My weeknotes are personal writings I create based on things I've been doing — or thinking about — this week. But there are no rules: I can write as little or as much as I feel like, and even skip one, or other week.
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I came across a link to Infinite Craft a couple of weeks ago, if I'm not mistaken. By then I saw that it was some kind of building game where you keep combining tiles of text illustrated with emoji, and see such tiles change into other, new tiles. By the way, according to Neal Agarwal, creator of the game, it is virtually endless. The thing is I didn't give it a second look then. This week, though, I saw my two children playing it — while having lots of fun, and that made me curious, to say the list.
My younger son quickly showed me how to play — you can do it from the desktop or from mobile, and soon enough I was creating my own combinations of pieces, crafting away. I thought I'd be tired of it in no time, but the surprise was I didn't. I've been playing with its combinations for at least three days now! And during that period (having reset the game once this afternoon) I have created gems such as Back to the Future, Minecraft, One Piece — including Luffy and Zoro —, Peter Pan and Wendy, Brazil, anime, manga, Batman and so many more. What's the real fun? I guess the surprise, the… unexpectedness. That's been really fun.
We received news from the Japanese consulate. We'll be once again heading to São Paulo on the first week of March, so my son can have his foreign student visa granted to his passport. There'll be a small ceremony and a short presentation made by each one of the scholarship holders, my son included, as well. It's scheduled to be a whole day event, with presentations and visas being granted in the morning and, in the afternoon, an orientation session about the upcoming trip to Japan, with details on how things will wind up from the arrival there on.
Now, I must admit I'm anxious with all of this. Maybe more than my son, who is the one actually traveling, certainly more anxious than my wife. I'm almost biting my nails, and I can't really explain why or help it. Deep inside, this anxiety apart, I'm only hoping everything turns out well with his time in Japan. I guess I'm secretly desiring we wouldn't be so far apart as it will be: around 18,500 km (or 11,500 mi). Thankfully we live in an era where everyone's connected — a video call away. Also, well of course start planning the first visit we'll be paying to him there.
I paused studying Japanese for some time now. But I'll resume studying soon enough, so that I can successfully communicate in Japan once we arrive there to visit my son. When I gave it a break I had memorized all of the hiragana, and only part of the katakana. I really don't know why they're so difficult for me to learn and memorize… but that's something I'll figure out as I move on to next steps in 日本語.
Japanese is undoubtedly filled with challenges for me: despite of my aptitude with languages in general, sometimes I wonder if the way I learned other languages, such as English and French will be effective for Japanese as well. Having mastered English in a time when internet wasn't a reality and relying on a conventional language school, I started with grammar, mixed with vocabulary, and was little by little immersed in the language. Alphabet was the same, and there were the cognates to be found and ease the way.
With Japanese there's the kana. This means I'll first have to master hiragana and katakana — and maybe some kanji, before even thinking about grammar and vocabulary. Seems and sounds scary. But it's probably going to be fun, as well (or at least I hope so). I intend to self study it, maybe switching to private tutoring or a language school sometime later if needed, so I don't bust my objective of being able to communicate well in Japan using their native language. We'll see.
Work has been great this week: interesting and time consuming. I'm pretty satisfied with my achievements and also because I was able to go swimming again. On to making it into a habit I go. I hope the week ahead reserves good things, for you and me.
NOTICE: This is a late weeknote from Week 07, 2024. It was written on Week 08, 2024, due to reasons clarified below.
This week came in bringing a long holiday with it. Carnival is probably the most popular festival taking place in Brazil, with Rio's Carnival being the biggest in the world, although similar gatherings happen in São Paulo, Salvador, Recife and many more Brazilian cities.
As for me, I don't like it. Not a bit. It is not my cup of tea to go to the street wearing a costume and/ or make-up and dance to the rythm of samba, pagode and some regional variations of both. I just don't get it. So, what I usually do is to enjoy my holiday… after all, it is not every day, even in Brazilian standards, that you get to enjoy 5 days off work.
Part of my holiday was dedicated to swimming. Yes, I went to the pool once again and enjoyed a sunny day there, doing some more exercises. Maybe moved by James Clear's Atomic Habits principle, I'm trying to introduce the tiny change of swimming at least once a week — and I'm sure this will turn into a good habit.
