This is an archive of what was formerly on my now page. "Past page" didn't seem like the right title for it, and some of this stuff really isn't for my about page, so it will go here.
On October 23rd I'll be in a saxophone quartet concert at University of Tampa at 7pm. Fun music with fun people. Maybe I'll see you there??
I have finished Cal Newport's Digital Declutter challenge and I'm really glad I did. Digital marketing and algorithms can so easily creep into our lives making us more and more, like invasive tree roots. I'm slowly adding back things into my digital diet. First video games and music streaming, but with a lot more intention than before. I'll have to put together some sort of uses page, but the digital tools I'm using now are: PuTTy for my server, call, texting, email, chatGPT, and YouTube, Wikipedia, Discord ocassionally with a feed of blogs I skim through once a week.
For the next week I will be hitting the Bourbon trail with my best friends. I am quite excited as this is my first real vacation all year.
I just finished reading Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism. This past Monday I realized I have addictive behaviors related to my internet use and the problem was much bigger than I initially thought. Along with that, I have decided to take the plunge into Cal's "Digital Declutter" month-long challenge. I am continuing to use Teams and Outlook for work, but for the next month I will only be checking only a few apps once a day for communications. These include text, call, email, and a few checks of discord through the week. I already feel a bit less anxious than I did before. We'll see where I end up!
It is my goal to actively get to know the people of the Tampa Bay Area a lot better. When I moved here four years ago, I didn't really know anyone and was bogged down with my first year of teaching (if you know, you know). Then COVID, and then just me being a bit of a hermit. I've been hanging out a lot at Gamers on The Edge, a charity that has been hosting fighting game events. So now if you are reading this and are in the Tampa Bay Area, please give me a shout! My email is nick "at" ncksr.xyz. Hope to talk to you soon!
I'm starting a new project that I'm calling unHack. It's a blog about using technology more mindfully rather than trying to "hack it." I'm using Medium to host it and I'm interested to see where it goes. It might totally be another scrapped project. Only time will tell. You can read my articles here.
Whenver you feel lost, always go back to your mentors. Someone who has been like that for me (but does not know it) is author Cal Newport. He recently talked about his concept of the Deep Life Stack. The premise of it is to build discipline, then values, organize your life, then plan your work and in that order. So I've written down some things I want to do regurlarly daily and weekly. I have been wanting to start my own project independent of work, but I have consistantly gotten burnt out before I even really get going. My goal is to get consistant with doing one hour or more of "deep work" of my actaul real job, and go from there.
I've recently discovered urbanism in one of my rabbit holes and I am loving it. It's this growing field looking into how we as people live in cities in towns. Urban Planning is an urbanist field. I have found a collection of Content Creators all centered around using less cars, making denser cities, public transportation, why suburbs are bad and boring, and how we can make cities safer. It's inspired me to ride my bike more, try to understand my local bus system (it's actually kind of difficult, but that's a sign it's bad), and take the train from Tampa to Orlando. In the next few years (ideally sooner) I want to move out of Florida and live in a more urban place than where I am. Here are some places I was thinking: Providence, RI; Charlotte, NC (close to the train line); Long Beach, CA; Washington D.C; Hoboken, NJ; and maybe Atlanta, GA (near Downtown/Peachtree). I chose these places out of affordability, asthetic, and their walk score.
I have continued to disconnect from algorithimic feeds. The only one that still has me is YouTube on my TV and Google Maps on my new Android phone. I have created an email through mail.proton.me for my online accounts, my own personal email (nick "at" ncksr.xyz) for contacting real people, and now I am running my own public server through Vultr. I'm currently seeking an OpenBSD coach/consultant for help with sending emails through an httpd server. I am willing to pay, but it has been difficult to find someone with OpenBSD experience. Please send me an email (again nick "at" ncksr.xyz) if you can help. It would be great to have someone knowledgeable in my contacts for future projects.
