A stylised green cartoon hill

Hill Times, Vim and Delayed Gratificication

31 January 2023

There's a hill near my house, about ten minutes walk away. A steep windy road goes up for five more minutes of (hot) walking, then a gate takes you out of suburbia and into the bush. From there on it's a steep firebreak. The soil is a light brown clay.

It gets slippery on rainy days, and it's broken and uneven. Going up the hill you have to duck through mānuka in some sections or tip-toe around mud. Eventually you make it to the top and you can look out over Lower Hutt, Wainutomata, Wellington harbour.

On a clear day you can look out into the distance and even see the Kaikoura ranges to the South. The hill is about 250m high according to the topological map.

I ran up that hill 48 times in 2022. I timed myself each time. Here are the times on the different days:

Time (minutes) Date
21.08 14/1/22
19.42 17/1/22
19:26 19/1/22
19:51 26/1/22
19:38 3/2/22
19:18 15/2/22
20:00 3/3/22
19:05 7/3/22
18:41 22/3/22
18:08 28/3/22
19.31 10/4/22
18:20 13/4/22
19.29 25/4/22
19:54 28/4/22
18:39 1/5/22
18:17 3/5/22
19:49 22/5/22
19:24 23/5/22
19:06 28/5/22
18:10 29/5/22
20:46 8/6/22
20:52 3/7/22
23:01 28/7/22
20:43 31/7/22
21:45 7/8/22
21:00 22/8/22
21:07 23/8/22
20:17 25/8/22
20:28 28/8/22
21:42 30/8/22
20:10 31/8/22
20:23 2/9/22
21:53 19/9/22
19:20 21/9/22
20:21 25/9/22
21:00 28/9/22
19:46 2/10/22
18:38 3/10/22
18:34 10/10/22
26:46 15/10/22
17:57 16/10/22
19:09 22/10/22
18:58 30/10/22
18:02 1/11/22
17:38 8/11/22
22:11 11/12/22
21:25 12/12/22
19:57 15/12/22
19:46 23/12/22

This is the way I get myself to do excercise. The timing means I have something to work towards - making that number go down. I also love get to see the views, and how things change as the weather and seasons change. And so many different times of the day (I'm very inconsistent with what time I run). It's also good time for listening to podcasts - although I probably don't pick up much information, wheezing away as I try to ascend up the clay.

The main reason I do this is for my mental health. It helps a lot with that.

Unfortunately, I can't lie and tell you there isn't a part of me that says I'm running up that hill to look good. But I avoid thinking about it like that. I don't want to hate my body or have a negative relationship with excercise or food.

Regardless, I'm proud of making it up the hill that many times in 2022. I'm looking at my calendar now and I haven't made it up once this year and January's almost already over. It might be time to get started again.

Running uphill is agony, but afterwards I only feel the endorphins. And when I'm 68 I'll feel that much better from the excercise I'm doing today. It reminds me of another piece of delayed gratification I'm dealing with:

Vim #

Vim is a text editor. But not a normal one by any means. Notepad is to vim as a spade is to the Kola Superdeep Borehole drill. It's a difficult tool to drive, but it holds a seismic power. Yes there's jokes about quitting (:qw to quit and save, :q! to quit and throwaway your work). Yes there's a stereotype that this is the tool of the neckbeards and sysadmins.

But I really want to look after my hands as I code. Someone who's good at vim has the most terse way of getting letters into the computer. They most certainly don't need to bother with their mouse like us peasants. Letter keys are used for different commands and naturally live where your hands fall on the keyboard. Using short commands to update repetitive changes makes a lot of sense.

You can hear a great podcast on why people like vim on the changelog. A good place to start learning vim is with vimtutor. It's where I started and takes you through the basics of how vim works. Then I tried to start using vim consistently and googling things that I needed to learn.

The problem with the gratification of vim is that like running up a hill, the gratification is delayed. Some things chafe, especially when you're looking for your file explorer to the left of your screen, and when you're used to windows and you control+v to paste (WRONG!). And the vimscript syntax has so many hidden secrets. I still seem to need stack overflow for every one!

Finally (and I know this is my fault), by default vim is ugly. It has stark brutalist colours and terminal fonts. Listening to Caleb Porzio on syntax FM talking about how obsessed the laravel community are on code beauty and developer happiness reminds me that we deserve for things to look nice.

I guess the main thing is that I could configure all this and learn all that but it takes time and effort. At the moment it's a case of me still liking VSCode because it's what I know.

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