Another part of my Carnival holiday was dedicated to changing things a little bit more in my site. Although I've just mentioned that I was learning to tame Ikiwiki, which, by the way, is a totally fantastic tool, I ditched it for the familiarity I have with Dokuwiki. I know. Apparently, I can never make up my mind. But I've done it again — throwing another site setup into the trash bin — and I'm enjoying it.
What I intend to do in the medium-to-long run is to have a wiki. Maybe a mix of digital garden added to it, accompanied by less blogging (what does NOT mean I'll be writing less). So far I have already created a place for my weeknotes (that you can safely subscribe to if you want) and am preparing the wiki, which is nowhere near being ready (and no wiki will ever be, truth be told).
I barely read during the holiday. I'm still in Dune book 2, though, and don't intend to walk out on it (so far). But I came back to watching animes: a bingey amount of One Piece episodes (even knowing that no matter hom many episodes of it I watch, I'll be always behind my son) and three episodes of the second season of Spy x Family, welcoming back Anya Forger. Loved all of it.
On Saturday I went to São Paulo. With my son's upcoming trip to Japan due next April, I wanted to do something different with the kids. So we went to the Morumbi Stadium so we could watch our team, São Paulo, play against Red Bull Bragantino, in a match valid for the 2024 Paulistão Championship.
This was not the first time we went to the capital to watch a soccer match. The difference, though, is that my older son had been asking me (for an eternity, I must admit) for us to go and watch a game from one of the stadium's cabins. Now, the cabin tickets are usually way more expensive (some of them prohibitively way more expensive), but once in a cabin you get earlier access to the game venue and can sit in air conditioning, also enjoying a lot of food: soft drinks, juice, beers, hot dogs, popcorn and several finger foods… oh, and candy for dessert. That was the experience I wanted to allow my son to have before his trip. I didn't want him to lack the sensation of the experience. And that mission was accomplished.
Now, the reason behind not being able to post this week's weeknote was exactly this trip I took to São Paulo with the children. I normally reflect and write about my week every Saturday,but the game's starting time was 18:00 (6PM), and I traveled to São Paulo much earlier, as I'm cautious of driving in the city: everything there is soooo far and takes time to get to. I also parked in a place I had never parked at before (so needed to locate it first) and needed to walk to the stadium once the car was parked. We arrived there and got into the venue at 16:00 (4PM), and enjoyed it a lot. But multiply my walking and driving by two, as I needed to get back home later. This made me arrive home later totally worn out — and in no condition to write these notes by then.
I went to work at the office this week, having the opportunity to meet my friends there again — it so happened that we needed to develop some activities together, something I'm always very fond of, by the way, and we decided it could be more productive and faster if we did it in person. So we scheduled meeting rooms at the company and met there, twice: on Monday and on Thursday.
Many people argue nowadays about working from home versus working from the office. I strongly believe that working from home is best if you, like me, don't need anything special from the workplace in order to perform your daily activities (like special tools and machines for product manufacturing, or powerful computers able to calculate very complex algorithms to the point of only being affordable by big companies), or if you're not in charge of something that inexcusably requires your presence (like when you're a quality inspector needing to be by a new car or plane, or when you're a mechanic, or a doctor about to perform surgery).
Regarding the activities I'm in charge of, I'm perfectly able to perform them from home, and provided you're disciplined enough to focus on your deliverables, I believe the quality of life is way better than when you go to the office in person, specially if going to the office in person results in having to engage in meetings — with people who are remotely working while you're at the office. Pointless, right?
But going to the office may have its advantages. Now… I don't go to the office in person for the work. Wait. Don't get me wrong there — of course the work happens, as it has to be. Because I'm a professional, above all. But I go to the office for the experience, for the exchange. For the social exchange. Because as a lifelong learner, I believe it is in the human exchanges, in the experience exchanges, that we grow, that we evolve. More than when we read a book, more than when we take a course, more than when we practice an activity by ourselves. Exchanging experience is invaluable.
So, when you join your mates at the office, for a timely workshop, for a group brainstorming, for a kaizen project, it is when — at least from my standpoint — you expose yourself to invaluable moments of learning and make going to the office worth the while. And once the learning is done, it is perfectly safe to go back to working from home, because sitting at your cubicle won't make you learn, and you can resume being productive from your living room.
