Seeking active engagement in the world away from screens
Monday morning is off to the right start. I got to bed on time last night, but woke up a little on the late side, so I’ve really got to get cracking this morning. I was able to complete the draft of the Substack post on Bitcoin, so I’ll be editing that and getting ready to publish. I have a project or two to work on for my day job today, one around mobile device management, and the other around a managed GitHub instance. Then a call at twelve to catch up with a political contact and deal with some lingering issues from my last campaign.
And did I mention I had to do all that while watching the kids?
I finished Fluent Python, last night. I’ll admit I ran through the last couple chapters on metaprogramming without reading too much of the code, but the book was very valuable, and I learned quite a lot from it. Ramalho has a lot of further reading references in the books various chapters, so I plan on going back and looking over the ones the says are “must read”, like the cookbooks from Dave Beasley. Unfortunately, I haven’t been doing any programming in Python lately, since I’ve been writing and working on WordPress mostly, , working with Docker and now trying to learn how manage Nginx reverse proxies. My hope is that once I finish this client site, I can go back and focus on a programming project like my GBTC estimator.
I’m still reading Digital Minimalism as well, and started reading the chapter on leisure. Newport points to the FIRE movement as an example of a community that’s renewed a focus on leisure. This leisure, as Newport defines it, is not the lounging around, watching Netflix, but is the more physically engaged kind, usually involving, vigorous outdoor activity.
I can’t wait for Missus to read this book. She’s deleted Facebook off of her phone a few days ago, and I couldn’t be more happy. Newport says that it’s important for people to have something to fill the void left when people cut the cord on these various technologies, else they may wind up feeling anxious or empty. I have obviously been doing that with writing. I’m still much more comfortable sitting with a keyboard in front of me when I have the choice, but I have been doing a better job maintaining myself. I still spend a lot of time cooking, and doing the yard. And I’m glad to see that Missus has taken after gardening with a bit of zest.
Still, we have two very different responses to free time, and it’s become a bit of a sticking point in the way we’re raising the kids. She’s much more lax about the amount of television that she lets them watch, where I would rather see them doing more active activities. Even playing video games engages the brain more than just watching television passively. As does reading a book, which we all enjoy. For what it’s worth, she would much rather go on vacation to the beach, and lounge with a book, where as I would rather go on a white water rafting trip. I may be trying to fit pegs into holes with this description, but I’ll see what she thinks after she has a chance to read it.
That said, keeping the kids busy is the most challenging part of my day, and biggest impediment to getting deep work done. Thankfully they’ve got their friends down the street to play with. I feel a bit busy that they spend so much time down there. Everytime I tell them to get some outside time, it’s the first thing that they want to do. We’ve been having them over a lot also, so I guess it’s fair.
Fourth of July is this Friday, so we’ve decided to make it a four day holiday and go back up to see my father in law at his house at a ski resort. Last time we were there the kids and I discovered a network of hiking trails in the woods behind the houses, running along a little stream. I’m really looking forward to getting back up there and exploring them with the girls. Our state is supposed to be going into Phase 3 for the reopening plan, so there may even be campgrounds or real hiking trails open. We’ll have to check.
Hopefully it won’t be too hot there in the mountains, under the forest canopy. It’s already started getting warm here in the afternoons. It was ninety degrees on Saturday for the party, but we had shade in the back from our trees for the kids slip and slide. We put our ten foot canopy up on the back deck, over our patio set, and made a little VIP are for the adults. We decided to leave it up, since it makes a nice addition and lets us stay out on the back deck when the sun’s overhead. I’m sitting out here now. It will be interesting to see if the pandemic slowdown has any noticeable effect on temperatures this summer. Hopefully August and September won’t be too bearable, otherwise we’ll be spending a lot more time up in the mountains.
Now that Missus has her work laptop, we’re basically free to work anywhere. And while that’s an attractive prospect, it also means redefining what we do for fun. I often use Costa Rica as my go-to when I’m talking about living FIRE or doing geoarbitrage. I don’t really have a deep-seated to desire to go there, I’ve just heard it mentioned as a popular place for American expats to go.
If we are to make a go of it, Missus and the kids and I will have to redefine what leisure means to us. Maybe this weekend will be a test of what things can be like if we are able to work while on the road. When the kids come and tell me that they’re bored, I say “good”, and leave them to find something to do, but that’s going to be a lot harder if we’re away from home and they don’t have their screens or their toys with them. It will be hard for the adults too, but that seems to be the way to a fulfilling life, away from the stress and anxiety of the world.