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Moving Task Management Into Obsidian

I love markdown, I love plain text files, and I love Obsidian. I went all-in on the application for my personal notes long ago, but I finally made the switch at work and figured I’d drop a quick write up on how I’m using the app to handle task management.

Even before I used Obsidian, I used a “Daily Note”-like concept at work. I used to be in OneNote and would just manually make a new one each day, but now I use the Periodic Notes plugin. With this installed, when I start my day, I click the shortcut in my sidebar and it pops up with that day’s new note with that day’s template ready for me to fill out. I’ll go over daily note template some other time, but it’s important to know that the daily note is the hub to pretty much everything I do in Obsidian. Everything sprawls out from there, including my task management.

So onto tasks. I use the Tasks plugin and throughout the day, any time a new task comes up, I chuck it into my daily note. Because Tasks allows you to query against your entire vault, I then use a Task Dashboard note that is able to easily collect any number of tasks from across all of my notes. My task management needs at work aren’t insane, but I’ve found this useful so that I can focus on the day-to-day while then being able to quickly and easily pull together any information from across a multitude of notes. On my task dashboard, I have a handful of basic queries setup. Here’s what they are:

Due Today

not done
due today

Due This Week

not done
due before in 7 days

No Due Date

not done
no due date
path does not include <relevant folder path here>

I use this one for as a catch-all for anything I didn’t give a due date to ensure nothing gets lost in the cracks. Item of note here is that you’ll see me use the path does not include <relevant folder path here> several times. I’m using this to exclude my templates folder, which have empty tasks set up in them so that I don’t end up with a bunch of loose tasks hanging out in these filters. You can use this syntax to exclude (or only include!) a particular file or folder.

All Tasks

not done
path does not include <relevant folder path here>

This one gives me everything. I like having this for reference. As my tasks grow, I’ll see if this is ever useful, but it gives me a sense of security to be able to glance at it.

Recently Completed

limit 20

This just shows me the 20 most recent done tasks.

And that’s it! It’s pretty simple right now, but it’s getting the job done. One last closing point is that I also use a css style to change the way page links were rendered for tasks, which I pulled from the “How to Style Backlinks” page on their documentation. Here’s that code block:

li.plugin-tasks-list-item > span.tasks-backlink > a {
    content: url("data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg xmlns='http://www.w3.org/2000/svg' viewBox='0 0 36 36'%3E%3Cpath fill='%238899A6' d='M15 9l6-6s6-6 12 0 0 12 0 12l-8 8s-6 6-12 0c-1.125-1.125-1.822-2.62-1.822-2.62l3.353-3.348S14.396 18.396 16 20c0 0 3 3 6 0l8-8s3-3 0-6-6 0-6 0l-3.729 3.729s-1.854-1.521-5.646-.354L15 9z'/%3E%3Cpath fill='%238899A6' d='M20.845 27l-6 6s-6 6-12 0 0-12 0-12l8-8s6-6 12 0c1.125 1.125 1.822 2.62 1.822 2.62l-3.354 3.349s.135-1.365-1.469-2.969c0 0-3-3-6 0l-8 8s-3 3 0 6 6 0 6 0l3.729-3.729s1.854 1.521 5.646.354l-.374.375z'/%3E%3C/svg%3E");
    height: .9em;

I do think this workflow works best by committing to the daily note as the hub, so that’s really my main recommendation here. I think of it like this: work happens one day at a time and it’s good to have a record of things chronologically. Then, the power lies in being able to query against that data in any way I see fit without losing the original, time-bound context in my daily notes. While in my provided example, I’m embedding my tasks into an overall dashboard, I could also quickly set up this query against tasks with a certain tag (say, for a particular work project) and then have a project home page and link to the related meeting notes and tasks on any relevant page, while, again, not losing the original context of the task, meeting, etc among my other work. As usual, the flexibility of markdown combined with simple querying languages is irreplaceable.

As I commit further to this workflow, I’ll make a follow-up as my needs evolve, but for now it’s covering my bases and I’m losing track of less things on my plate, including exactly what people ask of me and when. Next up, I’ll try and cover the templates for my daily note & meetings.

A Brief Take on the Quote Boost Discourse

With the big migration to Mastodon, one of the big differences is that Mastodon currently has no official “quote retweet” functionality (in Mastodon terms, this is called a boost, so I will henceforth call these quote boots) This has caused a lot of discourse on the site. Some reasonable, some not, but I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring with a particular view I don’t think I’ve seen on the matter.

I’m in favor of adding a quote function, but I want to see a very specific piece of functionality as part of the implementation and I’m not even sure how feasible it is: original posters should have the ability to disable click-through to their post from a quote post.

I see this as solving what I see as one of the main concerns brought forth against implementing quote boosting: it leads to harassment when someone is quoted by someone bigger and their followers click through and attack them. If posters can turn off the click-through, people can be quoted, preserving authenticity that something has been quoted, while also providing a way to slow harassment by people with fast access to click through and say something horrible. I understand this doesn’t stop someone from going and manually finding the original post, but I think it empowers people to limit the speed at which someone can get to them and I think helpful deterrence is a good idea, even if imperfect.

