February 6, 2023

Hey, it turns out that when I am more physically active during the day, and have a good sleep environment, I sleep better! Who knew!

February 5, 2023

New political email filter just dropped.

CDMX

We spent a little over two months in Mexico City this winter. Here’s what I learned:

Unsurprisingly, environment matters. Being far further south, sundown is much later in the winter than it is in Baltimore. Pretty much skipping that part of the year where I’m working until full dark even when I’m not working late was great. Sunlight really does impact my mood and happiness.

The weather is real hard to complain about– the coldest it got at night was in the mid 40s, and most days we were in the mid 70s by afternoon. It’s great to live somewhere where the difference between outside and inside blurs. This is helped by the total lack of nasty insects.

My lack of Spanish made my world smaller and a little more isolated. Over time my comfort improved, but being totally unable to engage in small talk or effectively overhear conversations was a real challenge for an extended stay.

Living somewhere that is completely walkable with a high density of restaurants and cafes and parks is an absolute joy. Mexico City is far more car oriented than most of my favorite cities, but density and great weather combine for magic if you’re in the right neighborhoods. I adored never once thinking I need a car, though inexpensive Ubers were a help for some kinds of travel that didn’t quite align with public transit.

Letters

We’re into month 2 of Letters, and I’m already pleased with this project. I want to work on a dedicated page to this project– that’s something I’ll try and get done in February or March I hope. I’m booked through September, so there are still three slots left if you want to participate.

A Break from Movement

I focused on my rebuilding my relationship with my body for a solid year, focusing on eating well and moving often. My appendectomy put stop to that in October. We got to Mexico essentially as I was fully cleared for physical activity again. Despite that, I decided not to work out or watch my food in Mexico. I needed more time for healing. I had knee, wrist, and finger pain (really) from playing so much volleyball with little break. After my surgery, a lot of my body was recovering, and I decided that it was time to give my whole body a little bit of time. Ideally, I would have been back at it in January, but it’s hard to restart routine, especially when you’re rebuilding it in a new place.

So I cut myself some slack, and I’ll get back to it when we return to Baltimore in mid-February. I’m looking forward to building back the muscles I’ve allowed to atrophy with some fresh energy. Any other time I’ve “fallen off the wagon”, it’s been hard to get back going again. For the first time, I have no concerns about my ability to rebuild my habits. I finally have achieved a lifestyle change that feels permanent and a part of my identity. I have no question of my success, and no concerns about the progress that was lost. I’ll start again, enjoy it again, and pay attention to when it’s too much.

Reading

January has historically been the month I read the most. This month I finished no books. In another sign of growth and changes, I don’t seem to find this concerning at all. I will read again soon, when it feels like the thing I want to do, for as much as I want to do it.

Sharing More

I never did rewrite my resume like I planned last year. I want to do more to write about things I know this year instead of things I feel. Part of working on my own self-image includes getting over the part of my that places my professional knowledge under the category as uninteresting because it’s unimpressive and not novel. Of course, that’s true of literally everything I write in public, yet it doesn’t stop me when it’s not about work.

No Theme

I haven’t gotten there this year. Maybe something will come to me soon, but I’m not forcing it. I think being away from home and far off routine has kept me in a kind of stasis that makes it hard for me to decide what I want this year to be all about. It’d be worse to push it than to not have something in mind. Maybe it will take facing my first clear choice to reveal what I’m focusing on.

February 4, 2023

I have no time to do this, but despite knowing Hugo really well and being super happy with Micro.blog, I’m getting a real itch to “finish” learning Elixir and actually learn Phoenix by rebuilding my whole website from scratch.

February 3, 2023

I haven’t seen sleep like this in two months. HVAC and sea level agree with me.

I have struggled to change my coffee habit into an at home thing. Sure, I’d save money. But there’s something about the stupid little walk, small talk, and brown noise while I sit and sip that settles me and helps me think.

February 2, 2023

I thought I woke up to pee but actually my 🧠 has ✨ ideas ✨.

The more I casually read about philosophy, the more I tend to just conclude, “Seems Rawls was right,” regardless of who I’m reading and what argument they’re advancing.

I don’t really understand why people think offshore wind farms are ugly.

We had another great Allovue Advisory Board meeting today. I love to sneak in things I’ve been working through for months, especially when it’s been a struggle to get to a refined, succinct explanation of an idea, and then watch it catch fire with experts I trust.

It’s also pretty great when we ask a single question and sit back and watch the Advisory Board just share and solve each other’s problems for an hour.

February 1, 2023

Letters is an interesting project because I enjoy it, it takes a fair amount of work, and it gets virtually 0 “engagement” that I can measure.

It’s always shocking to me how little social conservatives know about history. Many things that are seen as against tradition and nature are based on a vision of tradition and nature that is just decades old.

I couldn’t figure out how to make checklist items under a task/todo into their own task/todo in Things. So I took a screenshot, used iOS’s text recognition to copy the text, then ran a Shortcut that split clipboard on new lines and created a Things to do from each item.

January 31, 2023

This month I’ll be exchanging letters with Jeremy.

Dear Jason,

I was immediately interested when I saw your post about a letters project for 2023 and grateful that you accepted me when I volunteered. I also have some thoughts on your motivation for this project, which I will share after I briefly tell you a bit about myself.

Rachel and I are two months shy of being married for 25 years and we have a daughter who just turned 17. I’m a CPA working at a large nonprofit. I’m an unapologetic tree hugger who has started (with Rachel) a regenerative gardening project in my tiny backyard. I’ve blogged off and on since 2005 and I’ve recently started woodworking.

