Work Journal

17-12-2018 Work log

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

Today I woke up early, and arrived to the library before it even opened. I waited outside, it was cold, and I was sleepy. I was afraid that my state was not appropriate for work, but when I sat down it was just me and the code editor. A day like this I haven’t had in years perhaps, to the point where nothing that happened in the day seems relevant except work.

I shall write about work then.

During the weekend I dove into Sketch and designed pieces that were missing of The Boolean Game (working name). I set myself to implement the design, and I saw how to slice things up in a modular way soy that I can reuse components for other games. I banged out a lot of good quality code without any attachment.

I know better than to extrapolate this good experience to the next days, in fact, I know it not to be sustainable. Beast Mode is what René Galindo calls it. Though I very much would like to have the power to summon Beast Mode, it’s more akin to a divine gift that must be used wisely. Though it should be time to wind down I find no inclination to do it. Back to coding.

Work Journal

15-12-2018 Work log

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

Today my focus was phenomenal. I woke up at around 10am, went to the library, and implemented the "feature driven development" method I had in mind, and I saw that it really worked. In comparison personal method feels more like... giving shape to a piece of mud. I found myself in the flow most of the time. Unfortunately, as it's Saturday, the library closes at 2:00, so I came back home for lunch.

I prepared a personal recipe of high-protein bolognese sauce in large quantities, so that I don't have to spend so much time cooking next week. Again, I was focused while cooking, and I got three meals prepared in the time I would have prepared one.

Then I went to bed to have a nap. I've been reading a book on lucid dreaming, and I had fresh in my mind the fact that you must continuously ask yourself "am I dreaming"? and so I tried to sleep with this mantra in my mind. But I was so focused I couldn't fall asleep, so I turned it into a meditation.

After a while I jumped out of bed, but this time I found resistance in coding. I was banging out too many features without design, just placing the necessary information on the screen without a plan. So I opened Sketch and begun designing. Again, deep focus. I can't pinpoint to anything special that allowed me this level of concentration, but I am grateful for it.

Last night I set up a private blog to post my dreams. I write down all my dreams, and sometimes I need to come back to them for some reason (an event in real life reminds me of it, or I dream with a person and I want to see what I have dreamed about that person before), so I was careful with the taxonomy so that I can filter dreams by person, place, topic and such. This blog will always be private, but perhaps in a couple of decades something might come out of it!

Work Journal

14-12-2018 Work log

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

Last night I slept around 12 hours. As I expected, my mood recovered, but I went out of bed quite late. I took my time, got in touch with old friends via email, prepared brunch + extra for later, showered, yada yada. At 3pm I hit the library.

I was deeply concentrated and I advanced a lot, though I noticed something: I don't use git because my method is haphazard. I don't work by features, instead I sketch possible paths in code, and if they turn out promising, then I detail them. However, today I lost an hour pursuing an exotic interaction. When I was done I saw it wouldn't work, so I rolled back my changes by hand, which took me an hour. "Ah! This is what solo git is for!" I thought.

Today I repeated the experiment of working without internet, and again I was able to focus deeply. After two hours it was necessary to consult the documentation and I sidetracked on hacker news whatsoever. I notice that information "pushed" on me (via a news site or aggregator) becomes a mish mash of information in my head. I recall one or two things by this time of the night. On the other hand, a couple of days ago I followed a rabbit hole regarding the atomic era, and that information is still fresh in my mind. Just now I blocked my news fix from my hostsfile to observe if this makes attention flow in the direction of curiosity.

While working I would take breaks by bringing up my gaze and staring into nothingness, feeling my breath. The inner sensations were cycling in intensity, like waves pulling back and then breaking. There seems to be more to inner perception than thoughts and feelings, if you are able to quiet both it is not emptiness what remains, it is inner movement.

Eventually I grew hungry, and today I wanted to hit the gym, so I went back home to finish eating what remained of brunch and I walked to the gym. My workout was uneventful and my mood didn't change, but I was almost glad because this means I won't be hungover tomorrow (if the pattern holds up).

I observe that I put a lot of attention towards my inner state, but in times of turbulence it is necessary. When stability is regained I will be able to put my attention elsewhere.

Work Journal

13-12-2018 Work log

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

A strange day: I woke up early and was ready to go to the library at 9am, but I looked out the door and saw it was pouring rain. Then I felt immensely tired and I had a morning nap instead. I Woke up and felt depressed. This happens often to me: I have happiness hangovers and a day of joy is often followed by a day of gloom. But is causes no distress, it is simply observed as a bad day for navigation. I still worked at home around two hours and completed some chores. Slept a lot.

If the pattern holds up, tomorrow my mood should stabilize.

Work Journal

12-12-2018 Work log

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

I woke up late, at 10:00am. I had trouble sleeping last night, simply from the siesta I had in the afternoon. Many dreams were had, among them one in which I was in a lab with a researcher who handed me a VR set.

