Cheese Trees

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Wisdom Walks

A reflection on past wisdom, present discernment, and future value.
And a little bit of ‘old man yells at cloud’

The other day I was out walking with my brother. It was a bright bluebird morning in his Denver suburb, and as we wandered in no particular direction about the quiet, frosted streets, so too our conversation meandered. We talked about friends and family (mostly good), the housing market (mostly bad), current events (decidedly bad), faith (good), technology (unclear), and all manner of other rabbit holes and side-tracks as one might expect between two caffeinated chatterboxes.

Over the years, a recurring theme in our conversations has been excellence of one form or another. That is, whatever we’re talking about, we tend to scratch and dig and try to identify the qualities that are worthy of aspiration in that particular area.

We both work in tech, so some of the exemplars...

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Remembering Remembered

I wrote this immediately following a long run with my housemate. One part John L. Parker Jr. and one part cringey high school poetry, this piece was a fun attempt at capturing a moment of deep reminiscence.

Two figures glided along a beach-side path. Except for some scattered palm fronds loosed by the afternoon’s strong winds, the usually busy promenade was unusually and refreshingly empty, likely from the unusually and refreshingly wet weather. The pair did not speak. All that could be heard was quiet huffing and the rhythm of foot falls on puddled pavement–splashes now in sync, now staggered.

Despite the cold they wore very little, judging by the occasional bundled-up walkers they ran past. Each had on a long sleeve shirt, while a pair of running shorts suggested a covering over their lower halves, exposing legs that had been hardened by thousands of hours and many more thousands...

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Dim Sum

What follows is a series of unrelated rants, none of which would make a good stand-alone post. These consist of one part fizzled journal entries and one part half-baked hot takes. The reader is advised not to take this small sampling of consciousness too seriously

Others People’s Writing

I used to think that very few people should publish their writing online. I thought the act of posting online akin to something like littering– filling up servers across the world with cruft.1

I’ve since softened on this a bit.

To be sure, the internet replete with fluff, and much of this is written in a tone that undeservedly presumes authority or worth.2 But unless it’s the 2000th article on Keto diet plans or how to code a Ruby on Rails blog, I’ve actually become tentatively supportive of this enterprise of public journaling. If you like to hash out your ideas on ‘paper’, and you think a...

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On Emotional Skepticism

A rambling scrawled one morning when I felt a bit blue.
I eventually edited it to be marginally less melodramatic.

Forks clinked against plates while morning conversation was paused or muffled by mouths of eggs. Outside the pit-patter-plang of long awaited rain echoed the kitchen’s chatter and the birch and hydrangea leaves danced in celebration of their quenching. A ribbon of fresh air wound itself through an open window, buffering a lingering onion-and-cheese-scramble-burnt-on-castiron smell that had invaded the living room.

Where once it had been smokey (not uncommon in the tinderbox of Southern California), this morning the air was filled with moss, wet concrete, and a breeze off the ocean that was notably absent of tar. Winter–or as close to winter as we get here in Santa Barbara–was settling in. I breathed the cool earthy freshness and sighed before draining what remained...

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Something. Anything.

It’s been far too long since I’ve written anything for this little experiment and that’s a problem. At various times in my life I’ve fancied myself a maker, or on my way to being one. A musician, a writer, a coder…

And yet I’ve done very little of any of that lately, certainly not in any meaningful sense.

My country, my local community, and my workplace is shaken by current events. The ensuing response on social media has been deranging, and it has also been paralyzing. Many of the loudest voices are saying things I think are wrong, or at least counterproductive to their goals–many with which I sympathize. But any attempt to engage is already to lose. It’s like trying to end a bar fight by smashing a bottle loudly on the table.

And yet like a slow-motion car crash, the fires on Twitter are morbidly enrapturing; I can’t look away from it. The self-assured “wtf are you talking...

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“You have to try this!”

She passed me a tumbler, a third full with brown foggy liquid. A dry film of spices flecked the sides, indicating that she had very slowly drained some of the original pour, but email had captured her attention more than the drink to be sure. Her thin black laptop still glowed behind her.

“It’s a cardamom spice coffee with Brazilian chocolate.”

My attention had been on her. Her face. She was striking, but her features were welcoming. “Accessible” as some might say, but definitely more refined than the word suggests. Her teeth flashed white against milk chocolate skin, and her eyes were keen. It was her smile, though, that caught me. It was effortless and beautiful.

Not in the way that some smiles are. Some smiles are more like an Olympic ice-skater’s triple-axel: effortless only in appearance. Behind them is much rehearsal and even more self-awareness. On...

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Faux Interview

Content Warning: Self-indulgent

I’m having trouble getting around to writing new material. Lately I’ve been spending my time immersed mostly in programming and job applications¹, and after so many months of relatively uninterrupted left-braining, I’m gun-shy when it comes to prose. More recently I’ve had a few fleeting moments of creative inspiration, but the thoughts are quickly jumbled or cramped. Meanwhile, a folder on my desktop has slowly been filling with fragments and false-starts…

I decided responding to prompts would be a good way to get my thoughts going and break out of the rut. The idea crystallized while listening to a podcast I’ve gotten really into lately, the Tim Ferriss Show.² I’ve listened through enough episodes at this point where I think I know his voice and rhythms fairly well, and I’ve basically memorized his usual “rapid-fire” questions asked at the end of...

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Written on a subway ride while working on coding practice problems. A song came on and I grew distracted and suddenly pensive. The following few lines were the result.

For Emma, Forever Ago: Times frozen in sound. The album is like a childhood desk drawer, opened occasionally to look on old tokens and reflect.

Re: Stacks starts again and my mind drifts, floating through a haze of nostalgia and vague regrets where finally it alights upon time real and unreal. Memories of daily laughter. Of crude jokes and furtive glances. Of splits, scores, races, and recitals. Black cows and used cars, backyard jams and downtown jambas. Of wondering hopes and late-night hijinx. Of broken rules and clumsy romance. Of rolling green hills and dew fading as a crisp sunrise chases away the fog.

Cares were small then, and plans were broad and optimistic, like our smiles. The next four years...

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Perhaps the most significant change in my life over the past year or so has been joining a startup that has transitioned to operating as a fully distributed company. While we still maintain an HQ in Brooklyn, it’s all but vestigial at this point. As a result I’ve been working from home a lot. But this also means that I’ve been allowed to travel a great deal, since all I need to put in a day’s work is a wifi connection and a power outlet. In fact, I calculated that by this August I will have spent over 60% of the time since moving into my new apartment last November, not in Brooklyn.

Some of this travel has been for work (team off-sites to Mexico and San Diego–I’m definitely not complaining), while other trips have been for less-than-happy family reasons, including a funeral and several hospital visits.

But the bulk of my travel has been simply because I can. Summarized in brief:


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I haven’t written about music for over a year. (A sad parallel to my own musical [non-]involvement.) And though a regular practice schedule is still something I need to prioritize, I’m glad that at the very least, music listening is part of my day-to-day. I listen to music all the time: when I’m commuting (biking), when I’m working, running, cooking, or just hanging at home with friends and family.

But music is best when shared! So here’s a post listing some tracks that have stood out in the past year or so, along with some ramblings of varying lengths about each one. If you don’t enjoy said ramblings, you might at least enjoy the music!

(Format: Track, Artist)

Tumbleweed, Michael Brecker

This one first hit me on a run in college, and I think much of the significance for me is tied up with the fact that its tempo and energy arc fit so well in this context of running +...

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