Noisy Deadlines

journal

One thing I’m learning is that it is OKAY to stop reading a book. I can just abandon it and move on with no guilty feelings.

I did just that today. I usually try my best to finish a book even when I’m not enjoying it too much because I have hope it will get better eventually or I’ll learn something by the end of it. A book can have ups and downs and that’s okay.

I’m finding that if after reading 20-30% of the book and it is not grabbing me, it’s time to let go. I’ve always found it hard to give up on a book, after all, I’ve invested hours into it, and giving up seems weak.

Now I have more awareness of the signs showing me it’s time to let go:

  • I’m not reaching for the book at every given opportunity. When I’m into a book, I’ll read it during lunch break, breakfast, before bed, while waiting in line, or during any downtime when I’m not working. If reading the book feels like a chore, then it’s best to let go.
  • I can’t relate to the characters and their motivations. I like to have enjoyable characters, even if they are villains. This is subjective. Sometimes I don’t care about the main character because of “reasons”. It’s like a gut instinct, if they don’t click with me, I’m not engaged.
  • I’m not enjoying the tone/theme. I’m getting more sensitive about some themes in fiction. Too much gore and violence can throw me off. Some trigger warnings for me: child abuse, gore, body horror, sexism, racism, and physical abuse.
  • I give the book a chance (read at least 20-30%) and I feel it’s not the right time to read it. If after a few chapters I still do not feel like I’m in the right place emotionally or mentally to finish it, it’s time to stop reading it.

The book in question today is Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. I read 20% of it, roughly 8 chapters in total. It is a pick for my local Book Club and I’ve heard great things about it. It is a fantasy set in an alt pre-Columbian American world with magic and old prophecies. The setting is dark from what I could gather and the very first chapter threw me off with a brutal scene involving a child. I couldn’t get past that. Later on, we are introduced to a great character, a strong female ship captain whom I loved! But the story is told from 4 different characters’ viewpoints, and I didn’t enjoy the other three POVs.

Anyway, it’s time to move on. Maybe I’ll pick it up later, but there are so many other books I want to read that I’ve decided to put Black Sun on the back burner. Deep inside I still feel bad about it, it’s one of those situations where “I wanted to have enjoyed it”. Well, I’m sorry, it didn’t work out this time.

In Bookwyrm there’s a shelf for “Stopped Reading” and I added a comment so that in the future I know why I stopped reading it.

#reading #books #journal

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

It was great to hang out with Write.as folks on the Remark.as chat yesterday. Thanks to tmo for coming up with the idea in the first place and Matt for providing this space and looking to improve it even more!

I felt completely exhausted Saturday evening and that’s probably because of my mid-week work trip. I can think of at least 3 reasons. First: 6 hours train ride each way. Second: change of routine, I slept way less than I’m used to for 3 days and I didn’t do my daily morning yoga. Third: I didn’t walk or run or did any exercise, it screw up my energy levels. So, I guess I was sleep-deprived after the trip.

Also, this weekend was “Doors Open Ottawa”, when buildings open up their doors for visitors. I saw that a big research center near my home was open for visits, so that’s where I decided to go (CanmetENERGY). It’s located in the middle of the Green Belt, so I could get there through the hiking trails around my area. It was a nice day and a nice walk. This research center has cool stuff going on in terms of Sustainable Energy, Solar Power, Bio-energy, Heating/Cooling Efficiency for buildings, etc. And the buildings are federal heritage, built in the 60s in what is called Brutalist architecture, all concrete and steel. That was nice!

After that, I was exhausted and today I slept for 9+ hours, trying to catch up. I felt better, spent the day doing chores around the house, read books, and went for a run in the evening.

#journal

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

I’m going on a 2-day work trip today. It seems like it’s been ages since I last travelled somewhere. It will be a 6 hours train ride, which is nice because I love trains. And we are still required to wear masks inside the train and while we are inside the train station, which is good. I was a little nervous about being in a closed space with unmasked people for 6 hours. But that’s not gonna be the case, so I’m okay.

I did a travel checklist to make sure I got everything I need and I still think I might be forgetting something. I used to be good at travelling, knowing exactly what to bring with me. I’m out of practice now. So, I’ll see if my check list is any good!

I’m actually looking forward to the train ride. Train travel is comfortable and spacious. I love sitting back and enjoying the scenery. Also, it will great to get some reading done 😎. I’ve got my ebooks loaded in my Kobo. I’m planning on reading these books next:

  • Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention-and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari (currently reading)
  • Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8) by Jim Butcher
  • Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben R. Rich
  • Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

#journal #travel

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

I started running again the last couple of weeks. The first week I was running around my neighborhood, mainly a residential area using the sidewalks. But this week I explored a trail that is part of the Trans Canada Trail (aka The Great Trail), which is a cross-Canada system of trails running from the east to the west coast.