He instructed me to go outside unto the street, and with the headset on I would experience a sort of themed/skinned reality in realtime, but with a slight delay. This was originally a technological constraint (lag), but they wanted to investigate the intentinal binding phenomena. I put on the headset and went outside, and was quite amazed at how real everything seemed. The streets were empty and I worried about bumping into someone inside reality, so I was going quite slow, experiencing some lag between my movements and what happened in VR. After some time of this I grew anxious (like when you walk with your eyes closed) so I stripped off the VR headset and saw that it was simply transparent, like a diving mask. I felt duped but then I understood the study was about inducing the sensation of lag in reality.

The last laugh was had by the mind, which simulated all of this.

I made it to the library 10 minutes before the time I arrived yesterday, at 10:50am. This was not my idea of "earlier" but the fact that I was able to quickly have breakfast and not lose much time made me notice it takes me longer than necessesary to get prepared. So my goal is not be waking up earlier, it arriving to the library closer to the opening hour.

I worked during two hours, deeply concentrated, and it was a throughly enjoyable experience. I didn't have internet (the reason is irrelevant), so I instead of checking the API documentation online, I relied on Web Inspector's autocomplete to figure it out. I may try this out more to see if the lack of internet may be a boost to concentration.

I felt hungry and came back home for lunch, then had a brief nap, and got back to work from home. I noticed a certain layout problem which would be tremendously difficult to work through, and started seeking for less time consuming alternatives. I had an idea in mind, and after two hours of working I had it implemented, but it looked terrible! I was deflated and wondered if I should call it a day. But what I would do now? I would have to go to the gym, since I've been putting it off under the excuse that I'm busy at work.

I had a great workout and came back home cheerful. Why did I deflate from not achieving what I had in mind in just two hours? "The activity itself is the reward, don't attach to the results" I thought. And I remembered my mantra when I don't want to exercise: I will do it simply because it makes me feel better afterwards. This should be my mantra for work too: "I will focus because it makes me feel better afterwards". Losing oneself in any activity has that virtue.

I then went to a monthly event called "Encuentros con lo sutil" (encounters with the subtle realm) where they usually have conferences on new agey topics, but this time there was a practical approach to the topic at hand: dance therapy. And so they made space in the auditorium for some 70 people to dance. It's been a year since I've done this kind of work, but it was exhilirating and was able to once again lose myself in work.

Work Journal

11-12-2018 Work log resumed

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

I have decided to resume my work logs. I enjoy writing, and if I don't do it online, I tend to fill notebooks with journaling. Though journaling is more intimate, the fact that you publish something out to the world changes the feeling of how things are written and I kinda miss that.

Today I woke up at around 9:30AM and was hitting the library by 11am. My waking time has slowly been slipping later and later, and though--by my standards--this is not a bad time to wake up, I came back from walking the Camino de Santiago waking up at 6:30am or so, and I wanted to retain the habit. From experience I know I don't get much done until I leave the house, so instead of setting a goal for waking up, it's better to set the goal to begin the work day earlier. So, getting into the library at anytime before 11am is good.

The library at this time is packed, and I didn't find a seat with a table in which to work, so I took a seat at the reading room and worked with the laptop on my legs. I actually feel it more comfortable to work like this now. It seems the body remembers certain positions are meant for mental work, and it does away with the fiddling and the shuffling so I can focus on the task at hand.

I abandoned the Bézier extension project. Entropy rotted it from the inside, and in the end I could not but admit that I was no longer enjoying what I was doing. "Not enjoying" is an euphemism here, because I'm aware that one of my problems is that I often not finish what I start, and I forced myself to continue working on it well beyond my tolerance, to the point where I didn't want to work anymore. And so I had a couple of weeks of confusion, trying to reboot myself without success, and I knew something had to be done. So, to clear my mind, I went on a 45 day walk on the Camino de Santiago. I walked some 1,000 KM, and I found my thoughts coming back to work, but at a higher level. Many conclusions were reached, and now it is time to put them to work. There is no point in writing them down now, they surface with work itself.

After work I went to buy an avocado and a piece of bread, as I was standing in line absorbed in thought I suddenly came to a moment of presence. I saw the lady ahead of me: she was speaking on the phone hands free, and on the conveyor belt was two liters of milk, a package of cheap cheese, and a sausage. I thought "I can be happy whenever I choose it" and I put my attention in my heart, and strangely enough I felt happy. I left the supermarket with a smile on my face, and came back home for lunch and a nap.

During my nap I dreamed I was preparing to fight Wolverine. It was to be a cordial fight, like when two boxers meet pre-match and taunt each other, but deep down there's respect. I was nervous and unsure I was going to make it, but outwardly I demonstrated bravado and kicked the air doing a backflip, in the style of Guille of Street Fighter. I woke up knowing perfectly what the dream meant, though I was a little bit disappointed that my inner mythology was so barren as to present me comic book and video game characters.

