a learning experience

encumbered time

One of the many things parenthood doesn’t prepare you for is the notion of encumbered time. The word “encumber” is usually associated with a burden but that’s not the sense in which I am using it.

The concept of an encumbrance I have in mind is how it’s used in government financials, where an amount of money is said to be “encumbered” or assigned and allocated to a defined purpose. It’s not spent – in fact it may never be spent – but it exists on paper for a specific purpose. It can’t be reallocated or reassigned to some other purpose without being unencumbered, usually a hassle and considered a sign of poor planning.

So encumbered time is time that is allocated to a purpose that can’t be used in any other way. For example, time spent taking someone to an appointment is time in which you are not engaged but that you can’t put to it’s best use. Sure, you could knit or read a book or harass politicians on Twitter. But you can’t paint that room or weed that garden bed because you’re not there. A job is not encumbered time, nor is any household task in which you are actively engaged: my definition means time when you are not part of what’s going on. It’s not for you.

There is a lot of that when you have kids or a family of any size. And it’s not new. Generations before us have experienced it. The concept of a name for it just came to me recently. And it’s not a case of resenting it or regretting the choices that brought you here so much as knowing what it is, of understanding it through naming it.

a learning experience obscure pursuits

day trip

We were invited to spend some time up on the Stillaguamish today, so off we went. It was cold and clear, still some snow on the ground.

One of the highlights was one of the children in the party finding a steelhead redd, filled with fry but buried under mud and too high above the waterline to find their way. We gently dug out 30 or so of them, moving them to the North Fork of the Stilly or depositing them in a still eddy in the French Creek nearby.

Still wrestling with my new camera to get better images: this one of White Horse Mountain should be a lot better.

And now I’m too tired to offer anything else.

a learning experience

My local library gets RSS

There have some homebrew ways of doing this, but their reliability suffered: if the library made a change to how they presented or managed their data, it could break any user-generated hacks.

The Seattle Public Library: Library News Release Detail:

With the new Horizon system, patrons will notice a number of improvements, including

  • Improved search and page loading times, especially for people with slow Internet connections.
  • A better interface for Library users with visual disabilities.
  • RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Just as Web sites now offer RSS as a means to provide updated information without having to “visit” the site, the Horizon RSS feature allows search feeds (new titles from your favorite author) or a listing of “items out” to be incorporated into new readers (My Yahoo! Or Bloglines).
  • Icons that clearly display the type of material (book, DVD, book on CD, etc.) so you can quickly locate what you want.

Patrons should be aware that due to privacy concerns and the USA PATRIOT Act, the new system will no longer keep track of yearly holds placed by patrons.

The bit about library systems not tracking holds was something you had to opt out of: now they’re just not tracking anyone. What kind of books do you have to have checked out for the terrorists to have won?

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a learning experience

have I mentioned how educational WikiPedia can be?

Main Page – Wikipedia:

Today’s featured article
The Holy Prepuce (or Holy Foreskin) is one of the various relics purported to be associated with Jesus Christ.

This was never mentioned in any discussion I can recall about Holy Relics. The odd bone, perhaps a fragment of the True Cross[1], that was about it.

fn1. Definition of Relic – wordIQ Dictionary & Encyclopedia: Erasmus famously remarked that there were enough pieces of the True Cross to build a ship from.

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