#006 — Oops All Bullets

Hi, hello, how are you? It’s me — Adam Wood — arriving back in your email client with… something different? If you were here last week, you’ll know that the 8th annual Sipped Ink summer read-along is now underway, and so my newsletter-writing energies are divided.

Nevertheless, I’m sat here, it’s Saturday morning, I’ve got the replay of last night’s Cubs game running on the TV; I’ve got a hot cup of coffee; I’m going to go through the notes I’ve taken this week, and see what comes together. Maybe it’d be fun to annotate the process of putting together this newsletter, just a little.

To start with, I keep one all-purpose note page each day. This is as accessible as I can make it, and has relatively few rules: it’s essentially a blank piece of digital paper with the day’s date at the top. I can get to it from any of my devices, or (via the web) any internet-connected computer in the world. I made a very basic template for it, which generates in a blank form each day. It has three main sections:

Beats — I populate this with emoji bullet points throughout the day, for anything I want to note. Here’s an example from a couple of weeks ago:

I like the format because it’s relatively simple, but also flexible. You can see little annotations, links to other notes, and badges that show there are associated images if you tap through (yes, in this case, of my brunch, and some banana bread).

Inputs — the second section is the part with the most structure, as it’s pre-populated with sub-headings, and sub-sub-headings: Listened (Music; Podcasts); Read; Watched (Film; TV; Misc.). I fill these in throughout the day, either with plain text, or links. Again, an example:

Notes — the final section is just a blank space, into which anything and everything gets poured: thoughts, ideas, clips from other things I encounter on the web, photos… anything! Some days this gets left blank; some days it scrolls for quite a while!

Taken together, that’s the shape of my daily note page. It’s a scrapbook, a journal, an all-purpose place to keep track of what’s been occupying my time and attention. This is where I start when I’m putting together an issue of the newsletter. I flick back through the last seven daily notes, and see what catches my eye.

After that, I check the other places where I may have earmarked something during the week:

  • I use a read-it-later service to stash longer-form pieces that I want to read. As I work through that queue I do some highlighting, and then file the pieces by subject. I’ll look in the recently-read section here, for articles I enjoyed.

  • In tandem with the above, I use a bookmarking service to keep tabs on other (mostly non text-based) things I’ve found around the web. Weekly, I’ll look in the ‘Unsorted’ section, where I’ve thrown things throughout the week, and — in the process of filing them by subject — will often pull out a couple of things to talk about.

  • I went read-only on social networks some time ago, but I do still have some curated Twitter Lists that I keep an eye on. I’ll bookmark tweets through the week, and un-bookmark them once they’ve made the jump either to a note, or into the newsletter.

  • Similarly on YouTube, I’ll use the ‘Like’ button to quickly earmark something, then look through that list on a Sunday and un-like things as I either bookmark them, add them to the newsletter, or let them go.

By and large, that’s the pool of material I’m pulling from when I sit down to compile these things. So, now you know how the sausage gets made, what can I tell you this week?

• • •

During our time down in Kent, we took a brief walk through Rochester that proved to be a little confusing. The celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee had overlapped with the annual Dickens Festival (Dickens lived in the area for significant portions of his life, and used it as the setting for several novels). This led to the weirdest mix of people dressed in all sorts of vaguely-British costumes, from all manner of eras. Throw in some questionable steampunk efforts, an Imperial Stormtrooper draped with a union flag, and one guy dressed as… a druid? Confounding.

• • •

It was Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference this week. I’ll spare you the nerdy details of new things I’m excited about, but one thing I do think is worth keeping a close eye on is the Passkeys protocol. It’s been in the works for a while, but its inclusion in the WWDC keynote feels like something of a coming-out party. In a nutshell: this is technology on which Apple, Google, & Microsoft are collaborating, which could very well spell the end of passwords, in favour of on-device biometric authentication.

• • •

TV corner

  • If you have finished all of the available episodes of Stranger Things, and you’re looking for something to make the wait for the final episodes easier, I highly recommend Midnight Mass (also on Netflix). It’s not a 1:1 replacement (eg. it’s less lighthearted overall) but it’s an excellent series, and — depending on what you like about Stranger Things — could prove a good substitute whilst we wait.

  • (Predictably) I’m enjoying the Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series, but — with two episodes still to be released — it feels like a lot is riding on how well they stick the landing.

  • I’m going to need to watch that first episode of Ms. Marvel about three more times just to catch all of the flourishes — kinetic, colourful, and endlessly inventive. More shows should be this much fun!

• • •

I enjoy watching these Hotline videos from Terry Barentsen: one shot, no cuts, closely following a street cyclist. Depending on your disposition you may find these disagreeable, or even difficult to watch, but there’s something soothing to me about the continuous drone of the tyres, and it’s a fun way to see different parts of, and routes through, a city. The new one this week is a good example.

• • •

Some music picks of the week:

• • •

You may remember that I had questions about this Queen’s Gambit board game. I have fewer questions about this other game, which was revealed this week, and looks pretty cool!

• • •

OK, I’m signing off. This issue kind of turned into Tendrils: Oops All Bullets edition; I’m intending to change it up next week to try something different. I hope you’ll stick with me, and I also hope you have a great week between now and then!


— Adam