Tribute foto (from narrative) to Los Reales, king of the World Series.

Apparently February comes from the Roman “februarius”, which means purification, and also “februum”, which means fever, choose your favorite. January seems energetic in a way that February seems short, but I actually learned some things from reviewing last month. It took me a while to get down to it though, March is almost done and here I am reviewing February!

Last month was a bit different from January, since my wife and little baby were gone for about 2 weeks (she went home to visit her parents, and got me this nice T-shirt, see photo arriba), and I spent quite a bit of time preparing for two talks at a conference. In total in February I logged 551 events (38% more than in January, which had 400), of which 242 could be classified as personal and 260 more related to work. The day with the most events, n=38, was the first day of the conference (Feb 23rd) and the two least active days (n=5 events) were both Saturdays, the 13th and 20th (see Figure 1). I was quite interested to see what happened when I was “left alone” for half the month. Yep, I ended up working (not playing) more, although I did read and write more as well.


Figure 1. Total events per day throughout the month of February (2016).

While classifying all the events I found that some categories changed compared to January, but that the top six most frequent categories were similar (Table 1). I spent less time with my kids, probably mostly since little Liam was away and since I was also travelling. I also spent less time watching videos or TV and more time reading. So those could be correlated, time with kids and time spent watching videos, but not sure if its a cause and effect.

Table 1. Summary of all events in the top six most frequent categories (based on January).


Event categories

Although not apparent from Table 1, I came up with fewer event categories in February than in January, which started me thinking about all this category business for events that I’ve been fooling around with for years. Since 2013, I’ve been placing all my events from my log books into an excel file, and, as I explained before in other blogs, categorizing all the events. So now that I’m starting to categorise events every month, instead of once a year, I wanted to look more in depth about how the categories themselves change.

The first thing is that some categories have remained stable over these past 3 years. Specifically, for personal events, I always have categories for family, food, friends, health, home, kids, money, music, quantified self, reading, travel, video, and writing, making a total of 13 conserved categories. For work, the categories change more often and are less conserved in general, only six in total (planning, classes, conferences, people at work, projects and travel).

The most variable categories may also hold some interesting info. For personal events, I have sometimes used the following categories: working on photos, observing art, drawing, news (as in national or international news), sports events, weather, working on the car, interactions with neighbours, dreams and “in traffic”, which suggests to me that I don’t really log those events very well, and that they are harder to fit into the other 13 main categories. So technically, they may be harder to really record. I guess if I wanted to, I could start jotting them down as well, and maybe kick out the more boring conserved categories, like food, which I usually have a record of anyway through receipts from supermarkets or restaurants.

For work  events, the more rare categories were: work for scientific associations, reading books, department meetings, thesis committees, and more stuff about where I am at work (greenhouse, office, main office building, other people’s offices, etc.).

Special events

As in January, I went through all events and underlined which ones I thought were most intersting. There were 18, which can be separated into four groups, people I talked to (three really good and interesting conversations), four really good things I read, three great videos, and six things I wrote about, including the two previous blogs. So, the final question is, as for last month, how much of what I did was really “useful” or carried over say into this month? I would again say that really, most things were pleasant experiences that will just stay there, recorded in my notebook and maybe referred to once or twice, but basically gone. The possible exceptions are the two blogs I wrote, which I can easily use again and may be interesting to others.

Looking back on all 18 of these favorite events, three really stuck in my head for a while, like for weeks, a Ben Sterling lecture, I think it was that one, especially the question and answers, an interview on Spanish TV with Antonio Lopez (a fairly famous Spanish artist who took 20 years to complete a portrait of the Spanish royal family), and a re-read of an article in the New Yorker by E. Kolbert, about how we use time, really quite good.

All for now, got to get started on March…


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