Happy Easter, Happy Spring!

Odin wishes you the very best and catches you up on his life (and the state of the world).

Happy Easter, Happy Spring!
Image generated via chatGPT

Hello, friends, and happy Easter!

You may have noticed the absence of my newsletter the last two weeks, for which I apologize! Life became briefly complex by several orders of magnitude, leading to some re-prioritization of time. Life sneaks up upon us all.

So, what have I been up to, and what awaits in today's edition of Halvorson Times?

My main time commitments have been classes for my Master's in Library and Information Science and the related work I do for the San Jose State's Student Research Journal. This is material that excites me greatly, in large part because I'm concentrating this semester on topics of deep personal interest.

I've mentioned before that my studies have recently delved into mnemonics - the study of memory techniques used in the West throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages, as well as by non-literate societies. This latter group is especially incredible, as their use of mnemonic techniques showcases vast knowledge capacities stretching back thousands of years.

Imagine that: thousands of years of knowledge recorded through non-literate means. I discovered the work of one of the few researchers working on this today, Dr. Lynne Kelly, and I immediately saw the connections between her work and my interest in so-called "Personal Knowledge Management (PKM)." PKM is a loose range of tools, techniques, and theories aimed at making it possible for an individual to live a better and more efficient life. To get more out of life, if you will.

The techniques of PKM draw heavily on mnemonic studies at various points, but I instantly knew that we have barely scratched the surface of how we can organize and share the knowledge of our lives.

This research, which began as a hobby project back in 2019 when I encountered the Zettelkasten method, has turned into a major aspect of my professional identity. Aside from my growing collection of videos on the subject, I also have academic papers on the topic that are currently being prepared for submission to peer-review publications.

This may seem like somewhat esoteric stuff — but I believe that everyone should know how to organize their knowledge. I believe that the key to a good life is the ability to discern good knowledge from bad, and to store, organize, and retrieve that knowledge in such a way that your understanding of the world grows and evolves. I want everyone to learn how powerful these techniques are, how good for brain resilience they are, and how powerful they can be at defending the precious hours of your life from the monotony of an increasingly corporatized world.

Shifting attention

My library science work and academic interest with PKM has been backlit by my time serving the public as a Library Specialist over the course of the last year. I have always felt that some degree of public service was in my blood, and that desire has only grown.

My strongest guiding principle is self-betterment. That is: the desire to continually improve myself, to overcome obstacles, and to learn how to help others do the same. Public service inside a bureaucracy like ours can easily take on some negative tones but, at its core, it's about making life better within our community. And that's the most noble goal we can have, considering that we all rely upon our communities, both local and global, for sanctuary and care.

I don't know where my studies and passions will take me, but I do know that whatever comes next needs to have meaning. Whatever I'm doing has to be something that makes the world a better place to live in for everyone. That excites me, even despite the anxiety of not knowing where it will lead.

Projects of the moment

Work on my novel continues apace, greatly enhanced by the support of my amazing Stonecoast alumni workshop peers. The MFA itself was a wonderful experience, but the friends I made along the way are easily the most important aspect of my time there. Thanks to them, my characters have more life, my plots more tension, and I can see the day when this novel will finally emerge into the light... of an agent's desk. That's a little ways off still, I've got a lot on my plate, after all, but it's something I'm extremely excited by and hopeful for.

My other project is a nerdy one, a hobby that I love to fiddle at to take my mind off major world events, or simply after a long shift at work. That is: Table Top Roleplaying Game (TTRPG) design! I've been having a frankly ridiculous amount of fun trying to figure out how to build a system that feels like the sort of game that I would like to play. Why? Because it's a blast!

There are countless TTRPGs out there, from the very-nearly eponymous Dungeons & Dragons, to FATE, to any number of other awesome games. I'd love to try many of those out. But I've also always been a designer at heart. The system that I'm working on is one I'm building to be the sort of game that I have always wanted to play. Like many forms of art, this is an indulgent process - I'm indulging my own sensibilities, my own likes and dislikes, without worrying overmuch about how easily my system could sell.

Frankly, I think the world would be a better place if we all had a lot more time to indulge in our passion projects. Life is, after all, an artistic process in and of itself. The works that we create through that process, built from what we love and admire, are the works that make us human.

Thanks for reading Halvorson Times! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

The World Cometh

Twenty-twenty-four is an interesting year. Life will continue after it for a time, no matter what happens. The world will spin. The starlight of eons past will continue to radiate through the galaxy: what has long since vanished from the universe continues to shine on. The galactic perspective is important because it gives us a place to pause and breathe when the intimacy of fear, stress, and anxiety become too much to bear.

Covid-19, Donald Trump's disastrous presidency, the war in Ukraine, the horrible terrorism against Israel and the unconscionable destruction wrought upon Gaza... the laundry list is long. And that only scratches the surface of the news. Azerbaijan and Armenia's old conflict is heating up once more, environmental crisis exercise their inexorable march against all boarders, and Donald Trump is once more only a handful of percentage points from the highest hierarchy in our country.

It's a lot to hold, and I find it easy to forgive those who can't let it all in. And yet, this is our world. We are the ones living in it, holding it, making it ready for our inheritors yet to be born. There is responsibility in the simple matter of being alive... and there is great joy to be had from creating a brighter future out of a darkness that seemed imminent.

If there is anything I would hope for from the year ahead, it is for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to remember that change starts here at a level. That you do have the power to alter the fate of the world. Your free will is built of a succession of decisions: the decision of a single moment is all it takes to change a life.

Thank you for reading Halvorson Times. This post is public so feel free to share it.


Perhaps my Easter sermonizing can now segue to some interesting discoveries from the last couple of weeks. Firstly, to lighten the mood, here is Super Bernie World, a video game that features Bernie Sanders in a Mario-style classic 8-bit action game. It really doesn't get any better than this for fun.

Of personal interest to me is this article detailing how new genetic explorations have located a possible genetic culprit for psoriasis. As a sufferer of this extremely frustrating autoimmune condition, this news is very welcome. While new treatments from this discovery are likely to be many years out, I have hope of one day having its specter removed from my world.

Rolling Stone had a great piece about the sufferers of Long Covid. Blatantly misleading and foolish choices by the CDC and other government organizations caused the deaths of thousands during the pandemic and continue to alter the course of life for tens of thousands more.

Which is perhaps a good place to segue into this critique on "Effective Altruism" particularly in light of Sam Bankman-Fried's criminal activities. It discusses the allure and pitfalls of EA's so-called rationalist approach to philanthropy, highlighting instances where the movement's utilitarian calculus neglects both broader ethical considerations and rather obvious scientific concerns.

And finally, I enjoyed this travelogue piece about searching for pizza bread in Japan to be wholesome and poignant. If you'd like to settle back for a little while and walk with someone through the fascinating complexities of another culture, and see some mouth-watering pictures of pizza bread, this is the article for you.

Alright folks, that is it for this week. Thank you so much for reading. As always, I'm very excited to hear about your lives and read your comments. What have you discovered recently? What are your thoughts on how we can best come together to change the world for the better? Let's explore.

And, until next time... go easy. Or, if you can't go easy... just go as easy as you can.


Subscribe for my regular newsletter. No spam, just the big updates.