Should I keep blogging?

This is not a passive-aggressive maneuver to get you to scroll to the bottom, read the footer and consider supporting my work. (It would mean a lot though if you did.)

This is a serious question which I ask myself at a frequency approaching every minute. All the benefits are not directly measurable.

Exposure — In order to ensure I have material to write posts, I have various processes and systems that force me to skim an insane amount of stuff pretty much every day. If you imagine skimming my weekly email in a second or two, that’s 7 items. I skim about 300 to 500 items every day. A small number each day catch my attention enough that I toss them on my read-later queue. There are 764 things on that queue at this instant. It takes me significant time to read them, but often just a few seconds to realize, “yeah this is going to be a blog post” (and then I go on reading to the end and then I write the post.) If I stopped blogging, would I still do all that work to be exposed to ideas?

Learning — Writing blog posts creates a third “imprint” in my mind. First a glance, then a read, and then thinking about it. Even if I sometimes abort the blog post mid-writing, it’s still three different repetitions. And I have software that feeds me my own blog posts (“what did I post 10 years ago, today?” etc.) so I am constantly re-reading everything on this site; that’s more repetitions as things drift into history.

Integration — If I write a blog post about it, I generally try to figure out its relationship to everything else. Adding blog tags is the most obvious bit of integration. But figuring out what to pull quote involves deciding what is salient to me. And deciding which part(s) I want to focus on, magnify, or disagree with requires further integration.

Writing — Thoughts swirl in my mind. Characters appear on my screen. There are several skills one can work on between those two sentences.

All of that goes into feeding my personal growth and priming my curiosity. Since good conversation is powered by genuine curiosity, all that stuff also enables my person mission.

Should I keep blogging? It doesn’t feel like stopping is realistically an option.

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1,000 quotes

Wow. Here’s the 1,000th quote added to my collection:

The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think that it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud and it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question – is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.’ And we… kill those people.

~ Bill Hicks

slip:4a1000.

I don’t “use” the numbers in simple 1, 2, 3, … order. Often I find several quotes from one person at the same time. I don’t want 20 quotes in a row from Leo Tolstoy in the daily quotes podcast. I space them out and end up with a smattering of numbers used out of order. So I keep a little list:

Each time I find a quote, I look to find the next number. When I used 999 for a proverb I thought, “I wonder what quote will be next?” And promptly forgot all about the milestone.

Today I bounced on my take-me-to-a-random-post link (see About this site) and landed on a very old post from 2013. It was a very large block of text, much longer than what I usually quote. I trimmed it down to what’s show above and copied it into my collection. I looked up the number and …surprise! 1,000.

In case you’ve not noticed the new bit of copy in the footer: You can get a daily quote by email from my Little Box of Quotes.

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Thoughts on Conversation

A few weeks ago I finally got around to starting a dedicated newsletter for my Thoughts on Conversation over on Substack. This new, weekly newsletter is free to subscribers through Substack—you can read it on the web or via email.

Over on Substack I’m publishing more polished work. I’m sharing what I’ve learned and hopefully engaging in discussion.

The blog here at constantine.name remains the same; same posts, same quotes, same same. Here on the blog things are messy as I’m working with garage door up. There’s a lot of discovery and reflection happening here. If you’ve not been to the actual blog web site in a while, you may want to swing by my new Projects Page to see what I’m up to.

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Weekly email redesign

I’d like to do a bit of meta-discussion to start this week’s email. (If you’re reading this on the web site, these posts are assembled into a weekly email. This post sits atop this week’s assemblage.)

I reworked the stuff at the top to ensure that each email has a little more “what the heck is this?” context. I’ve moved the “hey could’ya?” contribute stuff down to the very bottom, (and added a non-subscription, any amount you like option.) I’m imagining that keeps it from being in the way, but is still noticeable—if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’re probably finding at least some value in the email.

I’d be happy to hear any thoughts you have about these changes: Is the please-support-my-work stuff too out-of-sight now? Does the stuff at the top make sense? After reading these emails, is there anything you’ve wanted to do—anything at all—that you didn’t know how to do?

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Thhhhpbt

Burnout research shows that cynicism is an easy way out when we don’t have the mental resources to cope. It’s no surprise that cynicism is a core attribute of the burnout equation: during a time of ongoing stress it’s much easier to be pessimistic than it is to mobilize and make a difference.

~ Chris Bailey from, https://alifeofproductivity.com/remember-burnout-and-cynicism-go-hand-in-hand/

That short blog post is about news-from-the-Internet and the pandemic, but it’s perfectly applicable to any source of chronic stress. For me, the chronic stress is entirely self-inflicted and the cautions remain the same.

I’ve gotten relief from myself over the years through journaling and blogging. Journalling gives me some perspective. (But it is difficult to do it well, since it can degenerate into subjectivity, navel gazing, or whining.) Blogging gives me the chance to regularly work with the garage door up; showing my work by exposing my thinking. Even if mostly no one calls me on anything, knowing that people are looking calls me to a higher quality of thinking.

