The In-Between Moments

I needed something to do while waiting for my coffee to finish brewing. A fresh pot makes a good dividing line between tasks.

I chose to weed my reading list of saved articles. There was plenty I saved months and years ago that I never came back to.

I saw a block of articles I saved for a story or script idea I never took past the idea stage. They seemed oddly relevant to a completely different story I’m working on right now—one I was just about to start working on as soon as my coffee was ready.

I’m glad I took the moment to tidy up my digital life instead of searching and scrolling. I’m also glad I have a system, even an imperfect one, for keeping track of things that spark ideas.

Those moments between to-dos have the potential to be a rest stop, a detour, or an on-ramp.

It feels like a lot of the writing and writing-based work I do lately is all about collecting shiny things, trusting I can forget them for a while, and then pulling them back out when needed.

How I Remapped the Insert (INS) Key on my Keychron K14

I spent some time Googling how to do this, but didn’t find any direct answers for exactly what I was looking to do. Once I figured it out, I figured I might not be the only one looking for help.

The Keychron K14 is my current favorite keyboard. I love almost everything about it, except for one thing: The INS key. The Insert Key is useless to me, but it takes up space instead of something like the Screen Shot key on my K2.

I decided to change that.

I downloaded Karabiner-Elements, a free Mac toolbar app that lets you swap key mapping.

Things got a little more complicated when I wanted to change the mapping of the Insert Key to a keyboard shortcut like the key combination that triggers “Save picture of selected area as a file.” The time to figure out how to work with the Complex Modifications tab seemed like it would be more trouble than the effort was worth.

Then I got the idea to start by switching it to an unused key that doesn’t exist on this keyboard. Turns out that the Numeric Keypad Asterisk and the Asterisk you get from Shift+8 are treated as separate things.

Next I went into System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts and selected the Screenshots set.

Using my newly remapped key, I changed the shortcuts for the two Screenshot actions I wanted to use with it.

That’s the numeric keypad asterisk. Accept no substitutes.

After all that was done and tested, I swapped out the keycap on the board itself, and that’s the end of that!

Morning Coffee

I pick the mug up by the body. The radiant heat scalds my fingers and palm.

Gently, to avoid spilling, I set it down.

I pick it back up by the handle and take a sip.

The coffee feels comforting, helping me shake off the memory of blankets and the desire to crawl back under them.

It lost little, if any, heat between those moments.

I slow down to receive the gift in the proper way and show my gratitude.

Intentionally Slowing Down Text Messaging

Messages routinely get forgotten and go unanswered. The missing “Mark Unread” button has no doubt caused countless accidental ghostings, avoidable arguments, and missed opportunities. And its lack has likely made life more difficult for users with conditions that affect memory or follow-through, like ADHD and depression, who may not be able to respond in the moment and have no easy way to record their intention to do so.

Matthew Bischoff, “The Case for ‘Mark as Unread’ in Messages”

I know I’ve let text messages slip through the cracks because I didn’t feel able to commit the bandwidth to a response in the moment I received the initial message. This isn’t as much of a problem with other communication apps because there are ways to flag items to respond to later.

One thing Mark as Read can’t fix: What happens when I’m ready to respond, but it’s the wrong time for the other person?

Slack has that problem figured out. I can save a message and have it delivered at a later time. It’s a solution that fits with Slack as a work tool, but the Deliver Later option could be helpful for lots of communication apps.

Imagine you could save a draft text message to be delivered to someone later. At the time you set, you could get a quick prompt showing you your message and asking “Is now the right time?”

Apple does have options with Focus modes where you can block delivery of message notifications, or batch your notifications to be delivered at a later time, but these are based on a system where you have to play defense. People aren’t given the option to be more considerate senders.

Take it a step further: Send When They Have Time as an option.

A person toggles an option that creates a window/windows when they can receive text messages that might require action or a more thoughtful response.

The person sending it is given the option to let the app coordinate with the other person’s settings to determine when this notification shows up.

It could be messy — creating a scenario where a person gets deluged with messages during their best time to respond.

But it would be nice if there were more options like it that allowed for both sender and recipient to acknowledge that while our devices can consistently process instant communication, we’re made of chemicals, meat, and feelings.

I keep a clock in my office near the coffee maker.

A picture of an analog alarm clock next to a coffee maker, a Buddha, and a sign from Target that says "Coffee Before Talkie."

It ticks away the seconds.

It could sound like a bomb, nearing detonation.

Or a roller coaster, pulling its passengers up toward a drop.

Or it could be a small voice whispering “Now.”

Over and over.

A reminder that every moment passes, giving way to something else.

Whether I believe it or not, I’m always moving forward.

Each new beginning isn’t even a moment away.

I’m already there.

Nownownownownownownownownownownownownownownownownownownownow