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Applied to be poll worker

Just applied to be a poll worker in the upcoming US election. It involves setting up your assigned polling place, opening for voters by 7am on voting day, checking in voters using precinct rosters and issuing ballots, closing the polls, and transferring custody of voting materials. The day usually lasts from 6am to 10pm and involves training in advance.

I figured they may have fewer poll workers than normal with the pandemic. My schedule is plenty flexible and I’m not considered at high risk for COVID, so I ought to help out. If you’re interested in assisting in your city, search “become a poll worker in <your city>” online to find the relevant information.

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“All of time / Is right here / Is right now” 🌈

Current listening: “Mystic Familiar” by Dan Deacon

I listen to music while working but usually it’s something like Max Richter or Jon Hopkins, something without lyrics. I just can’t do lyrics and work on logic or systems, my brain gets mixed up.

This album is different, no problem working to it. And it’s so damn joyous, it’s the electro-pop mantra I need right now. See also the video for the first song from the album, “Become a Mountain”. And if you use Spotify, try setting up a Dan Deacon artist radio. Highly recommend it.

“Mystic Familiar” was released at the very end of January 2020, so at least one beautiful thing resulted from this unfathomably dark year. And my cousin getting engaged, and our dear friends telling us they’re having a baby. Continue connecting the dots between the good, feel lighter already.

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First swim in the Pacific in… 10? 15 years?

A distant woman standing in the surf at Baker Beach

My first swim in the Pacific in probably 10–15 years, photo by Sam.

On the Fourth of July, we walked 10 miles from the Sutro Heights Stairs on Balboa Street through Land’s End, past the enormous houses near China Beach, paused at Baker Beach, dipped down to Marshall’s Beach, walked under the Golden Gate, along Crissy Field and through the park at Fort Mason, then took a rest at the Maritime Museum ampitheater before heading back.

I thought I did so well with sunscreen but oh my, the backs of my knees…

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“You are a nesting doll. All the people you have been before are still inside you.”

You are a nesting doll. All the people you have been before are still inside you. Some yelling, still needing to be understood about the big shit that happened to them.

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The Quaker clearness committee is a small group of people you take a personal issue to. They are prohibited from offering “fixes” or advice. For 3 hours they pose honest, open questions to help you discover you truth.

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Mimetic theory is a concept developed and advocated for by René Girard, 20th-century French anthropologist. Mimetic theory’s key insight is that human desire is not an autonomous process, but a collective one. We want things because other people want them.

As more and more people want something and that object remains scarce, there is a conflict.

This began as a natural phenomenon: animals and humans learn by imitating other members of their groups, but neither humans nor animals are able to differentiate between good, non-acquisitive mimesis (learning skills from others in your group) from bad, acquisitive mimesis (desiring scarce objects – money, fame, power, someone else’s mate, etc.)

Girard believed that historically human societies managed mimetic conflict through the scapegoat mechanism. If the conflict over a scarce object became too intense, the community subconsciously choose a scapegoat which was sacrificed (literally or metaphorically).

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I don’t believe believe the world is made of quarks or electromagnetic waves, or stars, or planets, or any of these things. I believe the world is made of language.

Terence McKenna

From a particularly good Kleroteria I received today. The writer decided not to include any personal identifiers so I’ll leave it unattributed.

More on mimetic theory here.

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Finding the rhythm

I’ve finally fallen in to a decent daily rhythm, it’s taken a while post-move.

My ideal routine seems to involve being at my desk around 8:30am, then calls and correspondence with UK+EU clients and collaborators until 10 or 11.30am (depends on the day). A bit of toast or something, then try to get my head down on a particular dev task for 1–2 hrs before lunch. Not a lot of time to finish any one thing, but can usually at least progress with something. This is a good window for writing, actually! After lunch, a bit more correspondence with folks in North America and then try to get my head down again until the end of the day. That’s usually when I get the most tricky stuff done.

Of course not every day looks like that, but I think that’s what I need to aim for. When it’s thrown off, particularly when I have to interrupt the head-down time for some reason, I tend to feel like I haven’t accomplished anything in the day. Which is garbage, b/c of course I have got some stuff done. Still, it’s not a nice feeling.

Also I was doing so well with exercise before we moved, now have fallen of the horse. Need to work that back in somewhere.

I also need to be careful about not working too long of hours… It seems easy to slip in to overworking during lockdown since there’s SO LITTLE TO DO. But inevitably I start to feel burnt out after a few days of carelessness, even if the overworking is on projects I’m super thrilled about. Just need to keep tabs on it.

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You are your environment

SF has felt like a tech monoculture for the past 10 years. It’s one of the big reasons we were originally planning to be in / around NYC instead.

I’m sure there’s more to it, but it’s kinda hard to find in the current situation, especially in our neighborhood. The worst thing is the possibility of slipping in to it personally, becoming one-dimensional.

Been on my mind since a lot of the indoor things I usually love doing (reading and cooking are two of the biggies) aren’t ticking the boxes at the moment. It might not be the city, it’s probably more related to the move or the pandemic. Maybe I need to check out Oakland? I guess time will tell, I’ll try harder in the meantime. You are your environment.

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“But really, Reiner thinks the secret to a long life is ‘having something to do in the morning’, and these two men are proof of this maxim.”

But really, Reiner thinks the secret to a long life is “having something to do in the morning”, and these two men are proof of this maxim.

I just saw the news that Carl Reiner passed away, and someone linked to Hadley Freeman’s interview with him and lifelong friend Mel Brooks in the Guardian earlier this year. What a portrait of friendship.