Thinking & Learning Activities – September 16, 2020

πŸ“– πŸ“Grammar

I made a large grammar tree depicting several ways of organizing the information in a paragraph. The trees illustrate how things like conjunctions affect the structure of information in a paragraph. I’m not 100% sure about everything I did but that’s okay.
PDF link for downloading/viewing

Conjunctions & Structure Using Example Sentences from Peikoff Grammar Course Lesson 2 - Justin Mallone September 2020

πŸ—£ Practicing Explaining Something Simple: How to Set Up a Basic Backup in Carbon Copy Cloner

Trying something a little different: how to set up a basic backup in Carbon Copy Cloner using nothing but on screen text.

I tried to use a gif but that wouldn’t work with WordPress and I didn’t want to troubleshoot, so I just made a (silent) video.

🧠 🌩 Brainstorming: Ideas for Getting Things Done More Quickly/Efficiently

  1. Estimate how long you want to spend on an activity so it doesn’t become a “time sink.” If you decide you want to spend more time, that’s okay, but make this a conscious, reasoned decision as opposed to something that happens by default.
  2. Check off things from a list of activities you want to do. Having lists helps see where you are spending your time. If you do something that isn’t on the list, add it later and check it off anyways.
  3. Try switching activities for a while if you’re getting stuck or feeling low-energy.
  4. Attitude adjustment: Take active note of things you are changing and doing differently. Give yourself credit for trying to change and improve even if you’re not seeing results as quickly as you’d like. Having a positive attitude can help with getting things done.

πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’» Activities


I’ve been using Typesy to work on improving my typing accuracy. I like it.


I’ve been reading some emails by copying them from iMac and pasting them into Voice Dream Reader. I like this method cuz it lets me pause longer emails.

Monitor Control

I investigated whether there is a way to control a monitor input with software on the Mac. There is, but at least when I first tried using it, it seemed like it would only work when the display had the Mac has active input. So e.g. if you have a monitor connected to both PC and Mac, it’ll switch the monitor from Mac to PC but not from PC back to Mac. You’d have to use different software on the PC to switch it back. I opened an issue to try to resolve what I thought was a bug, but this may be the intended behavior – not sure yet.

πŸ€” πŸ’¬ Thinking About Problems

Sleeping Issues

Been having some issues with sleep lately. I go to sleep but then wake up and have trouble getting back to bed. I’ve been going to bed at a reasonable and regularly time so that’s not actually the problem. It’s become a moderately annoying and persistent issue. I’m not sure exactly what to do about it yet. I wonder if it’s because I’ve been working out less. That was a recent change.

Thinking & Learning Activities – September 14, 2020

Grammar πŸ“–

I made some grammar trees and a video about the sentence “The idea that wealth is important is true” from Peikoff’s Grammar course.

Trees: non-embedded link for downloading
the idea that wealth is important is true

I then discussed the trees and general issue with Elliot in the Fallible Ideas Discord channel #idea-trees and changed my perspective on the sentence somewhat. Here is a log.

Here is another tree just for fun (using another sentence from Peikoff’s Grammar course).Learning may be easy, if you are learning from a good teacher, but teaching is work.

Thinking About Problems πŸ€” πŸ’¬

Changing Time Priorities

I spend too much time on what I regard as lower value activities. I think this means I’m not actually convinced the stuff I spend time on is of lower value. There is a disagreement somewhere. What I’m not sure about is whether or not I actually value the stuff I spend time on more in some substantive way than the stuff I would rather be doing, or whether I am just procrastinating or something. I’m not sure how I would tell the difference. I guess one thing is that I don’t mind doing the lower value stuff I spend time on some. Like shopping online or whatever is fine in some amount. Cleaning and organizing is fine in some amount too. But when it starts to interfere with what seems like more important stuff, then I start to wonder about what is going on and the nature of my motivations.

One frequent issue that I have is that I lose focus on stuff that I think is more important that I am trying to accomplish. That is where I start shifting to doing more of the lower value stuff – the times when I lose focus. So one thing I could try is paying attention to what is happening when I lose focus, what is going on. Am I stuck in some way? If I am often losing focus when I feel stuck, then that is maybe an indicator that I am using the other activities as some sort of distraction from being frustrated with being stuck or something like that.