When it comes to implementation, I’m at a bit of a loss if this would be possible. I don’t know the Mastodon API well enough to speak to it directly, but I imagine there could be some post-level option for ‘no clickthrough’ that then clients could respect when implementing an official quote boost functionality. Right now, I’m assuming apps like Ice Cubes are basically just injecting an iframe and parsing the text of a linked mastodon post to show them, but an official API implementation could give clients parameters that could stop a quote boost from being clickable if the server flags that functionality. Obviously more thought would need put into this by people smarter than me, but I’d love to see it considered or as a starting point for some other implementation detail to help original posters stem the bleed of possible harassers via quote boost.

I Hate Running (but the Runners Are Right)

I hate running. And there’s really only one thing I hate more than running, and that’s other people being right about a thing that I’ve purposefully ignored and that’s what I’m going to tell you about.

See, I have a white collar job and my back and waistline are really unhappy with how little I move. So I’ve been doing a lot of walking and I’m down 35 pounds. It’s been great! But, I felt like maybe I should try to do some exercise that raises my heart rate — ya know, I’m in that moment where I’m feeling motivated! Go me! — and running has a low barrier to entry. It’s basically just walking, but faster, right?

Great. So I guess I’m going to run. Even though I hate running. And it’s miserable every single time. Whatever, I got this.

So of course I’m the type of person who can’t do anything without watching 100 YouTube videos about the topic, so I watch all these videos on “How to get started running,” blah blah blah. And I come across a piece of advice that I’ve heard before and always sort of scoffed at a bit. One of those “sure, I get it, but I’m not going to do that” type of situations. Not that I thought it was bad, just…not for me! I’m a grown adult who can make my own decisions! Well, turns out that people who do a certain task often and are passionate experts at their craft probably know a thing or two about what to do. And ya know what? The runners were right.

So here’s the piece of advice: slow down. Run at a pace where you can hold a comfortable conversation while moving. And even then, maybe still slow down a little bit more!

And damnit, they were right and it’s totally working for me. I’ve run 3 miles no problem, multiple days in a row. Are these miles fast? No. Painfully slow. Does that mean I probably need to work on my ego? Yes, but don’t tell anyone, least of all me.

So, yeah, I still hate running, but maybe give slowing down a try and it could be less miserable.

'Malcom & Marie' is a mess

I initially published this on my Letterboxd profile when the movie premiered. Felt like it was worth bringing over here for safe keeping. Follow me there for more regular film reviews.

Malcolm & Marie is the kind of movie that rats on itself. It ropes you in with a swanky neo-retro, upper class black & white aesthetic, a classic romance-on-the-rocks situation, and strong performances from two rising stars, but the film is as blindly self-obsessed as its male lead. Shortly after its title card, Malcolm frustratingly asks Marie to tell him what’s bothering her and she calmly responds, “Malcolm, I promise you nothing productive is going to be said tonight.” This movie is nothing if not true to its word.

What follows is the push-and-pull of several 20ish minute arguments between the couple interlaced with metatextual banter on filmmaking & film criticism. Some of the monologuing is worthy of plumbing for meaning, but at its core, the movie fails at delivering any coherent message on relationships, art, or criticism. But then the movie rats on itself again, as Malcolm shouts halfway through its runtime, “Cinema doesn’t need to have a message. It needs to have heart.” This line reflects the defensiveness Malcolm as much as that of the movie’s creators.

Again, the movie is true to its word, though: every moment is overwrought with emotion. It absolutely has heart. Its dialogue may sometimes feel more like the argument that happens in your head than the one that happens with an actual human being, but that’s the poetic melodrama of romance. Successful romances get away with saccharine and acrimonious dialogue. Blue Jay does it. Blue Valentine does it. Roman Holiday does it. But Malcom & Marie…doesn’t.

The movie fails because it’s a lazy portrayal of toxic masculinity that doesn’t make any real attempt to confront or deconstruct those behaviors. The first 20 minutes of the film are Malcolm berating Marie for being “psychotic” and “delusional” for wanting him to be thankful for the life experiences she was honest with him about that were the foundation of the film he created. She’s making him food while explaining this and can’t even get a murmur of gratitude from her partner. She was hurting and he made it about himself. And it doesn’t stop after the first segment. He belittles her, minimizes her concerns, accuses her of being jealous, and on and on. It’s the most basic portrayal of narcissism and emotional abuse and the film barely limps across the finish line on the topic.

So I guess the movie does succeed because nothing productive was said. And the movie knows it didn’t want to say anything productive. And that’s the whole problem.

Singular They Is a 600 Year Old Word and People Upset about the Gender Neutral Usage Being Added to the Dictionary Are Grumpy Dingdongs

When Merriam-Webster added the use of they as a gender-neutral, singular pronoun to the dictionary recently, a whole bunch of dingdongs got bent out of shape pretending they care and know about language. King Dingdong himself, Ben Shapiro, went on a lengthy rant about it that concluded “once and for all that logic has gone out the window” because of this decision.

