Journaling in Public and Journaling in Private

Over the years, I’ve used a lot of different methods for writing. Pen and paper way in the past. Microsoft Word for a while, because, that’s what Word is for right? Windows Live Writer was a good one for a while, though it’s been discontinued, there is an open-source iteration called Open Live Writer. Sometimes I’ll just write right in the WordPress editor. I was writing into OneNote for a while.

These days I’m much more into controlling my data, well, I’ve kind of always been into that, but lately, it’s about formats. I am constantly trying to reorganize my files into the best format for the long term, and more recently, I compiled all my writing together into one blob in a folder called “Journal”. Well, some of it is just under “Writing”, but things like, well, this post, off-the-cuff, free flow of thought random writing about nothing, are in the Journal folder. A lot of it came from some old blog archives and WordPress exports. I wrote a little Python Script that would spit out a series of Markdown files with appropriate file names from a WordPress XML file a while back.

It’s not perfect, it converts some of the most obvious syntax changes, but others are just, left as HTML code. The spirit of the writing is there, and that’s what matters. Plus, I don’t use a ton of fancy formatting, so those leftovers are not that common. During this time I also comb through and collected and sorted all my reviews and other writings from over the years. These are the things that don’t go in “Journal”. A lot of them I reposted to in a cleaned-up format, which took a while, especially when gathering up the images again. Some stuff like my shitty lame fan-fics from the early 2000s and other little stories aren’t currently posted anywhere.

After getting it all organized, I reworked my flow around the new system. Which is probably the best one yet. Everything is sorted by year, the files have my usual, YYYY.MM.DD – Description format I use all over for file naming. I have an additional folder called WIP, for “Work In Progress” writing. Vague ideas that have not been fleshed out, sometimes they are just empty files with a description to remind myself “I wanted to write about that.”

Step one is to come into this WIP folder, and create a new Markdown file with a name, sometimes a date, or a vague date like YYYY.MM.

Markdown is the format of choice here. It allows for some formatting, which makes it more useful than a text file. But it also it’s just raw data, like a text file. No proprietary formatting, no funny characters, no extra hidden returns and paragraphs and line breaks or code. The most formatting I do is bolding headings and italicizing titles when appropriate.

Once written, I can easily copy and paste it into WordPress and throw in a few images if needed.

I also have started using Joplin for notes, and more secure private writing. It’s something I started last year, I think. Joplin is just a note-taking app that uses Markdown as its base. I keep a lot of what I used to use One Note for, though I still also use One Note. It’s nice because it syncs through One Drive, so I can access it across devices, but it’s all encrypted. Joplin contains ideas, lists, and journals made on the go, or sometimes just, on the toilet, where a phone is more handy.

The lists are pretty basic. I have lists of log-ins for various games, especially games where I have more than one account. There are lists of media to look into, sorted by type, music, books, movies, tv shows, video games, etc.

The journal part is just like any other journaling, but a bit more… we’ll say personal. Dumb dream notes, venting of frustrations, and some WIP blogs here and there. I keep anything I don’t really care about anyone else ever reading in the Journal folder, I keep things I might care about people reading in Joplin. Occasionally I clean out some of the regular Journal writing into my folder system, just to keep the Joplin list cleaner.

The real key to all of this is two things. It’s all in a simple clear format, Markdown. It’s also all backed up, in this case, through the NAS, through One Drive. Since it’s all small text files now, it also means I don’t care about just syncing this One Drive folder to everything. I converted quite a few .doc files and the space savings were pretty substantial, especially since it’s all just basic text that doesn’t need everything that Word has. The backup is the most important part though.

2023 Daylio and A Year of Moods

I mentioned my huge 5-year streak on Duolingo, but it’s not the biggest streak I have going in an app. The other app I use daily has it beat by an entire year, at 2190 Days, or 6 years. That app is the mood-tracking app Daylio. I may have actually gotten a code from the developer for this app off of Reddit when it first launched, I don’t remember. I know I heard about it on Reddit when someone posted about developing it. It’s changed over the years, but not as annoyingly as Duolingo has.

