Young Hands Club

March 29, 2020

JFW review, week of 23 Mar 2020

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 4:57 a.m.

Having arrived at my parents' place on Sunday after a scramble to evacuate the Isthmus, I found myself with an office to provision and an ample pile of sleep debt to pay. I shopped online and in town in a climate of increasing unavailabilities on both fronts, securing items including ethernet switch, ownable router, headset for VOIP calls, prepaid cell plan refill, surge protector, and SSD.1 The family supplied space, a table, and a temporary exemption from the ban on draping network cables over the mantelpiece.2

I did some approximation of the deferred reviews, though with considerable cost in spinning-time. This added a fresh contribution to what seems to be a growing pile of grumpiness and resistance underlying a layer of lip service to the practice. I talked about the matter with my parents, in the context of a larger question of why I keep myself under such constant pressure. We concluded that at least the way I go about it now the reviewing isn't worthwhile, but there's no reason it couldn't be done much quicker; maybe less perfectionism, or less self-flagellation, or giving recorded conversations a try. While the TMSR shutdown may have added to the brain-mess, it can't be the primary cause since this has been ongoing.

The work involved in getting a reliable and dependency-light V on Gales turned out to be much more than I'd anticipated, but I've now advanced it to a useful milestone -- and gained all the more material to write about, though I didn't at first see this as an upside.

In more front-line JWRD activities, I read and gave some feedback on Robinson's sales article drafts, and got our first training session outline dusted off as a sample for prospective client Daniel Godwin the cross-shaped.

Items in the incomplete bin are testing the Keccakized TRB V-tree and local health insurance (though relatedly, we found that my parents' doctor is not seeing new patients even for emergency). I'm thinking to leave them there and take an actual Sunday off.

  1. My home TRB node was on a desktop that stayed behind. []
  2. "Are you sure you can't just use the WiFi?" - "Yes."

    What, is it my fault the place wasn't properly cabled - or at least conduited - at construction? Though to their credit they had sufficient length of cable on hand. []

March 26, 2020

JFW review, March 9 - 22 2020, part 2

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 6:51 a.m.

Looking closer at the TMSR situation might be what got me hung up on the review before, and perhaps I'll set it aside again in the interests of keeping the rest moving, though this leaves a debt that will surely come due soon enough.

Another point from the wallet episode was that I could have asked more assertively or widely for help on testing.

In between wallet work days I prepared and delivered my relational databases presentation for the Junto. Having done a lengthy search for introductory texts online and come up short of anything satisfactory, I decided to go to the source with Codd's 1970 "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks". This certainly deepened my own grasp of the concepts and their historical context. I used selections to guide the lecture, with some questions to maintain engagement, then covered some SQL basics, and finished with a guided exercise in designing a schema with a few relations, inserting rows and running queries from the shell. There isn't a strong programming background in the group and I don't expect anyone went home able to put it all in practice, but I'd say it gave a glimpse of a world beyond the spreadsheet and whet the appetite for more, which is the main idea of these presentations.

Not so great was doing the prep in last-minute emergency mode, not having substantiated prior plans of getting ahead on it.

In day-to-day Bitcoin adventures, the price crashed against fiat, in a time marked both by MP's closure and escalating coronavirus mayhem. I used GBW to recover the last of my wayward coin from PRB change addresses and an ancient phone wallet backup. On Tuesday the 17th I decided to sell a good chunk of what I had left; unfortunate to be doing so under the conditions, but I figured it safer than risking being forced to liquidate even lower. In a first OTC sale attempt, the counterparty "was buying" and "had cash" but turned out to be brokering and didn't. As lockdowns in the city were getting ever more pronounced, I pushed to get it done the next day with a more reliable local broker.

This proved good timing indeed, as Panama's virus response reached a breaking point for Robinson and me with the announcement of upcoming halt of passenger flights. I guess it can't really be called a Berlin Wall since they don't give advance notice when those go up; still, the prospect of being locked into a small and import-dependent country for an indefinite time, having a bunch of contacts but just a handful of friends and no family, did not appeal in the least.

