Saturday, 11 July 2020

Rochor Dream: HSL/HSV colour values and making an iridescent/rainbow shader in Blender



Recently I've enjoyed just playing around in Blender with colour. There are three ways of declaring colors in blender - hex, rgb and hsv - very similar to CSS/HTML where you declare colour in hex, rgb and hsl. In a way its easier to use HSV or HSL because the model is based on the colours themselves but from each colour you can also change saturation and lightness, so it is a lot easier to pick and compare based on how close a colour is to another.

You can’t possibly do that from just eyeballing the RGB values or worse still the hex code for a colour (hex being the more compact form and thus less human readable way of declaring RGB values). So in a way HSL/HSV is a bit more designer friendly. Most young designers don't really delve that far into digital colour or colour spaces, and it seems more to be a thing that would concern programmers and developers more, but I wanted to get an iridescent colour-shifting hue, so the only way to get it is to look a bit closer at the way in which colour is picked.

Iridescence is where the surface changes colour as the angle of view or angle of illumination changes.
HSL stands for hue, saturation, lightness, while HSV stands for hue, saturation, value. (Personally speaking, the HSV and HSL colour spaces look pretty much the same to me...)


There's some image compression on this image, so the colour wheel is a bit wack, but you can look at where the selector dot moves as I tweak the H, S, and V values....

In Blender there's the handy color ramp which is meant to map the values of your colour into a gradient. You just define the colours at the ends and then get Blender to calculate the gradient between the two (or more) colours. Now what I found was that you can ask it to map the colours around the wheel either clockwise, counter-clockwise, and also either via the nearest route (when you want complementary colours) or the furthest route around the entire wheel, thus achieving that distinctive "iridescent" look which is very similar to what humans are able to perceive.



When you change the H(ue) value, your selector goes around in a circle. When you change the S(aturation) value, the selector goes from the centre outwards or inwards. As for V(alue), it goes from light to black. Compare this with the rather confusing mixture of red green and blue to that goes into any colour under the rgb color space.

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure this is the final colour I am going for, it still feels like an experiment. Anyway, I'm going to try to make a couple more things like this in the coming month; hopefully I can make a few interesting looking prints on the metallic pearl paper...

Excerpt from Rochor Dream:


Coming soon on Plural Magazine's 100 Artists!

Monday, 15 June 2020

New motherhood is like a trip to a foreign country: Flatlands



Here's a recent visual experiment that I made in the stolen moments of Beano's naps. The setting is the 3-room rental flat we used to stay in, a very mundane 3-room "New Generation" (slab block) default template HDB flat built back in the 70s and 80s. And I think I've finally found a way to explain this thing that I've tried to explain many times before (but struggle to explain, similar to how its hard to explain my experience of taste-shape and mirror-touch synthesthesia).



For me, at any one time I always feel other superimpositions or juxtapositions of other places that feel a bit like memory palaces where I can store facts, thoughts, and memories of another time. Its hard to explain, but it is like when you have a work phone call, you might start doodling nonsense on a piece of paper. But in my case, when I start to daydream or let the mind wander (also: this happens when I am extremely focused on an urgent task and everything else zones out), I always end up recalling a visual memory of a place I've visited in the past. I am imagining tracing out its contours, I am imagining what the details must be like, what the lighting must be like. Honestly, I can't really explain why certain views for me just keep popping up as the 'memory palace', as some of the locations are pretty inconsequential and emotionally insignificant to me. Yet! My mind returns to them for further rumination. To what end? I do not know.

I began writing the following some time back when Beano was a much smaller baby. But now that we are all locked down at home for the corona, and I haven't left the house and its vicinity in days, fleeting memories of parks I've walked in come to mind. I found myself scrubbing through these albums trying to find the name of a particular memory that may as well be a dream. There was something oddly compelling about these images I had taken of my walks and frustratingly I COULD NOT FIND THAT ONE IMAGE OF THAT ONE WALK IN MY MIND. And turns out some of these images are pretty weird. Why are there no people in them?

