• Personal Density and Journaling in Day One

    I wrote about my appreciation of Alan Jacob’s thoughts on Personal Density several years ago when I first came across his writing.

    My Readwise app recently resurfaced some of my initial highlights from that piece:

    Breaking Bread With the Dead by Alan Jacobs, highlighted by Jim

    Here’s a brief recap:

    In Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), an engineer named Kurt Mondaugen enunciates a law of human existence: “Personal density … is directly proportional to temporal bandwidth.” The narrator explains: “’Temporal bandwidth’ is the width of your present, your now. … The more you dwell in the past and future, the thicker your bandwidth, the more solid your persona. But the narrower your sense of Now, the more tenuous you are.”

    I’ve listened to several episodes of the How to Keep Time from the folks at The Atlantic and had really high hopes for it. The focus of the podcast was on our relationship to time and how to reclaim it. Not for lack of effort on the parts of the hosts, but the podcast never really hit the mark for me. I’m not sure what I would have changed to make the first few episodes more interesting or relevant but their last episode, Can We Keep Time? really fell flat for me.

    The reason it fell flat only became apparent to me after Readwise resurfaced the Jacobs quote on Personal Density. In the last episode the hosts dig into why we track things in our lives and ask Do photos, social posts, and diaries actually help us remember better?

    It feels like they really missed an opportunity to me. The hosts focussed on “oh, I take too many pictures” instead of addressing one of the key merits of journaling, especially modern journaling (like Day One for example) that allows you to revisit your “On This Day” X years ago entries every time you go ahead and writ in your journal.

    Every day when I write in my journal, I’m looking at nearly 20 years of previous entries. I don’t have an entry for every year for each day but most days I have a few entries. A few entries from the last four or five years, then an entry from 10 years ago then another from 15 years ago. Reading these earlier entries gives a certain feeling of rootedness.

    This, to me, is how I understand my relationship to time, how to reclaim it and more importantly, to understand how I’m using time. These earlier journal entries help me stay rooted in time, at least from the perspective of how I’m changing as an individual. Sometimes it can be totally disorienting to read an entry from years earlier and not completely recognize any of myself in the author of the entries. Other times, it’s equally disorienting to see how little I’ve changed over time, especially w/r/t the inventory of things that cause me anxiety or stress.

    My journal entries are valuable because there are times I feel my autobiographical memory isn’t dense enough to hold me in place while I try to gain perspective on my relationship to time.


  • Only half-jokingly wondering if Amazon’s AI’s emergent capabilities are due to being trained on audio from all of those Alexa devices out there? 🤔


  • Not going to lie, I’ve been ignoring all the hype around Drafts and sticking with emacs to my detriment. I dismissed Drafts as a rabbit hole for Zettelkasten-types where you spend more time tweaking the system than using the system, but Drafts is really close to what I imagine emacs would be if it were written from the ground up today.


  • The impermanence of the web is a weakness. I have a journal entry from 19 years ago with 8 hyperlinks in it, many to major news outlets and publishers. Every link is broken resulting in some kind of 404-ish error. Archivists were right to mistrust this thing.


  • Installing Python on New Mac

    As per this great video (on maintaining local python environments using pyenv), the Python that comes built into the Mac is for the Mac to use, not for programmers to use!

    Moreover, sudo should be unnecessary when working with installing modules, etc. for python. This magic is achievable by doing the following:

    • Install Homebrew (this is the only step that requires sudo)
    • Use brew to install pyenv
    • Use pyenv to install the version(s) of python you want
    • Install pip to install any necessary python modules.

    Install Homebrew

    curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install.sh)"

    The install will prompt a couple of PATH modifications you need to make

    Install pyenv and python and make necessary PATH modifications for your shell.

    brew install pyenv
    pyenv install 3.12.0
    pyenv global 3.12.0

    install pip

    curl https://bootstrap.pypa.io/get-pip.py -o get-pip.py
    python3 get-pip.py

    That should be good to go. You can type ‘pyenv versions’ to sanity check your work.


  • Albert Music Hall

    Played to a capacity crowd with Vinny and Mike last night. (great photo by Bob Yellen)

    Posted a couple of videos up on Facebook but will try to get them on YouTube, too.

