Notes from the Library

Fifth week blues redux

It’s the fifth week of the semester and back in Oxford it would be time for people to start talking about “fifth week blues” and how we might deal with them. I’m experiencing some blues this week, although it’s the fifth of around 14 weeks rather than the fifth of eight. I’m having difficulties because I’m finding my study skills not to be up to scratch. I’m not sure that they have ever been up the level that they now need to be, but they’re definitely down below the level they were at (parts of) my time as an undergraduate at Oxford.

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Arrival in Tucson, AZ

I arrived in Tucson to start the Philosophy PhD at the University of Arizona on Monday, and I now find myself in indecision about whether I should do it or not, and I’m stalling on signing the employment papers with the university. I’ve never been in a situation like this before: having travelled all the way here, I would have expected my heart to be committed to giving it a go. But it isn’t, in fact, I’m afraid and I want to go home. For my own benefit, in this blog post, I’ll try to give the best arguments I have for attending and for not attending.

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Worrying about e-mail today

A buzzword in the popular press is to describe Internet access as something that’s becoming a utility, that people are coming to need in the same way they need their water, electricity and gas. I realised today that a reliable e-mail account also has this status. My primary e-mail account has been my SDF account for about three years, but today I paid for a new FastMail account and started using an e-mail address at a .name domain that I’ve owned for six months or so but haven’t been using outside of git commit messages. I’ll talk about the reasons for this and also some observations about the place of e-mail in my life.

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Just going along as before

During my first year in Korea one thing that I complained about was that I lacked a sense of purpose. I didn’t have a clear next step to achieving big, longterm goals in my life. I wasn’t worried that those goals weren’t neatly circumscribed: it wasn’t my having dropped the goal of becoming a professional philosopher that was troubling me. Despite dropping this goal, I still knew that I wanted a life that bore similarities to the life of a professional philosopher, and that also bore similarities to a bunch of other archetypes. The issue was not having a shorter term concrete goal that would push me in the directions of some medley of the archetypes I look up to.

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Organisational principles backfiring on me

A few years ago I was really interested in productivity hacking, that is, creating and sustaining habits that make one more productive. I’m thinking of productivity here not as making or creating stuff. Instead, I understand productivity hacks as ways of using time more efficiently, especially when it comes to boring routine stuff that enables more interesting stuff. If the routines that oil your life take less time out of that life, you win because you’ve more time to do all the other stuff.

My friends made a lot of fun of me when this interest of mine was at its peak and I look back and realise that I was spending a lot of time trying to become as efficient as possible at not actually doing very much. That being said, I did get some good habits out of my productivity hacking hobby, along with a really bad habit. I’ll write briefly about both of those.

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