I’ve heavily criticized one particular time-sink and have been spending less time on that. So maybe what I am doing is compensating for that loss of a distraction by elevating other distractions. So what I’ll need to do is maybe criticize spending time on the other stuff as well, and criticize it as being something worth spending lots of time on. And maybe I should think of more general criticisms like — I wanna focus on X, and this is not X, so I shouldn’t be spending a lot of time on this right now. I think more general principled thoughts about time usage would be good, cuz if I keep just going from one distraction to the next then that will be an infinite game of whack-a-mole with no end and not much progress.

One specific thing I’ve found helps somewhat limit the issue is just to set assigned amounts of time for some task. This can even apply to taking a break. Like I can say “I’m going to take a break for 15 minutes now and just passively listen to music or a podcast or something” and not feel bad about it or worry about what I should be doing. That can help prevent stuff from dragging on and taking up a bunch of time, cuz I just do it, and then I can remember that I already consciously spent some time on it and that I wanted to get to some other stuff today.

πŸ—£ Practicing Explaining Something Simple: How to Represent a Simple Sentence Tree Form Using MindNode

I will follow the following rules for representing sentences.
– Verbs are the root of their clauses. So they’ll go at the top, unless there’s a conjunction linking two clauses. Then the conjunction will go on top.
– Subjects, objects and complements go under the verb for the clause they’re a part of.
– Modifiers go under the thing they modify.

  1. Open up MindNode and open up a new MindNode file by going to File/New or hitting Cmd-N.
  2. Type your sentence in the root node of new your tree to keep it handy for reference.
  3. Hover your mouse over the root node of your tree until the + sign appears and click it.
  4. The verb here is “am”, so we’ll make it the first thing we add to our tree.
  5. You can now get a plus sign under the “am”. Click it to add a node for the subject “I” and type it in the node.
  6. Click the plus sign under “am” again to add a node for the complement “potato” and type it in the node.
  7. Now click the plus sign under “potato” to add a node for the “a” and type it in the node.
  8. We made a tree!
  9. Note that you can also add nodes using keyboard shortcuts. Return adds a child and Tab adds a sibling – you can see the whole list in the MindNode menu bar.



I started working through someΒ tutorial videos and documentation for Docassemble, which is open source software that you can use to make interviews to generate documents. I intend to get through one page of documentation and one video fairly regularly.

🧠 🌩 Brainstorming: Things to Make Trees About

  1. Books
  2. Life decisions
  3. Political arguments
  4. Discussions
  5. Philosophical arguments
  6. Projects/project plans
  7. Clauses of a legal document
  8. Recipes

Thinking & Learning Activities – September 12, 2020

Disclaimer/What I Think I’m Doing

These posts do not represent a Fallible Ideas Learning Plan. Why I am doing them, then? What is the goal?
I’d like to be able to try doing a Fallible Ideas Learning Plan at some point, but I’m pretty intimidated by the idea of doing so. So I thought as a preliminary step, I’d just start writing some thoughts about my activities, stuff I was thinking about … basically memorializing thoughts and developments regarding stuff I’m spending time on anyways. And then if I do that for a while, and can do it regularly, then maybe I can try a small FI Plan, which would basically just be talking about some goals related to stuff I was already doing and discussing anyways. That way, I’d avoid being intimidated.
I was actually doing an even smaller step before doing these posts. I made some lists of stuff I’d like to get done and used the Notes app on macOS to track them. So these posts are sort of an upgraded version of that activity tracking + some writing. I use the activity tracking as an example of explaining something simply below.

Grammar πŸ€”πŸ“–

Peikoff talks about the following sentence towards the beginning of lecture 2 of his grammar course:

What he will decide is important.

Here’s a transcript of what he says:

Now, I want to point out… the third example under 13, “What you will decide is important” [sic], as the main clause, I have underscored only “is important”. That is obviously not a clause. Why not? Because it doesn’t have a subject, it just has a predicate. So, we would have to analyze this in order to make clear the full main clause and the proper analysis would come in breaking up the word “what”. The word “what” in this kind of construction is actually a compound. It means “that which” or “the thing which.” In other words, it means “the thing which he will decide is important”. In which case, then, if we use that type of analysis, what will the main clause be? Suppose we take “what” as meaning “the thing which”. What will then be the main clause in the statement, “the thing which you will decide is important”? What will be the main clause?
Yeah, “the thing is important”, correct, and “which he will decide” is then simply an adjective clause modifying “thing”, telling you what type of thing. Now, in any case such as this, where you have a noun clause as subject or object, you may have to resort to some type of analysis to get out the full main clause and separate it from the modifier. But if you understand that, there’s no problem. I just didn’t want anyone to be confused by the fact that I’ve underscored only a predicate as though that could be a clause.

