Occasionally, someone in my life says to me “You’ve got to live a little”, after learning my rationale for never playing the lottery, hearing about how I use Beeminder, that I go to bed pretty early, or that I hardly drink anymore (and that, when I do, I track exactly how much alcohol I drink and rate-limit it with Beeminder). The thing I find ironic about the concept of “living a little” is that it seems to be more about giving into someone’s default hedonist life script than it does about actually embracing what gives me in particular joy.
It’s hard to predict which rituals will stick and which will fizzle out. Two years ago, I started keeping a reading log in a large-size Baron Fig Confidant notebook. It’s a timeline, with each row representing a book and each column representing one day. If I read any amount of that book during the day, I fill in that square. I use a red line to mark the start and finish dates for a book and once I finish a book, I color the range of days when I was reading that book with a gray highlighter.
My family adopted a puppy and are thrust back into what feels effectively like edge-of-the-seat newborn parenting. When I’m not taking her outside to pee, she’s trying to chew on my feet. It’s frustrating, but also a long-term bet that I am highly confident will pay off in years of love and the impetus to walk, live in the movement, and be joyful. Other projects are somewhat on hold at the moment, but at least I’m getting a lot of reading done.
I am in love with this diagram from Charles Lindblom’s paper “Still Muddling, Not Yet Through”: The gist of this paper (and it’s predecessor, “The Science of Muddling Through”) is that a lot of effort is invested in studying idealized methods for how to comprehensively analyze a situation and make a globally best decision, but that is basically never the skill that anyone is able to exercise. Instead, we are all under multiple competing pressures — especially deadlines — having to make a good-enough-for-now assessment and stay in motion.
If you are at all technically inclined, the Tailscale blog is a great joy to read. I try to cultivate and attitude of bemused fatalism about the state of technology as a survival mechanism and the folks at Tailscale strike that tone very well. Things are complicated. The social and commercial effects of computer networks outran the standards. Besides, no matter how well the standards are designed, there are going to be some engineers / companies that just don’t give a shit and will stop thinking about the problem as soon as they get something half-ass working.