Things I'm done with, mostly

  • My cold. Knocked me on my ass for a solid 4-day weekend, and then dwindled asymptotically towards zero, never quite reaching it. I’m still a little hoarse late at night, even now, a month later.

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell . Glen loaned me his copy, and I zipped through it over the course of a week. Darn fine book. It’s set in pre-Regency England, during the Napoleonic Wars, and covers the return of “practical” (as opposed to “theoretical”) magic to common use in England. It manages to completely avoid sounding anything like Harry Potter, partly by focussing on the strained relationship between the two title characters, and partly by mostly glossing over any part of doing magic besides the results thereof. It’s got a scattering of DFW-style footnotes (I’m a sucker for footnotes), a good deal of heart, and a pleasantly ambiguous ending. I loved it.

  • Bloglines . When I first started using Bloglines, it actually saved me time. I didn’t have to go manually chasing around the 30-or-so sites I wanted to keep track of, as Bloglines did it for me. Then the RSS boom hit, and a jillion interesting sites started publishing RSS feeds, and before I knew it, I’d loaded my Bloglines subscription up with 147 feeds, thus guaranteeing that my Bloglines sub would always have something new on it. I started leaving my web browser open to Bloglines and snapping back to that tab whenever I ran into some resistance on the task at hand, thus strongly reinforcing the “do this behaviour and get a reward” pattern I respect so greatly after reading Don’t Shoot the Dog . I was having a bad month at work anyhow, and looking for interesting things online became an easy distraction.

Since I run my own server, I had all the prerequisites to run ReBlog , which is an open-source, web-based RSS aggregator like Bloglines. It differs in two critical aspects: one, it has great support for navigating between entries and feeds using only the keyboard, and two, I can set it to update on a fixed but infrequent schedule. (I chose every three hours; considering that as “infrequent” may indicate just how bad the problem had become.) I’m a sucker for novelty and good UI, so I don’t really miss Bloglines much, and breaking the every-5-minutes habit feels great.

  • The winter that wasn’t. I didn’t get on my skis or a snowboard once this winter, and now it’s spring. Phooey.

  • Our taxes, mostly. Went to see our tax preparer last night, and I have only one piece of research to do before we’re through. (Two family corporations, rental income from Wisconsin, personal income in Massachusetts, stocks, charitable donations, Kate’s student loan interest credit… despite my feeling lame about not doing our own taxes, I think we’re well justified in having an expert do them.)

  • Shaggy hair. Got a very short haircut at the barbershop near Glen’s house, and it only took an hour and ten minutes of chit-chat with the owner’s sister (not, I’ll note, the person who I’ve seen there before) while she meticulously cut and re-cut every hair on my head in groups of no more than five hairs at a time.

  • Certainty that I’m in the career I want to be in. I’m not sure if it’s the approach of my sixth anniversary at Upromise, my short attention span, early-onset midlife crisis, feeling like I need to live out some fantasies before we start living out the “have a family” fantasy… dunno. I’m restless. On even-numbered days, my interest perks up hearing about jobs in radio, for progressive political candidates (I’d work for Russ Feingold in a stone minute) and work with groups doing positive work on changing the world; on odd-numbered days I look at my position, paycheck, and perqs, and think I’d be a fool to change them or leave my coworkers, of who I’m very fond. Kate and I have some decision making to do over the summer; I’m actively trying to research and consider my options.

  • Letting my inbox get the better of me. Shoveled the 300+ messages I’d let pile up into a folder, pulled out the 16 I actually think I need to respond to, and prepped myself mentally to return to not letting the inbox go above 25 messages.