Office renovation

I revamped my office on Labor Day.

The essential elements are still here – the two tables, the many computers, the turntable, and sundry tech office things. Essentially the office doesn’t function significantly differently than before. It even has roughly the same layout. So, what changed?

Trash, first off. I got rid of 2 bag worth of recyclable detritus like empty tech boxes. Actually, it was mostly empty tech boxes.

Next came my main desk, the bigger of the two tables. I ad to replace a dying monitor a few weeks ago. Instead of ordering the same size (27”) or bigger and replacing the other one my son absconded with (which I gifted him) with the same, I got two smaller and lighter matching displays (24”). Between an on-line sale and some credits I got the pair for a song. Now, instead of my desk as the landing zone for a hodgepodge of various bits it houses the displays, the DSLR I use as a webcam, the microphone on a boom, and my coffee mug warmer.

Oh, and the sit/stand desk riser. I can use this for the first time this calendar year.

IMG 0030

Layout wise, I moved the main desk back so I have more space & can see out my office door. The window is better positioned so I can look out and see the woods instead of my neighbor’s house. The ceiling fan and light are now above me instead of in front of me. This is far more comfortable.

However, perhaps the biggest change for my mental well being is the vast reduction in clutter. I carefully ran cables and tied them together with straps. Most of the piles of paper are out of view (until I process them).

The best thing about it, if you include the new monitors, the cost to do this was about $150 with the balance going to some screws, an extension cord, and some other bits ’n bobs. More of the cost went into time – about 5½ hours – with a but more to come to hang white boards (another part of the cost) and tidy my book shelves.

Well worth the effort!

Buy what you need, not what’s on offer

Scott Nesbitt’s story matches my time in Tokyo a bit – small apartment, not a lot of storage, a desire to to happy with less:

Weekly Musings: Weekly Musings 148:

Buy what you need. Not what’s on offer. Those eight words started the gears in my noggin slowly rotating. Those eight words prompted me to ponder what I own and whether I need all of it.

While I identify as something of a minimalist, I have to admit that own more than I perhaps should. And after moving into a 68 m2 (about 732 ft2, for those of you who don’t speak Metric) apartment in 2020, I realized had a bit too much in the way of possessions. Of all sizes — from larger items to smaller tchotchkes.

… It’s all just a bit too much, in my opinion. Too much that I need to cull it.

… But what is too much and what is enough? That varies by person. Some people can get away with just 100 essential things in their lives. Others might need more due to, say, personal or professional demands. Even then, they can be a bit more judicious about what they have, what they want, and what they need.

With latter two, there is a difference

… To escape, we need to ask ourselves this question: Do I really need this?

… You also need to escape the contingency mindset … Maybe you’re holding on to that extra something just in case. In case of what? Loss? Breakage? Breakdown? A situation in which your other tools or software or apps, the ones you use regularly, aren’t quite up to the job? You might run into that situation once in a proverbial blue moon. And chances are you’ll forget you even have that tool or app when (if?) it comes time to use it.

I disagree with Scott on the contingency mindset partially. One needs to have a planned contingency mindset, or better phrased an emergency mindset. One of the lessons learned during the pandemic is that some products and services are critical for riding out an emergency.

It’s also good to point out that minimalism is sometimes a privileged position to take. There’s a cost to replacing perfectly good if cheap pans to replace them with one or two high quality replacements in the pursuit of minimalism. However, if you’re stockpiling jelly jars just in case, then there is little to no opportunity cost to recycling them.

As a new homeowner I am trying to keep to the succinct mantra of “buy what you need, not what’s on offer”. Nevertheless, if there is an item I know I will need eventually but not right now I will sock away some savings for when that item does come on-sale (or on offer). For example, I recently bought a clothes iron that was significantly discounted.

The rest of Scott’s advice is solid, so I encourage you to check out his newsletter.


I’ll be 😆 tomorrow when #Tokyo starts up again from the Summer holiday. Also, this is a test of quill.

Conspicuous Consumption

Conspicuous consumption is not absolute, it’s relative. […]
It’s a lousy game, because if you lose, you lose, and if you win, you also lose.
The only way to do well is to refuse to play.
Earning trust outperforms earning envy.

(Via Seth’s Blog)
Last night I sold my Sonos system, 2x Play:1 & 1x Play:5 I schlepped to Tokyo from the US a few years ago, to another expat. Tomorrow I sell my Canon DSLR and related kit for another bit of cash. 
I supposed I am de-consuming?
BTW, wasn’t “The only way to do well is to refuse to play” the moral of WarGames?

[Weekly Review] Recalculating …

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.