In the area near my home, this trail is located where once there was a Railway, so it’s a straight line and connects to cities to the west of Ottawa, which is pretty cool. It should be a nice bike ride (something for later this year).

Trans Canada Trail – I can’t wait to see how the scenery changes from early Spring to Fall

Anyway, I’m still not running 100% of the time, I go for a total distance of 6 km to 7 km (round trip), running for 8 minutes, walking for 2 minutes, and repeating this rhythm till the end. I’ll gradually increase the running time and decrease the rest time as I get more physically fit. I don’t want to hurt myself, and I did the same recipe last year which got me to run non-stop for more than half an hour at a pace of 6:30 min/km after 2-3 months.

#running #journal

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

We have this bookshelf that has never been full. We had it on our previous apartment and when we moved to the townhouse we put it in the living room.

We still don’t have a sofa so our living room looks quite bare right now.

And…you know what? I like it!

I think it’s nice when a room has decor and things hanging on the walls, some of them are really well done. But I don’t see my own space being that busy. First, because I’m frugal, I will never know exactly what to buy and how to coordinate everything. I usually go for practical furniture, that serves a purpose. Second, I don’t like to spend time cleaning stuff. The more items I have the more I need to clean, organize and maintain. I like to live with less. I like to live with the essential. Third, furniture and decor cost money, I don’t like to spend money on things that will not bring value to my life.

I plan on getting a sofa for this room eventually, mostly for the times when we have guests. I still prefer to watch movies or read on the armchair, it’s way better for my back than a sofa.

But for now, the books in this bookshelf are all the physical books I own. They are mostly text-professional related books with no digital alternative or because it was required to have the physical book to write an open-book exam. There are also a couple travel mementos, a thermometer with humidity meter and some reference material from both me and my partner.

This weekend I did some organization on the bookshelf with a few boxes, I filled in two of them, the third one is still empty.

Moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a small townhouse was a huge upgrade for us in terms of having separate spaces. No more having to coordinate time for cooking (which is noisy) when one of us is having a conference call or being distracted by the TV when I wanted to read and my partner was watching a movie. We have our little corners in the house now.

At first I thought that because of the extra space in the townhouse I would turn into a hoarder and start buying all sorts of furniture to fill in spaces to be filled with stuff. But, almost 6 months in, we still have empty corners and empty closets, and that’s okay. I like the minimalist vibe. I hope it stays that way.

#minimalism #house #journal

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

This month I’ve been reading the book “How to Break Up with your Phone” by Catherine Price. It’s a very practical book with exercises to assess how we use our phones, identify if there’s something we want to change, and change it.

This weekend I did the 24 hours phone separation exercise. For about a month the author proposes some activities to help us prepare for this “trial separation”.

Preparation

The preparation activities included:

  • An assessment of my current relationship with my phone: what do I love about it? What I don’t love about it? What changes do I notice in myself when I pick it up and spend time with it? What would I like my new relationship with my phone to look like?
  • Pay attention and notice the situations in which I use my phone. Does my body posture change? What is my emotional state before and after I use it? How do I feel when I realize I don’t have my phone? How do I feel while I’m using it?
  • Track data: I used the iOS Screen Time feature to analyze how many times I picked up my phone and how I used it throughout 1 week.
    • I picked up my phone 27 times per day
    • I spent 2h 40 min on a daily average
  • Delete all social media apps: I’ve done that a couple of years ago.
  • Build a “speed bump” before I pick up my phone. Ask myself the WWW questions:
    • What For: What am I picking my phone to do?
    • Why Now: Why am I picking up my phone now instead of later?
    • What Else: What else could I do right now besides checking my phone?
  • Get in touch with offline activities I enjoy doing (and do them without my phone)
  • Turn off notifications: I’ve done that a couple of years ago. I leave only notifications from “real people” (phone calls, text messages)
  • Delete unused apps, leave only apps that are “tools”. Delete all other “junk food/slot machine” apps.
  • Reorganize the phone Home Screen. Remove all temptations.
  • Stop, breathe, meditate. Practice mindfulness.
Read more...

We’ve had positive temperatures this whole week, and also rain. I’m not wearing my winter coat anymore (you know, the long insulated parka that allows me to walk around when it’s -20C). I can walk around with my short puffy down jacket now and my mild winter boots (not the one with fur inside, rated for -25C).

