February 2024 Journal

January Reflections

January was an unusual but pleasant month for me. As time freed up, I kept it unscheduled instead of filling the vacuum by committing to something else. I ended up filling this unstructured time with reading, home construction, cooking, and games with others. The month became especially free after Conventiculum Hibernum, which was a good experience.

On Arbitrary Rules

Two rules for January made it especially pleasant. The first was to strive to do less. As they say, "nature abhors a vacuum," and so does my schedule. It's my natural tendency to immediately schedule something new at the first hint of free time, whether it's a class, a daily commitment, or something similar. So, I made a rule for myself: until the end of January, I would take on nothing new. The empty time would remain free, and I would do with it as I pleased in the moment. This may be a poor way to reach long-term goals, but it was a great way to rest.

The other arbitrary rule I adopted in January was to play no game without anyone else. The intention of this rule was to increase my family time. In this it succeeded. It is easy for me to spend hours playing Civilization 6 alone, but this rule killed that, which either pushed me towards more cooperative games, reading, or rest.

What I didn't expect is that it would unearth a nasty habit. I had grown accustomed to playing MIRTS by Amir Rajan when I had a few minutes of downtime. I checked the stats in the game, and I had played it entirely too often without thinking. But with this rule, the ease of playing as a default action when bored became obvious. This rule is staying with me next month.


The two rules left me with much more free time. This time would have resulted in more studying except for some (occasionally fun) construction time. I helped my daughter put some new shelves up in her closet, replaced the backing, retiled a portion of my shower (ugh), improved the bookshelves in my study, and made radical changes to my WFH office. Though I would have been delighted to avoid bathroom work, the other changes were less tedious. It's nice to get your hands dirty sometimes, to step out of the realm of code and language and do more tangible work.


And on the topic of more tangible work, I've been doing more cooking. This includes a good bit of Asian cooking, my first brisket, and bread. Since cooking is cheaper and healthier (on average) than eating out, it is a win.

Study and Reading

At the beginning of January, I finished Gaiman's Norse Mythology (which is great) and Machiavelli's The Prince (which was historically impactful and therefore fairly interesting). The first was a gift from an Improver and the second was for a book club at Improving. Then came the Winter Latin Assembly (Conventiculum Hibernum), which was non-trivial to prep for and (once again) a good experience. If you're into Latin, I recommend the meetings. The last finished book was a re-read of Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara. It was one of the first fantasy books that I read when I was in High School. My children were the cause of this. Two of them decided to read it, and I decided to refresh my memory so we could discuss.


Today, we visited All Saints Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth to attend some baptisms. The singing was strong, there were many prayers and much scripture, and the preaching gave me a new perspective on Acts 6 and 7. It was all a blessing. Lord willing, next week, we will be back at FBC Parker, and I begin a study in Ephesians during the morning study hour. It was great to be with some saints in Fort Worth today, but I will be happy to be with my church family again next week.

February Plans

But now February has arrived! I can take on new goals, though I will restrain myself.

Even with the new goals, I expect plenty of time to relax, but we'll see how things go. I hope all who read this have a blessed February. Valete, amici!

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