I went to work at the office this week, and wrote about it versus working from home. I don't want to convince you about what is right or not, too polemic a subject… it was just something I felt like writing about.
Also, I was invited to mentor two of our team's new interns with a project they were assigned on digital transformation. As this is a tough subject for some to understand in the corporate scene, and they were tasked with creating a transformation scale with which to assess some of our internal departments to determine how near or far they are from transformed, I felt honored to be asked for help. It will be great to put my expertise in process improvement and change management to their service, and, of course, learn along with them.
Finally, I received a LinkedIn endorsement this week which made me very happy. It came from a very special person, one who became a friend and a mentor, and it was so… unexpected. I know people appreciate such things differently, but it caught me by surprise and made my week more special, so I'm very grateful for that.
Went swimming again. Only once, on Tuesday. Although less than I wanted, I'm grateful for having been able to exercise again. Working on it, will focus to go more than once next week.
I'm learning to tame ikiwiki. It is a wiki compiler, meaning it is able to convert wiki pages into HTML pages, suitable for publishing on a website.
On the one hand, it'll mean more importing of posts and tidying up, but on the other hand, I'm pretty happy to fiddle with the site and build my vision of what a perfect brain dump would be. I love the freedom a wiki tool as powerful and simple as this can bring me. So much so that, when the time comes, I'm confident I'll be capable of leaving Micro.blog and a couple of other tools behind, to finally have everything about my online presence centered at the same place.
We have finished the two available From seasons. The show is pretty good, and it makes me happy to see a storyline so complex and filled with mystery as this is. If you check the internet carefully enough, you'll see that many people have complained about the plot and will allegedly not return for a third season, but to me this is just humans being humans — some of us don't like complex plots, and others get tired of waiting for answers that never come. Still, this show reminds me of gems like Lost and Dark, both examples of equally complex plots that turned out pretty well. So, yes, I'll keep watching it, at least for the season to come.
Proof of my fondness for complex plots is that I'm reading Dune. I have advanced a little slower with my reading this week than I had in the previous ones, but I'm pursuing to reach the end of the second novel soon enough. As far as I've gone into the book, though, I'll admit the plot is not as good as it felt in the first book, but maybe it's just be being human like the “From” critics. Besides, I'm only 6 chapters in, so a lot is to be developed yet, and I'll say more in later weeks.
While I was on vacations I accident broke one of my teeth. And this week I could finally go to the dentist in order to have it properly treated, a root canal treatment — taking me so many weeks to have it treated because I had to wait for my dentist to get back from her own vacations.
Work has developed as usual this week, with me going to work in person at the office last Thursday — when I met my good friends and we engaged on a fine, collective activity — and from home for the rest of the week, with nothing else worth noting, except that I'm very much liking what I'm currently involved in.
Opposite to last week, I couldn't swim any time this week. This made me feel sad on the one hand because I'm truly looking for creating a habit out of it, but, on the other hand, weather didn't quite help me a lot. The pool I use, although climatized, isn't warm. So it helps against feeling cold, but only to a point, and it was beyond help all week. I do hope to have better luck next week.
Also, I kept telling myself I needed to go have my hair cut all week… but I didn't. This really gets on my nerves, as I don't actually like my hair longer than a certain limit, so this, too, has to be taken care of sooner than later next week.
I read a very good article on Asterisk Magazine this week, “Why You've Never Been In a Plane Crash”, about how the process of air accident investigations evolved along years to become focused on what happened to result in a fatality, rather than on who was responsible, or should be blamed for it. Working in the aviation industry as I do, it made complete sense to me to see that no one should promote a witch hunt in every air crash, but instead determine what actions and improvements to make aviation ever safer for all of us.
From proved to be a very nice mystery and horror show. We've finished binge watching season 1 and went straight to season 2, where we're already 4 episodes in. The show, by the way, was created by John Griffin, the same mind behind Lost, which I watched some years ago and also enjoyed, despite of its horrible last season. I do hope From does better, though, and that seems to be happening so far.
