org-mode and MailMate

There’s an org-mode bundle for MailMate that works pretty well: You invoke it, it drops an org-mode todo in a given file using the subject for the heading and a link to the MailMate message.

I added a bunch of messages with similar subjects and found it sort of hard to know which was which without opening them, so I made a small patch to the bundle that adds the name of the sender to the org heading. While I was in there, I made it a little easier to find the hardcoded file target and added it to the README instructions.

Here’s the fork, with all credit to Max Andersen, who wrote the original.

(MailMate previously. I ended up buying a license. I could do much of what I do with it with plain old macOS, but MailMate is much easier to tune and ends up feeling more personalized.)

more org-gtd

I mentioned being not so happy about my liminal state. It was good to get org-gtd up and running because I was able to quit fussing with how to get everything out of my brain and just concentrate on getting it out of my brain. Therapeutic, even. It didn’t take long to start looking at a little of the other core GTD stuff, adding contexts and “Area of Focus” to all the stuff I got in there. org-gtd has some good agenda views that incorporate areas and contexts.

So, you know, it took a day or two to tour the options and figure things out for the next while and it’s just … good to be using the tool, not thinking about the tool. Which reminds me …

The dysfunctional embrace of Linux and Windows

My friend Ed reminded me a little about tool fixation with this pretty interesting video about the ways Windows’ bad UX infects Linux desktops:

My weird Electra Townie

I have an e-bike and love it for anything further than a couple of miles. Earlyish in lockdown I realized I had more time to get around the neighborhood during the day and went out looking for an acoustic bike. I was hoping for something sort of easygoing – upright ride, plush, didn’t need to be fast. In retrospect, what I was really looking for was some kind of Dutch bike.

Supply chain hell and demand made that tough, but my local Bike Gallery had a sort of weird, niche bike on the floor: An Electra Townie, but more tricked out than they usually are, and on super steep discount. It has front and rear racks, a dynamo hub, disc brakes, and it’s a 27-speed. It’s also sort of tall for a Townie. I just went to the Electra site to make sure I haven’t completely misunderstood what’s “normal” for a Townie. This thing is not normal, and I got it for less than their current cheapest model. I’m assuming it was an experiment in making a “pro” Townie of some kind that failed, so maybe they just dumped existing stock and got back to the simpler baseline.

I love it.

I test-rode a Townie a very long time ago … about the time all the bike manufacturers were in some sort of “nobody bikes anymore” crisis and were coming out with things like the Trek Lime with automatic shifters and relaxed geometries that wouldn’t “intimidate” people. Because I wanted something that could do a nine-mile commute, the Townies and Limes didn’t work for me: The forward-pedaling geometry made it hard to stand up on a hill, and they were geared in a way that made them feel like renting a U-Haul with a throttle governor.

This bike still has the forward-pedaling geometry and the relaxed, swept back handle bars. To get it to fit correctly I did have to move the seat forward more than I have on other bikes, so it seems like a bike that would stop being a good fit for anyone under 5'9" or so, but could accommodate someone around 6'2" or 3. In fact, Ben rode it comfortably and he was easily 6'1" or 6'2" at the time. Combined with the big seat and the inability to really lean forward and bear down, it’s content to live in the middle gears and just sort of roll along.

The built-in lights are probably best used to look for potholes at night, and you should have supplements for visibility. The front rack isn’t huge, but comfortably carries a box of Trader Joe wine. The rear rack is a little weird: It doesn’t seem to be compatible with any of the assorted fitment standards, including the Townie basket we got for Al’s Trek e-bike. But it works fine with an Ortlieb or Banjo Brothers panniers, and there’s always the milk crate treatment.

Oddities and almost-but-not-quite features aside, the thing I love about it is how upright and comfortable the ride is, and how smoothly it rolls on its largish wheels. I have taken it all the way downtown via both the Springwater and Clinton St. (8 and 6.5 miles, respectively) and it has been comfortable. You just can’t try to put too much through the drive train or crank up any hills. You don’t really corner with it: Turns are more like a kind of gliding swoop motion.

So it feels to me more or less like what I imagined the Dutch bike I wanted would feel like. Probably less efficient and more wasted power, but upright and easygoing. When I go around the neighborhood, up to Foster, over to Woodstock, or down the Springwater, it feels more like a sightseeing tour than a commute.

Anyhow, I’ve had it out for the first time in a little while over the past week and was reminded how much I enjoy it.