I moved quickly, booking a flight, getting packed, renting a vehicle, and hauling stuff out to assorted storage locations, both for security and the possibility of discontinuing the apartment contract. Local friends proved solid in this process, and we got in a farewell celebration - just marred by a takeout pizza run that barely finished in time to get home by curfew.

March 25, 2020

JFW review, March 9 - 22 2020, part 1

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 6:18 a.m.

It's been a momentous two weeks since my last review.

I started Monday the 9th behind schedule, having overrun on review and planning the night before. Over the next three days I poured considerable time and effort into polishing off the various parts of my wallet. One aspect of this was simplifying some of the code and configuration process by eliminating unnecessary optionality, and documenting the choices that remained - or so I thought. Another was getting my Scheme interpreter into shape for a genesis, such as getting the tabs and newlines a good deal closer to TMSR style, and backporting some simple improvements from an experimental branch. I let slide the sendrawtransaction TRB patch regrind, in part because I had little idea what sort of bitcoind MP was running or if he even wanted to use the online part (gbw-node) at all. I didn't note this explicitly though, possibly until now.

Upon entering the field with MP on Thursday though, the attempt sunk before any of these points even came up, because of assumptions I hadn't even realized I'd been making. I walked straight into a trap, by answering that I was indeed trying to state dependencies explicitly, yet left the download and V press steps to the imagination because "obviously he'll know how to do that". The upside of the preparation was that I was at least well set up to be surprised; that is, rather than missing things I knew I should have done, I learned a new standard of what preparedness means.

This intersected the larger story of the closure of TMSR announced the day before, and I remain grateful for being given my moment to struggle there, right at the end of it.

To be continued.

March 23, 2020

JFW plan, week of 23 Mar. 2020

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 7:37 a.m.

Daily template

Morning (5h):

  • 1h warmup & breakfast
  • 2h write for blog + break
  • 2h recent log + article reading + responses,1 or errands2

Afternoon (6h):

  • 0.5h lunch
  • 1h reading: leisure on Mon/Wed/Fri, work or TMSR related on Tue/Thu/Sat, choice on Sun.
  • 1.5h focused project work time
  • 3pm - 5pm (UTC-4) project work + #o chat window
  • 0.5h walk or exercise
  • 0.5h flex

Evening (5h):

  • 2h dinner
  • 0.5h blog prep
  • 1.5h flex
  • 0.5h journal
  • 0.5h winding down

This indicates 4-5.5 hours for project work on typical days. Subtracting 4 for weekly review and planning and 4-6 for social time gives 18-30 in the week.

Specific tasks

1. Equip a proper workspace at my new location (involves ordering some network gear and peripherals and running a cable): 4h.

2. Complete past 2 weeks' deferred review: 4h, due Monday.

3. Research and apply for temporary local health insurance: 4h.

4. Patch v.pl for keksum; test; publish vtree and starter building on Diana Coman's v2 with installation docs: 3h.3

5. Press and test mod6's TRB Keccak tree: 1h.

6. Assist Robinson as necessary with chasing deals or editing sales content.

dorion: cruciform, jfw will get you the outline, I'll get you the per module pricing, and I'll give you an update on the written review after I've spoken with client that completed the lessons.
jfw: cruciform: we're a bit busy with getting settled in at new locations now, but I expect we can have these to you by Sunday and will ping you here if that changes.

7. Next week's review: aim for Friday as advised last week pre-crisis.

Time permitting

8. Continue v.sh study.

9. Local networking (meet neighbors, maybe look for local discussion groups online since few will be up for meeting in person).

  1. Though #trilema is closed, I still plan to follow what's left, and I anticipate trilema.com comment threads staying pretty active. []
  2. In the cooler climate I don't see an advantage in scheduling errands first thing in the morning. []
  3. I'm seeing something like bvt's v.sh as the way forward but the tried and mostly-true perl one as a present necessity. []

March 9, 2020

JFW plan, week of 9 Mar. 2020

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 7:43 a.m.

