• Friction and Hobbies

    Friction in a retail shopping experience is all the things that get in the way of a customer walking in, picking up the thing they want, and walking out (with the money being automatically deducted from their bank account via brain chip, or whatever). I don’t remember where I came across this concept, and I’m not particularly interested in the nuances of how much friction one (who?) wants in a retail experience, but I did think the idea of friction was pretty cool.

    I have a lot of hobbies (this is all going to tie together, just hold on a second).

    I have a lot of hobbies that I don’t do very often. I make a piece of ultralight backpacking gear every 3 or 4 months. I carved a handful of spoons a year ago, and haven’t since. I wrote a lot of words during NaNoWriMo one time when I was a teenager. And then again last year. So that’s something like a 15 year gap between my two forrays into writing fiction.

    Anyways, the point is, I love doing all these things. They fill me with satisfaction. But the vast majority of the time, the sewing machine is tucked underneath a table. The carving knives are deep in a tool bag. My thoughts about novelling are “maybe next November”. And instead of doing these creative things that bring my a lot of joy, I refresh reddit or scroll through instagram or do any number of mindless, mildly entertaining, but ultimately unsatisfying activities.

    I have a lot of trouble starting projects. Also finishing projects.

    At some point, I started to notice that instead of trying to just sit down and do the thing, I had better luck if all I did was get set up. Then the following day, with everything already retrieved from the tool bags and layed out nicely, I found it much easier to tackle actually starting the project.

    Just getting set up was more likely to feel approachable. And the following day, once I was all set up, getting started was more approachable too. I was reducing friction. And I was learning that I often have a very low capacity to overcome friction to start projects. Such a low capacity that the fairly small amount of friction of unpacking the sewing machine and getting it set up (for example) was enough to stop me from doing any sewing.

    So I decided to do an experiment where I picked one hobby (sewing in this case), and cleared off a corner of the desk in my partner and my apartment to have the sewing machine stay set up on for a little while.

    I didn’t have a particular project in mind. But I did have a long list of projects that I’d been wanting to get to for months that I hadn’t started. Some of them were tiny, but still, they lingered, undone.

    Yesterday I felt motivated to modify our Ray-Way Tarp so that our S2S Nano Mosquito Pyramid would hang better and wouldn’t require the 1oz spreader bar it comes with. And I waffled. But the sewing machine was already set up. And plugged in. And the bobbin was threaded. And I dove in, and it took maybe 20 minutes at the most and it was done!

    Once we test the new setup out I’ll write up a review with lots of pictures.

    Until then, I’m pretty pleased with this low-friction sewing project, and the sewing machine is going to continue taking up a sizeable portion of our tiny apartment, and hopefully I’ll be doing a lot more sewing!

  • Shouting into the Void

    Hello, world!

    I’ve been feeling like social media isn’t making me feel real great lately, and I ran across a blog post by Cal Newport that suggested kicking it old-school and going back to shouting into the void from your own personal website. This really appealed on an emotional level! Getting intellectual about it can be the subject of another post.

    Cal Newport references a more indepth article about the subject that seems like it will make some good bedtime reading, but I was fired up enough to dive right in and get my blog set up!

    Tech-wise, I wanted my blog to require a bit of nerdery, make me feel like a cool computer programmer, and be free. So I’m using Jekyll to generate the blog, hosting it for free on Github Pages and writing my posts in Vim. Locally, this is all running on Ubuntu inside the Linux Subsystem for Windows.

    Anyways, that’s all for now!

    Coming soon:

    • Ultralight backpacking trip reports and gear reviews
    • Pictures of things I’ve made
    • How I really feel about architecture

    No comments on this blog, so if you wanna chit chat, feel free to send me an email at brendan@brendanalbano.com

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