The Return of Diary
A long time ago, I decided to make a
/log area of my site. The thinking was
that the boring day-to-day lists would go there and the thinking would go into
this diary. Except I just went ahead and put the thinking in the log.
This didn't matter that much, because the vast majority of my posts were
timeblocks with little writing. But now, this is a space reserved just for
thinking aloud, as the timeblock now lives in
The thinking is mostly just meditation reflection, and now some
"extracurricular" thinking, but it is still thinking. I even wrote an actual
(An Introduction to Meditation by a Beginner),
though I'm not fully happy with it.
In any case, since I never touched diary, and also since my writing here is
very diary-esque again, just going to merge the two together, and go back to
having my writing in diary. Any links to the old place may be borked, though,
but I don't think there was anything really worth rereading in log land except
for maybe the recent blog post I made. Whereas I've been told that certain
things in diary here are worth revisiting.
Anyways, that's my little bit of cleanup to this area for now. There's other
stuff to do, but it'll be done later.
Meditation (Day 52)
I'm going to go ahead and treat stage 3 (extended continuity of attention and
overcoming forgetting) as "mastered". Or rather, I'm adept enough to start with
a stage 4 intention and fall back if necessary to stage 3.
Today was solid enough that I gave 3 body scans a try (stage 5 exercise for
My posture is becoming very comfortable very quickly into the session, as well.
Though it still needs some tweaks. I can feel myself microadjusting and finding
better places, so I think it's just a matter of letting that process continue
until a stability is reached.
I'll be reading more of
The Mind Illuminated
today, as well, as part of my weekly review. Will probably continue reading
the... 5th interlude I think I'm on? Will try to read in an environment where
making Anki cards is fairly frictionless (lots of new concepts to internalize).
I think the thinking I want to do here is: is it time to start working on one
of my project ideas regularly?
This "project" could be a blog post, of which I have a list of ideas for. Or it
could be career(coding)-related in some way. Or it could be the learning of a
new skill, the development of a current skill, or the building of a new habit.
Technically, all of these things are not mutually-exclusive, though I do not
consider it "bonus" to fall into multiple boxes at once.
Yesterday, I considered "Anki card curation". How do I feel about this project?
Let's go through
"five phases of workflow management":
Defining Purposes and Principles
So, why do I use anki? To store things in my head on a more permanent basis
that I can conjure to the present moment with the right trigger. This is to
reduce the friction in the moment on whatever I'm applying myself at. Also,
it's fun to memorize things.
Where has Anki been useful and where do I anticipate eventual usefulness or
potential usefulness? Anki has been useful in acquiring the vocabulary of
certain skills. Now, I word it this way because my first priority with Anki was
to start studying Japanese, and my choice of study was being able to read aloud
the 2000 base-kanji characters one needs to eventually learn to be "high-school
literate" if I remember how that works correctly.
The cards I found gives you a word (in its kanji) and a sentence using the word
(written with kanji where applicable), thus I learn how to read the kanji, and
gain a large chunk of Japanese vocabulary, and perhaps internalize some
Japanese grammar. I believe that this is a solid foundation towards
understanding Japanese in the wild, and that understanding is a prerequiste for
speaking (and speaking has its own training challenges to address seperate from
the process of understanding).
What reason do I have to believe that this will be effective in learning
Japanese long-term? My confidence in this strategy is currently based on my
experience with three things:
- learning the Colemak keyboard layout
- Anki-fying meditation concepts
- learning the radicals that kanji are composed of to better memorize kanji
- my recent experience watching anime (with subtitles still, mind you)
So, about two years ago now I switched to the Colemak keyboard layout (and it
is still what I use, though I do have an action item to switch to Dvorak at
some point). The value I acquired from this action (aside from decreased arm
fatigue and pain) was an emotional understanding of the difference between
knowledge and ability. I say "emotional" because it is something I
intellectually understood, but didn't really practice at the raw level.
I memorized the new key layout of Colemak very early on (a few days), but the
skill of using the layout took weeks. It was, however, very important to learn
that key layout before real use could occur. Practice was possible, in a sense,
but I had to use a special setup designed around drilling the key placement.
Once the key placements were memorized, then I could switch to practicing in a
This is when I started to feel more strongly that I needed to learn the
building blocks of Japanese before trying to learn the skill of understanding
Japanese, and when I once-again created an action item to start using Anki
(something I did not do for well over a year).
Fast-forward to learning meditation. The book I read contained lots of concepts
and advice on ones meditative path. I wanted to just know these things,
especially since I didn't want to move during meditation to search through the
book to look something up. I memorized the concepts in such a way that I could
bring them to the forefront of my mind during a session and apply it as I saw
For example, I learned the 5 elements for body-scanning purposes:
- earth: resistance and solidity
- water: cohesion and fluidity
- fire: heat and cold
- wind: movement and change
- space: presence and volume
It is useful to go through these elements and see if you feel them in the parts
of the body that your scanning. It helps to improve your sense-of-feeling
skill, and helps build your ability to "feel the breath" (wind) in every part
of your body.