It was always in the back of my mind to do something with this huge lot of photographs, so.... now they have ended up in this visual experiment. I actually think it looks better than I expected it; so I think I might even make more of them soon...



New motherhood is like a trip to a foreign country. Firstly, the middle of the night feedings are conducted in near-darkness, with the endless droning of the white noise machine in the background, and some random show on Netflix playing to sustain your consciousness beyond all normal hours lest you fall asleep on the sofa and baby accidentally rolls off; not unlike when one takes a plane and night-time is arbitrarily enforced upon you, the sound of the engines whirring is ubiquitous, and all you've got to watch are some random blockbusters or episodes of Big Bang Theory on the inflight.

When Beano was very very small, I found myself trying to claw back a sense of mobility through a series of ever increasingly longer walks with Beano strapped to me. In some ways, this strategy reminds of me of the Capital Ring walk I did in 2017. Living in Greater London makes one feel crushed by one's own insignificance in a big city that is too vast to know by foot, so I thought I'd try to complete a ring around the city.

Once upon a time I was going to do a detailed expository blog post for each leg but AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT so here are quite simply the photo albums for each leg of the walk...

Debbie's 2017 Capital Ring Walk!

The source material for "Flatlands"

"I decided to walk the supposedly 78 mile Capital Ring over 6 consecutive days. I say "supposedly", for Debbie does not go "as the crow flies" but rather haphazardly in a squiggly line all over the map, and according to other mapping devices it seems I may have walked more than 150 miles in total. Rather than starting with the traditional route as listed in TFL's maps and David Sharp's guide book to the Capital Ring, I decided to start and end my journey at Stoke Newington's Rochester Castle."

14 March 2017: CAPITAL RING Stoke Newington to Woolwich

Day 1: Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick
Day 1: Hackney Wick to Beckton District Park
Day 1: Beckton District Park to Woolwich Foot Tunnel

15 March: CAPITAL RING

Day 2: Woolwich Foot Tunnel to Falconwood
Day 2: Falconwood to Grove Park

16 March 2017: CAPITAL RING

Day 3: Grove Park to Crystal Palace
Day 3: Crystal Palace to Streatham Common

17 March 2017: CAPITAL RING

Day 4: Streatham Common to Wimbledon Park
Day 4: Wimbledon Park to Richmond

18 March 2017: Capital Ring

Day 5: Richmond to Osterley Lock
Day 5: Osterley Lock to Greenford
Day 5: Greenford to South Kenton

19 March 2017: CAPITAL RING

Day 6: South Kenton to Hendon Park
Day 6: Hendon Park to Highgate
Day 6: Highgate to Stoke Newington

Sunday, 7 June 2020

A Glorious Bale of Virtual Hay: Second Life worlds and their visual references



My Second Life Avatar is now approaching its teens! Monster Eel is 13!?... (and Monster wasn't even my first character). Every few years when I return to Second Life I'm delighted to find that it has its own life, going on strong. Things are even more detailed now. Who is doing all this? Who is paying for people to do this? Is it all just a passion project for people? Why does this unnecessarily detailed digital bale of hay exist? There's a whole cottage industry of people making exquisite virtual hairpieces and billowing blouses and freckled skin and distressed furniture and plants and antiques and futuristic gizmos for sale (sometimes dispensed via some unnecessarily complicated gacha machines)!

Over the weekend Beano decided to have a long nap whilst strapped to me (WOW!!!!) so Mummy went on to Second Life to have an adventure without leaving home... and also to look at the types of interactions in these 'installations'. If we think about the references that each of these worlds draw upon, I realised that the places I visited could be divided into 6 different categories....