Of course these dingbats are totally wrong and don’t actually give a shit about language, but instead smuggle bad faith ideas into the discourse by pretending to be serious, “rational” thinkers.

The argument against a singular personal pronoun ‘they’ is basically that of prescriptivism – that there is a defined, “correct” use of language and that’s the be-all end-all forever. It’s basically linguistic authoritarianism. So with this argument, “they” hasn’t referred to a singular gender-neutral person in the past, so it’s not in the rule book, so that means it’s illogical and we shouldn’t do it.

This is a total sham of a perspective, though, because our language changes all the time and if you’re upset about “they”, you’ll need to be upset about how flirt actually means to flick something and hussy is actually equivalent to saying housewife. Except, wait, those words haven’t meant that in almost 500 years. So either language evolves and we all understand that is a real thing that happens or there’s a whole lot more words these dipshits need to be angry about, which they coincidentally seem to have not been angry about publicly.

The thing is, the singular form of the pronoun “they” has been around for 600 years and we use it in a bunch of other ways people don’t bat an eye at (e.g. “If anybody wants their refund, they can get it at the register.”). “You” went through the exact same thing. It was a plural pronoun until the 1700s when it took over for singular use, too. I don’t see these dingdongs talking about the scourge that singular “you” has on the English language.

See, these people aren’t actually upset about language. They can’t possibly be, because if they thought about linguistics for more than five seconds, they would discover language evolves all the time and even has within their own lifetime and they roll with those punches.

So what could these people’s concerns possibly be about when they complain about this topic? What a coincidence this happens to be a political topic and all of the complaints come from right wingers frothing at the mouth about “SJWs” in the same breath they decry the gender neutral usage of they as illogical.

And that’s what these complaints are actually about: Dingdongs like Shapiro want to complain about the world changing because they’re bigoted garbage and don’t actually care if they’re wrong, as long as they can put their boot on the neck of someone below them.

They is a gender-neutral pronoun. Don’t be a dingdong.

My Git Cheat Sheet

I’ve been using and learning git a bunch lady, so I started jotting down some of the basics I found myself using often and wanting to make sure I remembered and left a note in the plainest language possible about what it does. Figured it’d be worth putting out there. I’ll probably add a few more as I find myself in recurring situations.

git remote update

git add .;git commit -m ‘message header’ -m ‘message body’;git push

git commit -am ‘message text’;git push

git clean -dfx

git checkout -b branchName

git branch -d branchName

git stash apply stash@{#}

git log --oneline --decorate --graph --all

git config --global --edit

The Sadness

The sadness that consumed me in my early 20s feels very different to the sadness that consumes me now. I coped a lot through music back then and when I’ve gone back to listen to songs that soothed me and made me feel understood, everything feels overwrought.

For example, Foxing’s “The Medic” still digs its nails into me, but I simultaneously feel a sense of distance when I listen. I’m more of an observer in the room than a participant. Such a visceral expulsion of emotion doesn’t really hit the same way these days.

I suppose it’s that I’ve turned inward in the last half decade or so. I take my self-loathing out on myself these days, whereas I used to project it onto my relationships and this has changed how I relate to and express my own sadness. It feels like a better path, at least for now.

Earnestness »

The AV Club on Amazon’s The Boys:

There is a rise in the desire and nostalgia for characters with good intentions that embrace passions and dreams rather than cynicism, because many of us want to connect with earnest emotion and unapologetic ideals to counter the weight of the world.

It’s okay to want the world to be a better place and fight for that to be reality. It’s okay to be genuine-genuine instead of ironic-genuine. It’s okay to care. There’s been enough years of wallowing in the misery of our cultural cynicism and it’s time for a change. In the face of overwhelming political tension and fatigue, impending ecological collapse, and the drudgery of everyday capitalism, hope can feel like all we have left to hold onto. I think stories of hope and sincerity will be a defining moment of this era and the world will be a better place for it.

Shoes: Poems

A Facebook friend was looking for some poems about van Gogh’s ‘A Pair of Shoes’ painting and I felt inspired, so here are a few haikus I whipped up.

Leather for the bad
Weather, take me home, soft like
A feather, now rest
Tangle untangle
Chasing lace, these fingers dance
Daily routine trance
With me all these years
Every crevice, a story
Dad’s boots fit me now
Broken sole; patch me
Let me keep you safe and warm
So much left to give
Early morning rise
Freshly oiled and ready
For a long day’s work

Retied Shoes

I almost exclusively wear all-black Vans Authentics. I’ve worn a pair of these shoes for almost a decade. I tie them once and then slip them on and off until I get new ones. This is to say that I am intimately familiar with this shoe and its relationship with my feet. I also gain and then lose the same 20 pounds every year. I’m currently down a little over 10 pounds in the last month and found myself retying my shoes the other morning.

It’s kind of an event having to retie these shoes, which is why it stuck out to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it that day. The knot was still perfectly tight, but my foot was loose when I put the shoe on, which made no sense to me. Then I was looking at my health data and realized the most likely scenario is that I actually have, well, less foot. Once I realized that, it changed my mood that day and reminded me I’m heading in the right direction and to keep up the good work.

Small changes matter. Even just retying your shoes.