Franklin Chen’s grain of sand

Infinity in the palm of my hand

Thoughts on Giving Up an Old Project to Make Room for the New

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Today I made a difficult decision to give up doing something that I have enjoyed for well over a year now: writing a weekly chess column at The Chess Improver.


It’s been a major commitment coming up with something to write about every week for such a long time. There have been times when I was overflowing with ideas; there have been times when I struggled to come up with something to write about that I could stand behind. Sometimes I have published something I felt was particularly good; sometimes I felt uninspired; sometimes I just dashed something out of uneven quality. But through it all, I learned a lot from my attempt to convey something specific and concrete that I hoped readers would enjoy and ideally even use to their practical advantage in their own chess play. The best way to verify whether you actually understand something is to write about it! I definitely had to do homework in many cases in order to make sure I really understood what I was talking about, in order to be as accurate and correct as I could.

I even kept on writing about chess during very dry spells in my writing in general, when I wasn’t writing anything for my other two blogs, this personal blog and my programming blog. I admit to being rather embarrassed that during these dry spells, I kept on posting links to my chess blog from this blog. I will never again waste readers’ time by posting links from one blog to another except when relevant.

The law of conservation of time and energy

In our lives, we can’t do it all. For 2015, recent circumstances have led me to commit to a bunch of personal projects that have nothing to do with chess, so I knew, as 2014 comes to a close, that I would have to give up something old in order to free up time and energy for the new. I’m going to writing up a retrospective on 2014 before 2015 comes, in order to plan out how to go about 2015.

It’s not really giving up

I lied in my title. I’m not really “giving up” chess writing; I’m just putting it aside. If a time comes when I feel it is worthwhile to do it again, I may well return. However, for now, I’m shutting it down.


All things come to an end, or at least, an adjournment. I look forward to tackling new challenges as I free myself from the responsibility of writing a weekly chess column.

How do you rearrange your life when you decide to start new demanding projects? Do you try to squeeze them in and cut out “non-essentials” or optimize your efficiency? Or do you decide that you have to cut out significant old projects? Or do you feel that you are already stretched to the limit with essentials (such as young children) and cannot possibly take on anything new?

Why We Decided to Compile Our Own Family Cookbook

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Cooking has been a significant part of my life since 1999 when, shortly before reaching age 30, my bachelor self decided to completely change his unhealthy diet and lifestyle, and that meant finally getting down and dirty with seriously cooking for myself.

After getting married to Abby ten years later, cooking responsibilities have rotated between us based on the situation; there have been long stretches of time during which I did all the cooking every day, and there have been long periods during which she did all the cooking. Currently, we roughly split the cooking between us.

Why compile our own cookbook?

I’ve occasionally posted on this blog a recipe and/or photos of some food I’ve cooked, but for the most part, cooking is just a mundane everyday activity that I don’t keep track of, since the task of cooking is primarily utilitarian for us, not innovative or artistic. We simply need to eat every day, and prefer not to eat out often, for various reasons.

Recently I decided that we should start compiling our own family cookbook, noting details of what we prepare and how, in order to better replicate good results and improve on bad results, and make planning and impromptu cooking more efficient. Without our own cookbook, we have to rely on our faulty memories, and things sometimes don’t come out right (especially where the oven is concerned).

Below is an example of the kind of cooking we do. This is not a cooking blog, so I don’t expect to write much or often about our cooking, but I just felt like it tonight.

Report on My Second Day of Stoic Week 2014: Mindfulness

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Yesterday, I reported on my first day of Stoic Week 2014. Today, the second day’s theme was “Stoic mindfulness”. This is similar to the Buddhist teaching on mindfulness, and is basically a sound psychological observation that “You are just an impression and not at all the thing you claim to represent”: our thoughts and feelings are one thing but what we do about them is another.

I found it particularly useful to remember this today, because Tuesdays present an interesting challenge for me.

Report on My First Day of Stoic Week 2014

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Last year, I heard about the first Stoic Week, Stoic Week 2013, but did not participate because I was distracted at the time and did not feel like focusing. This week, I decided it was time to sign up for Stoic Week 2014, and I did.

Why my interest in Stoicism?

I’ve mentioned Stoicism only briefly in my blog: once in 2012 when thinking about Thanksgiving and once earlier this year after rewatching an old TV episode. As I mentioned, it was in 2011, upon reading a book on Stoicism, that I made some major changes in my life.

It turns out that a couple of weeks ago, I decided to make major changes in my life again, but not while thinking about Stoicism.