I've also watched a nice, 1h30 long documentary on Netflix called The Greatest Night in Pop, telling the interesting story of the USA for Africa song, “We are the World”, recorded way back in January 1985, when I was only 7 years old. Though young at that time, this song has always felt so nice to me and listening to it usually gives me good vibes and memories. So, it was very interesting to find out details about how 46 music icons, including Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, and Stevie Wonder, came together and in a single night recorded a masterpiece that, to me, has never, to date, been equaled. If you like music, you should watch it.
I'm almost done with the first book of the First Dune Trilogy (the one called “Dune”, itself divided into three books, actually parts of the story. People refer to the saga as the best sci-fi piece ever written, what I'm not going to debate because I'm still in the middle of it, but let's see. Liking it so far.
I have come back to work this week, after well spent vacations where I could relax and gather renewed energy for 2024's challenges. The first day at work welcomed me with a trip to Sorocaba, a city approximately two and a half hours distant from my hometown — also the city where the company I work for has its headquarters. I had never been to Sorocaba before (although my employer company has facilities there), so it was wonderful both to be able to know a different city and to participate in a workshop prepared by my manager and supervisor, where we had lectures and activities related to marketing and to business planning.
During the following days, I engaged in an interesting project which involves innovation tools and frameworks, research and interview. It's looking very promising, and it made me very happy to be back 😉
My younger son has also got back to school this week, starting the 7th grade. As it happens with most teenagers his age, though, I cannot say he's thrilled to go back to school — I believe if every teen could choose what to do, they'd choose endless vacations… but then, who wouldn't? 😂 Ok, ok… I might be joking (a little)… on the good side, he's met all his friends again, what, from experience, I know is always very nice.
Meanwhile, we're expecting news from the Japanese consulate anytime soon, as they're to send us instructions regarding my older son's student visa, which will be all paid by the Japanese government as part of his scholarship program. With fewer days than I'd like to admit we have available together before he travels to Japan, I have to admit that I'm starting to have mixed feelings about this trip — as a father, one side of me'd like him to stay, whereas another knows it's best for him to fully enjoy this experience of living abroad and flying high. Well, nobody ever told me parenthood was easy…
I went swimming again this week, and enjoyed it. I do want to turn that into a (healthy) habit. Although doing it only one night this week, I did more than 60 minutes of exercise, and that's exactly the kind of thing I need to introduce (back) to my life. I wish to do it at least twice a week, maybe thrice, who knows? Right now I have my both legs sore, but that's to be left behind once I get used to the rhythm. I'm certain.
We have started to watch From. Only three episodes into the story but looking promising so far — the plot strongly reminds me of a couple of Stephen King's stories, but, due to the fact that characters are all trapped in a city they can't leave no matter what they do, haunted by mysterious evil creatures lurking at night, mostly seemed to me like Blake Crouch's Wayward Pines Trilogy, a piece that I could not put down when I read the three fiction books a couple of years ago. With two seasons already produced, I hope “From” lives up to the expectations it's creating in our family.
Also, I'm currently reading the Brazilian Portuguese version of the three-book box set of the Dune Trilogy, by Frank Herbert. Dune's a classic and I'm glad to be reading it. The story's good so far — and in this case I'm also hoping it keeps like that, but only time will tell.
I have been experimenting with NearlyFreeSpeech Web Hosting for a couple of months. Behind these experiments is a wish I have to pay less for online services — especially web hosting.
This is the same wish that not so long ago made me take the decision to experiment with PikaPods, where I actually saved some money in terms of web hosting. The problem is that Wordpress is such a memory hog that I wasn't making peace with its memory needs, having to adjust it all the time, sometimes several times a day!
This made me decide to go back to Micro.blog, where at the first day of 2024 I signed up for a whole year. The thing is… I'll probably leave again once this period is over, and it'll probably be to settle with NearlyFreeSpeech.
Now, similar to Pikapods, in NFSN you also pay as you go, that is, pay only for what you use. From what I've used so far of both, I'm alright to say that both are very fine services. Their difference resides in customizability, so (forgive me for the poor comparison here) imagine Android vs iOS in terms of how open to changes and customization each platform is.
Some people just want to fire up an instance of an app, and have it running without having to worry about the backstage administration — even if they wanted to, they wouldn't be able to go much further into backstage because most of its doors are securely locked. This is Pikapods, so it's similar to iOS: it runs very well, delivers a very nice UX overall, but you can't do whatever you want because, well, you can only go to somewhat deep water.
