📚Noisy Deadlines

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."- Douglas Adams

... from the snowfall today. Fresh, fluffy snow ☃

Winter - Feb 16 2021

Winter- Feb 16, 2021

#winter #snow


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

It's been a little over a month since I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts. At the beginning I went through some weird cravings to check something, anything and: scroll, scroll, scroll! That probably lasted a couple of weeks. I was constantly getting into news websites, checking the weather forecast, checking e-mail... in a rate that was abnormal. Even sites with any addictive features like Read.Write.as became an obsession. I realized I was just duplicating a learned behaviour after using the internet for years: scrolling endlessly. If one source was done, I jumped to another, to keep on scrolling. Weird. I think it was a withdrawal reaction. And for the first time I was aware that this scrolling addiction was imprinted in me at a subconscious level.

After the realization something clicked in my head: I just decided that was not a behaviour I wanted to practice anymore. I also observed that my phone was my twitch. It was easy enough to reach out and start some “doom scrolling”. This post “How My Digital Lifestyle is Changing” brings the definition of “doom scrolling” which I found interesting. So, yeah, my digital lifestyle is changing as well.

And every time we stop doing an addictive behaviour we better have a substitute. A more fulfilling one. Cal Newport in his book “Digital Minimalism” says that if we white-knuckle through a “digital declutter” without substituting the old behaviour with a better one, we will go back to the old behaviour. And social media, specifically, are basically a replacement for social interaction. We think it will fulfill our “social bucket” but then we are caught up in its addictive algorithms and the quality social connection we expected is not there. Cal Newport suggests that we need to think about high quality leisure activities to replace the time we would have spent otherwise (like doom scrolling).

For me, reading, writing, long walks with my partner and yoga were my substitutes last month. I fulfilled the social part of the equation by engaging with my city's local science-fiction and fantasy book club. They've been having virtual meet-ups since the pandemic started. I attended one meeting yesterday and had lots of fun! Since I'm an introvert I don't crave a whole lot of social interaction, so that was the perfect cup of tea.

After I felt I was disengaged enough from the scrolling addictive behaviour, I started exploring the Fediverse to see how it was different from the major social media platforms. I have a Mastodon account now. At first I thought I would fall into the same old doom scrolling pattern, but since it's decentralized and it doesn't have the ads/news monetizing cycle, I don't feel the addictive pull. I access it on my own terms and it doesn't create that craving or FOMO feeling for me. I'll keep on experimenting.

I just saw this video today by The Minimalists that I think gets to one of the main issue with social media, and it is by design. Food for thought.

#socialmedia #attentionresistance #internet #noisymusings #deletefacebook #digitalminimalism


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I went ice skating on the Rideau Canal this morning. Ice conditions were good (according to the City website) but there was a forecast of 40% chance of light snow. Temperature was nice at around -5C. I decided to go because you never how long the canal is going to be open and it was a chance to experience ice skating under the snow.

And... the only difference is that because it is snowing, and snow will accumulate on the ice you can't really see the ice imperfections anymore. The Canal skateway is never perfect, so usually you see some cracks and bumps here and there and you can avoid them. But today, the difficulty level was turned to HARD. You know you have obstacles but they are hidden: GO!

I did fall once because of a hidden bump, and I was probably skating slower than normal (which is not very fast anyway).

Snow and ice

And now I know what it feels like to skate with snow conditions! Not my favourite experience but at the same time I could focus more on keep on moving instead of looking for bumps on the ice. It was... interesting.

#winter #noisymusings #iceskating #outdoors


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Rideau Canal Skateway, Dows Lake, 2021 Rideau Canal Skateway @ Dows Lake

The Rideau Canal Skateway is known as the world’s largest skating rink. It's 7,8km long when the whole length is open. But there must be ideal winter weather conditions to allow it to open. Like constant negative temperatures for several days to create a sufficient thickness of water to freeze. It only opens a section when the ice is at least 30cm thick. Days with temperatures above zero with rain are a disaster for this huge outdoor rink. 2021 was one of the latest openings in the canal history. Maybe it was a combination of mild weather conditions and the pandemic restrictions.

But it opened!