In the afternoon I worked a little bit more at home, again working on a chair with the laptop on my legs. I got sidetracked first by reading about Enrico Fermi, and was awed by his certainty predicting the result of his experiments, which carried on to his personal life. Then this took me to Oppenheimer, and was in awe of his powerful introspecting mind, "Now I become death, the destroyer of worlds". Few physicists dare to put their great intellect to work beyond their area of expertise.

Then this took me to the difference between Soviet and American rockets, and I came across an answer which I had often wondered: Why is the Russian approach to the aerodynamics of their rockets different?, and then I came across the bio of Sergei Korolev, and I was also in awe of a great manager who was able to leave resentment behind (he lost all his teeth from scurvy working in the Gulag) and dedicate his life to his craft. Not really admiration but awe for him, for despite his health failing in incapacitating ways, he wouldn't stop working. Furthermore, his work wasn't known until after he died, because the Soviets had to conceal his identity so he wasn't a target of foreign intelligence. Even Cosmonauts didn't know his last name, they would call him "Chief Designer".

And this is why I prefer working from the library.

Work Journal

Work logs ceased

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

Well, that was an interesting experiment. Writing work logs was at times self-organizing, at times a chore, and at other times a distraction. I still don't know what to make about the experiment. I consider it successful, because it was a great source of experience, and at the same time it was a failure, because it's intention was to help me produce more and better work. Yet nothing came out of it (yet!).

I have the sense that I work a lot, and yet it seems most of the stuff I work on (personal and professional) tends to go stale, and then it becomes difficult to pick up again. I feel I need to tackle simpler things first in order to get into a shipping habit.

So let that be the intention: quiet the mind, write less, ship more.

Work Journal

03-09-2018 Work log

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

So many things to write about, where to start? Perhaps by the day activities, in this way the situation will explain itself:

I woke up at around 8am, had my coffee, and then went to the airbnb apartment that I manage. I waited for the truck to arrive, we were moving the furniture to a new house, since the apartment was sold some weeks ago and owner will take possession in the next few days. The new house is a duplex, not really in the suburbs, but quite far away from the city center, which I will be inhabiting for the next month. My mission is to paint it and do some minor refurbushing work during the month of September.

Two guys and a child showed up, and we moved the furniture in about three hours. I learned quite a number of tricks putting sofas through doors, and should the situation arise again, I think I'd be at least more adept as I was before. It's not that I have never put a sofa through a door, but one of the guys was quite experienced and he explained the principles behind making things fit, and how to know if it's simply too large for the space you need to put it through. After we were done I was quite exhausted, for Madrid's heat was in full force today, so I had a nap and then went back home.

After lunch I perceived that, if I were to put myself in front of a computer, I wouldn't be able to do much, so I put Conversations with Goethe in the backpack and hit the pool. I finished the important parts (book I and II) because the third book is not really written by Eckermann, but by a fellow named Soret, who had a more objective disposition, so instead of trying to register Goethe's exact words, he tends to describe his interactions in a more synthetic way. Where Eckermann, being a poet, might try to reenact the mood, setting and words of Goethe, Soret would simply write "Goethe discussed with great eloquence about the virtues of a moderate life", and there is not much wisdom to be extracted from this kind of writing.

But the change in narrative illuminated the fact that I swing between both styles, and that if I (or anyone) is to extract anything useful from what I write, I should take the poetic Eckermann approach, which requires one to reenact settings, sensations and activities, rather than simply marking what work was done.

The furniture was moved, but my life is still not moved into the new house, so I suspect that the next few days will be physical rather than intellectual work. I welcome this phase because the last two weeks I've felt stagnated in my current situation, so any change is welcome.

Work Journal

30-08-2018 Work log

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

I begun the day late and after hitting the pool I went to the library at La Casa Encendida. I wrote the workplace setting quite quickly and enjoyed the experience, and then put myself to work. I needed to set the DNS of notebits.app to René's server, but after much frustration I preferred to to set things up at my own hosting provider (digitalocean) and worry about transferring the host later.

While checking nginx's logs I found an unrelated error: php-fpm was raising access denied errors on my old blog and I tried to hunt down the reason why this was happening. I had set up the server to serve html files as php and it had stopped working. After much google-fu, I found the correct config file where to make the change, and soon enough things were being served without errors.

I found server administration to be a refreshing change from what I had been doing, though I sometimes wonder if being this close to the metal is truly needed. Unix philosophy of having specialized tools that do one job is at times empowering and at others frustrating. There's been times when I've gotten stuck and needed to ask for help to more experienced people, and I'm surprised that they actually have to do pretty much what I do: google the problem and poke at the entrails until it starts working again.

Work Journal

29-08-2018 Work log

Date
AuthorMark MacKay

I've begun describing the workplaces where I do my thing, here is an example.

ProjectTimeIntensityImportanceTotal
Method of Action120min10.560
Notebits Flow60min0.5130
Work routes120min10.560
Total300min150