Nate Dickson Thinks...

Small Thoughts for a Quiet World.

I figure, why not record my favorite ways to waste time in the last year. As always, This is a ranking of games I played in 2022 regardless of when they came out.

Here's the list, from favorite to least favorite, because I like putting number one on top.

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Me: [Sleeping] 🧠: Hey. Me: No. I sleeping. 🧠: You know the Sierpinski Triangle? Me: I mean, yeah, if you know it, then I know it. 🧠: I'll bet you could use Python to draw it using the 'random game' method. Me: Probably. But it's [opens eyes] four dang thirty A freaking M I'm going back to sleep. 🧠: It'd be really easy in, like, Jupyter. Me: I can't hear you I'm asleep. 🧠: Now, how do you find the ratio of the length of a side of an equilateral triangle and the height of the triangle? Me: What? No. Tenth grade geometry was a long time ago and also I'm Sleeping. 🧠: That's fine, you just sleep, I'll work on this in the background. Me: ... ... UGH FINE.

later

Me: There, are you happy? 🧠: Yeee! Me: Why did we have to get up at 4:30 to do this? 🧠: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Me: Fine. Let's go to work.

Thoughts? Tell me about them!
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That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased — Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a quote that gets passed around a lot, and it's a good guiding truth. If we keep doing something we will get better at that thing and it will be easier to us. This is called building a skill.

But the inverse pressed itself upon me the other day: That which we neglect to do becomes more difficult, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has decreased. It's so obvious, and almost doesn't merit the time and energy it takes to state it, right?

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With the number of major events happening on the big social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, you may have started thinking about moving to something else. It's always good to look around. One of the biggest of the little guys is Mastodon, a social media system that is somewhat similar to Twitter. This guide is written to give a gentle, painless introduction to the world of Mastodon, and to help newcomers get settled in.

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Start a daily journal habit. But if you miss a few days, just write about today, don't punish yourself by trying to fill in the blanks.

This goes for just about any daily habit. Keeping track of “streaks” is a good thing, and often motivational. But if we lose sight of what we're trying to accomplish and focus on the “streak” we can start to de-motivate ourselves.

Now that I'm out of school I am trying to lose the “I need to get straight As” mindset. A “perfect attendance record” isn't as important as the improvements I make when I work on things. “Write every day” is a good way to be a writer, but there's not a score card for writing every day. The important part is the writing, not the days. If I miss a day, all that is really lost is the opportunity I had to improve that day, nothing is taken away from my ability to improve today. Punishing myself for “screwing up” or “missing days” is counter-productive and needlessly costly.

Thoughts? Tell me about them!
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I Am An Optimist.

By Choice. It's not easy. It's actually really very hard right now to be an optimist. But I have chosen to be one, because I believe that optimism is the best route to effecting actual change for the better.

I Am Excited.

I get excited about things. When I am interested in something I will dive deep into it. If it's a product I will learn all about how it's made and who makes it and why. I can tell you far too much about the founders of Apple and Microsoft because I got deep into their histories. I read Linus Torvald's Autobiography. Twice. I know the names of the founders of Field Notes, and what they do outside of making small pocket notebooks.

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Some days I am a writer. A creator of worlds, a light in a darkened world, shining the beam of truth to teach and lead those around me to a higher level. #hyperbole

Some days I hate words.

Some days are both.

Thoughts? Tell me about them!
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When I was a junior in high school I was in two classes with my favorite teacher ever. I was in her advanced English class and on the Literary Magazine staff. She was a great teacher, one that shaped my life ever since. I don't know what she saw in my writing, but I'm grateful she saw something. She encouraged me, offered actual critiques, advice, and treated me like I was actually onto something when I wrote. It's safe to say she's the reason I'm still writing.

At the end of my junior year I was sitting in her classroom working on finishing up our notes for the literary magazine that year. I had already agreed to come back and be “Head” editor the following year, so I wanted to leave myself a few reminders.

As I was working she came over to the desk where I was working and said “Nate...this is probably a good book for you to read.” and placed a trade paperback on my desk, then left the room. She seemed a little nervous, I guess because giving gifts to one student instead of any others might seem somewhat preferential.

The book was Red Sky At Morning by Richard Bradford.

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I read somewhere recently that Terry Pratchett had a goal to write four hundred words a day. Anyone who is familiar with Sir Terry's body of work knows that he must have written far more than that most days. You don't create the Discworld and Good Omens and all his other projects without putting in a fair amount of time and effort daily.

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Let's say it one more time for the overachievers up in the front: “Quality over Quantity” is for consumption not creation. When you are choosing what to bring into your life it makes sense to be choosy. When you are working on your output you need to just keep producing. Writing 200 words a day is a far better practice than fretting over a thousand words for a week. “Thinking about writing” doesn't make you a better writer. Writing does. The only way to write the things you're really proud of is to write a whole lot of other stuff as well.

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