This machine just zips through creating keys.
My grandmother sometimes wrote daily travelogues when on vacation. This morning, my mother scanned and sent one from a trip to Israel in December of 2000 when my Uncle Erwin passed away and his estate needed to be taken care of.
I teared up when she wrote,
For me, it was very difficult to say “shalom’ to my cousins Ahuda and Arelka - Inwardly, I feared never seeing them again, especially Ahuda - who has not been well for a very long time.
In June 2008 my sister, my grandmother, and I went to Balfouria together, and she was able to see her cousins again. It was the last major trip my grandmother took anywhere. I’m glad it was to see her family in her once home.
America— where your prize for caring about something enough to dedicate time and effort into becoming an expert means you’ll be mistrusted and therefore struggle to have an impact.
New political email filter just dropped.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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,