How Recapping My Days Changed My Life


How Recapping My Days Changed My Life:

in 2015, I made a New Years resolution. At the start of each day, I would review what I had done the previous day and log it in a text file. This wouldn’t be literally everything (Otherwise it would get rather tedious); just things that were worth remembering or indicated some kind of action had been taken that would move me forward, no matter how small. If I made a new recipe, it would go in. If I saw a new movie, it would go in. Four years later, and I can safely say that this is one of the best decisions I have ever made. These are some of the ways recapping my days has changed my life.
1. Gives my life an arc
There’s a famous quote from C.S. Lewis: “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?” Life can feel like it’s rushing by you, and you can easily lose of track and how you got to where you are. By logging my days (usefully in single sentences; this isn’t a lengthy diary), I can more easily trace how I got to where I am now When did I move into my current residence? When did I leave a previous job? When I look back on my logs, I can see that my life is a journey, rather than just being a Groundhog Day where everything is always the same.
2. Keeps me accountable
When I don’t feel like doing anything, I remember that I’m sabotaging the “tomorrow version” of myself, who’s going to wake up and not have anything to put in the log. Occasionally, I’ll have to cop to not doing anything and log a “?” for those days. If the day is almost over and I’m scrambling to do something, I’ll add a sentence or two to a short story I’m working on. Then, I can wake up the next day and put “I worked on my short story” for that day’s log. It might not be writing a novel, but it’s still something I can be proud of.
3. Lets me cherish the really important days
At the end of each month, I mark especially notable days in bold. These “Bold Days” don’t have any specific criteria; they’re just ones that were especially important in terms of development or effort. For instance, if I complete an important project or go to a new place, that can be considered a Bold Day. The hope is to make every day a Bold Day. It doesn’t always happen, but I’ve been doing pretty well.
4. Allows me to reflect
Another aspect of this project is reflections. At the end of each month (and year), I consider what has happened and how it has affected me. This has been things like the start of a romantic relationship, adapting to a new living situation, or simply dealing with mental frustrations. Being able to write how I’m feeling without judgment of said feelings allows me to bring more mindfulness into my life.
5. Helps me remember things
I’m not going to say that I have a perfect memory, but I can confidently say that recapping my days has helped to make my memory stronger. When I look back on previous logs, I can better recall past experiences. As we get older, life can feel like it’s going by in a flash and that there’s a lack of meaningful experiences. Taking note of my experiences lets me play movies of my life in my head. Plus, if I ever want to write my memoirs, I’ll already have extensive notes available.
Brody Kenny is a freelance writer. He focuses on self-improvement and mental development, as well as arts & culture. Learn more at

(Via Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement)
I’m working on this. While I’m using on-line tools for this, I find analog note taking more satisfying and something I will be more willing to read later versus the digital version.


Why are 50% of people near me talking on the phone and 50% of those doing it on speaker?


One by one, the urgent goes away:

Those emergencies from a year ago (and a month ago), they’re gone.
Either they were solved, or they became things to live with. But emergencies don’t last. They fade.
Knowing that, knowing that you will outlast them, every single one of them, does it make it easier to see the problem, not the panic?

(Via Seth’s Blog)

Annual Review

As I was about to engage in my personal annual review activities I read this post from Brad Feld. Two things resonated with me.
The first, using one’s birthday instead of the calendar year to do your review, makes sense. Why use an arbitrarily set milestone? Doing it on the anniversary of your birth personalizes it and avoids the crush of people all trying to do the same thing as you at the same time.
Second, I like his versioning. We are not who we were but who we were makes up part of us. So, I am v45.11 of me at the moment. Some iterations are better than others. The idea of fixing something for v45.12 seems less daunting somehow.
What are you doing for your annual review, if anything? If you’re not, let us know on social media.

Breaking Out of the ‘Cheap’ Cycle

Breaking Out of the ‘Cheap’ Cycle:

When money is tight, you’re often shoehorned into buying the cheap version of the item. While this solves the problem in the short term, what you’re usually doing is just kicking the can down the road six months or a year or two years or whatever until that version you just bought wears out and then you’re back to where you started.
On the other hand, if you spent a lot and bought a reliable version up front, that cycle gets much, much longer. It becomes a matter of five years or 10 years or a lifetime before you have to even consider replacing the item, and it does the job well, too.
Yet, when you’re on a tight budget, that high-quality, reliable version of an everyday item is just out of reach, or else it just seems like a frivolous purchase, even though the total cost of ownership is lower over the time you’re using the product and it’ll save you time and headache dealing with a failing item and replacing it down the road.
I’ve been there, and it’s rough. You’re trying to keep your spending low, but when you do that, you end up buying cheap items that end up costing you more down the road. Sometimes, you’re basically forced into that situation.
I like to put it like this: Sometimes, people can’t afford the low cost of ownership items. That seems strange, but the issue is that items that have a low cost of ownership are often items with a big upfront cost, and people often can’t afford that upfront cost. An $18 pair of socks might last for years and years and years and it’s very likely that such a pair will end up costing you less than buying bags of cheap socks, but it’s $18 for a pair of socks. 
There is a road out, however. Here are several things you can do to help break out of the cycle of buying cheap versions of the items you rely on so that you can get reliable ones that won’t fail constantly.

(Via The Simple Dollar The Simple Dollar)
Read the while article for the advice. And remember, no one cares what you spend on anything except for your financial partner. Don’t argue yourself out of a sound financial decision because of what you think “they” will think, whomever “they” are.