made famous in that movie) came on the scene. First developed by a coder named Rob Rhinehart, Soylent came about because Rheinhart found himself exhausted by his constant need to prepare and consume food the traditional way.

The original Soylent was a powder that you mixed with water (or some other liquid). That mixing created what can best be described as sludge in a glass. It looked unappealing, to say the least, but quickly gained a following.

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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.

Ever have one of those weeks when some things just don't work out? That was the last seven days, with the musing I'd intended drop into your inboxes. However, a bunch of little things got in the way and became a bit of a wall. Which meant I had to scramble to pull something together from a bunch of notes and whatnot. Which is what you're about to read.

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

On (Bad) Handwriting

Six or so weeks before a recent birthday (mine, in case you're wondering), I was re-watching episodes of Better Call Saul ahead of the premiere of the final season of the series. In season four episode, something caught my eye which didn't catch it when I first watched that episode.

In one scene, a German engineer took out a notebook and a mechanical pencil to do some calculations. It wasn't any ordinary pencil, though. It was a mechanical drafting pencil. Sheathed in a tasteful silvery metal, with a noticeable but not overwhelming red logo on it. A rOtring 600, as it turned out. A badass looking writing instrument, by anyone's standards.

Even though I'm not a big user of pencils, mechanical or otherwise, right then and there I knew I had to have that one. After short search online, I found shop in Christchurch that sells the 600. I duly placed an ordered and the pencil arrived a couple of days later. No buyer's remorse, either. The rOtring is a badass pencil. It has a comforting heft but also a smoothness on the page. Any page.

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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.

To be honest, this wasn't the musing I'd planned for this week. But, as has been happening a lot lately, an idea refuses to reach a form that I'm even somewhat happy about. And, as has been happening a lot lately, something I read tugs my attention on to another path. The result of which is this edition of the letter.

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

On Personal Journeys

In his recent book, Finding the Heart Sutra, writer and Japanologist Alex Kerr explores a Buddhist scripture called the Heart Sutra. Kerr brings both a scholarly and a literary eye to the sutra in his book's title, analyzing it and sharing his interpretation of it.

But Finding the Heart Sutra is more than merely a tract about an esoteric subject. Like other of his books this one is, in many ways, a personal journey for the author. Kerr reflects on the people, many now gone, who introduced the Heart Sutra to him decades ago. People who influenced his thinking about it and about a wider range of subjects. He reflects upon incidents that drove lessons learned, from those mentors and from the sutra itself. Kerr gives you an idea about what Heart Sutra has come to mean to him.

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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.

In this edition of the letter, thoughts inspired something that's going on in my life right now. Nothing bad, just to reassure you. Just a process that's demonstrating that no matter how much of a minimalist you try to be, you'll often wind up with more than you want to need.

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

On Subtraction

Adding power makes you faster on the straights; subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere.

Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars

Over the last several weeks, I've been devoting a small, but not inconsequential, chunk of my time to subtraction. Specifically, subtracting the items I neither need nor want from my life.

And it's been a surprise to discover how much my family has accumulated in the 10 years since we moved to New Zealand. Large and small items. Useful items. Novel items, and (to be frank) useless items. Items that we purchased for various purposes, but purposes that either passed or never came to be. Items that we don't remember buying, being given, or owning.

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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 started out as an cranky rant but which expanded (and cooled off) into something a bit more measured. Something that we tend not to think about until it's too late.

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

On Having an Exit Plan

Earlier this year, there was a bit of turmoil in the project behind my (current) Linux distribution of choice. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say there was a sizable difference of opinion between the project's founders around direction. At points, that dispute got a bit ugly.

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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.

You probably noticed that an edition of the letter didn't land in your inbox last week. A lot of that had to do with goings on at The Day JobTM. Nothing bad or sinister in that regard. A new co-worker started last week and I had to spend time at the office with them. Which, in many ways, was strange after nine months of not being there.

Everything around that — getting up an hour earlier, commuting for two hours, and the like — left me with little energy to write. But here we are now, back on track (?).

With that out of the way, let's get back on track with this week's musing.

On Memory and Remembering

What you're about to read definitely isn't an explanation of what memory is or how it works — others, who are far smarter and far more knowledgeable than me, can do that better than I could ever hope to. Instead, this musing is more a rambling meditation on what I see as the wonders of human memory and remembering.

Let's start with that. A memory, 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.

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

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