This has been super useful in my meditative practice. I also know that I'm
transitioning from knowledge to skill in a concept when I don't have to
narratively think about it (just today I realized that I scan the feelings in
my body without narrating through the elements).
This realization led to me taking learning the radicals that kanji are composed
of more seriously. I had hit a roadblock in my 2000 card deck wherein I kept
forgetting kanji, or confusing kanji with each other. So, I broke down my
Japanese vocabulary training into further learning the skill of remembering
kanji. From there, I knew I needed to learn the building blocks of kanji.
Just yesterday, I have finished learning new cards in the radical deck that
I've downloades (about 200 to learn overall). I'm not "done", in that a lot of
these radicals are not mature, and also I have realized that the way I've
learned many of them means I won't recognize them in the wild. But already it
has helped me with kanji I routinely forgot or mixed up with others. I believe
as I apply this knowledge, I will be able to increase my daily amount of new
Japanese words to learn, without having to increase my daily study-time (it
won't hurt that radical-practice should be winding down now that I don't need
to learn any more new ones).
Watching Anime doesn't really provide any new insights, I simply am noticing
understanding a lot more words and sentences and stuff whilst watching. Which
is neat. I also can really tell that regardless of the words and concepts I
know, I need to practice understanding in real-world situations to really
develop my ability to understand Japanese. But, I don't think I'd have the
resources to do that without a foundation of knowledge.
And so now I have internalized the layering of knowledge and skill. Learning
knowledge itself requires skill, which itself requires knowledge. Unlocking a
new skill unlocks new vocabulary to learn, and a greater diversity of places to
apply that skill.
It is thus my belief that identifying areas where my knowledge is lacking, and
simply creating flashcards to memorize that instead of looking it up everytime,
will help facilitate skill development wherever I apply this tactic.
And so I want to then develop a skill of applying this tactic in all things I
attempt to improve at. Specifically, I'd like to find a valuable way of
applying this to my career (aka coding).
This should manifest in little ways (functions I know exist but can't remember
their name, arguments, or proper invocation in some way), and with context
specific things (the shape of data as it is passed around in code).
The idea is that I'd like to "just know" things like:
- the I/O data structures and code placements at the various boundaries in a code base
- what is and isn't RESTful
- good usage-tracking such as to understand usability
Also, outside of work I'd like to internalize things like:
- what exactly are the jobs of all the political offices I vote for?
- who are the people who represent me in some way, from local all the way to the top?
- what are the sources for the things I "know"?
An example of the last thing is: I "know" that acquiring absolute pitch is a
generally learnable skill, at least if you learn it young enough. When I told
someone this, they strongly disagreed (they were quite certain it was heavily
genetic), and I realized I didn't know the direct source by which to back up my
claim. I actually added this source to Anki. From memory: "The Process of Acquiring Absolute
Pitch: a Longitudinal Study Using the 'Chord-Identification' Method" by Ayaho Sakakibara.
This is not exactly correct, but it's enough to find it via Google easily:
(What I got wrong: her name is Ayako Sakakibara, and also there isn't a
little "Proccess of Acquiring Absolute Picth" part of the title.)
Basically, I want to be able to do this for two reasons:
- back up what I believe
- root out things I think I "know" but which I'm not sure where the knowledge comes from
Also, for the purposes of arguing, it's nice to build a habit of knowing where
your premises come from and also just show that things aren't knowably true or
false purely with reasoning.
Whenever I google something, I should probably try to think, "Should I anki
this?" I can practice making this thought a habit by adding a fake googling
routine to my morning list (I have done this for pretending to leave the house
and have seen great improvements to sunscreen and mask habits).
I should probably make a "front/back" setup ASAP, but I don't have to add to
Anki immediately (can be tedious). Okay to just quickly add to Notion.
I suppose that whenever I finish spaced-repetition for the day, I should look
over how long it took me that day, and if the timing is less than, say, 20
minutes, it's probably time to add one of my card drafts to Anki.
Oh, also, I found it so valuable to go through the six-point meditation prep
that I often want to do it for any habit I'm trying to cultivate. So, should
probably do that for this for a little while at least:
- Motivation: basically that long bit of "Denfining purposes and principles" above (though this can evolve)
- Goals (depends on day)
- Expectations (same)
- Diligence: do it regularly and do it properly (develop specific wording for this habit)
- Distractions (will learn the distractions that come into play when I start applying this)
- Posture (always a good thing to think about)
Need to put the stuff above into Notion somewhere to start the habits I want to
Identifying Next Actions
Basically, do the "Organization" bit above. I can make that line an item in
notion, and also make it a link to this diary post.
Okay! The "Anki curation habit development" project is go!
I think I'm done writing for today!
Though, various content in this post could probably be edited and expanded upo
into their own blog post (another Notion item to link to this page).