anacron and old news

I use newsbeuter to process feeds, and I save items to ~/docs/news as one of my buckets. I documented this more thoroughly as my inbox zero guide for RSS.

I ended up having an issue with it, where the bucket had too many objects. I also intended to process feeds more often, due to my capture engine (I haven’t mentioned it before, but will link to it when I do). I process the saved items with less, so if I can’t see all the items in one page I get demoralized.

So I decided to destroy those older posts! I just needed a script to find files older than a certain age, and remove them. I found a How-To Geek article with a workable example. All I had to do was change the time to check for files older than a week.

find /home/maiki/docs/news/* -mtime +7 -exec rm {} \;

There is an issue with this, though: in order to have this run I would need to create a job for it, but I close my laptop when I am not using it. If the scheduled cron job isn’t able to run it, that’s it, no post removal, just existential dread when I try to catch up…

Of course, the alternative is anacron, which improves on that behavior by running the next available time. That means if it misses a scheduled task, it will run it when the computer is next available to run it. Additionally, it can sort the tasks as scripts, kept for example in a directory called cron.weekly.

However, there isn’t a user space config for anacron; unlike cron which can be configured for each user, anacron is a system-wide config. That’s fine, but I like keeping my customizations in my home directory. Was there a way to set it up per user, so I could eventually move my anacron tasks into my dotfiles directory? Of course!

I got caught up to speed from a Server Fault question, but the bulk of the details came from a tutorial for user controlled anacron.

The gist is to create the anacron structure in ~/.anacron/ and then create a cron job to run anacron with your personal anacrontab. Yes, you use cron to run anacron! An added benefit is adding hourly jobs with anacron, via cron. This seemed like a really great idea, and I am surprised this method hasn’t shipped as part of a distro before.

Since when anacron runs it goes through each script in a given directory, I ended up with that find and rm line is a bash script at ~/.anacron/cron.weekly/rm-news:

find /home/maiki/docs/news/* -mtime +7 -exec rm {} \;

Now I can digest and save feed items, but when I go to process them I won’t have to deal with anything older than a week (I normally check on Saturdays; I know having it run weekly means overlap, but I am okay with that).

Clover and making mistakes

Last night we had a little break-down at bedtime, and Clover was very self-critical. It broke my heart listening to em rattle off all the times e was a “bad listener” over the last week, and just not know why e is acting that way.

But the gut punch came when Clover shared eir aspirations through streaming tears, “I want to be like you, so I never make any mistakes or accidents!”

Of course it was my turn to cry.

Our mantra is, “It’s okay to make mistakes! That is how we learn.”

And I’ve been such a poor model. I don’t share my mistakes, I hide them. I avoid risk so I can never fail in front of other people. And I have nothing to show for it and frankly I am miserable with nothing to show for my efforts, because I am paralyzed to inaction…

And none of that is modeled. Instead I put on airs, impressing with my adult intelligence, rather than sharing in our human emotions.

So I told Clover, “I am a coward. I am afraid of everything. But I want to be like you so much, so brave and courageous and ready to try anything. I wish I could make more mistakes, and I am going to try to make more mistakes with you.”

I mean it. I need get to get my shit together, to shush down my ego and make mistakes. Because I can’t model a coward for another human. We all deserve better.

Morning ritual: whatever gets me to inbox zero

If I have mail in my inbox, my brain doesn’t work as I’d like it. I’ve leaned on inbox zero for so long, if my inbox has anything in it, that becomes my focus until it is gone.

The result is each action I take upon waking is driven towards accomplishing that empty inbox.

For a very long while that meant I would process email before eating, having tea or even drinking water. That isn’t great, of course. Dehydration and caffeine addiction aside, I wasn’t approaching the process with the correct tools. I would sometimes just go without eating for a day, because I couldn’t break out of the process of processing.

My tool set has improved. I track most of what I do on I’ve started writing down my stray thoughts in a notebook that I can process when I have focus (the first thing on my first list was the thought for this blog post!). But the biggest change has been to destroy my email as soon as possible, and then ignore it until the next day.

Here is a concise, common morning for me:

  • Check mail, put out fires.
  • Eat, drink, be merry.
  • Scan mail for garbage messages, process.
  • Scan mail for exciting message, process.
  • Process the rest of the mail, in chronological, threaded order.

If I am able to work through my inbox in this manner, I am setup for an engaging and productive day! I have energy, and nothing hanging over me.

After that I mostly ignore my email, until the next day. Does that sound strange? It feels strange. But maybe I am just not important enough to have email that is so important it needs to be answered as instant chat. Maybe you aren’t, either?

The original draft of post had a lot more details, but I am going to break them down, and will link to them by each of those list items. Using mutt is the heavy lifter for my process, and while I don’t recommend it for everyone, my preferences are informed by a lot of research. ^_^

Caffeine migraines

I had an irregular schedule yesterday, which had me eating breakfast at 5PM. I didn’t want to drink too much caffeine and encourage that schedule, so I had one cup of tea.

