On Priorities

Boy, this was a busy week, despite Tuesday being a holiday here… And yet, I have had time to mull a few things.

In distant times1, before the kid came along, priorities were simple: Work, Hobbies, Family and Friends. Things were somewhat hazy in the “friends”, “work” and “hobbies” departments because it all added up to more or less the same people and things in the same context, but the gist of it was that things were faster and looser to a great deal, and that there would be a lot more coding and ranting and gaming and listening to music than anything else.

Since I never was much of a party-goer (except a few instances at college), I would spend hours upon hours at work or with people from work because it was fun, rewarding and generally a good thing, with family stuff (and sleeping, and resting) happening more or less in the background.

Then work started going to the dogs entropy-wise, and I found reasons to take things a bit slower, so all of a sudden it became Hobbies, Family, Friends and Work, in the sense that I proactively focused a lot more on fun stuff outside working hours (but still had to punch the clock and go through the motions), spent a lot of time at home and, despite re-acquainting myself with some long lost friends on occasion sort of became a hermit, one step removed from relocating to Australia.

Fast-forward to today, and it’s sort of like Kid (where Kid equals Family cubed), Work, and pretty much nothing else. Except that work is now superlatively fun, largely so because I keep it at the office and only dip into it on occasion, typically by thumb-wrestling my inbox in the wee hours when I am 15 minutes away from either falling asleep or being fully woken up by the kid.

These days, I struggle bleary-eyed to get out of the house after being woken up at 4AM, 6AM or missing the alarm clock at 8AM (pick any two), focus a lot more on what I’m doing at work (because despite entailing a lot more responsibility it has become comparatively quiet2), and leave at 6:30PM sharp to bathe, feed and (eventually, after much wrestling, wailing and chanting to the elves of Droopy Eyelid Land) put the kid to bed, after which I invariably sit in bed with a laptop and a book (or a hundred) for an hour or so until I start nodding off.

The key bit here is that no matter what I might have to do at the office, 99% of it is less important than family. It Can Wait. I’d rather watch the kid learn to walk, press buttons on the remote, and poke a spoon at my nose, and would have taken a year’s sabbatical to enjoy it all fully if Portugal was a civilized nation.

A bunch of my friends are on Twitter. Some on Facebook. Most of them in my address book. Even a single degree of separation doesn’t mean we interact much of late, although the Twitter crowd finds it easier to reach me because it’s such a nicely asynchronous bite-sized medium that doesn’t get in my face like Facebook.

So yeah, hobbies and friends (AFK) are distant memories, mostly3.

Still, I usually manage to type a couple of sentences into some file every night, since my writing habits have changed from one-offs typed top to bottom in half an hour to a series of paragraphs cobbled together over the course of several days (sometimes weeks).

Likewise, it is tough to do anything of significance as a hobby. For instance, take Yaki. It runs this site. It is “production quality”, if by production you accept that it’s been running live for a long while and by quality you accept that it mostly works, even though the code in it ranges from the hopelessly morose to LISP haiku-like, depending on my inspiration at the time.

Of late, I’ve been writing short, nearly desperately lonesome pieces of code, trying them out in Mercurial branches and occasionally bunching them together. The branch tree looks like a hedge, and it’s likely to stay that way for a while.

I hope to have it all sorted out by 2026 or so, by which time the kid will be all grown up, Linux will eventually not suck, Windows be subsumed by the Singularity in one way or another4 and Apple be selling on iTunes full sensory replays to run on your neural implants.

1 Actually, it’s nearly been a year, but it seems a lot longer.

2 For some odd and surely insufferably geeky reason, I am often reminded of that sentence in the Babylon 5 opening credits where Michael O’Hare’s voice says ”[…]home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and wanderers[…]” which I’ve always thought pegged things down quite nicely.

3 Although some friends get to come over to meet the kid, but that is still Kid Time. And he gets all the presents.

4 Yeah, I know I’m linking to the disambiguation page.

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