1. Depicts an abstract world
Betty Tureaud's Rooms
- https://secondlife.com/destination/rooms-by-betty-tureaud

2. Replicates real world and has specific references
Paris for Ara
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Simpson%20Bay/114/79/27

3. Replicates real world but has no specific reference
Breath of Nature (Serena Falls)
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Serena%20Falls/28/82/22

4. Depicts a fictional world and with specific references to fictional works
Kintsugi
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Runaway/71/123/23

5. Depicts a fictional world with some realistic elements set in the past
Puddlechurch Rye
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Puddlechurch%20Rye/128/182/44

6. Depicts a fictional world with some realistic elements set in the future
Planet Vanargand Outpost Fenrir & Solveig Village
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Amazing%20Island/148/169/242

[Admittedly, I have been writing a lot of LESSON OBJECTIVES lately and this might be seeping into the above...]

The categories are not black and white, they blur into one another. Perhaps there are unknown references behind them all that I am not aware of. To what extent are these novel creations, or are they actually faithful copies of weirdly specific things in some specific world of the creators? I... really don't know. Will some of these mysterious anonymous SL creators ever reveal a bit more about their own design process...? Is it recorded somewhere in the world via the odd blogger webpage or flickr group, posted online under pseudonyms that I can find?



1. Depicts an abstract world
Betty Tureaud's Rooms
- https://secondlife.com/destination/rooms-by-betty-tureaud



This is like looking into a early 2000s book on Creative Coding, or Intro to Processing, or looking at a folder of three.js's webgl experiments. Experiments and snippets, I say, because these abstract rooms are more like raw snippets than actual stories or narratives or worlds to explore.

The iridescent rooms look empty but when you walk into the middle of the rooms (probably triggered by your avatar walking onto the slightly raised surface), this triggers different interactive animations. This reminds me of the SL in the days of yore, when interaction and realism were even more limited, so all you could write a LSL script to rezz up were a bunch of basic geometric forms that were randomly coloured whenever you entered a space, and for interaction you could move these about randomly (although to what end, this would be unclear). In fact, this is EXACTLY what happens in some of the rooms.



Whilst I love these rooms because they definitely look nothing like real life (and it seem to me that Betty Tureaud’s works over the years have been focused on creating abstract worlds that don’t exist in real life, peppered with statues of human forms), I still think that the interactions for these have come a bit as an afterthought, or isn’t as naturalistic or intuitive as it could be (based on current available technology in SL). Its just like how we don't use marquee or iframe or mouseover or flash anymore and javascript mouseovers and css transforms don't really impress anyone anymore. (It doesn't mean that I don't enjoy walking through the rooms though!)


2. Replicates real world and has specific references
Paris for Ara
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Simpson%20Bay/114/79/27





Paris for Ara is a location in Simpson Bay labeled under photogenic spots, and boy is it photogenic. I'm betting that many a SL fashion shoot has been done here. Although it is supposed to be Paris, it looks a bit more like Carnaby Street in London than Paris per se with all the English signage mixed in, and with the prominent rainbow pride flags everywhere (yay!), parts of it also feel more like Soho. The vision for this is ostensibly to render a real world scene into Second Life.



Some of the details are crazy amazing even when you zoom in, like for example, these steaming hot beignets (french donut fritters) I found on a cafe table. I'm impressed!





A photogenic spot like this is probably quite universally understood and enjoyed by all, since it has a real world reference (even if its been fudged a bit by mixing elements from different countries, but you know, 'generic european city with street-side cafes and pubs'), and some of the buildings are even faithfully rendered in their interiors, so I would imagine these to be spots designed to be rented out to residents or for retail purposes. I walked into what I think was a cream cake shop and there were 3 floors of empty rooms above, overlooking the street. There was even a torch by the stair, because you might have that in the stairway of a real stairway in reality, but I didn't use it because I had set the environment to SUNRISE.



