a belated blog post

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So it’s been 10 days since I last posted. Life was relaxing and then busy and then blah. You know how it goes. I’m doing really well on some of my goals (ukulele, reading) but not so well on others (running, being less stressed).

I’ve decided to add another goal to that list, that will possibly replace the cooking goal (who knows!), and it is to have a little garden on my balcony. Are you excited? I’m excited. First up: basil!

But definitely the most exciting thing of the last week or so was going on a mini camping trip last weekend! It’s the first time we’ve used the tent my mum gave us for our wedding. Hmm, what? We’re a bit slack, yes. We drove down to Busselton on Saturday morning, spent a few hours there and then headed just a little further south to stay overnight near Cowaramup. Next morning we checked out some caves then toured some of the wineries/breweries/chocolate factories. I tried some amazing olive tapenade but when I attempted to buy it I was informed that the only jar they had was the one for tasting (which was promptly packed up so as not to disappoint anyone else).

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I hope all your goals are coming along swimmingly and the start of your year has been fun!

I’ve been away

I went to Sydney for a maths conference.
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And then to Brisbane for a wedding.
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I returned to Perth and then headed off to Adelaide for Christmas almost immediately.
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It’s been pretty crazy in my head lately. There’s been so much going on, so many things to do, places to be and people to see. All of it was great but also tiring and today we returned home to 40C, a car with a coolant leak and an air conditioner that is out of action. The photos make the present a little easier and I’m hoping for some relaxation on the horizon.

I’ll be back in a few days with NY resolutions, something I am newly keen on.

post NaNoWriMo reflections

Starting out without a plot was probably (certainly) a bad decision.

I’m not convinced I’ll ever do it (NaNoWriMo) again.

It showed me how much time I have available in my day. I don’t want to always spend that time on writing but now, for instance, I know that I really do have time to exercise.

I do not have high hopes for the story but I haven’t brought myself to read it all the way through so we’ll see.

On the (rare) days I knew where my plot was going I could write quite quickly.  So that’s an incentive to plot out my next novel in a lot more detail than I did with the last one.

Working on one project so incessantly gave me a huge ton of ideas and inspiration to work on other projects.

So overall, I’m glad that I did it. It taught me a lot about writing and I now have a book that will, at the very least, entertain a few friends.

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This picture is from Castello Aragonese in Ischia. I have no idea if that was originally meant to be a heart but I liked it.

do what you are doing.

It seems somewhat tautological but really it’s a piece of advice I need reminding of every 6 months or so.

If you spend your work hours compulsively checking your email or your relaxation time compulsively checking your code then you’re probably not getting the best out of either. It’s hard to think that you’ve had a successful day of work if you’ve read 20 news articles. It’s hard to think that you’ve really had a weekend if you’ve checked your computer program every half hour.

Sometimes I’m good at sticking to this advice and, of course, other times I’m not. Every now and then I need to stop myself and make up some arbitrary rules in order to get back in the habit of doing what I’m doing (I’ve checked email and tumblr while writing this up so I must be going through a bad phase.)

Here are some various rules I use to focus on doing work at work:

– The Pomodoro Technique (work for 25 minutes in every half hour)

– Turn off your internet (often impractical for me)

– Don’t check any media (incl. email), or leave your seat (at all!) for the first 2 work hours of your day

– Set mini goals with time limits

And, just as importantly in my opinion, focus on not doing work at home:

– Don’t bring any maths books or papers (or whatever you do) home

– Turn off your computer (if you use it for work)

– Go outside

– Choose to do something or nothing rather than being absentmindedly online doing neither (hence this blogpost)

I think the main “problem” is that life has natural pauses. I’m waiting for code to run, I don’t know what to write next, my maths got a bit too hard, whatever. When there are natural pauses we should stop and evaluate what we use those pauses to do. Before you stand up, before you change tabs or windows, work out whether you really need to. All the techniques I mentioned are really just ritualistic ways of forcing us not to do whatever we normally do during a pause.

Does anyone else have any good focusing methods?

PS: The photos are from Austria.

Italy in summer.

The beauty of Italy in summer took me a little while to see. Everything was dingier and more ordinary than photography books had led me to expect. Yes there are incredible cobble-stoned, tiny alleyways but they are lined with garbage bags. Yes there are hundreds of white houses in the cities but they don’t have grass like nice houses in Australia: just dust and tiles. Yes there are lots of old buildings but they are dirty and falling apart.

It didn’t help that I was exhausted from 17 hours of flying. It didn’t help that I’m not really a fan of crowds. It didn’t help that it’s just plain hot. Once I got a good sleep and really looked around I realised that this place is incredible after all.

The beaches are warm, maths is going well, the food is beyond exceptional and most days I wander around barefoot. (This house has grass because it’s out of the city.)

Love from Ischia.

adventures in ikea

Today was beautiful. It was one of those days which makes me wish I could take Perth’s weather with me wherever I go for the rest of my life. It’s almost exactly midwinter and today was 23C and sunny. Infact, it’s still warm now at 6pm.

We went adventuring in Ikea today. The plan was to buy a cheap bookshelf but we didn’t like any they had on offer and bought two candle holders, 4 blocks of chocolate, and lunch, instead. The candle holders were only 75c each so we spent the most money, by far, on food.

Fortunately we decided to take a wander around the area and found a couple of op-shops nearby, one of which contained a stock standard white bookshelf (which was originally from Ikea) for $20. I’m considering doing something interesting to brighten it up (spray paint, decoupage… I don’t know) but in the mean time we’ve loaded it up with all our books. The strangest thing about today was the realisation that we don’t actually have very many books. They’ve been piling up everywhere recently but ordering them seems to have diminished their magnitude…

Anyhow, I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend.

Yep. That is all.