Daily template

Morning (6h):

  • 0.5h warmup
  • 2h recent log + article reading + responses, or errands
  • 0.5h breakfast
  • 2h write for blog + break
  • 1h reading: leisure on Mon/Wed/Fri, work or TMSR related on Tue/Thu/Sat, choice on Sun.
  • 0.5h flex

Afternoon (5h):

  • 0.5h lunch
  • 2pm - 4:30pm project work + #o chat window
  • 1.5h focused project work time
  • .5h walk or exercise (start by 6pm)

Evening (5h):

  • 2h dinner
  • 0.5h blog prep
  • 1.5h flex
  • 0.5h journal
  • 0.5h winding down

This indicates 4-6 hours for project work on typical days. Subtracting 4 for weekly review and planning and 4-6 for social time gives 18-34 in the week.

Specific tasks

1. Clarify intended wallet/bitcoind usage with MP.

2. Finish release of wallet and TRB patch: 10h, due Wednesday. Use the blog to support the effort.

3. Prepare Databases presentation: 6h, due Wednesday afternoon.

4. Present at Junto Wednesday.

5. Work with MP on wallet install/usage 10am (15:00 UTC) Thursday.

6. Assist Robinson as necessary with chasing deals.

7. Unix & Management training exchange Saturday, including some homework to get done on my side: 6h

8. Next week's review: still aiming for Saturday!11

JFW review, week of 2 Mar. 2020

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 7:17 a.m.

Going into this review I had what is apparently my usual notion that it was going to be ugly, as the negatives loomed large in my mind. Indeed there were many, but quite a few positives too and even some improvement over last week, although that had admittedly set a low standard in some aspects.

The listing style seems to have worked for me so I'll go with it again. The better:

  • I paid down some relationship maintenance debts.
  • I rescued an old coin stash from PRB clutches, with side benefit of gaining a wallet command to import keys from the common WIF format.
  • I published two articles (plus the long delayed contact info) on Fixpoint, up from last week's one. The first, on signature attachment schemes generally and in Bitcoin, was an ordeal and this apparently showed in the writing, though I think I got out mostly what I'd wanted and some interesting chats ensued. The second, on my top Trilema picks, also took substantial time to prepare but I had fun with it, and now have a handy list of enticing-to-me re-reading possibilities and ready reminders of what I like about this place.
  • I got the wallet a lot further along than last week (except yeah, not done entirely as I'd imagined it could be).
  • I have an appointment with MP for him to try the wallet, which definitely got the mental gears turning about documentation, install process, and failure modes.
  • I got in some more question-asking practice to good effect in chatting with MP.
  • I picked up the journal again at least a couple times (though I start to wonder if I'm not somehow perversely dropping it some weeks just so as to feel good about resuming the next...).
  • In leisure reading, I picked back up with Don Quijote which had me mostly bouncing around the Spanish dictionary. (Though I wonder now if this is much better at "letting leisure be leisure", given my level there; at least it's quite non-computer-focused.)
  • I humored asciilifeform's curiosity and ended up doing some bridging there; hard to know if anything comes of it but I suppose it made for some diplomacy practice at least.

The worser:

  • Overall I experienced a kind of tense sluggishness, as of being pulled in different directions and not quite running with any of them.
  • I missed preparing my databases presentation.
  • I didn't fully track the comment threads on YHC which seem to be increasing.
  • I almost never stuck to my daily schedule template, which previously had been working better.
  • I missed most of a #o conversation time block without notice.
  • Despite any number of best intentions from inside and jabs from outside, rather than getting the review done Saturday I've regressed to not even making the extended deadline.
  • Rather than improving, my sleep pattern has slightly worsened; this then ripples out by throwing off the daily schedule from the start.
  • I still haven't revisited previously assigned reflection exercises, or tried out the prompts more recently given to Robinson.

The main change I think I should focus on next week is getting back to the basics on the schedule, using it as a guide, adjusting as necessary but not just throwing it out when things slip. Linked to this is continuing the push for daily reflection.

March 2, 2020

JFW plan, week of 2 Mar 2020

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 6:22 a.m.

Daily template

Morning (6h):

  • 0.5h warmup
  • 2h log + blog reading + responses, or errands
  • 0.5h breakfast
  • 2h write for blog + break
  • 1h reading: alternating days of discretionary vs. work and forum-related
  • 0.5h flex

Afternoon (5h):

  • 0.5h lunch
  • 2pm - 4:30pm project work + #o chat window
  • 1.5h focused project work time
  • .5h walk or exercise (start by 6pm)

Evening (5h):

  • 2h dinner
  • 0.5h blog prep (moving earlier from last week)
  • 0.5h journal
  • 1.5h flex
  • 0.5h winding down

This indicates 4-6 hours for project work on typical days. Subtracting 4 for weekly review and planning and 4-6 for social time gives 18-34 in the week.