3. Replicates real world but has no specific reference
Breath of Nature (Serena Falls)
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Serena%20Falls/28/82/22





Next I visited another photogenic spot, Breath of Nature in Serena Falls. A beautiful flower meadow with pastoral elements rendered in loving detail - an endless sea of soft dandelions, a white horse, a windmill, an old farmhouse, some sheep, a rustic wagon... I know, people dig this shit. Can't go outside into nature? Well here's nature for you in Second Life. Oh and with some generic amercian top 40 alt rock country pop internet streaming radio channel playing by default in this SIM... as always. I've always wondered if this is the soundtrack by which the creators of these objects live by. Once in a while a SIM has good radio tastes, but most of the time, its just this not-very-interesting generic internet radio streaming through wherever I go, punctuated by the sound of my avatar thudding against things by mistake (THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK).





There are some gems here though. A bale of hay with an ingenious way of seeming real. I know, these tropes of construction must have been devised years ago, and I admit I have never been deeply involved in building things in SL (and more of a tourist in SL), but there are some cool tricks to be found here. Its not hair particles which gives our hay bale its realistic appearance, it is a few strategically placed strands which do the trick.



I’m all like, who decided to build this in such detail? How many hours did it take? For them to construct the chicken coop with its wires, its distressed wood texture, to decide on its form. Is it a person with a chicken coop just like this? Did they HAVE to design a chicken coop first or did they use a reference from somewhere? I mean, this is not even a normal chicken coop. Its a set of shabby chic drawers converted into chicken coop. With a pile of rustic bricks by its side.



Finally, this bucket of ducklings with a duck about to jump into the water with mother duck looking on. This item even chirps. Yes, the ducklings, they are chirping. The water is cleverly done with just a partially transparent alpha layer on top with a translucent white pattern that makes it look like a reflection on water (not a true reflection of anything, but it doesn't have to be in order to look real enough from a distance!)


4. Depicts a fictional world and with specific references to fictional works
Kintsugi
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Runaway/71/123/23

This parcel is named Kintsugi (the japanese term for repairing cracked pottery with gold) but really it is a tribute to Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away, which I will confess that I can no longer remember the story line for. It is supposedly based on the fictional world in the anime, and this plot relies a lot on notecards and the chat system to distribute information about the world to the user. Personally, I am not so much a fan of notecards, even though I like words - because all these notecards fall into my inventory and become a big mess over time.



A magical house on an island....



A series of red torii shrine gates... because why not, if you already have made one beautiful torii gate?



The water isn't really Second Life water, but some other object which has these obviously faked water ripples on them which look realistic from a distance but then when close up, start to look very artificial. You can walk on the water, which I think is the point of this magical world (in most of SL, you can walk into the water and ocean and even have a rather long walk into the ocean although it might be quite boring).





The mist and atmosphere is nice, but once again, like with any role play environment, the reverie of being in a mystical forest is sometimes punctuated by other SL residents walking by. Yeah one thing I don't get is why there are so many SL residents dressed as ladies with big bosoms and big hair and big butt in a tight dress...


5. Depicts a fictional world with some realistic elements set in the past
Puddlechurch Rye
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Puddlechurch%20Rye/128/182/44



Another photogenic spot, Puddlechurch Rye is an event space which is reminiscent of a warehouse space, dressed up as a 1920s parisan speakeasy cigar lounge with plush carpets, stacks of antique books, delicate chandeliers, a stage for performances, and a gallery space. Reminds me a bit of when I visited the Museum of Everything in Paris (a travelling museum for artwork by outsider artists).



How much of a world like this is actually created entirely from scratch by one person (or a small team of people)? How many man hours goes into designing a world like this? Or, is this in part a very clever curation of well chosen objects from different creators to paint for us this speakeasy ambience?







What’s interesting is the detail to which the exhibition has been set with draperies, with conventional framing and unconventional framing. Can't do a real world exhibition? Well this is pretty close, although the artwork is also the world which has been rendered for us in such detail.



An exhibition space for flat 2D artwork, shown in several different ways...



Conventionally framed artworks...



Along with some unconventional framing...



And finally, some moving louvres to display 2D artwork. Not entirely interactive, but some ideas here on different ways to present a work in a virtual space...