Side note: I went looking into when this app launched, and while I didn’t find it (I didn’t look super hard), it seems it has gotten a bit pricey with a subscription or a $60+ “Lifetime membership”. I like the app, but that seems like a bit much. However, it is part of the Google Play Subscription thing, which is much more affordable and pretty nice, I’ll probably blog about it at some point. I have a paid lifetime (for maybe $5) on my old Google account but I recently got a new phone and I’m trying to shift everything to my other Google Account and I’m not sure I would rebuy this at $60. Especially since everything is local, it’s not server-based as far as I can tell, I think it uses your own Google Drive as the backend and I had to export/import to transfer my data.


Year in review. I like this app, though I admit, I’m not sure what the data is really telling me or what to really do with the data. I’ve been trying to use some of the newer features like photos and actual notes. With my previously mentioned new phone, I am trying the whole “Selfie every day” thing, though I don’t post them anywhere. This app may be a good place, along with maybe a quick bullet list of what I accomplished for the day.

I also have a whole slew of sorted custom activities and moods going in this app.

Generally speaking, my moods were mostly “Meh” to “Ok”. I try to keep things fairly honest, I think I’ve had maybe like, 2 of the absolutely terrible days since I started using the app, and probably fewer than 5 “Perfect Days”. I can say that my “Perfect Days” are almost always, exclusively, days when I went to concerts. On this chart here, on August 13th I went to see Alanis Morrissette, and on September 23rd, I saw Lauren Mayberry. Both the two max level mood days.

Basically, if I’m having a normal “good day” I pick 4/5, usually with “Mostly Ok”, other days, more often, I pick 3/5, with “Meh”. Maybe “meh” is bad I suppose, because it’s basically indifference. “Meh” feels like the most common, and this year it is, but “Mostly OK” is surprisingly up there. Most of the 2/5 days are “kind of shitty days” with a custom mood of “Meh but worse”. 2/5 also has a custom mood for “sick” when is usually used when I’m not feeling well. There are a lot of other custom moods I’ve set up, but these are the most common ones used.

For activities, I definitely use “Family” the most, but this is basically just, “Was I at home, and interacted with my family at all.” Which is basically every day, but sometimes not because someone went out of town. I also put “Gaming” pretty frequently, because it’s a bit of a catch-all. If I just check my dailies in Sky, I’ll put “gaming”. I have other more specific additions for games I play, or in some cases, used to play, more frequently. In contrast to this, I have one for “Learn Language” but if I make minimal effort in Duolingo, I don’t enter this. This is for “Extra effort” days.

Another frequently used entry is “Computer Stuff”, which is a catch-all, usually if I use the computer at all, but often if it’s kind of aimless like sorting files or something. The other, related, is “coding” which is any time I do any sort of programming. Another common one is “shopping” which can be anything from “I went to Target at lunch to look for toys” to “I went shopping for Groceries after work”. I don’t count online shopping though.

A pair I often use, especially on weekends or vacations are “Lazy” and “Relax”. These are mostly the same thing, but the difference is essentially, how well I feel about doing it. Relax usually means more “I did some productive things, but also things I enjoy,” and Lazy means “I did some things, but feel like I kind of wasted the day”. Lazy is more likely to be accompanied by a lower mood score.

I have a lot of others, but I often forget to enter them, which I should try to get better about. There are also some residual ones in there from when I was trying to track habits better. For a while, I would do a morning entry and an evening entry, and the morning entry including habits like remembering to take my morning medication and vitamins. Partly this was to help push the habit since I hadn’t had any regular meds at the time. PS, it’s nothing super critical, an allergy pill, and an omeprazole for acid reflux.

I also tend to miss adding activities I do later at night or more often before bed. These are things like reading, sometimes watching movies, etc. The reminder goes off at 8PM, and I’m more likely to do some of these missed activities later than that.

While my “Mood stability” here seems pretty good, I will say that it’s down from the previous year. I won’t lie, I can tell. The main issue I can kind of see rising out of this sort of tracking is that over time, as the indifference rises, the scores will converge on “Meh.” This kind of touches on what I mentioned before about maybe “meh” is worse. The good days are less, but also the bad days are less, because more days are simply “nothing days”.

I guess I am using this data a bit after all.

2023 Podcast Wrap-Up

I listen to a lot of Podcasts. I’ve been doing it for a very, very long time. Some have come and gone and some have been stalwarts in my line up. I’ve used a variety of Podcatcher apps, but this year, my current one, AntennaPod, gave me a little mini wrap up for the year. It seemed like a good time to talk about my Podcast habits.

