Monthly Review: February 2022


So that’s February done. I said in my last review that my focuses or themes for the month would be writing, diet, and injury recovery. I didn’t do great, but given the circumstances, it wasn’t too bad.
The big headline for the month in our household has been that Covid has finally visited us. So far, four out of five of us have tested positive, with myself completing of a week of snotty coughing. Needless to say, it’s affected pretty much all our plans. Running has been reduced to 1 milers for the majority of February. Although the running streak continues. I tested positive as the government removed legal restrictions on leaving the house. But I’ve been managing risks – only going out at around 9 pm, and swapping sides of the road whenever I see a pedestrian ahead.

Last month’s goals

Because of the enforced rest, my piriformis injury has improved a lot. This was helped along by stretches and bridging. I’m hoping over the next couple of weeks to start testing it a little, just as soon as my LFTs turn negative.

I arrived at some changes to my diet. The primary changes were to consume more carbs, while restricting processed sugars. The improvements started well. My weight was stabilising, and I intended to incorporate some principles from Racing Weight into my training. The main principles were to focus on running performance and body fat percentage. But, the Covid issue has led the past couple of weeks to a LOT of compromising. Myself and various meal delivery services have become very well acquainted. I hope to fix that as we all start to heal up.

The goal around writing more went ok-ish this month. Each week, I’ve been completing different prompts from Tracy Winchell’s Tame Your Monkey Mind. I’ve found it to be valuable. The most recent exercise I tried was writing a letter to your tomorrow’s self. This exercise externalises the events and feelings of today and sets out expectations for tomorrow. Serendipitously, RJ Nestor writes about this metaphor in his most recent newsletter. I recommend it if you’re at all interested in the “tools for thought” space. He describes it as “meta-work”, drawing a line between this exercise and the way modern teams communicate using tools like Trello. I’m going to endeavour to continue doing this, with more of a work-hat on over the next month.

Playground

When I considered what I did in the playground this month, I didn’t feel like I’d achieved all that much. In my head, I’d iterated what was already there and made the weight graph useful. But when I look at my commit log for it, I achieved a fair bit:

  • I introduced some rudimentary navigation. This involved getting all my check-ins and “windowing” them a week at a time.
  • I ripped out all the previous individual weight log pages (which was only ever going to be a temporary hack).
  • And I implemented a trend line, based on the ancient, but still useful Hacker’s Diet. That was more fun than I expected.

You can see my weight graph in action over here. It won’t show much activity over the past couple of weeks, due to a combination of illness and avoiding the truth.

Up next in playground land, I’ll attempt to integrate a calendar view. It may resemble the Contributions feature present on GitHub profiles. Originally, I wanted to wait until I had more data to display. But instead, I’d like to understand whether my data types are right before having to rework them later.

Podcast

I had the pleasure of chatting to Si Jobling on his always-fascinating podcast Make Life Work. We talked about my day job before diving into some of the history and learnings from my playground. It’s weird listening to yourself talk about this stuff. But it has given me some insight into what skills I can work on. For example, communicating complex subject matter. It’s a key part of my job, so to get some real-life introspection like this is borderline priceless.

March

Thinking about what I want to do in March has been straight forwards, there’s a lot of carry-over from last month:
  • More writing. This month though, I’d like to focus on my Zettelkasten. We’re starting a book club at work on the DevOps Handbook. It has made me realise that I’ve amassed unprocessed fleeting notes for my Zettelkasten. I’ve fallen out of the habit of focused writing/thinking. So with that, I wish to make an effort to process and develop my backlog. Also, to get in the habit of processing them as I create them.
  • My fitness plan is going to resemble to plan for February. I’d like to rebuild my running, eat well, and do more support exercises to help protect against injury.
  • And a little stretch goal – I want to start moving my musical muscles again. I don’t yet know what that will look like – Guitar, Ableton, Jazz, Chiptune? All three? Regardless of which, I’d like to shift my default fallback leisure activity from playing copious amounts of Slay The Spire.

Consumption Highlights

Films

Good movie watching month, helped on by Covid layup. Highlights were aplenty, but I’ll stick to three for now:

TV

This month we blazed through Murderville, while Pam and Tommy has proven compelling. We’ve watched lots of other stuff too, but I don’t want to use this as a place for negativity. Those two were my definite highlights.

Podcasts

Reviewing my podcast listening for the month, two things occur to me. First, I need to take some notes on these, if only so I retain more from them than mere passive listening gives. And two, a lot of my favourite/most memorable listens come from the same source podcasts. But rather than regurgitate the same three sources, I’ve picked out a few different ones this time:

Books

  • In February I finished Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. A lovely book with some great lessons contained within it in a non-preachy way. I expect to look at more of her canon in the future.
  • I completed Team Topologies, it gets referenced a lot at my workplace, and for good reason. It overlaps with concepts found in literature such as Accelerate. As well as modern architectural principles like micro-services and event-driven architectures.
  • I started Greg Egan’s Diaspora, which is so far heavy but already rewarding if only in the amount it makes you think.
  • And I started Making Work Visible, another much-cited book at work. It’s too early to have formed an opinion yet though.