A proud bundle of contradictions.

Posts

  • Productive Monkeys

    A monkey reaching for an apple

    What does it mean to be more productive? Over the last few years, as I’ve thought more about productivity and worked to become more productive, this is a question I keep coming back to. I can’t help but fall back on a running metaphor. Assuming that the “product” of running...
  • Run the Other Way

    A confusing-looking sign marking a trail

    I run the same route nearly every morning. The route is a loop, which means that I don’t have to double back and run the same path twice. I’ve been running this route for years. I know it like I know a lover’s body: the location of every curve and...
  • The Secret of Happiness

    A man fixing an old fan outside a shop in Hanoi in the evening

    “Of course I don’t have to do this,” one middle aged man said, carefully cleaning the table with a damp cloth. He put the cloth in a little pouch, sat down beside him. “But look, this table’s clean.” He agreed that the table was clean. “Usually,” the man said, “I...
  • Institutional Hypocrisy

    Pinocchio

    We live in a world where we are constantly lied to. Our leaders and our politicians lie to us (but at least we expect this). The companies we rely on, including our financial institutions, lie to us. Companies lie to their own employees (recent examples include Amazon, Facebook, Google, and...
  • Ideas, and Their Opposites

    Desert Symmetry

    “What do you stand for?” This is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves and those around us. It’s highly relevant to topics that are near and dear to me including business, blockchain, and governance. If a project or organization doesn’t clearly articulate its values and purpose,...
  • Cityside and Countryside

    A view over the mountains

    Over the past few decades, major cities have been engines of enormous growth and prosperity. Cities have brought together diverse groups of people from different places and different walks of life, forcing them to live side by side more or less peaceably and allowing them to learn from one another....
  • Why I Meditate

    Meditating on a zazen bench

    I was challenged a couple of months ago to write about meditation, and about why I meditate. I happily accepted the challenge, but I didn’t realize at the time what a difficult topic it would be to write about. For one thing, it’s more deeply personal than anything else I’ve...
  • Something to Believe In

    Some creative political art featuring SpongeBob

    I’m feeling pretty fed up with the state of the world, and the feeling has definitely become more intense recently. There are a number of reasons, but the most obvious one is politics. Politics feels totally broken in the United States and in disarray at the international level too. I’m...
  • A Few Things I've Learned About Racism

    Racism is a pandemic

    I’ve been almost totally ignorant about racism until very recently. Like so many White Americans of my generation, I grew up under the false pretense that, since my family and I were not ourselves racist—in the sense that we didn’t think less of people of color, nor did we engage...
  • A Positive Duty

    Protestors wearing masks and carrying signs

    I’ve recently been fascinated by two social, political topics that are highly relevant and controversial in America today. At first blush these topics don’t appear to have anything in common, but as I’ve thought more about society and about the connection between rights and duties, I’ve realized that in fact...
  • Infinite Jest

    A handheld video camera

    While I take notes on most of the books I read, I’ve never publicly written a book review before. But I was so moved by Infinite Jest that I feel compelled to try. For those who haven’t yet read the book, please note that this review doesn’t contain any spoilers—not...
  • What Can I Do?

    A man photographing street art in Manhattan

    One of the questions that keeps coming up in conversations with friends lately is, “What can I do?” When I’ve tried to answer that question, for myself and for others, I’ve felt stuck. I’m certain that I can and should do something, but it’s not obvious what or where to...
  • We Live in Interesting Times

    A building in downtown Minneapolis burns

    A few mornings ago, I had to call 911. I had just finished a run, and happened to witness a minor accident where a woman had fallen from a scooter (fortunately, she wasn’t badly injured). Everything happened more or less as it should: a small crowd of people gathered to...
  • There Is No They

    Old man looking at a display of cameras

    While talking to my father recently, I noticed something interesting about the way he speaks. He tends to use the word “they” a lot, in ways that sound strange and unnatural to me. He uses “they” in ways I never would. It’s such a common, unremarkable word, I had never...
  • My Father's People

    A few years ago I audited one of my father’s undergraduate psychology courses. He taught for many years at Hunter College, the flagship campus of the City University of New York, and just one or two years prior had finally, reluctantly, decided to retire, but continued to teach one course...
  • Declaring Digital Independence

    A small house with a big personality

    One day, about 15 years ago, I got off a flight in a city I don’t know well. I was going to visit a friend, and I was supposed to pick up a rental car, call my friend, and let them know that I was on my way. Something strange...
  • Scalpels and Sledgehammers

    A douchebag banker

    I opened my first bank account when I was ten years old. My dad told me, “Son, you’re almost all grown up, it’s about time you learn how to manage money,” took me to the local branch, and before I knew it I had a new toy: a passbook. I...
  • Modular writing and shaving yaks

    Close-up of a yak

    By training, I’m a computer scientist and a software developer. I tend to look at the world through the lens of software, systems, and processes. I look for structure and patterns, and for ways to optimize those processes. As one example, waiting in line to check out at a grocery...
  • Look on the bright side

    Sun shining through dark clouds

    In many parts of the world, including where I live, Covid19 has turned things upside-down. Thousands of people—soon to be tens of thousands—are dying every day from a disease that’s novel and still not very well understood. Families everywhere are losing loved ones. Healthcare workers, first responders, and also those...
  • Hello, world

    A cup of coffee

    I’ve tried starting a personal blog a number of times over the past few years. Each time, I was stymied by one of two thoughts. The first thought was, Why would anyone want to read what I have to write, anyway? Do I really have things worth writing and sharing...