Undo that mess: Fixing code formatting

Over at the Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger site, Steven Pigeon wrote this post about cleaning up code formatting.

Diving head first into Emacs again via rebuilding my init.el means a lot of copy-n-paste. I do not agree with everyone else’s coding conventions.

I will stay tuned for the next installment of Steven’s code plus keep an eye on the comments, then copy-n-paste for my own purposes!

Energy Trifecta

I learned something I already knew: exercise, diet, and sleep work together on energy.

I exercised twice on Monday. I ate well rounded balanced meals. I stayed off of alcohol.

I slept poorly. I tossed and turned. I didn’t fall asleep until well after 22:00 but still woke by 04:30. I was a good boy and still exercised and ate a good breakfast, but Tuesday I was exhausted. Tired equals low focus, so my nascent org config is under something of a test.

Ideally my org setup will help keep me productive when my energy and focus is low. It’s kind of working but my data is all over the place, digitally speaking.

What do you do to stay productive when your energy is low or focus is scattered?


Edgar Rojas and I discussed excercise on an episode of the PVC Security podcast. He was coaching soccer (football) and being mobile while counting his steps. He was getting healthy and losing weight and feeling good.

I talked about my challenges with exercise. To sum up: I do not like exercise. Even when I was at my peak active in high school and college, playing sports and such, I did not like exercise. I loved competition, but not exercise. I never got the “runners high”, even when I ran cross country as part of baseball preseason training.

Over the years I tried other plans for health, the 7 minute workout and yoga and a walking desk. Only the last one stuck, but as much as I walked I laid plywood down and set up my tall chair.

Health wise, the event that caused the greatest benefit was when I was laid off in 2013. I was over 260 pounds, 118 kilograms, from stress and travel (2 out of every 3 weeks on the road) and a crazy sleep schedule to support my global operations team. I got down to my current 96 kg, 211 lbs, pretty quickly but since platoed at that weight.

A recent health scare got me re-evaluating my general health. I cut back drastically on my alcohol intake. I moved to a largely pescitarian diet (though cheese remains a delicious challenge). I go vegetarian or vegan as much as possible, a challenge in Japan. The theoretical needle on my digital smart scale barely registered the changes.

I hit the gym.

Living in Japan means, among other things, that daylight savings time is not a thing. Around the Summer Solstice the sun is up before 04:30. I long ago preferred an early start to my day. 04:30 is a bit extreme, yet that is when I wake up without an alarm. I might “sleep in” to an incredible 05:15, but it is a rare day I sleep past that.

What to do?

I hit the gym.

My building has a gym in the 2nd sub basement past the bicycle parking garage. In the gym there are three treadmills, two cycling devices, and four weight-type machines. There is another space for yoga and 7 minute workouts and such.

I hit the gym after waking up. I press start on the coffee maker and head out the door. Being Japan, I wear outdoor shoes to transit from my apartment to the gym, then change into my workout shoes (and yes, I did originally type tennis shoes because I am of a certain age).

I like the machines. I like the weight machine were I can work out my upper body three different ways that all hurt different. I like the machine where I can do something like row a boat or pull down a … I do not know … a dead body? I like the machine where I can work out my legs while on my back and then while on my front. Even the treadmill, the foundation of my walking desk, gets new found respect in light of the other gizmos and gadgets.

These are early days, but I hit the gym 5 of 7 of these early days.

The weirdness is that there is no direct competition. If I had a brother or sister or friend to compete against, I can see it. But I do not. I wanted to work out today, but I know there needs to be a rest and recovery day. Even cross country running for baseball in high school, I did it more to beat my friends and teammates than to be healthy or anything.

Will I sustain this?

I do not know.

What I do know is that I am feeling the cognitive benefits. Combining it with the concept of Deep Work means I get serious work done before I get mired in meetings to a certain extent. A lot of my meetings involve the US and Europe, so a 06:00 or 23:00 conference call happen.

When my calendar is clear, using the time for deep work after a workout seems, based off of a short term anecdotal bullshit, to do me good.

Will I sustain this?

I do not know.