Some people, like me, never ever satisfied with whatever they have setup, or who change their minds all too often, are more satisfied with more control, more customization options, even if that means you have to care for administering (a part of) your stuff. I like that, and at least theoretically, as someone graduated in Computer Science, I can operate the backstage (at least to a certain degree of comfort). NFSN's pricing is also very attractive. Provided that you don't require support apart from their very detailed and rich documentation, FAQs and user forum, you spend way too little on a monthly basis — for instance , at the moment I'm writing these notes, I have a balance of $4.24, and all I have credited my account with was $5.00 in December, meaning I've spent only $0.76 so far. Remember mileages may vary, depending on what you're going to host.
In my case, with the help of support in a forum thread I created, I got to setup a self running instance of the latest available version of WriteFreely, the open source software behind the paid service Write.as, being able to run several blogs in a single instance if I want to. In my case, it doesn't use MySQL databases (although it could, as it supports it). If I used MySQL instead of PostgreSQL, I'd be spending a little more than I've spent so far, yet, nothing prohibitive. So it's a scenario where I can customize more and be more open to administering my own stuff, like an Android phone.
I've also moved my domain to NFSN. If you visit it, you'll be able to see WriteFreely working. There are many adjustments I intend to make yet, so it's missing parts and bits (no posts from 2024 there so far, for example) — but that'll come with time.
I'm quite impressed with myself and the fact that I'm reading so fast this year. I've just finished my fourth book in the year, Holly, by Stephen King, another solo adventure with character Holly Gibney, the shy detective who's appeared in The Bill Hodges Trilogy and grew to the point of becoming a solo protagonist. I loved her latest, homonym book, read it very quickly… and felt I wanted more. As I usually do in such circumstances I went looking for likely future books with Holly and… surprise! I found out Mr. King (luckily) isn't ready to leave Ms. Gibney be yet, and intends to gift his fans with yet another Holly novel!
From the above link, where I've also found out another short story collection is to be released this year, comes this fortunate spoiler:
The next Holly Gibney book is called _We Think Not_, and that one is also turning out to be fairly long because there are "too many stories" going on in it. King said, "I feel kind of like the mad juggler. I'm trying to keep all the balls in the air and not drop any of them."
I've spent my last week of vacations at the pool. This has been incredible, as it allowed me to exercise much more than I had been during the whole last year.
When I was a teen, I practiced swimming for many years, and this made me fall in love with the sport and learn how to swim the four classic strokes — front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke (a.k.a. my favorite) and butterfly stroke. So I've grown up accustomed to the idea that swimming is the most complete sport and have always wanted to get back to it.
Until by the beginning of January, while thinking about swimming I came to the conclusion that there was nothing between me and starting to swim again. I became member in a club in my city and started enjoying it.
Now I'm going back to work next week, but will try to keep on swimming, as it relaxes me, and exercises me. Maybe I'll get back to be thinner as well, as I was when younger and practiced more often. Time will say.
After a very long time — specially from my older son's point of view —, we again received news regarding his Japanese MEXT scholarship. And, it turns out, they were very good news! After a hiatus of months without hearing anything from the consulate, he received an email last Thursday, stating that he was, indeed, approved!
This means that he'll have his dream of studying in Japan come true!! There are yet some documents and preparations to happen between now and the date when he'll finally travel (in early April, probably during the first week), but the thing is there's no way to deny how happy he became once he learned about his approval. We were aware that the results were supposed to come out between January and February, and, as they started being published in Brazil this week, my son even had his share of sleepless nights, out of anxiety. So learning about his approval was both the best news and a welcome relief.
I didn't know it, but looks like all the analysis and results consideration is done manually by the Japanese government. And as this particular scholarship process takes place with applicants from all around the world, that's why the long waiting time happens. But we're not here to judge that. We're all very happy here, for my son and this great achievement!
Of course, this means that I'll need to restart my Japanese language studies if I eventually want to be able to communicate with native speakers sometime in the future, once we're set to travel to Japanese lands. I'll have to see about that and try to come up with effective (self-)learning strategies. But for now, I'll concentrate on spending the next months creating memories with my son before he departs to study abroad.