Real quick, I normally drink about four bags of tea a day. I drink it 12oz. at a time, so about two bags. So yesterday I drank a single bag worth of tea (and caffeine).

I felt okay, and went on with my day, but I started getting a sinus headache. Around midnight, I decided to sleep, relatively early for me by a few hours. My head was pounding. I drank a quart of water and went to bed.

I was up an hour later, taking ibuprofen. Nasal spray. Nothing was working, and I was starting to get nauseated. I was afraid I was going to faint again, as I did the last time I got the flu.

Not having many options, I decided to drink a cup of tea. I was asleep in ten minutes.

I don’t know… I love tea, but this is too much. I don’t want a headache every time I miss tea. But I’ve slowly grown quite fond of the larger tea culture (not “high” or “ceremonial”, per se).

I am now deciding if the risk of caffeine withdrawal is worth sticking with tea. Thoughts?

Clover and tantrums

Clover and I were negotiating a schedule for gaming, with a dedicated, no-discussion required once a week scenario. But seeing the danger of bureaucratic process getting in the way of raising a decent human, I decided to veto the current discussion.

This prompted Clover to begin stomping down the street…

maiki: Hey, quit throwing a tantrum. Keep up.

Clover: I am not throwing a tantrum. A tantrum is when you start crying and can't stop.

m: There are other kinds of tantrums. Kinds you don't know about, so open yourself up to knowing more about tantrums. For instance, you can stomp while crying, and that is totally a tantrum.

C: What are other examples of tantrums?

m: Um, other exam- oh! Laying down and kicking and punching the floor! Or rolling side to side! Both of those are tantums.

C: Or thrashing through a neighbor's garden, and stepping on their plants!

m: Uh, sure, I guess. That could be a very, um, detailed tantrum...

C: Or you really want a fruit tree, and you take another person's tree and make a hole in the ground and put the tree there.

m: I... I don't think that is a tantrum. It just sounds like tree theft...

C: When you take the tree you have to be secret, but then you get caught by the owner. That is the time to have a tantrum in their house and break their stuff.

m: ...

So much to unpack there…

Turns out 75 feeds are too many, in this political climate.

It is a difficult time for me, emotionally. So I narrowed my feeds down to 37, mostly friends and/or projects that I am interested in.

Medkit as notification sound

I was watching some video that featured a segment of game footage from Half-Life. During the scene I heard that sweet medkit sound! I immediately knew I needed to have it as my notification sound on my mobile.

I tracked it down in a Reddit thread (the ask was for HL2’s sound, and I am fine with that), which links to a crappy downloader site, but the file is a nice little WAV. I converted it to OGG, and here are the files:

Then I just needed to set it as a notification sound in LineageOS. I thought I’d be able to select a custom files from the select modal, but that wasn’t happening. I recalled that I could drop it into a directory on the device, so I fired up a file browser and saw Ringtones, so dropped the file in there.

File browser showing directories on an Android device.

That also did not work, though it did show my medkit sound in the Ringtones list, which I realized was different from Notifications. After searching around and kinda staring at the file system, I noticed the Notifications directory, so I moved my file over, but still nothing.

medkit sound file in Notifications directory

So I did what any frustrated computer user should do when something isn’t working: turn it off and back on again!

And of course that worked.

medkit file showing on sound list.

The main reason I am sharing this is because I want to spread the medkit sound far and wide, but also because when I was looking up this stuff no one shared images, and everyone assumes the settings paths in Android are the same for each device. I am hoping folks can compare if they run into trouble.

Happy bup bup k’tshk-ing!

Clover and cleaning supplies

I am working on my laptop near Susan and Clover putting away a large parcel of cleaning supplies. Susan found a new company to order healthier cleaning supplies from, and Clover was asking lots of questions about them. One question hit my ears:

Clover: Who would live here if we died?

maiki and Susan: ...

maiki: Hahaha!

Susan: That's a weird question, why do we have to die? Can't we just move away? Then someone else would move in here.

Clover: What would happen to our stuff?

Susan: If we lived nearby we would bring our stuff with us.

Clover: What about our cleaning supplies?

maiki: HAHAHA!

I adore running along a train of thought like that! ^_^

Clover and my heart

Clover has been feverish for five days.

It is so difficult when your baby (five years old, but that goes out the window when they hit 40 °C) wakes up, unable to breath, grasping for air and burning to the touch.

I’ve been operating at half capacity, most of my cycles being taken up by worry and suppression.

At one point Clover was sleepily laying next to Susan and I felt particularly vulnerable, and told Clover that it was scary when e was sick.

Clover: Why is it scary for you?

maiki: Because when you have a kid, they become your heart, walking around in the world. You are my heart.

Clover: So?

I should have figured my heart would kinda be a jerk.