Tree Maps & Other Esoterica


On an interesting note, due to a muscle spasm in my back that occurred at the beginning of the week, I am trying a new experiment of working standing up at my laptop. It hurts my back less than sitting down. Parts of this are okay but I can see that it would require a significant amount of new furniture to be able to do this on a permanent basis. Certainly is improving my posture though. 😊. I wish I could spin some tale of derring-do or amorous exploits that caused this. Unfortunately, I was simply attempting to put on my socks.

This week, my musings will be varied. I have a number of podcast episodes that I think are worth sharing and I will include the links and a brief description below. I have been using that application called Blinkist, and I have to say that I like it.

As an aside, I don’t think that it is a waste of time to spend time studying philosophy and other points of view. I have always said that I am not much of an original thinker. So, I welcome the ability to read the thoughts of great thinkers. It can apply either to myself, or it can just be a way of expanding one’s horizons. Both satisfactory outcomes.

Finally, I am going to discuss how to analyze how one spends one’s time, and a brief summary of my accomplishments over the last few years. Not, I assure you, from any sense of ego but because self-examination is a good thing to do from time to time.

A very appropriate podcast from the Daily Stoic. I think this is a very well done commentary on who the real stoics are and I agree without reservation. Well worth 3 minutes of time to listen to. And I would say that women in particular might appreciate it.

– To one of my readers: I know you don’t like this guy, but it is still a good episode 😊 -

“There is no romance in Middle America, middle management, or middle age. Not so “for the ancient Romans,” for whom “honor pivoted on the Heroic Middle.” They saw the ability to compromise as a hedge against tyranny, and a manifestation of one’s self-control. Moderation was not the timid restraint, the joyless surrender to conventionality of the modern bourgeois, nor was it an excuse for complacency or conventionality. On the contrary, in the Roman mind, moderation was a sort of firebreak against the conflagration of ambition and passion . . . Poise, equanimity, came hard and unnaturally. To be modest, to be ‘measured,’ showed determination, the will of men and women to take their fates in their hands, to direct their own behavior in the face of endless temptations to self-indulgence or self-pity.
— Carlin Barton - Roman Honor

The Art of Manliness had a brief fireside chat about the underrated excitement of moderation, see link below. I think this is extremely germane to today’s world which is full of extremism in one form or the other.

A very interesting podcast on recycling from Planet Money. For those of you who don’t know, China in the last year or so has drastically revised its policy about accepting waste material from the first world for recycling. I shan’t rehash what they say in the podcast, because it’s very well laid out. There is definitely a surprising conclusion.

interestingly, in the final section of the episode, it talks about Incineration 2.0. This is something that I had looked at myself quite some years ago with the possibility of it being a viable business in the Philippines. It foundered on the obscene inefficiency and corruption that permeates the solid waste – what is laughingly called ‘management’ – in that country.

And final podcast. Planet Money on the surveillance state in China. My readers know that I am not a scare monger. But if there is one subject I would really want entire rest of the world to know about, it is what China is doing to its 1.3 billion strong population. They are deathly scared of losing control of their own country. And the extraordinarily small percentage of the population that forms the leadership has very clearly pulled out all the technological stops in order to make sure that they will be able to maintain that control. I very much hope that they fail. And fail miserably and bloodily to their own personal cost.

Blinkist Logo

Blinkist Logo

I subscribed to Blinkist last week. I had known about it for some time, but the idea of subscribing to yet another service – just didn’t appeal to me. What made me take a second look at it was the fact that it takes a lot of time to read many of the books that I would like to read, and I find that those books are padded with immense amounts of verbiage. This application aims to bring out the highlights of each book. So, I tried it. And I must admit, I really like it. I have some of the books that they have summarized so I was able to compare. And although it is true you can miss much, if not all, of the nuances of the books, I don’t know how valuable those [nuances] really are. For me I am finding the summaries work quite well. I’m averaging about two books a day in Blinkist. You can either read what they call the “blinks” or hear them in audio format. It seems fairly easy to navigate, synchronizes well between devices, and there are easy ways to highlight and copy sections of the summaries that one finds particularly interesting. I have linkages on android, Apple, and on my laptop. And I think it is turning out to be a worthwhile investment for me. ($60/year – billed annually).


Time analysis. This started with something a friend said to me last year about looking at the 16 hours that one is awake every day. Added to that was a vague sense of discomfort that I waste a lot of time every day. I wake up, I do my workout, I answer some emails, I walk out to eat a few times, try to study some Spanish, and the next thing I know my days seems to be gone.

So I think it is indeed worthwhile sometimes to diagram out one’s time. A facet of self-awareness if you will. It is too easy to just go through life from one day to the next without realizing how you are spending your time. At least for me.

The second portion of this self-examination of time spent comes from the idea of giving oneself credit for what one is done. And I think many people, including myself, don’t do that. I wrote down in brief some of my accomplishments and what I’ve been working on over the last four years and I was surprised. I think it is worthwhile to do something like this to see where one is being and what one is accomplished.

So out of curiosity I decided to try mapping out my time. I decided to use something called, of all things, a tree map. I don’t know why they call it the tree map. I’m sure you seen them, they’re especially utilized in places like stock market analysis where they have a large chart showing a bunch of different size squares of different colors. The purpose is to be able to visually put across the various proportions that various stocks represent in the marketplace. The larger the square and / or the brighter or dimmer the color the larger or smaller the relatives share of that stock in the market. Below is a very basic image of the tree map that I created for my time. And I can certainly see where you have to make efficient use of the time that you have.

Tree Map - The number are HOURS and all areas are sized according to the numbers of hours out a 24 hour period

Tree Map - The number are HOURS and all areas are sized according to the numbers of hours out a 24 hour period

It is fairly easy to create a Tree Map in Excel. Google it. This was only a rough approximation. I’m still working on it. What is self-actualization? Still figuring it out – although my TV time, reading, and navel gazing fall into that category (for now). 😊. Maintenance is running errands, eating, walking, fixing things around the house, haircuts, etc.

Did as a Pie Chart with % just as an alternate view

Did as a Pie Chart with % just as an alternate view

Looking back at what I have accomplished over the last four years, I wish it could be more. But, to be fair to myself, I cannot complain about the results.


  1. Got back to learning all the time

  2. Implemented new and more efficacious workouts

  3. Implemented better eating habits

As a result of 1,2, & 3: [Of which I am very proud], I have

·        Lost 18 – 20kg in the last four years and kept it off.

·        Body composition now steadily at 10 - 12% body fat

·        Resting heart rate 59 - 60 all the time

  • Although cholesterol is still high it is lower than usual

  • Blood sugar (border line diabetic before) and liver function tests are now completely normal

  • Blood pressure normal

  1. I have learned Spanish – albeit not to the level I wish I had but I’m still working on it

  2. Added 6 new countries and 1 new continent under my belt

  3. Will be submitting my citizenship application for Argentina next month

  4. Embraced and implemented minimalism and Stoicism – although always a work in progress

And what I am continuing to work on?

  1. Reading & Philosophy

  2. Taking online courses

  3. Working on my posture

  4. Spanish language

  5. Health

  6. Cutting down on un-needed personal attachments 😊

So when I look at that list – maybe I haven’t wasted my time as much as I thought. And on the business side, although I won’t list them here, I guess it hasn’t been that bad either. I still think I could have done better, worked harder, gotten more accomplished somehow … but … I think that it is a very good idea to sometimes review your own life and take stock so that you can realize how far you come. And really give yourself credit for that stuff.