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Tea, to do lists and books

We have had a lot of stuff to work on at home lately. The most fun has been integrating our new wedding gifts into our small kitchen, which is somewhat challenging but I’m really happy to finally own a nice set of knives and pots. I’ve also been using the bread maker almost weekly to make dough for challah, which I think I’ve mastered the art of three strand braiding for (hooray!).

We also received a tea pot, which inspired me to finally give loose leaf tea a try. I wasn’t sure how it would go, since making tea is more work than making coffee (never underestimate the amount of laziness I have early in the morning) and in general my past attempts at teabag tea have ended with switching back to coffee. It turns out that the loose leaf stuff is a different beast entirely! After trying several that it tastes much better than teabag tea and you can totally geek out when researching, selecting and buying the stuff. Fun all around. I now have a counter full of 7 types with varying degrees of caffeine.

Our Ketubah has been framed and is now hanging in our den/my office. I’m really pleased with the framing job by Chandler Fine Art & Framing, they took time to work with us on frame selection and composition and it looks beautiful on the wall.

I recently came to the conclusion that we need another filing cabinet to rein in our mail situation (most of it currently lives in boxes rather than being properly filed, sigh). Unfortunately a prerequisite to getting another filing cabinet is finding a place for it, which means cleaning up our storage units. This is a massive undertaking, and after a couple overwhelming attempts last year that ended in surrender, I’ve decided to change my approach. Instead of tackling the entire project all at once, I’m devoting 3-4 hours a week on it, no more than 1 hour per day. Each day I’ve taken time to assess and work on one specific part of cleaning it up (find all file boxes, put all collapsed boxes in one place, find all my book boxes, take all CRTs to recycling center). This week I did this for 4 days and while it still looks like chaos, I have made progress and can take satisfaction from the specific parts I’ve been able to tackle.

Speaking of tasks, I realized the other day that I’ve now been using Taskwarrior for over 2 years, having started on June 6th of 2011. It’s command-line based and so far the only todo list tool I’ve managed to use for more than 3 months. Unfortunately I also came to the realization that as my todo list approached 50 tasks again, I had some on there that were over 2 years old. Psychologically this was really bad for me, life may actually contain a never-ending todo list, but using this tool is a way of managing specific tasks I am consciously making time for, not tracking the unattainable goal of everything-I-ever-want todo. I wanted to change this, since the really old stuff would realistically never come off the list until I turned them into serious action items – either by making progress or sending apologies and letting them go. So, much like my storage unit cleaning, I decided to take one really old task per day and do a serious assessment of it. I have more to do, but my list is down to 22 items and most have been chopped into manageable tasks.

But it has not all been todo lists and home stuff! I’ve started taking time to read more. This started on my honeymoon where I spent days just relaxing on the beach with a book and remembered the regenerative powers of such relaxing. I really didn’t want to let that go upon returning home. I just finished up Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents by Ellen Ullman, whose style took some getting used to, but which I thought was really fun. I also read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, which I got at the Women of OpenStack breakfast at the OpenStack summit. This one has taken some processing and it’s not for everyone, but it certainly is targeted at professionals like myself who want to have a family and intend on continuing to pursue their career. I first heard about her ideas via her TED talk and it struck a chord for me (particularly about leaving before you leave), so the book itself had a lot of valuable advice and interesting commentary that I’ve missed in other arenas. I’m so glad people are talking about this stuff. I’m about halfway through Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts by Emily Anthes, which is a fascinating book, but I can’t help pondering at every turn “oooh, that would be cool!” – not surprising since I do admit that I owned some GloFish several years ago. Next up in my pile (which is a pile, not everything is on my Nook) is a collection of essays from geeky women called She’s Such a Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff, edited by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders. Looking forward to drawing some inspiration from these stories.

Today we’ve been working through some more home stuff and errands. We also have some flights to book and post-wedding things to get to. On Wednesday I fly out to New York City for the OpenStack Infrastructure Bootcamp, and I’ll be staying the weekend to hang out with my friend Danita who is coming up from Philly.