I took some time off!

With a lot of PTO hours piled up, leave accounting somewhat in flux at work, and MoMA incredibly closed until October, I resolved to take some time off from work, during which I would stay home and work on stuff that I’d been ignoring. For example, my big queue of “conference presentations to watch” and my backlog of articles to read, personal coding projects to poke at, some little quality-of-life fixes to my home setup. Then, of course, I also wanted to do some actually fun things: hang out with my family, have some nice meals, watch some movies, go to a museum or two, and so on.

Short summary: I think this was a big success. I might shoot for doing this twice a year or so, in the future, and still have time left to take a proper out-of-town vacation.

I think I did pretty well on the “do good relaxing stuff” front. Gloria and I went to the Barnes Foundation, we all got a few meals out, I got ice cream, and I went to the local cider place for drinks and pizza with some friends. Also, Gloria and I are now about halfway through season two of Star Trek: Discovery.

I’ll write up a bit more about specific things of note over the next few days, I hope, but in brief:

I fixed a bunch of my config files, especially for offlineimap and Vim. Doing this briefly added about sixty extraneous folders to my IMAP store, but fortunately, as an email professional, I knew how to delete them.

Ages ago, I lost a lot of my mp3s due to my own idiocy. Since then, I’ve really pulled back on my use of iTunes. In part, because I lost so much music. In part, because iTunes has continued to get worse. In part, because I just like Spotify a whole lot. Despite this, I do want to have my iTunes library on my phone, and I have a phone big enough that I can keep most of my library on it. Unfortunately, somehow iTunes got into its head that it couldn’t sync. Further, although I could tell it to delete all local content, it wouldn’t stop thinking that it basically knew about the content, which seemed to be getting in the way. Finally, I deleted the playlists from the phone… which then synchronized to my library. My favorite playlists are smart playlists about three deep (for example, “Radio RJBS” is every song on one of three playlists, each of which is all the songs on two other playlists plus extra criteria), and the playlists I deleted were deep in this hierarchy of smart playlists. I had to get the base64 encoded playlist rule definitions out of the XML of a backup of my iTunes library, decompile the binary rules, and recreate things. It stank, but in the end, I got my music onto my phone!

This kind of horrible job was a good example of something I felt I could do this week that I couldn’t have done other weeks. Very often, I feel very pressed for time, and once a task becomes too time-consuming, I move on, even though it leaves me unhappy to do so. I feel like I don’t have time to spend on things that are of value only to me and are slow grinds. This week, I did quite a bit of that. A bunch of it was tedious, but it got done, and that felt good.

Another kind of tedious but necessary task: My little goal-tracking API-masher-up, Ywar has been suffering from a bit of bit rot, especially with its Withings integration, which I used to fetch my daily weight measurements. They recently turned off OAuth1 support, so I had to switch to OAuth2. I find OAuth pretty tedious in all its manifestations, so I’d put this off, but I’m trying to pay more attention to my Ywar emails, and so I need things that can be automated to stay automated. I got it working, it’s stupid, it’s ugly, but it works. I got a push notification to my phone within five minutes of the fix, and that was terrific.

I also put in some calm brain time on things that have felt like overwhelming tasks that I should probably do, but didn’t really need to. For example, I want to rebuild my Linodes to be easier to maintain and redeploy in the future, but they work fine, so the pressure is low. I didn’t do this, but I did write down a list of the things I’ll have to do, so I can do it later without as much thinking. I ended the week with a couple new small todo lists in Remember the Milk for these projects.

I also got to the gym on seven of the nine days I was on leave, sometimes more than once. This was pretty good, although a couple times I dropped an exercise from my scheduled routine. (I am excited to try “explosive pushups” in theory, but in practice, I was tired as heck!) On a few days, I got there more than once a day so I could do some cardio in addition to lifting. This was great because, mostly, it meant I felt more motivated to sit in the steam room, which is always a treat. Also, I watched some Better Call Saul.

More soon.

Written on August 12, 2019