I had plans to take a plane with my family and travel to Salvador, as we tend to do at least once a year — my wife's got family there and that's when we visit everyone and get to see them face to face and spend quality time together. But it turned out to be impossible for me to do it this time (spending at least a couple of weeks there, as I'm on vacations until the 22nd of January). Air fares are way too expensive now, with air companies blaming it on everything from their supply chain to the COVID-19 aftermath, so we'll need to replan and delay the trip to the future.
That doesn't mean I'm not enjoying my vacations. This week, for example, me, my wife and the kids spent every single day going to the club's pool. It is a very nice pool and everyone here loves it very much to play and enjoy the water. It's a climatized pool, so as a bonus it means we don't even need to worry whether it's sunny or rainy before going there. Fun guaranteed!
I've also finished reading two books! Com Sangue, the Brazilian version of Stephen King's “If it bleeds”, about which I wrote earlier this week, and Steven Novella's The Skeptics' Guide to the Future, a non-fiction book about futurism and the technology that there can be in the future, both quite interesting and satisfying reads. This means I'm 3 books into my 20 books goal for 2024, making me very, very happy.
Considering my media diet, it wasn't bad at all this week: We've watched four movies in family. Parts one and two of “The Hangover” trilogy, respectively from 2009 and 2011, “A Vampire in the Family”, a Brazilian comedy with Leandro Hassum, released this week on Netflix and “Mafia Mamma”, another comedy released just this year, telling the story of an American woman who, all of a sudden, inherits her late Italian grandfather's Mafia empire.
On the personal side, I went to my ophthalmologist this week. I had scheduled an appointment back in December, which I did because I was finding it a little harder to see things while driving and reading (age, you know what I mean). I found out that my shortsightedness remains the same, but that it is now accompanied by a little astigmatism, which was causing my view to be a little blurry as of lately. Thankfully, nothing that a new pair of glasses cannot fix.
I've spent New Year's Eve with my parents, along with my wife and kids. We did nothing fancy, just had a small dinner while we all waited until midnight came and 2023 gave place to 2024. This year fireworks were more visible from my parent's apartment, and longer, too — it may have taken longer to finish, as well, 12 minutes if I'm not mistaken.
— I was reading Otavio's Weeknotes and how he said, as an adult, nothing much changes with each new year, except for remembering to exchange 2023 for 2024 in some forms, especially checkbooks (who uses them nowadays, anyways?), and I couldn't agree more. Living in Brazil, and having a kid in school does mean, though, news for him: a new grade, new teachers, new subjects and so on, so we try to take the same train and enjoy the novelty along with him.
Within three days of 2024 I finished reading my first book of the year, “Devoradores de Estrelas”, by Andy Weir (“Project Hail Mary”, in English), and this made me very happy, not only because 1/20 of my reading goal this year is already fulfilled, but also because that was a real page turner, as I've stated before. So, double happiness, completed with two books I'm already reading now, both by the master, Stephen King.
I'm on vacations right now — meaning I'll be back to work only by the last week of January. I intend to take these days off not only to read a lot, but also to do fun things with the family. This means a lot of time by the pool, at the club and also a couple of short trips — I might even end up going to the zoo, as requested by my younger son, and maybe go watch our team debut in the regional soccer championship — aka Paulistão 2024. Be it what we do, it's nice to be able to start the year relaxing a little bit. That's the first time in my whole life I'm taking vacations in January.
We've watched McMillion$, a 2020 documentary HBO Max was suggesting me as an option for quite some time now. It's a 6 episode series, with, according to Trakt.tv, “a detailed account of the McDonald's Monopoly game scam during the 1990s as told by the participants in the case, including the prizewinners and the FBI agents who caught the security officer who orchestrated the entire scheme”. Now, I have mixed feelings about that program… while the story was unknown to me, so interesting to follow along, the series was way toooo long, I mean, it could have been told in 2 or 3 episodes tops. There came a time when I felt like fast forwarding some scenes, so I won't give it more than 3½ stars. Forgive me, Ronald McDonald.
Changed my mind again and since the first of January, I'm (again) inhabiting the Micro.blog neighborhood. I have already imported all of my Wordpress posts to it, and now need to make some small adjustments here and there, but I believe I came to stay. Next step is to stop using the
micro subdomain and moving Micro.blog to the main domain.
🎉 Happy new year to you all!