Snow is melting everywhere, although there are still some ice patches here and there. The trails are starting to get muddy at places, but the one near me still has a squishy snow cover for the most part.

Days are getting longer, so it’s easier to go out for a walk after work. We get back home and there is still some sunlight.

The trees show signs of wanting to sprout some green leaves. There are birds everywhere and we can hear them all the time now. I love this time of year, when colors suddenly come up in all directions.

I’m excited about getting back to running again. I can’t run in the winter, like some people do over snow and ice. My exercise routine this winter was lots of walking and yoga. I still didn’t have the courage to enter a gym because of the pandemic. I’m just waiting for the temperatures to rise to 2 digits (Celsius), then I’ll go out for a run.

Yoga has been great for me actually. I got into the habit of doing 20 minutes every morning after I wake up and my body never felt so good overall. My chronic back pain is gone, and consequently I sleep better now. Sometimes I squeeze in some more intense Vinyasa yoga practice after work or on the weekends and I haven’t had any pains or issues with my back.

Squishy snow and grass and dirt being uncovered

#spring #journal #snow

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

… to pick up a hold and I’m greeted with this Groundhog. 🤓 Yay, more days of reading!

#noisymusings #journal #reading

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

I love the first day when snow falls and covers everything in white. It happened today here, which is surprisingly late for my region. I often witness first snow at late October or early November.

It was a lovely day with temperature at around -5C and I finally went for a walk with my partner to explore the trails near our new house.

Having access to trails at walking distance was one of the reasons we moved to this house. I’m glad I finally had time to just walk and enjoy the weather.

#winter #snow #outdoors #journal

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

Overconsumption. I veered off the path of excess consumption of material goods a few years ago. Minimalism was my tool for that. I like the definition given by The Minimalists:

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Noticing objects and material stuff around us is easy. It’s visible. We can plan decluttering sessions and visibly see space getting created. Now, what about intangible stuff? Information? Thoughts? Memories? Worry?

I don’t have excess material possessions anymore. Everything I have is enough and fills my needs. That doesn’t mean I live with less than 100 items, it just means I have what I consider is enough for myself and my lifestyle. It’s not about restrictions, it’s about eliminating the superfluous.

But I’ve been consuming and accumulating a lot of digital stuff over the years: hundreds of clipped articles on Evernote, guides and manuals I never read, RSS feeds from dozens of sites, articles to read saved on Instapaper or Pocket, dozens of newsletters cluttering my inbox, social media feeds.

It took a while, but I opted out of many of those digital things and now I think I have only what is meaningful to me:

  • I subscribe to 5 newsletters now, having unsubscribed from dozens in the past months. This amount is not overwhelming to me right now. It feels manageable.
  • I cancelled my Instapaper subscription. I had this idea that I would build a digital library with my notes and all the articles I read over time. I realized it was not important to me. I had more articles than I had time to read them. And the list of unread articles made me feel anxious. So I decided not to collect articles anymore. I much rather read a book.
  • I unsubscribed from dozens (if not hundreds) of RSS feeds. I kept 5 blogs and 1 comic strip (Dilbert) that I still enjoy reading once in a while.
  • I don’t use Evernote anymore. It was too easy to just collect stuff. If I want to take notes I use Standard Notes. Creating > collecting.
  • I stopped listening to a few podcasts. From a list of 15+ podcasts I was subscribed to, I decided to stick with 5 of them. And I don’t feel obliged to listen to all of them. I look at the feed and decide if it is an episode that interests me, otherwise, I just delete it.
  • I stopped using social media.
  • I cut down the time I spent watching YouTube. I still enjoy some science-related channels, but since I stopped using social media, I don’t feel the pull to go to YouTube anymore.
  • I still read books. That’s one type of information that energizes me. And opting out of all the other forms of digital consumption gave me more time to enjoy reading.

I've simplified many aspects of my life already. Little things like creating a uniform for myself (black pants and a shirt) to go to work make it super easy to get dressed up. I don't waste energy in the morning choosing this or that fashion trend. It’s liberating. Same thing with my breakfast: I eat the same meal every day. It's automatic: I prepare my omelet in the morning and that's it.

I feel like I have more headspace now. It’s a subtle change, but it’s there. Things are slowing down in my mind. I don't crave newsfeeds anymore. On the contrary, I cringe when I see any type of random automated endless newsfeed now. I feel calmer. I feel like I can make decisions. Even the smallest ones were hard for me at times: What should I choose from the sandwich menu? Which phone call should I make first? Which book should I read? What do I want for dinner? It’s all clearer now.

I've regained my love of reading. And my ability to read for long hours. There is space now!

#noisymusings #journal #minimalism

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


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