Sep 18, 2022

Climate and Schedule

A couple little notes so I don’t owe Max C $5 this week. Gotta feed the blog machine.


I’m spending more time on Wikipedia recently because I’m learning more country names, locations, capitals, and flags. (Why? Because I started playing Geoguessr and this seemed like prerequisite knowledge that would also be fun life knowledge to have.)01

Anyway, so I’m on Wikipedia more looking up places, and they always have some kind of climate description that I’ve never really understood.

E.g. (emphasis mine),

“Albania experiences predominantly a mediterranean and continental climate, with four distinct seasons.” (Wiki)

“Bosnia, which is the inland region of the country, has a moderate continental climate with hot summers and cold, snowy winters.” (Wiki)


You know when you read the same kind of thing many times, but it never occurs to you that it’s like, a thing? This is maybe hard to describe. I’m trying to say that, probably dozens or hundreds of times in my life, I’ve read various climate-describing phrases, but it had never occurred to me that there were scientific definitions of them. I guess I always just assumed it was kind of whatever it felt like to somebody.

I looked it up and yep someone has codified it: the Köppen climate classification system is widely used and also has been somewhat extended and refined.

World map of climates using a "refined" Köppen climate classification. CC BY 4.0, source: Wikipedia

Now here is the cool part.

“As Köppen designed the system based on his experience as a botanist, his main climate groups are based on what types of vegetation grow in a given climate classification region. In addition to identifying climates, the system can be used to analyze ecosystem conditions and identify the main types of vegetation within climates. Due to its link with the plant life of a given region, the system is useful in predicting future changes in plant life within that region.” (Wiki)

I read this and thought, huh, OK, botanist defining climate, I guess that’s cool.

Then, couple days later, we’re on a bus blasting out of Jerusalem and into the West Bank so we can go rub dead sea mud on ourselves in triple-digit heat. The tour has replaced their humans with apps, so I’m diligently reading the app’s section on the desert right outside Jerusalem.

Paraphrasing, the app goes: “This is a desert, because it receives less than 200mm of rain per year.” (Sorry if I got the numbers wrong, just roll with it.) “Why is it 200mm and not 150mm or 250mm? Because > 200mm is the amount of rain you need to grow wheat. If you can’t grow wheat, you can’t farm, and so you can’t stay in one place, and so you can’t establish civilization. That’s why people who live in the desert are nomadic.”

Suddenly, the fact that ol’ Köppen was a botanist seemed like a miracle of scientific history. How absolutely brilliant to define climate by plants, because plants dictate human behavior (and other animals). So, if you can model temperature & moisture changes, you can then predict which plants will be able to grow there. From that, you know which creatures will eat them, and whether humans can grow them, and you can build our your ecosystem predictions from there.

Anyway, botanist making climate definitions. Cool as shit.


I’m trying a morning schedule for this week.

I realized that my default of “having no schedule” doesn’t work that well for me. I’m always happier if I’m up consistently and making progress in a structured way, but my natural inclination—if I don’t have any obligations—is to be in “weekend mode” and kind of wake up whenever and work in some kind of haphazard order.

To be honest, I’m not like “just realizing this” now. I’ve realized it many times but often fall off any kind of schedule I make. Often let perfect be the enemy of the good. Waaaaay over-plan. One thing I think I am accepting through sheer brute repetition is that simple and doing it is better than perfect.

One other thing I’ve decided is that, if you’re late, sticking to the schedule is better than trying to keep the time durations the same. So if you’re 5 min late for A, don’t do A for five minutes longer, but move onto B right on time. I don’t know why this is true, but having tried both a lot, it’s more fun this way.

The other resistance I have is imposing a schedule on myself when I don’t need to have one. Since I was in grad school so long, and am now funemployed, I’ve had a long time where there’s no strict schedule. And I always think: for everyone who has a strict working schedule, wouldn’t they think I was nuts to make one up for myself when I don’t have to have one? Like, shouldn’t I just enjoy this open time rather than invent constraints for myself?

Today I was able to put into words a bit better why I think this might not be the case. Freedom doesn’t meant never having a schedule—sleeping in every day, lounging, not getting anything done. It can look like that, but it can equally look different. Freedom means getting to choose your own schedule. If you sleep in, lounge, and laze not by conscious choice, but by unconscious habit, that’s not true freedom. That’s just a normal corporate workweek dictating your schedule, and you’re permanently on weekend mode.

Anyway, who knows. But it felt good. Trying this for 6 days, rest and plan on the 7th.


  1. Omitted here: several interesting finds, like: 1. an amazing Anki (flash card) deck for memorizing all that geography trivia; 2. that you can download an entire offline Wikipedia for your phone, which I have proudly done; 3. the realization that I guess my brain does like being fed new stuff—hadn’t realized this was true, maybe because that was normally happening in working days past? ↩︎