I resonated with your idea that public, online letters are an excellent way to discuss complex topics with more nuance. You said your favorite online world was that of personal blogs in conversation with each other. As I mentioned, I’ve been blogging since 2005 and that was definitely how it worked for me in those early days. In the circle of blogs I was part of, we were always either quoting-and-commenting on whatever we were reading or quoting-and-commenting on what others in our circle were saying. (So many blockquotes.) It truly was a form of public correspondence.

Correspondence should a series of responses (it’s right there in the word), not just two people sending each other a series of monologues. There is give and take to true correspondence—and a measure of risk. You opened up this project to volunteers with no assurance that you wouldn’t get a bunch of bores! I signed up for this project not really knowing you, hoping I wouldn’t come off as some weirdo.

Algorithmically driven reactions to “content” determined to be either popular or profitable are also not true correspondence. Algorithms, being engineered, do not open themselves to response in that more organic, human way. Slower correspondence invites more time to think and seems less prone to the argumentative style seen on social media.

And with that I’ll close this first letter and await your unpredictable human response!

Hi Jeremy,

Welcome to the project!

Let’s talk about the real world motivation behind this project. It’s not really just about capturing the old internet, it’s about capturing the kind of social life I want to have. I work remotely from home. I’ve done so for more than a decade, though there’s been a formal office for me to report to as desired on and off throughout that period. Before that, I was “online” more or less since the mid 90s. I still spent a lot of time on the phone, mostly talking to girls, in the early 2000s, but I was more or less permanently logged into AOL Instant Messenger since the availability of always-on cable internet around 2000/2001. Throughout college, I spent time on various online forums, on instant messenger, or communicating via email. Then, just as I graduated, the iPhone suddenly made being online something that wasn’t persistent just at home, but everywhere I went. Messaging became something I did on the computer to something I was doing constantly.

I am 35 now, and I would say that 80% of my social life has been through a screen, but in some kind of reverse Pareto principle, only 20% of the value has come from these virtual interactions.

The thing is, I think that socializing through screens has become worse over time, not better. When it was both less central, slower, and lower fidelity, I feel like I got so much more out of my online interactions.

When I thought about why it came down to a few factors.

  1. Most online socializing was additive, not subtractive. I spoke to people I would have never met or interacted with on topics I may not have otherwise engaged in. What was online started as new, but now has become a substitute for other ways I might interact with folks.
  2. Most online socializing was deeper than my in-person interactions. As a male teenager, it felt safer being vulnerable or exposed when conversations were mediated through a screen, often behind pseudonymity with other pseudonymous strangers. My identity could be more fluid, but also I could take risks about myself without feeling the same consequences. And in some ways, it was also critical that I could interact as a peer with adults.
  3. Most online conversations were centered around interests, with long ongoing conversations that fueled a culture and debates. Subcultures not only generate belonging, they generate a certain set of knowledge that felt valuable and powerful and helped to shape how I think about important things.

With Letters, I am mostly hoping for an opportunity for ongoing interactions, with a person and possibly around a topic, that develops a mini-culture over time. I want to capture the value of my real world friendships and interactions– vulnerability that comes not just from pseudonyms or the comfort of hiding behind a screen but from deeper understanding, a conversation that spans hours and not seconds, and a true dialog that has no lead, but instead partners pulling and pushing and forming where we go.

So in the interest of driving the conversation away from the meta and into some meat, let’s talk about your identity as a treehugger.

My mother long styled herself an environmentalist. This comes from a real belief in how a toxic environment can impact individual and public health, as well as a love of nature. I grew up in a family that valued planting trees and hated the idea of corporations polluting without consequences or remediation.

And yet, as I grew older, I began to recognize the many ways that my mother’s environmentalism felt inconsistent with what might actually help the environment. She is an avowed suburbanite, living somewhere that requires the use of a car for everyday living. She fought against additional, denser housing in favor of open space as a part of her environmentalism. She disdained apartment buildings in favor of single-family housing and perceives city living as polluted and disgusting, not at all updating her perceptions of New York City in the early 70s compared to today.

I’ve come to feel deeply disconnected from the traditional environmental movement that fights for local control on zoning and building, extensive environmental review processes, and preservation of open space in already developed areas. My environmentalism is strongly pro-urban, pro-public transit, pro-density, and pro-building (especially renewable energy projects with almost no limits). Whether we call that collection of policy preferences YIMBY or neoliberal or what, it’s generally not associated with the treehugger label.

Which comes to my questions and curiosities. What drew you to environmentalism? How have your beliefs changed (or not!) over time? And how do you feel about the current schism that seems to have developed between, say, the Sierra Club v. the Sunrise Movement v. YIMBYism? These days the importance of environmentalism feels incredibly salient (though I’m sure the horrific air and water pollution of the mid-20th century didn’t make things feel any less urgent then!), but the movement of people who are concerned with the environment and the natural world feels more fractured than ever.

How do we all become treehuggers?

Another marker for the end of coal– only one coal plant in all of the US “costs less to operate than it would take to replace the plant’s output by building new wind or solar plants in the same communities or regions.”

The moment I realized that wine from 2003 is 20 years old. 💀

January 30, 2023

There are times where being opinionated and focused on your vision is key for success. Sometimes holding out against a torrent of requests means that your vision doesn’t understand something important about your users.

Great product management is knowing the difference.

January 29, 2023

I’m headed back to AEFP this year after a couple of years away. I’d love to meet up with folks while there to talk about resource allocation, measures of equity, district and school based budgeting processes, procurement, data use, etc. Get in touch if you’re going to be around.

I think both the camera and battery life of the iPhone 14 Pro are worse than the 13 Pro.1


  1. It is possible these are iOS 16 complaints. ↩︎

As much as it pains my incredibly online self to admit, there are some people and some conversations that are 100x better in person.