Specific tasks

1. Get contact info on blog, due: Monday

2. Assist Robinson as necessary with chasing the current or other potential deals.

3. Finish long-delayed article on my understanding of signature attachment schemes (and further articles of course).

4. Prepare postponed Databases presentation for Junto next week: 5h.

5. gbw signer: implement workaround for "dust" rule on change outputs; prepare for publishing: 10h, due: Wednesday.

6. Revisit gbw-node and TRB changes proposed during/since the draft series: 10h, due: Saturday.

7. Likely Saturday: Unix & Management training exchange.

8. Next week's review: due Saturday. (I'm not optimistic about this happening but I'm not giving up!)

JFW review, week of 24 Feb 2020

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 6:00 a.m.

I did some initial moping about my failings of this week, but after jotting down some notes to get started I've been feeling more cheerful about the process. I take this as a promising start; may it grow into that healthy curiosity that I bring to bear in so many other areas.

First the good side:

  • Robinson and I completed a trade on the local OTC market to replenish cash on hand (though belts remain tight and we need to get more sales closed).
  • I made progress on wallet testing, getting a transaction confirmed and turning up a corner case in PRB network behavior that may inform a tweak to the spec.
  • Our Unix and management consulting exchange Monday turned up the priority of having a placement test, for which I implemented an initial version.
  • We celebrated Robinson's birthday.
  • I provided some input to Robinson's history presentation at a (sparsely attended) Junto.
  • I brought up the problem of allowing ourselves to be pushed around about meetings.
  • I met the prospect Robinson had been talking with at his office, where we all talked a while - probably too long really, we should have planned a limit - and finished with a couple games of ping-pong.
  • I ended up finding some simple steps to substantially unjam my email inbox. It turned out I'd set myself up well with segregated addresses and most of the spam was coming to ones that could be dropped. While email isn't the greatest, I still much prefer it to the alternatives for semi-private textual communication with the uninitiated.

The bad:

  • I got little done relative to plan on the wallet and it remains unfinished.
  • I got very little writing done for the blog (again), yet lost time on ...actively not-starting. I don't know why. I should (again) speak up and ask for help, even just feedback on outlines, not like that's only for Will!
  • I dropped the ball on my planned leisure reading, which skimping doesn't seem to have produced even a temporary productivity gain.
  • I missed the simplest item from my plan of getting contact info on my blog. It would get stuck behind "what I really need is to write the article, then I'll take care of that..."
  • I passed on a chance to try working my writing in a different direction with the Qntra lead I stumbled on, that I could have probably written up myself in all the time I otherwise burnt.
  • I mostly avoided or delayed self-improvement work such as considering Diana Coman's feedback on last review, and journaling. I'm letting the valuable resource of her available insight go underutilized.

One simple change I can make is to firm up on my journaling time, and when not otherwise inspired, apply it toward the reflection assignments I've already been given.

February 24, 2020

JFW plan, week of 24 Feb 2020

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 6:21 a.m.

Daily template

Morning (6h):

  • 0.5h warmup
  • 2h log + blog reading + responses, or errands
  • 0.5h breakfast
  • 2h write for blog + break (moved earlier from last week)
  • 1h reading: alternating days of discretionary vs. work and forum-related
  • 0.5h flex

Afternoon (5h):

  • 0.5h lunch
  • 2pm - 4:30pm project work + #o chat window
  • 1.5h focused project work time
  • .5h walk or exercise (start by 6pm)

Evening (5h):

  • 2h dinner
  • 1.5h flex
  • 0.5h blog prep
  • 0.5h journal
  • 0.5h winding down

This indicates 4-6 hours for project work on typical days. Subtracting 4 for weekly review and planning and 4-6 for social time gives 18-34 in the week.

