Optimizing the unimportant stuff

I often describe myself as having an inclination to try and optimize things. I have observed in the past that I tend to bring this inclination to bear particularly on the unimportant stuff, which always seemed odd. But just this minute I have come to understand why: I do it this way to free up time to do the important stuff exactly the way I want, whether optimal or not.

Take reading, for example. There are all kinds of ways to optimize your reading—ways to read faster, ways to absorb more of what you read, ways to organize what you’re going to read, ways to keep track of what you have read, etc. I have no interest in any of those things, because reading is important. I want to do it exactly the way I want to do it.

Figuring out some trivial reordering of exactly how I put toothpaste on my toothbrush so that I can save 5 seconds a day is much more likely to be the sort of thing I’d do—because I don’t care. I have no interest in how I brush my teeth (as long as my teeth don’t fall out), but freeing up 5 seconds a day that I can spend doing what I want to do is motivating out of all proportion to the actual time savings.

(It’s actually not so disproportionate. It takes just 240 days saving 5 seconds per day to break even on spending 20 minutes figuring how how to save those seconds. Every 5 seconds after that is pure gravy.)

Anyway, since I mentioned recently that my optimization efforts tended not to have much payoff, in my post on getting better at life under late-stage capitalism, and having literally just now realized why that was, I though I should add that bit.

2019-11-17 05:18

I’ve been slow to come to this realization. I rejected it in 2015, terrified that just accepting my winter depression would lead to a dangerous downward spiral. In 2016 I decided that I should experiment with acceptance. I still find it terrifying, but I am more and more convinced it’s the right thing to do.

I told myself that I just wasn’t going to feel like I felt in the summer and that’s ok — winter is a time for different feelings. —The Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter via @randalleclayton

Champaign-Urbana apartment market

Breaking news in the latest issue of the real estate trade journal Duh! “Apartment landlords call for lower tax assessments!”

I found this whole article especially hilarious because Jackie and I lived very happily in Country Fair Apartments for more than 20 years before these clowns bought it, renamed it Grammercy, and managed to ruin it in less than a year:

Grammercy said its annual net operating income has dropped from more than $1 million in 2014 to a loss of more than $300,00 in 2018. It said its vacancy rate was 41 percent in 2018.

Source: Apartment landlords call for lower tax assessments amid higher vacancy rates

In what is not at all a coincidence, 2014 is the year we moved out—the last year that the old leases were in effect. I wrote a whole post about the preposterous non-lease that they wanted us to sign: Why we moved.

For those incompetents to be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year is richly deserved, although I am sorry if it ends up hitting Champaign and Urbana’s tax base.

Blue and green spaces

I make an effort to get out into nature as often as possible. With our little prairie and woods nearby, it’s possible almost every day. Larger natural areas—Forest Glen, Fox Ridge, Spitler Woods, etc.—are within easy driving distance.

Trunk of fallen tree conforming to the contour of the ground in Forest Glen.

With my focus having been on nature for a long time, I was interested to read this piece in The Guardian:

In recent years, stressed-out urbanites have been seeking refuge in green spaces, for which the proven positive impacts on physical and mental health are often cited in arguments for more inner-city parks and accessible woodlands. The benefits of “blue space” – the sea and coastline, but also rivers, lakes, canals, waterfalls, even fountains – are less well publicised, yet the science has been consistent for at least a decade: being by water is good for body and mind.

Source: Blue spaces: why time spent near water is the secret of happiness

We do have some water right here where we live. There’s the little creek that runs behind Winfield Village and a couple of little detention ponds, and they do have some wildlife. I often see turtles, snakes, groundhogs, and many sorts of birds. I’ve occasionally seen mink, coyotes, and bald eagles.

I do feel the lack of a beach. The closest is Indiana Dunes, but it’s nearly 3 hours away. I’ve done it as a day trip, but it makes for kind of a long day.

Great Blue Heron departing detention pond near Lake Park Woods.

The article makes for a good reminder to be sure to include blue when you’re making sure you get out into the green.