I recently realized that I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic and I am codependent. I have stopped private lessons and I have started going to therapy. I had a bit of a crisis recently and am still figuring some of this stuff out. (Before you ask, I am okay! Everyone is okay! Just working through some normal "person in your mid 20s stuff") I have stopped giving lessons and I am using that time to write, journal, spend time with the people who mean the most to me, and make some new friends. Once the dust settles I'll put something together because I've learned a lot about myself and my relationships to other people through all of this and I know sharing it at some point will help someone out there who was just like me.
As part of my recovery with Codependence I have decided to do two things. One thing to empower me and one thing to make more new friends. I have started learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu through a local Gracie BJJ school and found a really great FGC (fighting game community) local that donates the money it makes to charity. Both have been fun and have a lot of parallels and they are exposing me to a lot of different people and challenging me to grow in a lot of good ways.
The bug has bitten me. I have been using chatGPT for a myriad of tasks. I use it for work, my personal life, this website, and every now and then poke at it for fun. I have to say, for using a less popular OS for this site (OpenBSD) having ChatGPT has been an invaluable resource for me. I have been asking to do mostly basic tasks and I'm finding the more niche the ask, the harder it is to get the answer. BUT, I think some of that might be due to my lack of prompting skills. I also just installed Stable Diffusion on my PC, and the artistic freedom it has provided has been pretty inspirational to me. Excited to proompt some more.
Over the past few years, two values have become increasingly important to me: ownership and creating value. As the world becomes more digital I think it is becoming more important to know how the internet works and how to have ownership of my representation online. I go off and on with social media sites, but ultimately I don't control most aspects them and they change on a whim. I see my website like my own digital house. I have mostly complete control. I have the freedom to make it however I want. It's forcing me to really learn some development tools and tricks including the command line, php, html, css, and some other tools. On the more creative side, I am writing for the site too. So far, I've done a few extended essays and I'm excited to write more. I spend about 1-3 hours each morning working on something for the site.
If there is one way you are exploited the most, other than attention-economy social media, it is through the promises of better health by someone or some group. I'll tell you this right now, you are probably paying too much for whatever diet, gym membership, or that pretend bike with a broken computer (side note: I think Pelaton is a questionable buy, you pay $1000 for a bike with a beautiful screen and computer, then you have to PAY to use it). The past year and a half, I've really paid attention to physical fitness. I started running, did crossfit for 6 months, and now I'm doing at home workouts. I got my hands on a copy of Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low and I've started doing more programmed bodyweight exercises. I still like to do barbell exercises for squats and deadlifts, but learning to do handstand is pretty neat.
I've always been fascinated by computers, especially gaming consoles. Once I graduated college and moved to St. Pete, I gathered all of the consoles and games I accumulated through the years and displayed it as a collection. As I've tried to go more and more analog, away from online enabled algorithms, I've come to appreciate what I have as art rather than a bunch of stacked up toys. In learning more about dopamine and deep work, as well as repairing things in my house, I've come to enjoy the practice of fixing things. This combination of experiences has brought me to take up the hobby of electronics repair. It's been a mix of disassembling my old consoles, fixing broken games, and learning about how electronics are (or are not) recycled. I have turned into a dumpster diver an avid user of Craigslist. I've even made a bit of a micro-hustle out of it too, selling used games. My goal with it all is to be able to mod consoles, especially handhelds and sell them as custom premium products or give them as gifts to family.
As the world becomes more digital and nations rise out of web3 (maybe) I think it is becoming more important to know how the internet works and how to have ownership of your representation online. I go off and on with social media sites, but ultimately I don't control most aspects them and they change on a whim. I see my website like my own digital house. With a website, I have mostly complete control. I can be honest with myself and have the freedom to make it however I want.