This list has no surprises for me anyway. Other than I subscribed to ClubTWIT halfway through the year, so I kind of wonder if things would change any with the non Club versions of the shows added in. Probably not. Both TWIT shows are on top, and I listen to every episode of both.

This Week in Tech

I’ve listened to TWIT for longer than any other podcast. Since the mid 2000s sometime, probably around 2005 or 2006 or something. Quite possibly from the beginning. When I started listening, Leo was doing the shows from his home in proper Podcast fashion. There was no Brickhouse or video feeds or anything.

I listen to every episode except the yearly best-of shows, mostly because I have already heard all of it before, since I listen to every episode.

Windows Weekly

Another long term mainstay. I am pretty sure when I started listening, it was just Paul and Leo. Mary Jo Foley had not come on yet, and these days she has left and been replaced by Richard Campbell. I really enjoy Paul’s takes a lot, they tend to align with a lot of my own.

Random side note, a few years ago Paul Thurrott did a give away to clean out a bunch of stuff, and I got a copy of some version of Mac OSX from him. Which I find incredibly amusing because, you know, it’s Mac OS, not Windows. I kind of wish I could have gotten him to sign it for extra LOLZ.


I had a different Transformers podcast i used to listen to, that I can’t remember the name of at all now, but it ended, so I replaced it with WTF@TFW, which I’ve been listening to for a few years now. They used to alternate each week with different hosts, but one pair of hosts decided to stop doing the show, which kind of sucked because, while I like the line up now, I kind of preferred the other group, because I really liked Gogdog and Seth Buzzard.

If Books Could Kill

One that has become pretty popular recently. The two hosts basically mock a bunch of “self help” style books. They also have a Patreon only show that is a bit more of a broader range of topics which I also subscribe to.

Community Voices

A podcast from the local NPR station where the hosts talk to various people in the community. Of the shows I currently subscribe and listen to, which is basically just this list, I skip the most of these. Sometimes I just don’t find the topics interesting. Often they talk about local food places or music events in the area. It’s also more local to Springfield than Decatur, but it’s local enough.

2023 – Language Learning and A Five Year Duolingo Streak

I’ve posted a few times on this blog, sometimes in passing about my language learning goals. How language has always been interesting, but then, I feel like I find EVERYTHING at least somewhat interesting, which is kind of a curse. In 2023, I vowed to become, not fluent, but at least, “pretty good” with at least two other languages by 2030. My New Decade’s Resolution, among a few other (I have not learned any piano yet).

Duo does Year in Review deals, like a lot of apps. Here’s mine.

I’ve actually been super slacking on my learning this year, sometimes barely doing one lesson each day. This has become even more apparent because my Aunt and Uncle recently started using Duo and we became, whatever Duolingo Friends would be called. My uncle made like 2x my yearly total XP within a few months. Granted, they are both retired and thus have more time to learn. Also they both travel, they recently took a trip to Europe, which I am pretty sure inspired their learning.

At least I still have them beat for the streak, because that one increases at the same rate for everyone. Technically by the end of the year I was at a 1826 day streak.

Exactly 5 years.

I’ve primarily been learning Spanish in those 5 years, and the middle half of this last year, though Duo keeps changing the tree layout (it’s been like 3 layouts since I started) and it’s a little disenfranchising when it happens because it feels like I’m losing progress. I actually have an achievement for getting level 1 nodes in an entire tree. But that was like 2 revisions ago when each note had 5 levels to it. The current tree is literally a path with no choices, which sucks because I always would skip around the pain in the ass verb crap en Español.

I started off the year still on my Norwegian kick. I’m less excited about that one these days, mostly because it’s less practical in a lot of ways.

For the last month or so, I’ve picked up my third choice to learn with Duo, Japanese. I’ve actually been enjoying learning again, so it was a good course. I’m not super sure Duo is the best choice for a beginner to learn Japanese with, some of the methods don’t feel like they are very clear on some thing, but fortunately for me, I took Japanese in High School. While I don’t remember a lot of it, but it feels like “riding a bike.”

It’s all very familiar, and I breezed through a lot of the “learn the Hiragana page.”

I don’t only learn using Duo, but it’s the main conduit. For Spanish I’ve read through some books in Spanish, and occasionally watch movies in Spanish. I’m still not great at the hearing part, but I’m pretty good at the reading part. Case and point a bit, on New Years Ever, I was poking around on streaming looking for some New Years shows, and Hulu had a stream from New York going. The part I caught was doing a ball drop for the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and was almost entirely in Spanish. With the closed captioning on, I could read and understand the majority of what was going on. Which was fun.

