Ben Crowder

Blog: #weeknotes

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Weeknotes #3

  • A week of bad news for family. Since last Friday: 1) dad broke a bone, 2) mom broke a bone, 3) two brothers were in an accident, 4) sister got a bad medical diagnosis, and 5) two extended family members died (one in our neighborhood). Whew. 2020 is not over yet, clearly.
  • At work we had university conference, library conference, and division conference this week. All three meetings are so much better in person, but for my safety and my family’s safety (from Covid, to be clear) I’m glad they were all online.
  • My last semester of grad school starts next week. I’m taking two classes, one on advanced graphics and one on deep learning for handwriting recognition. Should be a fun semester. I also finally defend my thesis next week, a year and a half after I finished the research.
  • Sometimes I wonder if I haven’t been ambitious enough in life, if I’m squandering whatever meager talents I have by not gunning to be on the bestseller lists or become a CEO or do extraordinary things. Whenever those thoughts strike, though, I inevitably come to the same conclusion, namely that I rather like this quiet life I’ve got: family-focused, not too busy, with plenty of reading and making. There’s no fame or fortune, and I’m very okay with that. (Maybe I’m having a midlife anti-crisis?)
  • I’ve found that I get much more out of scripture study and general conference study when I subvocalize as I read.
  • As far as reading old books goes, by the way, I’ve found two contradictory techniques that both seem to work for me: slowing down and speed reading. (I know, right?) Slowing down and enjoying a text word by word makes it less daunting for me. And, conversely, I was about to give up on Silas Marner when I decided to try turbo mode. I’m now close to finishing it. (I go faster than my default clip but not so fast that retention drops.)
  • This week I realized that the word revolting (disgusting, repugnant) is connected to revolt (to rebel or overturn). Which is of course extremely obvious in hindsight, but until now I was blind to the link. From my cursory exploration, it looks like the repugnant meaning came later and may have to do with one’s stomach turning over.
  • Some people (real people, not made up, I promise) requested more detail on the pieces in my Sacred Shapes exhibit, so I wrote up backstories and/or thoughts for each piece. Should have done that months ago.
  • I’m cultivating and planning out some new story ideas, though far more slowly than I want to be. This fall will probably not be the short story extravaganza I thought it would be.
  • School starting up again means most of my free time for projects and blogging is about to evaporate. I’ll still try to post regularly, but it may end up being just weeknotes and occasional links.
  • I’m loving the weeknotes format.

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Weeknotes #2

  • After avoiding the preparation of my thesis defense presentation for an embarrassingly long time, I got it together, put it together, and did a dry run with my advisor. All’s well.
  • Art seems to be reclaiming me after that dry spell, though who knows how long it’ll last. I gave my kids a short tour of Blender last night to showcase how animation works, and that sparked an idea which I’ll write about soon once I have a demo piece to show — probably tomorrow. (One could reasonably call it a very small breakthrough.)
  • I’ve been thinking (as I often do, because I am weird) about the flow of time in the consumption of creative arts. More plainly: looking at and initially comprehending a painting is fast. Almost instantaneous. But a book, a song, a dance, a film — all these require time to consume and comprehend. No conclusions yet; still mulling it over, trying to suss out any relevant meaning. Which may not be there, of course.
  • For fun, and to sharpen the saw, I’ve started working through some LeetCode problems. Mmm.
  • I haven’t yet started working on a new story or novel, but that will happen soon, just figuring out which ideas to use.
  • Several good video chats this week —family, friends, and office hours (of which I will post a writeup in the near future). It’s been a humanizing week.
  • It would be nice to have virtual audio backgrounds in Zoom etc. as well as graphical backgrounds. Mask out the crying toddler, add some concert hall reverb.
  • I have to say, getting back into blogging has been incredibly fun, and I’ve very much enjoyed my initial foray so far into working and learning in public.
  • Went on a family drive round the lake. The lake is much larger than I expected; the version of the world in my head is so much smaller than the physical world.
  • What’s caught my interest lately: PostGIS and cartography and map data. I love geography.

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Weeknotes #1

  • Currently around 94% of the way done with the first draft of this novel. Just two or three chapters left. I’m trying to get it wrapped up before school starts, which seems pretty doable at this point.
  • I’m also convinced that I really need to outline next time. And do far more pre-writing. And research.
  • Thesis defense is scheduled! I’m in the middle of preparing the presentation. Very much looking forward to having this defense done and over with.
  • Earlier in the week we had a video chat with one of my siblings, something we haven’t done nearly often enough. It’s good to visit, even virtually. Trying to do that more often, with extended family and friends as well.
  • Lately we’ve been entertaining the scrumptious idea of moving to England someday, at least for a year or two. No idea if it’ll ever actually happen, but it sure would be a dream come true.
  • Lost a coworker this week to another job and gained a new one (from an earlier opening, not a replacement for this week’s emigrant). Sad and happy at the same time.
  • I’m thinking about using a circle packing algorithm and my recent SVG turbulence experiments to do a new version of my Before the World Was piece, since I’m not quite happy with the execution on the original.
  • We watched Inception the other night. Still holds up, for the most part. I’m looking forward to Tenet.
  • Also been enjoying watching Travel Man and Taste the Nation.
  • My goal to read more old books is working. I’ve been reading George Eliot’s Silas Marner (poor fellow) and Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (I’m in the first segment, about Manning, who I’d never heard of before). Both are interesting enough so far.
  • One of my favorite things in life is a brisk early-morning breeze. Overcast autumn days, too. (Not quite there yet, but soon.)

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I recently discovered weeknotes, and I am excited. Extremely short posts (one or two lines, like a tweet) feel too anemic to me for a blog, even after making titles optional, and now here’s a lovely way to handle that: bundle several small posts into a longer, less frequent, more substantial post. Has a nice feel to it, almost like an issue of a magazine.

Some discussion on weeknotes I dug up as I scoured the web:

And here are some of the people whose weeknotes I’ve come across so far (why so many of them are in the UK I do not know, but being an anglophile I also don’t mind in the least):

These feel humanizing to me in a way that scrolling through Facebook/etc. doesn’t. It’s wonderful.

So of course I’m now planning to start writing some myself, probably on Fridays. It’s unclear at this point which types of posts will end up in weeknotes vs. on their own, but that’ll all work itself out eventually.

Lastly: if you find other weeknotes you enjoy reading (or if you start writing your own), let me know!

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Links #3

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