I’m going to post a small excerpt from Elliot Temple’s grammar educational materials on Gumroad.

Elliot’s analysis seems somewhat different to me than Peikoff’s. Below I’ve tried to represent what I think Elliot’s approach to analyzing the sentence would be and what I think Peikoff’s approach is. Any errors are my own! Click here to view or download if you don’t like the embedding.

what he will decide is important

Thinking About Problems πŸ€” πŸ’¬

Crepe-making and error-correcting

I made this recipe. I don’t think I’ve made crepes at home before. They came out okay. I used too much batter for the first one and got a sort of pancake burned on one side instead of a crepe. You need to be fairly minimal with the amount of batter you use. I realized this after double-checking the recipe instructions and noting where they says:

Pour a small amount of batter (I used 1/8 of a cup of batter for my small frying pan) in the middle of the hot pan. Then pick up the pan and tip and twirl it until the entire bottom is coated.
Double-checking the directions was a simple step to take but it helped.

Initially, I think I defaulted to “make a giant pancake” level of batter for some reason, whereas crepes require a very different level of batter. I think they are supposed to be thin enough to heat through from just the heat on the bottom of the pan as opposed to needing to be flipped over. I had my crepes with ricotta cheese and some preserves. They were pretty good.

Knee exercises

I’m going to try the modifications to knee exercises talked about in this video to try to help my knee issues. I thought the video did a decent job of explaining things. I’m also still thinking about getting a rower in order to do a different sort of motion/activity that’s less stressful on knees. I’ve got my eye on this one but am waiting for the price to come down.

Home Inventory

I want to make an inventory of the stuff in my apartment in case the worst happens and I need to make a claim on my renter’s insurance. I made a partial, incomplete inventory of the stuff in my apartment a while back using an app which has shifted to focus on business and doesn’t seem interested in individual consumers anymore (the app was Sortly). I had some data from that app in CSV format. I looked at some different apps to try that would allow me to import my data and get rolling on a new home inventory. I wound up liking this Mac App which is simply called Home Inventory.It’s pretty simple and straightforward. It’s pretty easy to add custom fields for the items in your inventory, add receipts and take pictures. The app can even send a command to a connected iPhone to open up the Camera app for picture taking without needing to install any new app on the iPhone, which I thought was pretty cool.

For now I’m just logging or completing a few entries per day, with a focus on logging higher value items first and documenting their cost with receipts. I think this will get me a decent sized log of stuff within a few weeks without taking too much time at once and getting tedious. My goal is roughly to have a mostly complete home inventory done before Election Day.

πŸ—£ Practicing Explaining Something Simple: Using Notes to Keep Track of Activities

You can use Apple’s Notes app to keep track of your activities throughout the day. Here’s one way to do it:
1. In the Notes app, make a category for your daily activities by clicking on the New Folder button in the lower right and give the folder a name.

2. Make some notes with lists of stuff you’d like to do during the day. Write the category of activity on the first line (which defaults to a bigger font). Then hit the “Make a Checklist” button and make a list of stuff.

You should wind up with something like this:

3. As you do stuff during the day, check it off from the list. If it’s a one-time thing, you can delete it after you’re done with it. If it’s a repeating thing, uncheck it when you check your list the next day, and then check it again when you complete it again.

🧠 🌩 Brainstorming: Things I Can Do to Get More Organized and Less Cluttered (Digitally and Physically)

  • Make an update-to-date inventory of the stuff in my home. (This is being done) βœ…
  • Organize more items in my refrigerator and using food storage containers and bins. (This is being done) βœ…
    Make use of the somewhat inaccessible space below my cabinets to store reserves of canned goods et cetera, freeing up the cabinets for other things. (This will be done soon) πŸ“
  • Unsubscribe from emails I’m not actually paying attention to anymore. (This is being done) βœ…
  • Delete apps I’m not using. (This is being done) βœ…
  • Disable notifications I’m not paying attention to. (This could be done more aggressively) πŸ“