Captain’s Log Stardate February 2017

One of my main goals with having a blog is to record a bit of what’s changed. How I got from A to B. Like the log of a ship; or Jean-Luc Picard explaining why the Klingons are at it again. In the past I’d title these things like ‘quick update’ but giving it a bit of formality seems nice. Going to try doing these at the end of each month for a while.


Grace has taken to scooting around everywhere. She still shows little interest in crawling or walking but the doctors say it’s still too early to worry. Her hips are recovering well from the hip dysplasia that had her in a spika cast for 11 weeks last year.

Amber is training for the mini-marathon, and I’m doing well with Pavel Tsatsouline’s Power to the People workout of deadlifts and side presses. I’ve also started jogging a bit so that I can run the Throo the Zoo 5k again in the spring. Started at Week 4 of the C25k program instead of the beginning and that seems to be working out fine.


We played D&D only once in February – our 2nd event pivoted to board games as some folks schedules ended up getting in the way. So we played Arkham Horror with the folks that could make it. Even then, it ended early with no clear victory or loss in sight. Schedules really get in the way of gaming sometimes.

Ber also DM’d a one-shot I wasn’t invited to. Shucks.

We lost our first attempt at “May” of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. We were due for a loss, as we’d won every play except the very first. Loving the storyline though! This game lives up to the hype.


At the beginning of February I spoke to a group of students at Central High School about how to use A couple weeks later I spoke about the landscape of career opportunities and the WordPress community at Sullivan College of Technology and Design. Then a couple days later, I ended up leading the Louisville WordPress Meetup about running an online business with WordPress. That’s a lot of speaking engagements all in one month.

Screen-Related Entertainment

Casey Neistat’s vlog recently ended and I had only ever watched it occasionally. Now that he’s not updating daily anymore I’ve been watching it all in chronological order.

Abstract on Netflix is kind of like Chef’s Table but for designers instead of chefs. Enjoyed every episode; loved the ones about Tinker Hatfield and Paula Scher.

Don’t normally play video games, but wanted to play one on a whim. Bought FTL and have really enjoyed it. It would even better on an iPad.

Can’t stop thinking about the Cal Newport books I recently finished, So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work. This counts as screens because it was on the Kindle. Still prefer Kindle to paper books any day.

Last night I took over the Chromecast and we watched Magnus and Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story.

At Work

More live chats! Come chat with me.

More emails! Lots of ’em.

Business Concierge sessions! What?

Yup, it’s new for me too. A few times a week I do a screenshare with a Business Plan customer to answer any and all questions about their site. CSS customizations, SEO tips and tricks, a crazy theme setup, I’ll do it all if that’s what they ask for during our 30 minute session. It’s been a fun addition to my day.

I haven’t written one yet, but a bunch of Automatticians are writing posts about their typical work day. You can read them here: #a8cday . Maybe I’ll get around to one. I did spend about 30 minutes today thinking about what my typical workday will look like in March – I feel solid about it.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

On the heels of Cal’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You comes Deep Work. If we agree with Cal that becoming good at rare skills is the way to build career capital – then how do we go about doing that? The answer is focusing on deep work, and mitigating shallow work.

You can read the two books as if they are one. That’s pretty much what I did. There are fewer surprises in Deep Work than So Good, but the ideas are outlined very very wellWe’re on the path of the craftsman, and what makes a craftsman better is deliberate practice. Spending time on the activities that make us more valuable and stretch us to our limits.

Most humans can only work at their maximum mental capacity for about four hours. And you’ll not likely get that until you’ve trained your mind to do it.

Learn how to be bored anytime, so that you can combat distractions easily when the time for focus is needed.

Going deep can take many shapes: the monastic philosophy (refusing anything that would get in the way of deep concentration,)  the bimodal philosophy (going monastic for a stretch then returning to a normal routine,) the rhythmic philosophy (making sessions of deep work habitual, the most practical for many people,) or the journalistic philosophy (mastering context-switching so you can go deep instantly as time allows.)

Ignore inspiration; instead find your philosophy of deep work and with enough time ‘inspired work’ will occur during those efforts.

Make time for focus the same way we like to take time away from distraction. “Going offline” can be so appealing, but has way less value compared to prioritizing time to really make strides on hard problems.

Other tactics:

  • Productive meditation: learn to think on problems while running, walking the dog, or doing dishes.
  • Keep a scoreboard for the deep work you demand of yourself
  • Add a shutdown ritual to the end of your work
  • Schedule every minute of your day, then use it as a guide (not as a rule.)
  • Do the shallow work better too – so that you can do less of it. In particular, write better emails.

Deep Work by Cal Newport, part of my 2017 Reading

Amazon | Goodreads | Wikipedia

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

Cal Newport’s rules for career building. I’ve never read a book that seemed more enlightened on the topic.

Your motivation has nothing to do with making your career better. The way you work is everything.

“Follow your passion” is bad advice for becoming happy with your work.

Instead,  get good at working, and you’ll gain passion for the work. There are some jobs where that’s not going to be possible, and Cal provides some ways to identify them. Get out of those jobs and instead find work in a field where you can develop a craft worth developing.

Gain career capital. Do difficult things that most people cannot or will not do, and get good at those things. This career capital makes you valuable. Some industries will require you to become valuable at only one skill: ignore other skills and maximize that one. Other industries will reward more diversity. Identify which approach your market requires, and follow through.

Once you’re working well, and have earned career capital, spend that capital on control. Use that control to make your career fit your life’s mission. Pursue your mission with the craft you’ve painstakingly trained.

This mission, control, and passion comes because you do good work. Not the other way around.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport, part of my 2017 Reading

Amazon | Goodreads | Wikipedia