I know that I want to sustain this. I also know that no one sabotages me like I do. I am my own worst enemy, as we all are to ourselves.

I like that I seem to like those damn machines. Maybe that is enough.

What about you? Does any of this ring true to you? Share your thoughts and comments.

Killing the Dock

There are lots of design decisions made by Apple in OS X (now macOS) one can appreciate. I like the universal menu bar at the top of the screen. Overall it saves on space (assuming you need a menu bar).

One I do not like is the Dock. By default it takes up a lot of space, windows cannot cover it, and it wants your attention often. Application windows behave oddly compared with other Desktop Environments using a similar metaphor.

Kill The Dock (for MacOS) – Michael Rurka — ルデ – Medium

Shrink the Dock with zoom

In the Dock settings, move the Size slider all the way to Small. Select Magnification and set the slider to Max.

Hide the Dock

Select “Automatically hide and show the Dock”.

Increase Hover Time

In the terminal set the delay for the Dock to 5 seconds. Set the number higher if you want.

defaults write com.apple.Dock autohide-delay -float 5 && killall Dock

Kill the Bouncing Icons

Someday someone will tell me why Apple decided a bouncing icon in the Dock demanding the user’s focus and attention for even the most mundane information is a good idea. I cannot even imagine.

I followed MacWorld’s Rob Griffiths‘ advice from here:

defaults write com.apple.dock no-bouncing -bool TRUE && killall Dock

Use Witch, Alfred, & Keyboard Maestro to Improve Things

I use Alfred similar to Michael’s approach. I also use Keyboard Maestro for launching shortcuts to either launch or raise specific apps – for example, Control-Command-S for Slack. Alfred – Productivity App for Mac OS X & https://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/

Most important, I use witch to provide Windows-like task switching via Command-tab. Witch · Many Tricks

The Big Rethink

I am recovering from a bout of illness. I will save you, Dear Reader, the gory details.

The event is causing me to re-evaluate my habits, workflows, automation, and outsourcing. My reluctance to call on my friends and co-workers or my building concierges for help caused me more suffering than I should have endured, would have triggered my recovery sooner, and lessened the impact on others – especially at work.

Part of my rethink is my recovery-mandated sobriety. Focus is always a challenge for me after a few beers. Gaining the increased focus, the additional time, and needing the distraction provided time for reflection.

I made notes, rambling fever dreams and otherwise. I also cranked through a bunch of Mac Power Users and similar podcasts. My plans percolate and bounces around my brain.

Look forward to possible new posts about what I am doing and why.

This is some unicode: & ’ “ ” 👺

[sourcecode language=”emacs-lisp” title=”” ]
(setq this-is-some-setting t)

Troubleshooting Emacs Org2blog

Go here: When posting I get ‘Lisp error: (wrong-type-argument listp t)’ #216 for the history on this issue.

For fun, here are some Unicode characters: ” ‘ & 🗾 😄

Here is my current slim emacs config to get org2blog working:

(setq load-prefer-newer t)

(add-to-list 'package-archives
             '("gnu" . "http://elpa.gnu.org/packages/"))
(add-to-list 'package-archives
             '("melpa" . "http://melpa.org/packages/") t)
  (unless (package-installed-p 'package+)
    (package-install 'package+))

(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/org-mode/lisp")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/metaweblog")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/org2blog")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/xml-rpc-el")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/pretty-mode")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/use-package")

(require 'org)
(global-set-key "\C-cl" 'org-store-link)
(global-set-key "\C-ca" 'org-agenda)
(global-set-key "\C-cc" 'org-capture)
(global-set-key "\C-cb" 'org-iswitchb)

(require 'xml-rpc)

(require 'metaweblog)

(require 'org2blog-autoloads)

(require 'auth-source)

 auth-sources '(
 epa-file-cache-passphrase-for-symmetric-encryption t
 auth-source-debug 'trivia

    :url "https://www.prjorgensen.com/xmlrpc.php"
    :username ,(car (auth-source-user-and-password "prjorgensen.com"))
    :password ,(cadr (auth-source-user-and-password "prjorgensen.com"))
    :default-title "Hello, World!"
    :default-categories ("Uncategorized" "org2blog")

(require 'use-package)

(use-package htmlize
             :ensure t)

I created local git clones for xml-rpc-el, org-mode, org2blog, metaweblog, pretty-mode, and use-package.