Anyway, I don’t plan to drop Duo anytime soon, and I have more than the normal number of Streak Freezes because it occasionally gives you bonus freezes, if I get caught up and can’t learn. I’ll probably do most of 2024 in Japanese over Spanish though, I kind of feel like I’ve plateaued there for a bit.

My Music Listening Habits for 2023

It’s that time again, when I discuss my music habits for the year, or at least, parts of it that seem interesting, to me. I’ll just start off with the 5×5 chart, from my scrobbles. I had some Spotify Wrapped stuff too but it doesn’t capture everything and was only for like 3 months of listening, so it’s kind of worthless.

So, a bit of an interesting surprise, Wolf Alice’s Blue Weekend was my top album for the year. I guess I was listening to that one a lot more than I really thought I had been. The same goes for Paramore’s This is Why. This is Why is kind of in there twice too, because they put out a second version where every track was done or remixed by an artist that was not Paramore.

I’m also a bit surprised how high Aurora’s The Gods We Can Touch ranked, at number three. I’ve always kind of considered it my least favorite of Aurora’s four albums. In less surprising areas are Hot Mess from Dodie and CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe. Bones is definitely from the tenth-anniversary release. Hot Mess actually shows up twice, probably because before Spotify I was listening to the copy I made off the Vinyl version I own, which was tagged as Hot Mess (RSD Vinyl).

Related to CHVRCHES is Lauren Mayberry, with a single. Shame is one song, and it’s number 6. The album I believe is supposed to drop sometime in January, and I can almost guarantee it will be in a top spot for next year’s wrap-up, if not at number one.

Things get a bit more interesting later in the list here outside the top ten reliable when we get into the whole “potential usurpers” area. At number 14 is Ben Fold’s latest album, What Matters Most. Ben Folds has become a bit of a weird piece in my music listening. I’m not entirely sure I am super into his music, though it’s all pretty enjoyable. But I find Ben Folds as a person really interesting. I’ve been watching a bunch of his interviews on YouTube where he talks to all sorts of creative types and talks about the music-making process and it’s all very fascinating. My last real exposure to Ben Folds was way back in High School when Ben Folds Five and Brick were on the radio all the time. I don’t really being super into that song either, I was a lot more into rock and alternative in that time period. I’ve recently signed up for his soon to be ended Patreon, so I can snag the archive content and give it a listen.

At number 15 right after is Fizz with The Secret to Life. Fizz is a sort of super band collaboration between Dodie, Orla Garland and a couple of others that I had not really listened to previously. As much as I really like Orla and Dodie, I slept on this album because I just found the acid trip aesthetics of it to be really off-putting. But I decided I really should at least give it a try and it’s really good. Like super great good. I wish I had started listening sooner.

The last couple I want to point out here, feel a bit related. Let’s start with Raffaella, at number 20, with Live Raff Love (Act I). It’s technically an EP I think, I never really got the distinction honestly aside from EPs have less tracks. Anyway, Raff has been a consistent mainstay in my library since first hearing about her back in 2019 when I went to see Sigrid. Live Raff Love (Act II) I believe is slated for January, and I’m looking forward to it.

Like Raff, I want to mention Claud, to which I was pretty much introduced in a similar way, Claud was one of the acts performing at the little festival thing where I saw Lauren Mayberry’s solo show. Like Raff, I listened to a bunch of their music before the actual show and enjoyed it, and I enjoy it even more after watching them perform live. I am pretty sure at least half my plays on that Paramore remix of This is Why, is Claud’s rendition of Crave.

Which leads me to my usual predictions for next year. Claud and Raff will likely rank up there. Lauren will probably top the list. Sigrid I think has a new album in the works and has been making a bit of a come back in my listening this year, so I am predicting she will be pretty high. Fizz will probably be around, I’m not sure they will go much higher though after a whole year. Ben Folds will probably remain, though I doubt he will break the top ten. The only one on the list above I can say probably won’t return is Maisie Peters. I enjoy her music, but I don’t really know how to describe it, but I don’t really like her. Seems a bit too bitchy in a sort of “I think I’m better than everyone” sort of way.