There was 5km open this weekend and I checked it out. Because of COVID-19 all food stands, skate rentals and changing facilities were closed. But there were lots of benches thorough to let people change into their skates. We have to carry our own boots (no lockers there) so a backpack is definitely recommended. It was not busy since the City is strongly saying that only Ottawa residents should go to avoid crowds. It was easy to keep physical distancing. And masks are mandatory.

Skating under Flora Footbridge, that was built and opened in 2019 Skating under Flora Footbridge. First time!

Every time I go to the canal it's an intense experience. The cold, the ice cracks and bumps, the beautiful eerie scenery, the challenge. Ice skating is not natural to me so I still struggle. This time I tried skating 4 km. I consider it significant progress. Because I did skate 4 km one way + 3.5km back. It was a much better experience than last time. But I got exhausted! And what happens when you get tired ice skating? Your balance is gone. So I fell once, got up, kept going and stopped every now and then to rest. Up until the point I couldn't move anymore without totally loosing balance. My legs got wobbly because of the physical strain. I had to remove my skates and walk the rest of the way to the car. So, yeah, ice skating is intense! Not to mention I was sweating under my ski suit even though it was -15C with a real feel of -21C! ⛄

Getting some rest at the Rideau Canal Skateway, 2021 Getting some rest...

I still think ice skating is one of the hardest physical things I had to learn in my life. Heck, I'm still learning. I cannot do any fancy stuff, I can go forwards and I (awkwardly) stop. And that's it. I try to practice things like one foot glides and C-pushes. Maybe one day I'll be able to do cross-overs. The great thing about the Canal is that there is lots of space to practice! And I have fun!

Another aspect that makes me enjoy ice skating, with all its difficulties and struggles, is that it requires total focus. I can't be anywhere else. And balancing is subtle. Slight changes to the angles of the skates on the ice and the body's center of gravity can accelerate you, stop you or bring you to the floor. If feels like a crazy physics experiment.

With all the indoor rinks closed I'll probably be visiting the Canal every weekend, weather permitting. It's going to be an excellent practice.

#iceskating #learning #challenge #noisymusings #winter


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

What I read in January 2021

  1. Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5) by Martha Wells, 346p: Such a delight to be back inside the mind of this cyborg. Sarcastic but righteous, Murderbot is a fantastic character and we get to experience its thought process all the time. Status updates, Simultaneous parallel dialogues with humans and AI's, Performance Reliability Ratings. And also, how not to like ART, the transport ship AI that loves talking to human teenagers?
  2. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, 260p: Dystopian YA with Indigenous people protagonists in the area where today is Canada. It is a climate change dystopia focusing on this group of Indigenous people who are being hunted. After the climate change cataclysm people lost their ability to dream, but Indigenous people were still able to do it, so they are chased for it. It uses real world facts like the atrocities committed against the Indigenous population to basically remove children form their culture to make them assimilate the “Canadian” one (from around 1876 to 1970's). With this horrifying background and a devastated world the book is extremely emotional. It was a hard read at times with dark moments. But it is also hopeful showing the power of resilience and community.
  3. The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World by Jenn Granneman, 320p: Fun read. It is a very light read, a good introduction to the introvert temperament characteristics and how to cope with it.

#readinglist #books #reading


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

There is something calming about the act of reading for me. I think it has to do with my introvert temperament. It's the perfect quiet time activity. Hiking or swimming might be close second. You know when there's too much going on around you: work tasks, phone calls, appointments, meetings? After all this excitement I end up with a hangover. An introvert hangover. And the cure is almost always to dive deep into a book. Let the ideas of another mind mingle with mine. Imagine impossible worlds, crazy science, share emotions. Or understand an interesting theory. Know different points of view. Agree to disagree. This brings me peace. Inner peace. And I probably took 30+ years to understand this about myself.

But there is another more extrinsic reason. I'm not a native English speaker. Growing up in Brazil and being lucky enough to have a dad who was into computers put me in contact with the English language early on. I wanted to learn how to communicate with computers, what are those DOS commands? what do they mean? So my mom decided to put me in an English school for 6+ years old children to learn English. So that I could stop annoying her (and my dad) about English vocabulary all the time. (I must have been pretty annoying!)

After years studying English, taking all the courses I could up until the last “Advanced Conversation Module X” or whatever I wanted to keep learning. I did not have the resources to leave Brazil and truly immerse myself in an English speaking community. So I became the Brazilian who only listened to English speaking music (mainly rock & heavy metal), watched American or British movies and shows and only read books in English. That's how I kept my English practice on my own, with what I had available.