6. Depicts a fictional world with some realistic elements set in the future
Planet Vanargand Outpost Fenrir & Solveig Village
- http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Amazing%20Island/148/169/242



The thumbnail for this outpost on the SL destinations board was a huge "alien" mountain. But really, mountains are just boring old mountains like the ones on earth unless you say... ITS A SPACE BASE FROM THE FUTURE and here's a space outpost to go with it! I landed in this space outpost floating in the sky (no biggie, not a hard thing to build) and immediately was overrun by other residents rezzing on top of me, skimpily dressed ladies dressed in tight dresses and high heels running around over small old me. Yeah so much for the scifi vibes...



I enjoyed walking around this space base until I went through a door which said "NO ENTRY" which I assumed was written specifically to entice me to enter anyway. A few metres further down they must have not finished building the space station because I hilariously walked into a big hole in the floor, immediately falling about 3000 metres down back to ground, landing noisily on a giant geodesic dome...



Finally I found myself in an empty carpark in this alien world admiring the detail of the snowflakes blowing past me. No detail has been spared! The snowflakes are not just circles, they are images of SNOWFLAKES.



At this point Beano woke up so I had to terminate my adventures in SL...



Why haven't I made an 'art' project on Second Life before?

Last year Linden Endowment for the Arts closed. For many years now I have always wondered if I should apply for the land grants in the past, but I never got around to it because Second Life was something I enjoyed as a game, exploring without a specific goal. It simply wasn't high on my priority, since it requires quite an investment of time to build this all, and I've got a lot of real world projects to finish. Second Life was leisure and enjoyment for me, not work, the same way one might enjoy a pleasant walk through nature without the desire to reshape it all. I suppose if you were just dabbling and not too sure on whether you would commit to building such a project, it might have been useful to give you a nudge to go and do it without any financial startup cost. Land tiers aren't cheap after all. And if this is not art per se, then, is this all a 'vanity' project?...

However, the closing of LEA is not as much a loss as one might expect. I suppose if I am really motivated to create art in SL, I would continue to make it regardless of whether I had a land grant or not, and even with the closing of LEA, there continues to be lots of art on SL. To be honest I never really got into the community for SL artists. Besides a run in with some people in Singapore building an amazing Sikh temple several years ago (what happened to it I wonder?) I don't know what happened to other SL makers in Singapore.... Or maybe if you are out there, give me a holla...?

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Domestic Life in the time of Coronavirus: Sprouting Seeds, Mason Jars & Food Prep, and Not Exactly Bullet Journalling & Productivity



This blog has been a little quiet since the circuit breaker in Singapore began I'm a person with too many jobs at the moment. I've been (full-time) teaching all my classes (say hello to 3-4 hour practicals via Zoom!?!) and taking a part-time Specialist Diploma (just because it is circuit breaker hasn't meant the essay deadlines were delayed!), whilst also full-time taking care of the baby human Bean (childcare centres all closed and grandparents advised not to travel over for childcare!!), which has left me with nearly no time to do any of the normal debbiethings I would usually get up to.

Maybe to build a little momentum and to get the ball rolling on this dusty old blog again, here's a little documentation about some of domestic/productivity-related debbiethings I DID do during circuit breaker in the stolen moments....



1. Sprouting Seeds: Growing Mung Bean Sprouts at home



It seems everyone's newest urban growing craze during Singapore's lockdown circuit breaker is Mung Bean Sprouts and yes... even I too have been growing them. I've grown some sub-par sprouts or weird looking sprouts in the past - we forget how used we are to seeing the commercial "taugeh" sprouts being all pasty white and yellow, and somehow by allowing the sprouts to turn green by giving them some sunlight also changes how they grow and how they taste. Growing some fast sprouts for consumption is different from growing bean plants, and websites online all anedoctally point to a few things you can do to improve the quality of your sprouts:
  1. Grow them in total darkness (Under a truly opaque cloth. A hankerchief will not suffice to keep the light out. I used an dark coloured pillowcase folded over twice and draped it over the beans.)
  2. Change their water at least twice a day.
  3. Avoid disturbing the beans too much (Somehow they grow better when they get to really establish their roots)
Now its not absolutely necessary, but I also got this microgreen tray which has these micropores which is supposed to enable a more even distribution of the microgreen seeds (although the mung bean itself is bigger), and which has two half trays which makes it easier to remove and change the water, and allows for planting two different seeds at the same time with different sowing time. (I'm just waiting to get some more microgreen seeds from local farms to see if there's a microgreen that we will enjoy eating, so later in the year I'll report back on the microgreens...)
 

