Notes – 2017-08-15

Quick break from work to move and clear my head:

  • Currently shredding – old line of credit statements from 2008 for an account that’s been closed for years.
  • Currently trying to exercise – 20 seconds of intense running in place as often as I think of it, in between normal day to day stuff like getting up for a glass of water or something.
  • Currently trying to eat – less – we purchased a sourdough starter recently and I’ve been making bread from it every couple of days since I have to feed it anyway. So eating less is not going very well but I am doing my best to moderate my bread eating.

Game changing Gmail trick

I am sure everyone else already figured this out but I just clued into a neat trick I can use in Gmail to stay a little more organized.

I have a label in Gmail, #TODO, that I file tasks into. I have also used a Gmail lab to have email with this label display in my inbox in its own section (I will try to add details on this when I’m not on mobile).

This is all great but it means that if I want to add notes to a TODO item I need to reply to myself and follow the thread to get all my info on something. This had prevented me from really committing to this as a full task management solution. I have just been parking email here that has a task I need to do. I have document with other tasks and project notes. I’d rather have this all in one place.

I had kind of given up on this idea until tonight when, out of the blue, I thought “what would happen if I added the #TODO label to a draft email?” I tried it and there it was in my email inbox in the#TODO label section (obvious in retrospect)! 

Now I can simply edit that document as I go without the artificial construct of an email thread. This also works perfectly in the Gmail app.

Pretty happy about this feature!

A Small Dog

We are currently looking after a small dog for relatives who are getting married and needed to go away for a bit (honeymoon, etc). It’s three weeks.


  • I get out for more walks. His little legs need to be exercised or his aging body ends up peeing in the house.
  • My son is helping to get him into and out of his kennel and it is one of his first “chores”. He loves it.
  • The dog is gentle with people and is often good company for our full time dog.
  • Can be hilarious. He has giant eyes and lays down with his legs splayed out behind him.


  • Gassy. So very, very gassy. It is probably his food but we can’t change it for such a short time. There will be the sound of an air brake or compressed air tool and then, bam, it hits you. I can’t describe the smell.
  • Noisy. Eating? Obsessively licking his paws? Sleeping? Walking around? He breathes like he has a constant nasal obstruction. It is pretty gross sounding.
  • Annoying. Our dog is constantly being molested by this dog from about 6pm until 8pm. The rest of the time it is fine. But those 2 hours? Chaos. Running around the house, jumping on furniture, shifting rugs, barking outside, chaos.
  • Extra work. As a poop machine, his job is to poop several times a day and my job is to clean it. As an indoor peeing machine, his job is to try to not pee outside and my job is to take him on multiple walks each day presenting various objects that are so tempting to pee on that he can’t help himself. This takes place right before or after things where I would rather not be outside right away (bed, arriving home from errands, eating lunch, etc).

Anyway, we’re over halfway through and I like the little guy despite all this. He’s noisily licking his paws under my desk right now (where he spends most of the day) and I’m waiting for the next wave of stench to emerge.

Thoughts on productivity

Before you do something, ask yourself “is this the best use of my time right now”?

When you are not sure what to do, sit down and make a list. This works for groceries, moving your house, or planning a night of hobby work.

Get enough sleep, drink enough water.

Try to react like this: – stimulus – consideration – action

Most people just act on stimulus. Learn to get ahead of this.

Leave any task you can in a resumable state. If this is programming, leave a little note. If this studying, make a little note on a sticky where you left off in your text book. If this is woodworking, clean your bench but leave the piece ready to work on again with the tools you need laid out.

If you are procrastinating, try to do something useful.

If you are in university: at the beginning of the term use your syllabus to make a chart of what each assignment is worth and what your score was on it. This tells you how close you are to passing. As time goes on you might need to half-ass an assignment or even abandon one. This chart tells you which you can do that with safely. It also can help you decide how much time to devote to one mid-term over another. Walking into a final exam knowing you’ll get a B+ even if you fail it is a nice feeling.

Also, related to University but also Work – if you get long term assignments (projects, homework, whatever) try to do some work on it right away. As soon as you can. This establishes how much work it will actually be. Use this estimate to guide how you fit this in with your other responsibilities.

What am I hearing?

OK, regardless of which side you come down on re: Donald Trump this discussion is probably very important to listen to:

I was really freaked out by how reasonable Scott Adams sounded as he didn’t just defend Trump, he actually made a case for how Trump’s moves are highly intelligent and all make sense. Adams is a very smart person with a broad education. He has made certain public predictions about Trump and it is my belief (sorry, Scott Adams) that is heavily emotionally invested in these being correct. I guess there is chance he is seeing things clearly but there is also a good chance he is falling victim to the same cognitive dissonance he sees in others. His ego requires him to be right (this is not uncommon) so he’s picking things that “make him right”.

I obviously don’t agree with Scott Adams. I mean I agree Trump is a good persuader but that doesn’t make him a good leader or good for the US. History is full of good persuaders that are also regarded as History’s Greatest Monsters. There are also many that stepped in at times of strife and took charge — they get the job done but are maybe not great peacetime leaders (Rome’s tyrants, Winston Churchill, etc). I don’t think Trump is one of these. Trump is not one of these people. In my view he is simply profiting personally from his position and seeking to benefit those people he has “deals” with.

It is possible Scott Adams agrees with me on this but sees nothing wrong with it. This is the fascinating thing I am seeing with Trump supporters. People like me want our leaders to be moral. Yes, they are human beings but I expect the same level of decency and sense of public service that I would try to bring to the job if it were me. Others see the world more cynically and think “yeah, everyone is just trying to get theirs, and so I would get mine”. And they see cutting regulations and social programs as trimming the fat since “scammers” aren’t getting government money. I just don’t see the world in such black and white terms.

Adams is a good persuader too, but like Trump, his arguments don’t hold up to moral or intellectual scrutiny. Unfortunately, people hearing him speak who don’t take the time to look more deeply into his points (or are predisposed to agree, anyway) will accept his arguments as reasonable. Make up your own mind. I have no doubt he would win any argument with me but I would walk away frustrated, not convinced. This is not how decisions about the public good should be made.

Cst. Chelsey Robinson Park

Constable Chelsey Robinson Park
Parkland County, AB T7Y 1H6

Took the little guy here for a fun morning ending in a picnic.

This is a shallow river on the park side but there was a decent current the day we were there so don’t leave kids unattended as they could definitely get downriver quickly if they get too far out from shore on a raft or inner tube.

There’s parking as you arrive but it’s quite a walk down to the recreation area so keep going down the steep, gravel road to one of the two lower lots (they both have river access).

There are fire pits, firewood, outhouses, and picnic tables.

To get there you need to drive to Range Road 23, Spruce Grove, AB as indicated in the map, above (zoom out) and then the park is at the end of that road. Google maps driving directions to the park try to take you to the other side of the river at the moment so you best bet is to lay in a course for the Range Road and then keep driving a short distance past where it seems to end on the map.