Reading was a huge part of this journey. By reading I was building up my vocabulary and having fun at the same time. I was consolidating grammatical rules and memorizing irregular verbs in my head. It was (still is) extremely beneficial to a non-native speaker.

The Internet was also useful. I remember playing MUDs and having the first contact with real English speaking people that were hundreds of kilometres away from me. Note: a MUD is a multi-user dungeon text-base real-time RPG. My favourite one was Realms of Despair (which surprisingly still has a website (!!).

Music and movies were important too, of course.

But books were always the best. So I keep reading.

Today I live in an English speaking place that I love. It was a dream come true, really. And sometimes I remember my first English lessons and how they shaped me. How it all started with me wanting to talk to computers.

#journal #noisymusings #reading


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I think I’m loosing my ability to read for long periods of time. By long I mean more than 20-30 minutes. I was really good at sitting down to read for a whole hour, without interruptions. I started to feel something was off last year, during the pandemic. That initial overload of anxiousness made me search for news. I’ve never been a news person. I can’t stand regular TV or cable TV. I abhor advertising, I think they are annoying and with the Internet they became even more normalized. Heck, most of Internet today is ad-based.

So for the past months I got back into the habit of checking news sites. Doing that once a week for half an hour is okay, I guess. But all the sites have this “addictive” social media component that triggers this need to check them ALL THE TIME.

I’ve been checking the news everyday now. I think I was okay during the holidays, but 2021 started with some dystopian things happening!! What the hell is going on??

I’ve already removed many sources of distraction from my life but there is this lingering effect that refuses to go away.

I feel like I’ve been unwillingly addicted to something, some weird urge to check endless feeds. An urge that never really goes away because everywhere we go, everywhere we look, the trigger is there. It’s hard to run away or to look away.

Read more...

Mud Lake - Jan 17, 2021

I saw smiley trees on my walk today :–) Cloudy day, -1°C, some accumulated snow from yesterday.

I'm loving these longer winter walks. Taking the time to observe the surroundings, breath in the cold air, watch squirrels and birds doing their thing.

It's not something I did a lot before the pandemic, because I would spent a lot of time inside a gym, resulting in not much time left for the outdoors. Also, the cold. This year has not been too cold so it's easier to get out. But I want to keep doing it, even when it gets colder (as it surely will!).

Mud Lake - Jan 17, 2021

#noisymusings #outdoors #hiking #winter


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

One more lockdown started today. There were a bunch of restrictions since Christmas but now it’s a “stay at home order” for at least 28 days. So I worked from home today and I always feel like I get more things done at home because there are less chances of people dropping into my office asking for things or just asking questions. It’s more relaxed at home and I am more in control of my time. But still there were a couple last minute requests that I had to handle so that quickly depleted my energy. Context switching is exhausting! Add 2 Zoom meetings on top of that and I’m done!

I stopped working almost an hour later than I’m used to when I go to the office. Gotta fix that!

#Journal #lockdown #work


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

My process to delete these social media accounts has a timeline. It was not overnight.

Delete Facebook - Jan 10, 2021

Being aware

I've been thinking about the attention economy and social media addiction since at least 2016.

I created my Facebook account in 2009. After Facebook introduced the bottomless scrolling newsfeed with companies advertising inside the platform, I started to get annoyed by it. But at the same time I developed an addiction to it. I remember that feeling of logging in to Facebook and scrolling for a couple hours only to realize it was a waste of time. But everybody I knew was (is) there: high school friends, friends I made at a training course in Sweden, family, co-workers, bloggers, etc. This was before the Cambridge Analytica scandal but I remember seeing those “personality polls” they used to get information. I don't think I ever clicked on those, but they were everywhere.

Trying to remove distractions but still using it

I decided to get rid of Facebook's feed by “unfollowing” everyone I knew. This was before there were plugins or extensions that could hide your entire timeline. Then I used plugins extensively to avoid the feed and all the ads. I was only interested in participating in some Groups that organized local meet-ups, for example. So I used tricks to only see the Groups when I logged in and avoided all the other distracting things on the page.

Long story short, all those strategies weren't getting to the core of the problem. I started to join more groups and I was still checking Facebook every day, several times a day.

Read more...

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