This is done in order to post a draft of this blog. Then I will publish it.

Wish me good times!

Axle Wrapped: Performance Review & Stoicism

You may not know I am on a global work assignment in Japan from the United States. I get to have two management teams, one in each country, and two performance reviews! Ain’t I lucky?

My US manager sandbagged me with my review. I woke this morning to a meeting request for my review at 21:00 JST. There was no warning and no notice.

My history with these types of activities is complicated. I won’t go into detail now. Suffice to say I find little value in these lazy “one size fits all” retail approach to HR. A good leader does not require such a complicated artificial construct, nor do truly empowered and well lead employees.

Never the less, I’m shackled with this time consuming obligation. I need to take time and reflect on good old fashioned stoicism to get my head right. It would be great unwrapping myself from around my HR axle as well.

First, it’s important to remember at the moment my career path, goals, and objectives align with my employer. The alignment is temporary.

Second, my employer’s goals and objectives reflect what is right for the company. There is nothing requiring me to like or even agree with the goals and objectives. Gainful employment encourages my active engagement toward them, yet my gainful employment is not the object of my life.

Third, the common theory of “you will get out of the process what you put in” is false. It is not true in physics, engineering, romance, cooking, finance, politics, small appliance repair, Pokemon Go, or much of anything in life.

Fourth, these retail HR systems are more and more geared toward meaningless concepts and platitudes which fail to bolster any concept of anti-fragility or resilience. Anecdotally friends and peers shared ratios of three or more positive comments to every negative comment in reviews. Others shared “the bell curve” – in any team the manager plots the best and worst performers on a chart and scores everyone else somewhere in between because “you can’t have a team of all above average or below average” members. Arbitrary artificial constructs like these try to pave over the world’s variables (I’ve seen plenty of teams with no above average performers, typically in non-critical roles) plus fail to offer employees any tangible constructive feedback (i.e., “You were rated a 2 out of 5 because there are too many 3s and 4s on the team already.“)

Fifth, companies want some degree of fragility in their employees. They cannot rely on loyalty any more, especially in the US and other countries with at-will employment. Employee retention is usually a balancing act between enough training, team building, and encouragement to make employees feel empowered & add value while subtly keeping them just fragile enough to fear change.

Stoicism and Us | New Republic talks about these concepts in other contexts, such as the cancer diagnosis in the opening paragraph.

What matters, in good times or bad, is not whether you have a job, an income, a family, or a home, but whether you have the inner strength to realize how little such things matter.

This quote, Dear Friends, helps me unwrap my mental axle.

Stoicism is having a moment in the robot revolution | The Financial Times talks about a new book by Svend Brinkmann, Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze – Kindle edition by Svend Br…. Full disclosure: I have not read the book yet. This article however talks about a few of the concerns I laid out above in the context of the current stoicism fad in Silicon Valley. This neo-stoicism smacks of exuberant exceptionalism without embracing the negative things in life. The side bar about this in relation to Ryan Holiday’s writings (which I enjoy) intrigues me.

This idea of embracing the negative leapt to my attention today when I read Feeling bad about feeling bad can make you feel worse | Berkeley News. This study (full disclosure: I have not read it yet) seems to reinforce the concept of the negative things in our lives can make us better at living our lives.

This long, rambling screed flowed fairly quickly. I feel better about my impending US performance review (and the soon-to-follow Japan review). I remain bearish toward the whole process, but at least I can get on with my day. And I hope to learn something more about dealing with things like this in the future.

What do you think? Am I off-base? Do you agree? Have I missed the boat entirely? Add your tempered, well reasoned thoughts in the comments or on the social media.

Date: 2017-08-15 Tue 11:54

Author: Paul Jorgensen

Created: 2017-08-15 Tue 13:55