Joe Woods

Published on 2021-08-31

August 2021

Hello!

Well, another month in the books! Here's what I've been up to.

Life

After several starts and stops, I've finally developed an actual workout routine. Fitbod has been a huge help — I'm really not a fan of their price point, but you can't really argue with results!

I am, as always, working on the way that I plan out and reflect on my day. I've somehow ended up with three journal-like things: first, my online journal which I write every morning using 750 words hasn't changed. I've taken up my daily agenda system again, to mixed results, but I'm no longer doing the repetitive tracking in it that made it onerous — instead of managing my daily habits on pen and paper, I'm still doing that in Habitica, but I've more gone back to using a notebook to plan out and keep track of my schedule for the day. Finally, inspired by my rereading of The Crow Road, I'm keeping an incredibly short log of what I've done each day in another notebook. I really like this habit, and I hope I keep it for a while; I think I basically need to be in it for the long haul, since it'll only really pay off when I want to go back and reflect on days in the past.

Finally, I've started playing chess again! I'm playing on lichess, and I'm doing a little bit of studying with Magnus Trainer.

Music

Here's this month's installment of the playlist! I hope you enjoy it. Here's the article, and here's the playlist on Spotify:

Programming

Work continues on the microblog platform; I've made some improvements to, well, just about every piece of it now. I can tell I'm kind of slowing down the pace as I near the "final touches," but I think if I can just push through one more plateau, I'll now have this great cloud-based platform to start building other services on. Also, the URL has moved! You can find those silly posts I'm making here: https://posts.woodssites.com/

I also wrapped up a very quick tool to see which media features your browser reports, which you can find here: https://dev.joewoods.dev/media-features. I think it still needs some work, but this is the minimum-viable version, and at least it's out there now!

I've just scratched the surface of Programming in Prolog by Clocksin and Mellish. I haven't quite reached the magic bits yet, but hopefully I'll forge ahead and have more updates when I get there.

Reading

Within the first few days of the month, I had already given up on Sandi Tan's Lurkers. I don't want to give too much of the book away, but it got to the point where I realized that it definitely wasn't for me — the level of psychological violence depicted in the book just wasn't something I was comfortable with.

Next, I read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. I really wasn't a fan. I really liked his later novel, Recursion, but I'm glad I ended up reading them out of order, because Dark Matter has actually somehow impacted my opinion of Recursion. I didn't think the characters in Dark Matter were believable; the thin wrapper of science fiction was kind of absurd and clearly based on a misunderstanding of the actual concept in physics that Crouch attempted to wrap magic around; the horror sections of the book were at best eye-rollingly frustrating … I could go on and on. I typically don't expound so much on books I don't like, but I was incredibly disappointed by this one.

So, ending a run of four books that I ended up being disappointed by — my unconditionally positive review was in May! — I read Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb. I did end up enjoying this one — I think I liked it the least out of the six previous books in the series, but it was still an exciting adventure, even if it wasn't as fun of a romp as the other novels. There were a few tricks the Hobb had to employ to shake the rust off of a few characters, since they were essentially left aside for a three-book intermission, and I think this made the novel not really come together for me as much as I would have liked. Nevertheless, this is the first novel in a long time that I found myself setting as much time aside as possible to read. And now, of course, I have to pace myself, otherwise I'd want to just immediately pick up the next book in the series!

After that, I read The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry. Barry has always been one of my favorite authors, and I read his novel Providence back in May of this year. In my view, Barry skirts this line between pulp and too-clever extremely well, making novels that always feel like action films, incredibly well paced with the absolutely cheesiest one-liners thrown in that you can't help but to chuckle at. But, of course, eventually one of these novels was going to be a bit of a miss for me. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I typically enjoy Barry's work — this one felt way more like a horror film, and I tend to avoid those. Also, it's completely unfortunate that this novel was released at a time where we're really facing a flood of the sci-fi motif that this story is built around, and though Barry has done it the best that I've seen so far, I'm just not a huge fan of the trope in general. I definitely had a good time, but I would recommend that folks new to Barry's work start with another one of his novels instead.

Huh, looks like I read a lot this month!

failbetter

This month, failbetter published "The Fall" by Joy Guo and "Orphan" by Christina Reiss.

Stats

That's it! Thanks for reading. Feel free to get in touch with me any time at joewoods@fastmail.com.