Spacemacs

Emacs is very powerful. Amazingly so. But it’s so arcane, the keystrokes could take you years to master. So what’s a developer to do?

Enter spacemacs. I honestly don’t know where this idea came from, and my brain is structured in such a way that I could have ever pulled it off myself. But an emacs configured like Vim (thank you evil mode) with discoverable keystrokes … I am always flabergasted.

Tonight I discovered how to open the kill ring. While it sounds aggressive, it’s really just Emacs version of a clipboard. Anything you cut or copy ends up on the kill ring. For so long I treated it like the opaque clipboard on so many operating systems. The last thing I cut is the only thing I have access to. And God help me if I cut something else, because I’ll lose the last thing to oblivion.

But not anymore, baby. With an interactive kill ring (SPC-r-y for those of you following along at home) you get a searchable compendium of everything you’ve cut or copied in the current session. Absolutely brilliant.

Why are we grateful?

I just finished the book The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt and was struck by a line at the beginning of his acknowledgment section. Relaying what a graduate student once taught him he explains that we do not express gratitude to settle debts or sow the ground for favors. We give our gratitude out to make stronger relationships.

I was struck by what a simple, yet profound thought that was. Gratefulness is not a selfish tool we wield to get the upper hand. Humans, while highly rational about a great many things, operate more like bees in a hive than most would give us credit for. Hives need cohesion. Strong relationships breed cohesion. The process is so clear.

Do you imagine that chimps can express their gratitude to one another?

On the ballot

I’m officially going to be on the ballot in Castine for selectmen this year!

Turned in my nomination papers, and, pending a review of the voter signature, I will be on the ballot along with Patrick Haugen and Buzz Layton. It was a lot of fun talking to folks about the town while collecting signature, and I’m feeling really blessed to be in a community that not only provides me the opportunity to run for public office, but one where my friends and neighbors are actively enthuiastic about my campaign.

Next stop, election day!

Monarchs

I knew that monarch butterflies were born somewhere in the north and then migrated to Mexico for the winter. But today on a hike on Sears Island we got to see a field of wildflowers, predominently milkweed, that was set aside specifically for monarchs to develop in.

Indeed, we saw a few monarch caterpillers, which interesting actually share a color pattern with their flying form.

Our enthusiasm was dampened slightly when the flying insects came out. They specifically seemed to want our lunch and recent traumatic events involving ground hornets meant we had to make a hasty retreat.

The hike ended up being almost two miles and was through some really pretty paths. I would definitely enjoy hiking on Sears Island again.

Leadership

An interesting discussion occurred at work today where I was forced to put into words some thoughts I’ve been kicking around for a while on the nature of leadership. None of my thoughts are original, mind you. This one was cribbed from a blog post about leading without authority. I’ll drop the link when I find it. The long and the short of that post was that leadership has only the loosest relationship with authority. In fact, it’s often a sign of dysfunctional leadership which depends on having someone give you authority.

In the world of power, authority is one of the most difficult types to wield, because it generally means someone has placed an expectation on you. You will be forced to live up to those expectations or be cut down from your place of authority quickly. Meanwhile, leadership is not actually a type of power, but a behavior. This alone should be mind-blowing if you’re actually following along at home.

You can lead without authority. You can lead with authority. You can actually lead without saying a thing. This is key tenant in modern stoicism, actually. Don’t tell, do. And so it is in leadership as well. Don’t tell people what to do, show them what is effective, and empathize with their plight.

One of the more disappointing interactions I had recently was when a co-worker expressed a lack of joy in his work. It struck a nerve with me, in that I had felt many of the same things. And our lead engineer, who tends to lead through authority rather than trust, kind, sort of, well … blew us off. I really didn’t see that coming, and it’s forced me to take a step back and realize that I need to do a better job of leading without authority. Of building trust amongst my co-workers so that when the need arises, I can step up.