Project tasks

1. Monday evening: Unix & Management training session (moved from Saturday)

2. Get contact info on blog (missed last week), due: Monday

3. Wednesday evening: attend Junto

4. gbw signer: continue testing, debug as necessary, prepare for publishing: 10h

5. Revisit gbw-node and TRB changes proposed during/since the draft series: 10h

6. Ask about proposed clearsigning scheme - not sure why I keep dropping this; anyway I have an article in mind to write about Bitcoin tx signing which might provide some reference.

JFW review, week of 17 Feb 2020

Filed under: Jacob Welsh — Jacob Welsh @ 6:01 a.m.

Let's start by loading up some logs:

diana_coman: jfw: what's your status/plan for the plan & review this week?
diana_coman: also, is the writing again stuck or falling by the wayside due to focus on the wallet or what?
jfw: diana_coman: I need to check on plans this evening; depending on that I'll do the review then or tomorrow.
diana_coman: jfw: in other words, most likely similar to last week, lolz.

jfw: diana_coman: I think the writing vs. wallet has been more a matter of resistance to getting started and turning to other work to at least get something done. I have things to write on too, just need to buckle down and do it
diana_coman adds to the list of things to ponder just wtf are deadlines such a difficult thing for others.

diana_coman: jfw: honestly, I'm really happy to hear of your progress on the wallet; there is at least that.
jfw: thanks diana_coman, glad to hear it.
jfw: better if more progress on 'fixing my head' too as BingoBoingo puts it, I know.
diana_coman: myeah; I guess I might need to look for a bigger hammer in the end, dunno.

diana_coman: jfw: do tell me something - is the wallet work otherwise really taking up all time/mind-space or is it just that there's ~always something else found to fill the non-wallet space or what exactly?
jfw: it doesn't soak up all the time, no. so as to what does... I guess it's reading or thinking but not being efficient about it

diana_coman: jfw: did you figure out any usefulness for those weekly reviews?
jfw: diana_coman: I haven't taken a proper look at them; but at least they get me to look closer at what's going on and keep a record
jfw: kinda looks like I ignored the comment, huh. I didn't exactly; thought "that's a good idea, I should take the time to do those things"; but then didn't make the time
diana_coman: yeah, all the good intentions, I know.

I didn't tell quite the whole truth there. The other thought I had on seeing the questions and prompts in the comment was an unexpressed, possibly self-fulfilling prophecy: "if I made time for this, I'd just end up wasting it anyway, and I'd really like to get things done this week."

Well, having gotten things done during the week, I ended up taking most of the weekend to sit with myself making various attempts and non-attempts to get on top of the accumulating question marks and maybe for once get a review in ahead of time. It's now Sunday night so that part didn't happen; what of the rest? I dillied; I dallied; I picked up distractions and set them down again; I laughed a bit and cried a bit at the intransigence of my childish refusal to get started; I spilled some thoughts in the journal. Eventually I read through my old reviews - finding it tedious at first but better after the first few, not sure if that reflected the writing or my state of mind - taking some notes on the surface level of what they said but not having much luck answering whether or how they were or weren't helpful.

The one revelation I think I got from all this was a glimmer of clarity as to my root problem (perhaps not the only, but at least one of the bigger ones), which I imagine will surprise no one. It's this avoidance mechanism. My meta-weakness - or perhaps better put as a self-defeating sort of strength - is the stubborn refusal to confront my other weaknesses. This accounts for a number of problems both past and present. From a brief look at the popular (search engine favored) psychology press, the term "avoidance coping" seems to fit well, or as it's been put around here "running away from the scary". It provides temporary relief from a stressor, but by indulging it one lets the problems grow and multiply and ends up oppressed by them rather than gaining confidence and mastering them.

Looking honestly at oneself may never be exactly easy, but it's also not as hard as I make it out to be in my head. Perfectionism perhaps plays a role too, but what's that if not making a task out to be harder than it needs to be? At any rate I don't think time management is the main problem at this point, in the sense of losing track of time or under-planning.

Naming and accepting a problem is just a start of course, but that which has a name has form, and can be observed, researched, and ultimately confronted rather than flailing blindly. If indeed this avoidance habit is my top problem, then I choose fixing it, one step and one day at a time, as my top priority. Though I grant that's a bit abstract as priorities go.

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