Presoak the beans overnight in a bowl, covered by a cloth. Here I measured out 1/4 cup of mung beans. On hindsight... I probably needed half of that. These aren't any fancy mung beans, just the cheap Redmart brand for everyday cooking.
 

After soaking overnight and skimming off the obvious split beans, the remaining beans were scattered over the tray and water poured in until it touched the mat. 1/4 cup of soaked mung beans fit almost exactly into the two trays.
 


The beans then were rinsed twice a day and left to grow under cover of darkness until they looked about ready to harvest on Day 5.
 

Here the human Bean inspects the Beans.
 

The roots are clean so we ate them roots and all. I only rinsed it several times in order to remove the green bean husks which are a little less palatable, texturally, but not entirely inedible.
 

Finally the cleaned sprouts are ready to go in any dish you want. This made enough for about 3-4 meals of sprouts, so next time I'll grow fewer beans at one go as its nicer to eat the sprouts fresh.
   

The sprouts were blanched in boiling water for 1 min and then thrown into a big metal bowl of ice water to stop them from overcooking. Then they can be used in any recipe. I loosely used Maangchi's Sukjunamul Muchim recipe to make a sprout dish to go with a big pot of Doenjang jjigae, which was also loosely thrown together with bits and bobs around the house.
 

2. Mason Jars: How I make Overnight oats and prep common ingredients ahead of time

I became slightly obsessed with mason jars after trying to find a replacement lid for a regular jam jar that I had around the house and so I wondered about what constituted a standard jam jar lid size. I measured the exterior dimensions of the jar I had and it was 70mm - turns out that this is the size of a "regular" mason jar. And there's another common size that I find myself drawn to even more - the wide mouth. Looks like a drinking glass, but is microwaveable and oven safe? SIGN ME UP! Making overnight oats was the solution to my morning routine; I find that I can no longer skip breakfast without becoming faint and HANGRY, but often I don't have enough time to prepare food for myself when I have to run a 8am or 9am class AND also feed the Bean AND change her nappies AND check work email. So... Jars! JARS! JARS! George seems to think I've reached new instagrammable heights of food-prep-hipsterdom with my functional food prep so here are some pictures that he ended up making me take.
 



These are 1-pint jars (476ml) and just the right size for a portion of food (they are also the right size to pour a nice cold drink into!). I got 12 jars online for about S$48 and I also got a stack of both regular and wide mouth plastic lids for about S$5. The Ball jars themselves are definitely oven safe and microwave safe as they were meant for preserving jams, so if you buy random jars online check to make sure they are suitable for such reheating use. (If you dig a little deeper online you'll find a whole lot of alternative mason jar lids which work as fermenters, sprouters, graters, juicers, etc...)





The overnight oats recipe that I made up to my preference and have been using for some time now is this:


Debbie's Breakfast



1/2 cup oats
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
1 tsp moringa leaf powder
1 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp dried mulberries
2 dried apricots, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup milk a squirt of honey


When I am eating it, I throw in about a 1/4 cup more of milk and sometimes I throw in some frozen mango pieces, or frozen berries at the last minute, but I try not to leave the fruit in for too long (ie: i don't add it in at prep time) because they can get a little weird and funky in there, like how fruit tastes when it has been allowed to sit in a wet plate for too long. Its like a dessert, and I didn't think I'd be eating this so often since I have a savoury tooth and not a sweet tooth at all (I have eaten savoury breakfasts for most of my life), but I was hoping that oats would aid my milk production (since the Bean is still breastfed) and turns out that overnight oats SAVES TIME!


