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.


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.


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.

New political email filter just dropped.

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.

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

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

Last haircut, December 18th.

New haircut, today. I can’t see the difference. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Today was mostly a bad day. But I did have 3009 day old mole at Pujol and it didn’t disappoint.

Last week’s letter

Good Morning Jason,

what room or project are you most proud of?

The office was my top priority (my partner had different ideas) as I spend 3-4 days a week working in there and I’m very proud of how that turned out. I built the desktop and matching shelves myself from scaffold boards because finding something in the exact size I wanted turned out to be fairly difficult. This was a project that took a few weekends of lots of sanding, glueing, and staining but the final results is something I’m very proud of. Here’s an in-progress shot and the final result in situ. I also did the faux wood-panelling in our bedroom which we’re both very pleased with.

The work I do is primarily focused on property reports for tenants (inventories, fire risk assessments, etc) so there isn’t much crossover with renovating the house but I what I did learn is that planning is key. We wish we had spent a few weeks planning what we wanted to achieve before jumping into the renovation. There were definitely things that made our life a bit more difficult because we did some work when we should have waited for another job to be finished first.

That sounds like an interesting job but it must be difficult to work with organisations like schools that can be slow and unwieldy to get new tech implemented. How long have you been doing that?

I saw you posted yesterday about being ill, hope you’re feeling a bit better today?

Speak soon,

Hi Robb,

Luckily, I am feeling better. Note to self, when you order a steak medium and it comes out just barely rare just send the damn thing back. The day of suffering that followed was not worth it.

I’ve done some more work in my office since this last photo, but this is a not-terribly-inaccurate representation of where things are. I also use the IKEA pegboard. I did not quite get as fancy on the desk itself– which is an IKEA Karlby 98" top that I had a friend cut to 80" and then added some really cool metal legs from an Etsy shop. When the pandemic hit we went 100% remote, which meant tha this room got transformed into an office. I probably have 6-10 scattered blog posts about the process that landed on the setup linked above– most of the changes by now are additional plants and things hung on the wall (plus some equipment changes).

I think it’s pretty natural for the office to be the place you’re most proud of– it’s one you get to call your own and the spot you’re probably stuck spending the most time in.

We’ve been thinking about doing a similar paneling look either behind our bed or possibly behind our TV. Maybe that’ll be a project for when we return home. It’s hard to have a big wall behind a TV– it looks bare without anything, but most things we could put there would be distracting.

A living room with a TV on a walnut stand with gray doors and two black floor standing speakers.

I’ve been working at my current company nearly 9 years. Before that, I worked at a university research center working with school districts on early warning systems, and before that, I worked for the state department of education. I think what’s most challenging is that everyone is well-established. There aren’t new school districts popping up building their systems and processes from scratch. The people, organizations, culture, and work processes are all fairly fixed. So we have to do things much more completely and better than most companies to even get in the door. Then we have to get a large set of folks on board so that we can deliver on our promise. We’re a small team and we’re supporting billions of dollars of budgeting and monitoring. There’s a lot of technical/systems and cultural debt that we have to work with to succeed.

That said, the opportunity for improvement is huge, and it’s very satisfying when someone gets it and we can make their work so much easier and more effective.

Looking forward to next week,


Sign of the times— the restaurant I’m in has TV screens up for the music it’s playing. The playlist is Top Songs for 2022, and Billboard, Spotify, and TikTok are the listed sources.

If I took a picture of every sign I loved in CDMX, I would never get to my destination walking. Here’s a few I stopped and snapped, but far from the “best” or only ones that I liked.

Bookshop in a park on a lake with crepes and coffee.

I did finally leave the house today. It felt nice. I’m back in bed recovering though.

Look, if your taco place doesn’t have an assortment of salsas and pickled veggies and chilis toreados to zhuzh them up, it’s not any good.

Three years ago today we ate this for dinner and it was great

We leave behind pieces of ourselves

like clay shavings

in the places that shape us.

The only sticker I’ve ever put on my laptop.

Today I felt almost normal. Pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve closed all three rings since surgery.

Old Preferences: Software Updates list the software and release notes. New Settings: Click More Info. Click on the only update listed to highlight it. THEN you get release notes.

This sucks.

Eight years ago today, 6 months into my Allovue journey, I came down to Baltimore for a party in our small office above a bar. The party started at 6, and Ted and I still hovered over a laptop at 6:15pm. We excitedly called Jess over to show her– we just fully loaded our first set of general ledger accounts and transactions into Balance. It was, I hope, her favorite birthday present that year.

I’d be lying if I said that I knew that day was a key milestone in a life-defining adventure and partnership. It just seemed like a cool problem we solved.