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(1) : Self-Care, Sometimes On A Larger Scale: I think some people I know might find Sam Starbuck's experience useful. He has social anxiety but wanted to leave the house more often, so he developed methods to cause himself to do so.

The idea originally was just to get out more; not even necessarily to have more experiences, but not to spend every single night at home. There's nothing wrong with that, in and of itself, but it wasn't what I wanted for me. So I developed the Adventur Programme.

I should say that I suspect the Adventur Programme would be different for everyone, because the key to doing it is finding something that will motivate you to actually follow through. Here's how I did it; the basic theme of all of this is to arrange things in such a way that making the decision to go isn't difficult....

Sam said that his plan

worked well. I think it's because it wasn't a resolution; it was a plan. Resolutions can be broken, and thus expose you to feelings of failure and despair. Whereas plans aren't broken. Plans are rescheduled for a later date. You haven't failed. You've just changed up your calendar a little.

I admire people and organizations that thoughtfully manage their sustainability. You can see Alexandra Erin develop this theme in her behind-the-scenes blogging; as a self-employed writer, she works as hard at developing her own infrastructure as she does at making fiction. For Sam, Alexandra, and me, the structure of a successful process must avoid causing feelings of failure and despair. We know that if we feel those, we'll stop. So we find patterns that suit our strengths and work around our weaknesses, and get us to our goals -- more adventures, more good fiction, better technical skills.

Maturity requires recognizing granite walls and finding workarounds, saying no to machismo.

We know from experience that counting only on unpaid volunteer effort to work on helping women in open technology and culture leads to burnout and inconsistency. So The Ada Initiative works as a nonprofit that pays two people's salaries to work fulltime on the issue. (I volunteer on their Advisory Board.)

In Notes on Nursing, Florence Nightingale wrote of management, "How can I provide for this right thing to be always done?" Even when she's not there? Nightingale focuses on executive energy, attention, and putting the proper processes into place such that patients have the resources and quiet they need to get better.

However, there is a habit of mind that scorns all visible processes (and sees no value in formal communication containers such as meetings or performance reviews). I was talking about this with Ari yesterday, about (for example) software developers who think source control is needless overhead. I imagine some of these folks have suffered from their own personal resource curse, coasting through day-to-day tasks, the accreted cruft not yet salient, atherosclerosis not yet completely blocking the bottleneck.

Some have the useful skill of translating to them, getting across why hygiene is important in some particular case. Sometimes I can do this with analogies. Others use diagrams. But by the time I'm working with someone, it's usually too late to inculcate in them that habit of mind, a critical respect of social infrastructure.

(If you can, try never to work for someone who has this blind spot.)

Like Sam, I'm also working on sustainability and process improvement in my personal life. For me, it's cleaning and housework. What can I do to make it more likely that I'll do my fair share? I already knew that podcasts help. As of last week, I've discovered that I am way better at doing the dishes if I do them first thing in the morning. With enough tips and tricks, maybe I can adequately simulate a good flatmate.

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: Lit On My Mind: cover of Charitable GettingLight fun: Charitable Getting by Sam Starbuck, free to download. It's a dramedy about the employees of a nonprofit and "a secretive blogger who might be one of his staff, a journalist determined to uncover who it is, and a client who not only doesn't want to pay their fee, but wants to sue [the firm] for telling the truth." I laughed out loud and was satisfyingly right in predicting the identity of the secret blogger.

More light fun: fanfic from the Yuletide challenge, 2011. A few of my favorite stories cover Casino Royale and Billy Elliot. Also check out Star Trek: Deep Space Nine heartwarmers "The Life That Is Waiting" and "In the Files".

I don't write fiction, but it's fun to read writing advice from authors because sometimes you get funny anecdotes. This is basically why I read Stephen King's On Writing memoir, and why I've been splashing through Jane Espenson's blog archives. At the Emmys:

...even the very end of the night was fun because there was this crush of people all waiting for their hired limos to come pick them up and everyone was in the same situation even though they might be, say, Vanessa Williams. Bizarrely egalitarian, the limo-waiting process.

(Jane Espenson majored in computer science at UC Berkeley, so I should add her to my list.)

For the same reason, I'm reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, whom I used to read in Salon. Restful & inspirational without being glurgy. (Example piece on her eating disorder.)

Book recommendation blast from the past: Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women's Changing Lives by Dr. Anna Fels. Slate review, Broad Universe review. Fels points out that the childhood or adolescent desire for fame is often a precursor to a more nuanced ambition, combining the urge to master some domain or skill with the desire for the recognition of one's peers or community. She also notes that women, especially, feel the need to hide that wish for fame instead of developing it into a healthy passion to guide our careers. This book blew my mind in the best way when I read it a few years ago, and massively helped me guide my career development. It now informs my emphasis on explicit encouragement and mentorship of new MediaWiki volunteers.

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: Five Things Make A Post: In February and March, I will probably want to go to a lot of the Museum of the Moving Image's Muppet-related screenings, in case that piques your interest.

You can tell Leonard rewrote the introduction to MediaWiki's web service API because it now includes "Let's pick that URL apart to show how it works."

Words I used yesterday that I intend to use more often: "blunderbuss," "sarcophagus".

Why in the world is my Congressional representative, Carolyn Maloney, cosponsoring a bill to reduce public access to publicly funded science? I'm pretty angry and will be following up on this with her.

Because I saw David Costabile (Gale Boetticher) on the train this week, and because I think it's pretty, a montage of the scenes in Breaking Bad shot from an object's point of view (shovel, floor, Roomba, dryer...).




: Ducts: I've had two astonishing experiences in the last few days.

The first was watching the film Brazil for the first time. If I had watched that at 16 it would have changed the course of my life.

WP SOPA Splash Full The second is still ongoing. I am at Wikimedia Foundation headquarters today, and I was here when the word came back that the community had decided to globally black out English Wikipedia in protest of SOPA and PIPA, and I was here when we flipped the switch to do that and some music player started blasting "We're Not Gonna Take It."

This morning a stranger thanked me for working at the Foundation, as though thanking a soldier for her service in a war.

In Brazil we see everywhere ubiquitous ducts, maintained badly -- sometimes sabotaged -- by Central Services, as heroic volunteers make up the difference by secretly installing workarounds. I write this at my temporary desk, seeing the exposed HVAC ductwork on the third floor of a nondescript San Francisco office building. The more vital duct is the Ethernet cord connecting me to the Internet, to that communally maintained "series of tubes" that gives me work, community, free speech, and the collective wisdom of civilization.

Right now someone needs to save our ducts from sabotage, and the volunteers of the Wikimedia community have courageously decided to sacrifice a day of Wikipedia in the hopes of decisively ending a great threat. We Foundation workers have the privilege of helping.

I oppose SOPA and PIPA. Will you join me?

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: Music, Fiction, and Craft: I have been excitedly pointing people to Zen Cho's speculative fiction, Software Carpentry, Making Software, "Suzy" by Caravan Palace, and Leonard's writeup about social reading.

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