    May be an image of 3 people, violin, guitar, accordion, clarinet and trumpet

  • Jazz & Chinese Food

    New to us, Shanghai Jazz in Madison, NJ. Crazy. I could not believe how good the Helio Alves piano trio was. Totally blown away.

    You definitely need a reservation for this place and get there a few mins before to get a good table. But highly recommend. For a Chinese restaurant with a jazz band I expected at least one half of the equation to be meh but the food was great and the band was exceptional. All the work on chord substitutions I’ve been doing made me so deeply appreciate the complexity of jazz piano compared to jazz guitar. Improvising with two hands on piano is some next level playing.


  • Fixing one channel audio in iPad videos

    When making quickie recording videos with my iPad and audio interface, I’m just using the built in iPad camera for the video. It picks up my mic via the usb interface but only records to the left channel (presumably if I added a 2nd mic to my 2 channel interface I’d get left/right but 2 mics are overkill for recording practice videos.).

    Still. listening to audio out of just the left channel makes me crazy. So, open up the resulting iPad video in Handbrake, go to audio tab and select mono. It will convert the left channel only to a mono signal that comes out of both speakers. Sounds much nicer and only takes a few seconds to do.


  • It’s 1:18PM and I’m just now finally able to open my Morning Checklist. Eeeesh. It’s days like this that make Cal Newport’s vision of what “knowledge work” is like sound like a fairy tale.


  • I’ve been trying to achieve an easy way to POSSE from my phone with a nice interface, good editor, handles photos, etc. Neither iOS shortcuts nor the WordPress app are especially satisfying to use. Beluga looks interesting. Thanks @matthiasott
    https://beluga.social


Current Spins

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Reading Notes

  • Unable, then, to see the world because I have forgotten the way of being in the world that enables vision in the deepest sense, I […]
  • Suppose Bob writes an email to Sue, who has no existing business relationship with Bob, asking her to draw a picture of a polar bear […]
  • The large majority of the world’s decaffeination still happens through chemical-based processes that use things like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. I don’t know what […]
  • All the forces at play within us and without seem to be centrifugal forces, pulling us apart. I remain interested in understanding the nature of […]
  • FWIW, my Emacs of the moment is emacs-plus@29 installed by Homebrew: brew install emacs-plus@29 –with-mailutils –with-xwidgets \ –with-imagemagick –with-native-comp Source: Browsing in Emacs – Volume […]

Saved Links

  • Great resource, teachers, charts, tools. #music #guitar #bluegrass — Direct link
  • US-based non-profit organization and public charity dedicated to fostering authentic Daoist study and practice and to preserving and transmitting traditional Daoist culture — Direct link
  • It’s no mystery why Marc Andreessen thinks people like him should be in charge. But how did he get so many of the rest of us to sign on? #Andreessen #Computers #Democracy #HNWI;Wealth;Billionaires;1 #Income #Industry #Inequality #Internet #Jobs #L #Marc #Percent #Tech #and #the — Direct link
  • Prominent crypto venture capitalist Chris Dixon provides an unconvincing bible for blockchain solutionists. — Direct link
  • What Can I Do about the Climate Emergency? (A LOT! HERE’S HOW!) Everybody’s practical guide to what they can do against climate chaos and for a just and thriving natural and human world — Direct link
  • tutorials on reverb with the LX480 — Direct link
  • Move and resize windows in macOS using keyboard shortcuts or snap areas – makes me realize how much I'm under-utilizing mosaic. — Direct link
  • Simple and powerful keyboard enhancement on macOS — Direct link
  • Echo is a node script to post new items from an RSS feed to various services including Micro.blog and Mastodon. Checkout the readme on GitHub for installation instructions. Use the forms below to generate your config. — Direct link
  • Through tools like ChatGPT, anyone can conjure up rewritten Wikipedia articles, essays, code, poetry, and more with just a few prompts. This "democratisation" of content creation is pitched as The Great Promise to empower voices previously unheard. But democratisation is, arguably, a misnomer. It suggests an egalitarian shift in the power dynamics of content creation, purportedly enabling a more diverse range of voices to be heard. This perspective – at best, blindly idealistic and, at worst, cynically manipulative – fails to acknowledge the underlying complexities and potential pitfalls of an AI-dominated internet. It assumes equal access to and understanding of […]