There Are Too Many Kinds Of Dashes:

So you’ve got the hyphen. That’s the “-” guy. It joins words together. When you put “-ass” at the end of an adjective, you are using a hyphen. Also when you are separating out the syllables of a word, like for effect—“pre-pos-ter-ous”—that is also a hyphen job. The hyphen’s function in that case is to make clear that these things are joined. The hyphen is an okay-ass punc-tu-a-tion mark.

Then there is what is called the “figure dash.” That, too, is the “-” guy. It has the same meaning and use as the hyphen, but when you use it to connect numbers, rather than words or parts of words, you call it a “figure dash.” Your phone number (555-123-4567) is connected by figure dashes. But let’s be real, here: Those are just frickin’ hyphens. The “figure dash” is bullshit.

Then, if you are a regular reader of this website, you likely know the “em dash,” which several of us, most especially me, overuse badly. (My editor, who also overuses it, added two of them to the first paragraph.) That’s the “—” guy. The long one. It has many uses, but mostly you will see it on either side of an interpolation—not an aside (which would be better marked with parentheses)—in the middle of a sentence. In writing that contains dialog, the em dash also is good for marking an interruption.

(Via Deadspin)

This is the first time I’ve really thought about the various dashes. I knew of them but not really the “official” uses of them, in so far as they are defined.

But wait!

And then, would you believe it, there is a whole other dash. This is the dreaded “en dash.” The en dash is shorter than an em dash but longer than a hyphen. … The en dash does a bunch of stuff. It denotes a closed range or continuum of values … But it can also denote a relationship between two separate or even opposed things, like in a sports score … The en dash can also do other stuff. For example, it can help to sort out PEMDAS weirdness when you’re sticking a prefix (“non-” for example) onto a phrase that is already compound and joined by a hyphen.

Thus, we have five different dashes (if you include the minus subtraction sign as a distinct character for mathematical equations, which I do) that we have to use. This is a mess.

I co-sign on this solution:

So what I am proposing is that there should be two kinds of dashes. There should be a short dash (-) and a long dash (—). The short dash can be for basically everything that you don’t use an em dash for. The long dash can be for the em dash stuff. Ranges can just be short-dashed. Sports scores, too. Nobody is going to think that the Lakers defeated the Wizards by every number between 39 and 173. When I write that you are a goober-ass loser, nobody will wonder if what I mean is that you have somehow lost a coalition between the opposed forces of “goober” and “ass.” It’ll be fine.

The whole article is kind of fun, so read it for the silly sport-y examples.

The drawback to the pub’s musical mix (I assume it’s via one of the streaming services) is that I’m occasionally subjected to Steely Dan, The Grateful Dead, and other classic rock bands I can typically do without (GD’s Touch of Gray being a notable exception). As always, follow your own joy and enjoyment.

If you are a Steely Dan, the band, fan, you may want to stop here.

If you’re a William H. Burrows fan or really like Naked Lunch, this does not go there. I like the author and the book, and kind of enjoyed the movie. Maybe someday I will write about them. This is not that day.

Continue reading

I’m loving most of the mix the pub is playing today. Two doses of The Band, a few other lighter bits, and the afore mentioned Genesis song was good fun.

Now, Epitaph from King Crimson is on the speakers. This may well be one of the first times I’ve heard this in the wild, but even if I have it does not diminish my enjoyment.

I used to weekly review almost religiously. I fell out of the habit somewhere along the way though I cannot recall when or why. This week I am restarting this habit yet again (some false starts exist in my timeline).

Re-starting the weekly review habit means defining what I’m going to do differently this time to help make it stick.

Make it fun and positive

Maintenance mode isn’t something I generally enjoy, but I love fixing things. Looking at week from the perspective of what would I do differently and what do I want to instead of something more historical should help me keep focus.

Think about what

What do I like? I like listening to jazz. I like when I speak Japanese – not perfect Japanese but when I try. I like my house clean. I like when I have a project. I like travel. I like spending time with family and friends. I like reading, eating, drinking, writing, and getting a shave & haircut.

… Don’t think about why

The why behind doing something, at least for me, ties me up in guilt, regret, and justification. I tent to phrase my “why” statements in those terms, which isn’t actually useful.