I recently accepted a position with the operations team at Engage fi. It is a consulting firm for financial institutions (i.e. banks and credit unions). It's a huge departure from teaching, but it's a growing company and a fascinating industry. So far everyone has been super friendly and I'm learning a ton about how money is moved and stored. I started the week after school got out and I have to say that I still feel like I'm on "summer break." Permanently. Did I mention it's remote?
I just bought a house in April. It's pretty rad. My now fiancee and I learning all the basics of homeownership. We have a lawn that is a hot mess and it's my goal to bring it back to life. Even plain old Saint Augustine grass is a garden, and ours needs a lot of help. I'm trying to do everything with the house myself, but I will admit I had someone replace some outlets out of fear of shock, but no one will mow my lawn besides me! I hope to start building my own furniture at some point, but right now I'm stuck with my lego-like IKEA sets.
I got an electric guitar completely for free. It's some smaller brand that I've never heard of and it's supposed to be for playing in metal bands. Whatever, it's mine and I love it. Long story short, I was tidying up my house (after realizing how much junk I was lugging around) and I was donating my stuff at Goodwill when I see some guitar pegs sticking out of the bin next to me. There it was, fully stringed. Nothing wrong with it other than some rust at the bridge. I couldn't believe it. I asked the woman who was dropping it off "can I have this?" I had no idea if she had a moral obligation for making sure this guitar got to Goodwill. Sure enough, she said "yeah, you can. I don't need it." My reply was "oh shit, thank you." I have never been so happy to curse at a stranger. With that, I bought a Fender mini amp, a cheap guitar cord, some new strings, and I was good to go. I got the mini amp so I could plug headphones to it. I'm not doing any performances anytime soon, and my fiancee loves not hearing me practice the same lick a million times. By far, this is the best thing I've gotten in a while (besides getting engaged).
日本語! Yes I am learning Japanese. I am fulfilling my 10 year old toonami-watching dream of learning the language of some of my most treasured shows, games, and movies. One of my good friends has been learning Japanese for years and showed me a couple of good tools. Tim Ferris writes about how great learning a language is, so I decided to give it a shot. Since then I have a new theory now that you should definitely learn a language OR learn something musical as it moves along many of the same neural pathways in your brain. I'm probably not spending enough time with the language right now, I do 30-minutes at most a day with Wanikani and Duolingo for sentence practice. I'm just about at level 9 in WK and soon I hope to dig into Genki 1 which has been gathering dust until I felt more ready for it. My end goal is to be able to watch all of Neon Gensis: Evangelion in the original Japanese dub with no subtitles!
On the diet side of things, I am trying to do three things: have the healthiest, most ethical, and cheapest diet possible. There's not really a diet that fulfills all of these things in a catchy name and the ones that do only cover two of theses categories at most. I tried going vegan to be more ethical in 2016, but that devolved into french fries and non-dairy ice cream. I then stuck to Tim Ferris' "Slow-Carb" diet for about a year. After learning about Effective Altruism, I had a hard time justifying all of the chicken and eggs I was eating. If I do eat meat, I try to get pork or beef since they are larger mammals. I'm not into supplements, but my doctor told me to take Vitamin D so I've been doing that. I'm not sure how much of a difference it makes, but I also take an electrolyte supplement after sweating in the Florida Sun a bunch. On top of all of that, I was inspired by Christy Harrison to follow the "Anti-Diet" which is basically eat whatever you want, whenever you want, just lean towards nutritious foods and pay attention to how you feel during and after eating. All of this put together gets you a lowish-carb, high protein, high fat, highly mindful, 80% vegetarian, and 100% feel good diet. Below is what my average daily meal schedule looks like:
Lately, I've been staying away from alcohol, for several reasons. It's expensive and not essential. It makes me feel icky sometimes. Beer (and most other carbonated drinks) make me super bloated. I don't sleep as well. And finally, there has been evidence supporting that no amount of alcohol is good for you. Sorry wine-a-day peeps. I do enjoy a nice glass of bourbon every now and then. I drink it neat.