Nicholas A. Danes, PhD

Goodbye Theme Journal...and other random thoughts

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I haven’ve blogged in a while and I decided I needed to just dump my thoughts about various things that has been occupying my time. Although I am not participating in #100DaysToOffLoad, this blog is very much in spirit of that style of writing.

Quitting my Theme Journal

After missing two weeks in a row of updating my Theme Journal, I’ve decided to abandon it entirely and also remove it from my site. My reasons why are below.

Mental Health

2020 was a really hard for me mentally, which I won’ve go into detail here. Even though 2021 has been better so far, it has still been a very hard for me to find motivation on personal projects. I thought the theme journal would motivate me to break out of this shell. Thinking about this theme journal has become more of a chore than a introspective exercise. In some cases, I feel guilty for missing it so many weeks in a row.

Reducing Decisions

This is somewhat related to mental health, I’ve recently been going through an self-evalulation on how many things I want to have to check on a daily or weekly basis (more on this below). This clearly became something I didn’t find valueable anymore.

A digital journal was a mistake

I think I would have had more success if I had gone the paper route for this theme journal. At the time of starting my Yearly Theme, I thought a digital one using markdown would be sufficient. I’ve been using a pen and paper notebook for work and find it incredibly useful to track tasks and keep my thoughts organized. Furthermore, I find myself rediscovering how much the creative and habit-forming process comes from just putting pen to paper. I may revist this in the future, but I will let myself decide that when the time comes.

Overall, I’m happy with trying this process and maybe I’ll try again in the future once things are more normal!

Digital Minimalism: Cutting Excess Accounts

I’ve recently been going through a sort of re-evaluation with online accounts through various aspects including, but not limited to:

Some of these decisions are at odds with privacy & security, while others are definitely in favour of it. I will summarize the big changes below.

Personal Finance

Toward the end of February, I realized I had credit card, banking and investment accounts scattered across several institutions. To alleviate some of this, I was using YNAB to consolidate looking over accounts and also budgeting my expenses. As much as I loved YNAB’s zero-sum budgeting model, it was hard to justify its ~$84/year price when the service doesn’t seem to give you much more than access to their account. After closing some unused accounts and consolidating my investments, I was able to comfortably cancel my YNAB subscription. I am now using a fairly basic LibreOffice spreadsheet to manage my finances, using zero-sum budgeting. It was reduced my security risk from breached accounts and less revolving credit cards, which is also a bonus.

Abandoned & Unused Accounts

In addition to consolidating my finance accounts, I’ve been also randomly been looking for more accounts to delete that I no longer use. My old Gmail emails, as well as my password manager Bitwarden as been particularly useful for finding these old accounts. I believe I am finally at a point to delete my Microsoft account, but we will see if I end up doing it!

I [tried] changing Fediverse instances

About a week ago, I decided to switch from Fosstodon to a Math-focused instance called Mathstodon. As some of you know, I have a background in applied mathematics and missed thinking about it on a daily basis, as my day job isn’ve particularly math focused. I ended up aliasing and moving my Fosstodon account over to Mathstodon, as I didn’t want to manage another Fediverse account (I have a Hometown and a currently disabled Pixelfed account as well). I thought that I was following a good amount of Fosstodon users to keep me engaged in that instance. However, after a few short days, I noticed that local timeline was very quiet and the benefits I thought I found with the federated timeline initially disappeared quickly. I know the Fediverse theoretically allows you to follow anyone on any instance, but the practical matter of curating that list is someting I didn’t want to deal with. I ended up moving back to Fosstodon and deleting my Mathstodon account. I’m hoping I don’t consider this again and rather try to better evaluate how I view the local timeline. I am also going to keep my eye on folks on both Mathstodon and in order to stay in the loop with my interests in math and scientific research.


It’s late here and I’m done rambling. Thanks for reading! Hopefully I will have something more constructive written next time.

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