Do I need to think about why I like the above things? No. Do I need to explain to others why I like these things? No. Spending time defining these in terms of “why” adds no value and potentially reduces my enjoyment of them. If I think something might be out of the main stream, I will change the “why” into defensive statements and start to question them.

And yes, this post is a bit of why albeit with a lot more what.

Schedule the time, value the effort spent, and honor it

Honoring my time and the value of the weekly review is key to this. The items above are to help make this a joy and not a chore.

We measure what we value

The weekly review (with monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews) are meant as a checkpoint and opportunity to measure how I’m doing as me. While the weekly review is on the calendar week, the others are triggered off of 19 January because they are about me, my growth, and my development.

What am I doing, in practical terms?

There are several buckets I’m reviewing weekly. They are:

  • Finances
  • Goals: Personal and Professional
  • Deliberate Practice (DP): Japan & Japanese
  • DP: Emacs
  • DP: Heath – physical, mental, emotional
  • DP: Stoicism
  • Getting Things Done (GTD) capture and processing
  • House cleaning, specifically things like washing sheets and windows (in totally different ways)
  • Planning, including block scheduling office hours for the coming week

The Deliberate Practice items are done daily. The weekly review is to measure how I’m doing on them, both in effort spent and how I feel about my progress.

The other thing I do, which I may make into a weekly habit, is my batch food preparation. I will press my InstantPot into service making pulled chicken, rice, and other things for the week’s meals.

Is this too much?

It is a lot to start. Subsequent weekly reviews should reduce the effort. In a few weeks I want to reach a point where I spend more time planning and less reviewing.

What am I not doing?

I’m not looking at social media/SNS at all. I’m not looking at my posts. I’m not looking at work aside from my professional goals and planning for the coming week’s calendar.

Work items are best thought about and planned on company time and not on personal time. Personal and work time blend a bit in a consultant’s life. In Japan, where office hours are the norm, it’s easier to make the distinction. To that end, one of the things I am doing in my weekly review is setting my office hours for the week via block scheduling.

Right now, I think for the first time in my Japan life, I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) off of Genesis’ 1972 album Selling England By The Pound is playing in the wild – in this case in the pub I’m in for lunch this rainy Sunday.

QR Codes and Big Data:

After the 7pay QR Code launch and security meltdown, Twitter is full of Japanese tweets asking ‘why do we need QR when we already have fast secure FeliCa services like Apple Pay Suica?’

… As Suzuki san points out, from the convenience store point of view, the problem with customers using Suica, nanaco or T-Point is that they don’t have personal data attached to them. Anybody can buy a Suica card at a JR station or a nanaco card at 7-Eleven and use it on the spot. The only piece of data going into the system is the card id#. They can’t get your name, phone, etc. and profile the customer. With QR Code apps and an account signup/sign in, QR Code platform operators get the information they want to profile customers and plug it into Big Data.

The customer ends up being the product. It’s not about offering better service or technology.

(Via Ata Distance)

Yet again Joel nails the situation, along with Junya Suzuki (link in Japanese). All of these QR Code releases seem so slap-dash (poorly planned and executed). I avoid these things point programs.

Read the whole article for more insight and details.

I enjoy Frank Turner’s music. I picked up his Love Ire & Song (Amazon US JP) almost as a lark back around 2009 in some Amazon sale. Had I bought physical media (and I do want to get this on LP someday) I would have worn a hole in it. I still listen to the album a few times a year.

Imagine my delight when these came across my RSS reader!

I Won’t Sit Down: Songwriting with Frank Turner (Part 1):

Federico and John are joined by musician and songwriter Frank Turner to talk about getting started, the transition from post-hardcore band Million Dead to an acoustic solo career, songwriting, the music industry, evolving your work and staying relevant, being productive on tour, the advantages and pitfalls of social media, and fans.

I Won’t Sit Down: Songwriting with Frank Turner (Part 2):

To wrap things up with speak to Turner about the democratization of the creation, access, and distribution of music and other media, the role of hard work and luck, the songwriting process, when to listen to feedback and from whom, editing your work, the role of technology in songwriting, the state of albums today, and a whole lot more. It was a fantastic way to finish up, so be sure to check it out.

(Via MacStories)

I saved these for a rainy weekend day, and today is that day.

Oddly, as much as I love this album, I don’t know much else Frank has done. I’m looking forward to some discovery in these shows. And I will have to go on the lookout for his live shows in Japan.