Yesterday and today I’ve been thinking about taking another look at cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A couple years ago I made a pass at understanding it—specifically wondering if one could “do it” to oneself. (Yes.) I’ve dusted off a small volume for a re-read to see what I can tune in my existing self-care routines, and hopefully find some new ones to settle into for a while.

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Commentary: On

When I started adding quotes to this blog I put a lot of thought into how they were presented. In particular, I decided not to unpack my thoughts about the quote. And more recently I’ve pointed that out, saying that I wanted you to have the chance to stumble over the quote without my muddying your first impresions.

In hindsight, that doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes the quotes appear right adjacent to something else I’ve written, or next to other quotes… and at the very least you’re finding it in the context of my blog (or email.) Worse, I often find I have something I’d like to say about the quote, and I’ve simply let that stuff pass unwritten.

So there are about 700 quotes published here already. I’m going to republish them adding…

gotcha! No, I’m not. I just wanted to point out that you’re going to start seeing quotes paired with my reflections… and boy howdy that kinda looks like the rest of the stuff I do here already, like quote something someone wrote . . . so yeah Craig, what really is/was the difference.

Meanwhile, we’re going back to 7 “posts” within each weekly email. If you’ve been here a while (and if not– Hey, welcome new friend!) you know I’ve been trying to work through the “frontlog” of scheduled quotes. I’ve gotten ahead… or should I say, less ahead? …or closer to being behind?? Anyway, the scheduled queue is down to about 90 days into the future. So back to a post a day. (Because, after all, you can also just subscribe to the RSS feed— all Mailchimp does is check that feed, once a week, and email it to you. ;)

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2022’s touch-phrase shall be…

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I hope these emails aren’t piling up in your inbox. I know of at least one reader who really enjoys them. They enjoy them so much, they keep saving them for a better time to read them, and they now have a pile. That’s not what I meant to do to you; I’m so sorry!

Back on 3/3/2021, I changed this blog from going out as a daily email, to be a weekly email. One of the reasons was that I didn’t want my email piling up in your inbox. I don’t mean “waaaaaaaaa, you’re not reading!” I mean that I don’t want to be making your life worse. It doesn’t actually affect me whether you read in a timely fashion, read later, or not at all. But puh-LEASE think about this:

If you enjoy these emails so much, don’t you deserve to have a specific time that you can look forward to? Your favorite reading nook, a cup of tea (or rum or whatever)… you know: Make a little ritual out of it. If that ritual turns out to make your life better, then you can always remove my silly missives and slot in something actually worth reading. I digress.

Choose wisely.

Those of you who are regular readers will be aware that I’ve been thinkering on the touch-phrase for 2022. Coming out of the fourth turn, it looked briefly as if, Urgency?! might pull ahead in the final stretch to win by a, “U”. But it wasn’t to be; Choose Wisely was hard at it the whole way down the back stretch and simply had too demanding a lead for Urgency?! to overcome. And why did this turn into a horse race metaphor? They do sound like the name of race horses though. Choose Wisely takes up the mantel from a long lineage of winners: “No.” “Simplify” “Hell Yes! or no.” and “Festina Lente” (which is not an assessment of pasta’s done-ness) to name a few.

Hopefully—lest my life have no meaning—I’ve made you laugh, or think twice, in the past year. Seriously though, please consider hitting one of those supporter links at the tippy top. Every dollar really does matter and move me towards making a living doing things I enjoy.

In other news, I’ve hit the “Drop cap” button on that paragraph back there a ways. Why? No reason. Just always wanted to use it, just to see what it looks like in the emails.

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Water pump

Have you ever worked a hand-operated water pump? I mean the outdoor, permanently installed ones for pulling up drinking water. There’s a lot of varability to them, but generally there’s a bit of pumping before there’s any fruit to the labor. In my mind, there’s also a particular sound that goes with the initial machinations.

Sometimes, when I want to create a blog post from nothing, I hear that sound. You start on that pump. Then you’d hear the sound change, you’d feel the water make the action of the pump more leaden as the amount of effort changed.

But still, no water yet. You’d lean into it a bit more. Some sounds of water now. A gurgling rising in pitch which you instinctively know means the space for air is dwindling rapidly. And at a hard to predict moment . . .

You get a blog post about water pumps when you were expecting drinking water.

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Random please

I’m a process process process person. The second time I have to do something, I’m trying to figure out how to either never have to do that again, or how to automate it. (And failing those two, it goes into my admin day.) But being process oriented also means I like to build tools to enable doing things that weren’t previously possible.

Recently, I installed a little bit of code on my site that will bounce one to a random post. This means I can now have a link, which takes me to a random quote. I collect all the quotes because I want to read them. A big portion of the enjoyment comes from their discovery. So any time I can mange to re-discover a quote, by stumbling over it some how, that’s a bonus. So now, each morning, I bounce myself to a re-discovery…

https://constantine.name/?redirect_to=random&tag=quotes

Which is great to bookmark— Except, if you click that, you land on a quote; and making a bookmark is then of that specific quote. Instead you have to manually create a new bookmark—so that’s your homework for today, go figure out how to do that in your fave web browser. In that new bookmark, you can copy-and-paste that URL as the address for the bookmark. Then, any time you go to that bookmark, my web site will bounce you to a random quote.

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