Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Triage and Maintenance

I noticed recently that my main computer was very full. Sluggishly so, in fact. And when I ran J Disk Report (free!) I was shocked, shocked! to realize that almost half my hard drive was taken up by my iPhoto library. I had over 28,000 photos. I am not sure if that will sound like a lot to anybody reading this, but gosh, it felt like a lot to me. I had transfered library after library, to computer after computer, sloppily. There were, like, eight copies, four of them corrupted, of the same photo of a kitten I'd downloaded from the internet in 2004. Ladies and gentlemen, I don't even KNOW that kitten.

I had over ten versions of this picture of a miniature horse from  my hometown.
The picture is from 2005, so I obviously hadn't even seen any of the Li'l Sebastian
episodes of Parks and Recreation yet. 

And according to my fumbling internet research, it is either expensive or unreliable or both to use a program to remove duplicates from iPhoto. It kind of has to be done by hand, apparently, especially since not all the photos I need to remove are copies - many of them are slightly different versions of photos I took. Some poorly lit, some blurry, some with bonus thumb, you know how it goes.

So here's what I'm doing. I have made it a temporary policy to spend twenty minutes a day reviewing, labeling (and then trashing part of) my iPhoto library.

  • I open up iPhoto. I pick up where I left off the day before. I look at EVERY PHOTO in an event and trash the blurries and duplicates and inexplicables.
  • I look through the entire trash folder to make sure I'm not making any mistakes. 
  • I empty the trash. 
  • I email myself where to pick up the next day. 
This is a policy, not a rule. If I skip a day, I still know where to pick up the next day, and because I empty the trash every time, I am gradually increasing the space available on my computer. I usually end up deleting 200-600 pictures in a 20 minute session. 

Pretty soon, I'll catch up with myself. Then I'll need to develop some system to deal with all the iPhone pictures I sync weekly. That will be maintenance, but for right now I'm just doing triage. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On one giant leap for Emily, a small step for Emilykind.

I have achieved a thing! It is not a major achievement in the grand scheme of things, but for me it was difficult and I worked a long time at it and finally did it, so that means I am proud of it even if it is minor.

I have very little upper body strength. Last semester I would have said VIRTUALLY NO upper body strength, but now I have graduated to "very little."

Many of you have probably heard of the 100 Push-Ups six-week plan, but that was laughably out of my reach. So I modified the program to do 100 wall push ups. It was not easy for me. It took far longer than six weeks for a number of reasons. I had to redo week five because I failed the strength test after it.  And, just as an aside, even if everything goes as planned, the program takes longer than six weeks because after certain weeks you need to wait a couple days, perform a strength test and then wait another couple of days before starting on the next week.

BUT, when I started the program I could do nine wall push-ups and NOW I CAN DO ONE HUNDRED. That is, like, a lot more! So I feel accomplished, even if wall push-ups are the wussiest of push-ups.

One nice thing about this program is that you are constantly keeping track of how far you've come. Now I am starting the program over, doing both assisted sit-ups and desk push-ups, and maybe after I finish this "six-week" (ha!) program I will graduate to The Real Thing and be able to do ANY sit-ups and/or ANY push-ups for realsies.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On Budgeting, Terminology, and Advice

Back in November I wrote about beginning to budget for the first time in my adult life. I was vaguely apprehensive that I was doing it wrong, and I still welcome hearing about others' systems! In January I revised my amounts for the new calendar year, but I think my system is working for me. Basically, I add up my "necessary" expenditures and keep track of how much of the leftovers I spend in a given month.

I have recently started reading And Then We Saved, and the writer there (Anna) refers to my system as a "spending diet" rather than a budget. By Anna's criteria, the only part of my system that would count as "budgeting" is the amount of money I set aside for groceries/household expenditures, since that's a category where I actively limit myself to a predetermined amount each week.

Anna dislikes the word "budget," so she invented a neologism to describe her system. I, personally, have terrible associations with the concept of dieting. I would be happy to discuss nutritional goals, food preferences, portion size, or a billion other things about eating delicious healthy things, but I'd rather not hear about your diet. It would NEVER occur to me to use that term to REDUCE anxiety when talking about money.

Even though we use different terms, it was exciting to see someone talking about a system I use because usually, online discussions about saving money are not applicable to my actual lifestyle. I mean, the money I am advised to save is generally already money I do not spend. In a recent challenge on Get Rich Slowly*, for instance, the blogger Ellen Cannon makes the following suggestions:

  • "Scale back on the cable services you currently buy:" BUT I don't have cable. 
  • Consider "carpooling:" BUT I don't own a car. 
  • "Bring your lunch to work every day:" BUT I do that already. 
  • "Make a hearty soup or stew and freeze it in portions:" BUT I do that already, too. This week it is white bean and chard stew with tomatoes and apple cider vinegar and believe me, it is delicious. I might make some crusty bread to go with it. But that's a digression. 
To save money, I am also routinely advised to get rid of my landline (I don't have one), cancel magazine subscriptions (I have only one and it was a gift), buy meat in bulk when it's on sale and then freeze it (I'm a vegetarian), do things to the outside of my house to make it weatherproof (I live in a seventh floor apartment), and the list goes on. 

One of the things that makes And Then We Saved particularly useful is that it is a technique rather than a list of specific expenditures. AND YET, if you have specific ways you've reduced your own spending, I would love to hear about those, too! 

*I really like Get Rich Slowly and these are good suggestions. But not useful to me. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Syncing my devices, systems and life

Way back in the early mists of time, by which I mean September of 2012, I mentioned that I sync up all my lists and stuff once a week: 
  • Friday Sync! A new checklist for a variety of weekly tasks organized into one session - syncing devices and calendars, preparing the week's to-do lists, meal planning, watering the plants, etc.

I have a checklist displayed vertically at my desk that reminds me every Friday (the day I work from home) I should do the following: 
  1. Order my groceries for the week and plan what I will cook when. 
  2. Use my Google calendar to make my daily To Do lists for the week.
  3. Transfer notes I've taken on my EPHEMERA sheet to wherever they should really go - this might involve sending emails, making calendar items, reserving library books, or placing To Do list items.
  4. Use my camera phone to take pictures of the attendance sheets and grade sheets for each of my classes. Yes, I still keep track of attendance and grades on paper. 
  5. Sync my phone to my computer. 
  6. Review my email inbox and then sync my Google Calendar and my Gmail account to my iCal and Mail programs on my computer. 
  7. Plug in the external drive I use for computer back ups and run Time Machine. 
  8. Water my plants. I only have plants that thrive on infrequent watering.
This is a numbered list because I do these things in this order on purpose. Syncing my phone AFTER taking a picture of each attendance sheet means that I have that information stored digitally in more than one place, for instance. 

Since this is a standard part of my work week now, I never have to worry, OH GOD WHEN DID I LAST CREATE A BACK UP OF MY COMPUTER? I know it was Friday. I never have to think DO I HAVE ANY RECORD OF THIS ATTENDANCE SHEET THAT I SEEM TO HAVE MISPLACED? I know I do, as of Friday. And I usually find the attendance sheet under the syllabus anyway, but it is still nice to make that momentary panic as brief as possible.