I also use the jars for advance meal prep at the moment. I like to make a big batch of caramelised onions at the start of the work week (2 jars worth, or a 2kg bag) and then stuff them into the fridge so that during the week whenever I make a quick meal or pasta I can just throw a handful of onions in and it immediately makes it feel even more like a meal.


Debbie's 15min Lunch





Ingredients
80g of vermicelli pasta
some bacon
4 cloves garlic
handful of baby spinach
smoked paprika
caramelised onions
caramelised red peppers or any other cooked vegetable in the house
and some leftover chilli flakes from when George last bought PIZZA

Steps
  1. Boil of a pot of water with 1 heaped teaspoon of salt
  2. Fry the bacon in some oil at very low heat to render the fat
  3. Slice the garlic thinly and add to the oil. Heat should be so low such that only small bubbles appear on the edge of the sliced garlic.
  4. Add paprika and chilli flakes to the oil.
  5. Cook the pasta according to the timing on packet, in my case it is 6 minutes. Set the timer for 5 min.
  6. Add in the onions and any vegetables to the oil. Wilt the spinach in the pan.
  7. A minute before the pasta is done, transfer the pasta and a big splash of pasta water into the pan.
  8. Allow for everything to cook down until the pasta water and everything is absorbed back into the pasta (usually 1-2 min more)
Lunch in 15 minutes!




3. Not Exactly Bullet Journalling: Improving my To Do List format

Longtime readers of this blog (who on earth is my audience? haha. hello friends???) will know that I am not so secretly big on GTD/PRODUCTIVITY. Sometimes George thinks I like doing work because it must be that I ascribe some kind of moral value to hardworking (a la protestant work ethic) but honestly I like working because... I enjoy it! I enjoy keeping busy and fiddling with things and doing stuff. I enjoy toiling away at things. (Oh. Maybe that is where Beano is getting her inexplicable drive to EXERCISE NONSTOP).


During my maternity leave I had a phase in which I read all about bullet journaling. I also became aware that there's a huge cottage industy of people and instagrammers banging on about their #bujo designs although none of them look particularly productive to me, and if its not productive I don't really need it. My notebook is like a cup I can empty my brain out into so I don't have to hold all that stuff inside my brain where it gets all crowded. I don't really need my notebook to be neat, but I liked being able to physically cross off items on a list and review what I managed to complete at the end of the day (a sort of pat-yourself-on-the-back if you managed to do most of what you planned. Previously, I would write items in a list and then cross them out, which made them quite unreadable. I ain't got time to document everything in a bullet journal, but I have incorporated the format of the checkbox into my everyday To-do list format. I now draw a square and cross out only within the square when the task is done. I also draw an arrow to indicate if the task is carried over to the next page.
  Whether or not you believe in willpower being a finite or infinite resource, I do find that removing obstacles to my morning also helps get things going every morning (especially when I have to rush to feed baby, myself, and start my 8/9am class):
  • Getting hydrated in the morning - Before I go to bed I set out empty mugs with my tea and spoon, so I only need to add hot water the next morning. Often one needs to muster the will to do this small thing for oneself...
  • Pre-measured baby feeds - Before I go to bed, I measure out all of the bits that will go into Bean's first feed of the next day. I've still been using all the travel containers to premeasure the oatmeal and formula for mixing into oatmeal feeds. It saves a bit of time when I'm rushing and multitasking.
  • Drafting emails on Google Keep - this is my scratch pad where I draft out bits of emails. It is quickly available on all my computers and devices so I can paste completed emails in quickly at the start of the workday. I don't send work emails after work hours because I think its important to observe the working day (and it is well-known that people will mainly check their email in the morning and so if you want a quick reply, you'll want your email to come in right on top of their inbox for about 10am)...



In the next post, I swear I will finally complete my series on House Renovations in time for the 1 year anniversary of having moved into this flat!