Swim Update

It’s been about 3 months since I started swimming on a regular basis, I figured it was time to write a self-congratulatory post to help keep the motivation up.

Hit a couple of milestones last week:

  • First ever 600m (12 × 50m) non-stop. A nice achievement considering I couldn’t complete a single lap at the start.
  • Personal best average pace of 2:43/100m on breaststroke (the only stroke I know, lol)
  • New swim trunks whose debut coincided with the new the PB average pace ☝️. To be honest, it’s just nice not having my old ones threatening bail at the first hint of any sudden motion.

The thing that I’m finding the most challenging at the moment is my perception of my velocity and how much distance I am covering with each stroke. It is surprisingly difficult compared to running (okay, jogging) or cycling. So far I’ve tried tracking the tiles of the pool floor; I’ve also tried observing the depth of the brief vortex that forms between my hands and my face right after a kick.

Most recently, I’ve started noticing¹ the sensation of water dragging on my skin during the glide. The logic is simplistic – the greater the dragging sensation, the faster I must be moving. To corroborate, the sensation is most prominent right after the kick, and peters off from there. So, maximising the sensation should coincide with greater velocity, right?

In the process of writing this post, I’d flipped and flopped between whether this sensation was a useful indicator of velocity, or merely useful for assessing my acceleration from each kick. Turns out I was onto something. Drag (or fluid resistance, in my case) is a function of velocity, so there you go!

¹ Likely a result of no longer being fully-occupied with coordinating my breath as well as achieving some speed threshold for these sensations to be noticeable.

Each a glimpse and gone forever

This quote that I came across while leafing through a stack of magazines as one does:

“I love the idea that once you capture that moment, nobody will ever capture it again.”

winner for the Mobile in National Wildlife’s 2022 Photo Contest

The last bit of a poem that I read this week:

And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

Robert Louis Stevenson (From a Railway Carriage)

E and I played a game of Go over the weekend. Not on OGS like we have of late, but with wiggly melamine stones on my prized etched bamboo board like we used to way back when.

There was no digital system present to record each move as it flits from my phone to his tablet and back. No, every physical stone placement mutates the state of the board, overwriting the preceding game states. The clues to “How did we get here?” erode rapidly with each new move.

When the game has concluded, we tally the points, shake hands and sweep the stones back to their respective bowls. Leaving behind a clear board – as if the game never happened, if not for the photo we take at the end.

It made me wonder if experiences are more cherished when we forgo objective means of recording them, relegating instead to our recollections—fickle and desperate.

WSL drama with hibernation

WSL is a first-party feature that allows you to run a Linux environment within Windows. It’s one of the key factors in solving for my ideal personal computing device:

  • Ultra-light, compact, with a decent keyboard: Thinkpad X1 Nano
  • Supports games I want to play: Windows
  • Functional power management: I couldn’t get it to work with Linux
  • Linux/Unix-like environment: WSL

So it was really disappointing when Vmmem (the main process for WSL) would occasionally peg the CPU at 100% out-of-the-blue, causing the fan to spin up loudly and slowing everything else down to a crawl. Running wsl --shutdown worked sometimes, but other times I had to resort to rebooting the computer.

Reading through this thread on Github, I learned that I wasn’t alone – WSL has a propensity to kick up an insatiable fuss when made to live through a hibernation. A fellow netizen offered the workaround of disabling the hibernate feature altogether, but this did not satisfy me, having grown accustomed to the Mac’s excellent power management.

Instead, I took a behavioural approach to working around this – shutting down WSL before putting the computer to sleep/hibernate, and putting up with fresh shell sessions when I come back.

It seemed okay at first, and felt like I’d adapted, but it took getting to a somewhat permanent solution for me to realise how much of a toll this adaptation really took. All the mental overhead of babysitting WSL through sleeps/hibernates, not being able to simply “pick up where I left off”, and keeping on top of saving my work because I never know when a reboot might be needed to temper its tantrum.

With the fix, it is now a non-issue. Seamless, almost magical, with zero consideration or effort directed to WSL – as it should have been from the very start.

When “just” belittles

Since coming across Just Don’t more than a month ago, I’ve become more conscious of my usage of “just”. For example, “Why don’t you just get over it?” Which I would follow up with an attempt to remedy: “… sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that it would be an easy thing to do.

Personal takeaway from the post:

"Just" (or: merely, simply, etc.) has the effect of "representing as a small thing" the action that follows it. In other words, it belittles or downplays the difficulty of the action.

A little test that I’d come up with is to tack on “…, how hard could it be?” whenever I say “just” and see if it makes me want to punch myself.

  • I’ll just drop it off on my way to work, how hard could it be?
  • You should just forget about the whole thing, how hard could it be?

Turns out, “just” is mostly wonderful when used on myself (true to my heritage that lauds self-deprecation), but much less so when used on others.

I doubt it’ll ever be one of those things I’d care to call anyone else out on, but it’s been satisfying to notice my own unconscious belittling and make an effort to correct for it. In most of the instances where I’d doubled back, the “just” was genuinely unintentional; and in instances where they weren’t, well, I should just be doing less of it anyway, how hard could it be?