For some reason today, I found myself reading a few stories written by reflections of my self about an increasingly archaic way of approaching computers and software.
That they appeared on my social media timeline today is coincidence, for sure. But maybe, too, it’s a sign we are firmly entering the hobbyist phase of our lives.
My grandfather, the one who fought in a war he barely spoke of, was deep in that part of his life roughly a decade past where I am now.
He had this one tiny room, in what I remember to be a sizeable, and strangely, for him, stylishly-decorated apartment, that had a wrap-around railway set. On three walls, a shelf, a little higher than desk level and more than a foot wide, had a detailed diorama built onto it.
Roads with intersections, cars, and people frozen in motion as a train looped around and through their daily lives.
This train set lived for a couple of visits, and then vanished without a trace when he left the apartment. The apartment I imagine now that he had retired into with his wife who died shortly before I could hold onto memories.
The disappearances of the train set is an easy metaphor for the way so many moments of his life became compartmentalized and tucked away forever.
That I get.
But what I wish I knew now was, the why? What inspired him to commit to the time to build that world out?
My answer, for now, is reflection of the stories I read about old computers.
The answer is likely found, too, in my tinkering again, in pandemic lockdown, with Lego “models.”
There’s something comforting about creating a self-contained universe, ordered by knowable rules, reflective of the world we see, but governed by rules both unique and flexible enough to spark an imagination to create new possibilities, simply by dint of arbitrary, self-rationalizing constraints determined by a collective that will never now what you’ve done.
Looking into the abyss
These nights are always stressful.
Tonight, tho, it’s like we’re waiting on the precipice of a war no one really wants…and this global pandemic is both a metaphor of the mood while also an accelerant to our elevated fears.
That this all will end is assured.
The questions is: When?
Spent too many hours last night porting my Evernote notes to other apps to try to maintaing the metadata to move into Obsidian. I tried using the node scripts recommeded for both Evernote and Notion (the first couldn’t run on my Mac, the second seemed to strip the needed info), so imported it to a program called Bear (there are a lot of these programs now) and exported that to Markdown files which, I realized after the fact, strip the data the same way the Notion files did, so essentially wasted my time…
That said, using a clever plugin for Obsidian which opens a random note, I wandered down a path of rediscovering some of my older notes, re-reading, re-tagging, and in some case repairing links (the PDF files got lost). This kind of sorting can sometimes be theraputic, putting some order to some of the chaos of past and current mind.
As well, I stumbled across these set of Mac-related Services to format Markdown files. Unfortunately the most promising one, which promised to Markdownify the contents of a web address in the clipboard doesn’t seem to work now that most sites are served SSL. But Postlight’s Mercury Parser tool does (I think), so down another rabbit hole…
Taking so much effort to get back into the writing habit, but now that I have a bit more (meeting-free) time at work, I find my brain is struggle to get back into thinking gear, so this writing thing maybe the kick it needs.
To that end, after playing a bit with Notion again, I decided to explore an markdown/wiki-like app called Obsidian to see if some more lightweight, less designed, and more hypertext-like might help me see connections better and get writing.
While Notion is powerful, newbie-friendly, and definitely a step beyond Evernote (which never seemed to evolve passed its early interface and functionality), it felt too forced, too helpful, maybe even too app-y. I just wanted the interface to get out of the way so I could play. Even after exporting my Evernote notes (years and years of notes) into it, I still felt…meh…
Obsidian is definitely more that, and far more open source. And I can import from Notion as well as from Evernote.
Next step for me will be if I can get into the habit to start sharing/saving notes in it (which may be a challenge as it is currently a desktop only app).
Regardless, it has inspired me to write (for at least one day more).
I lost a post on time here, which is somehow an appropriate thing to do in 2020
6 months ago, 19 years ago
Woke up this morning thinking about how I almost became a tourist by taking a trip to the top of the World Trade Center to see the sights. I’d split from my group (who went to the MOMA after getting directions from a stranger shouting at us) and wandered downtown but found the garishness of it all too much.
A month later, the building was gone.
I watched it fall after a radio host told me to turn on the TV.
I watched it fall, told my new wife everything has changed—then went to work.
It’s been 181 days since I’ve worked in an office.
This time I knew it was coming. I could see rolling toward us in slow motion since that start of the year.
Doesn’t mean I knew it would still be here.
That we’d still be dulling our senses just to get by.
Here we are.