• 2023

  • January Photoblog

  • 34

  • Yesterday, I turned 34.

    I grew a lot this year. Ticked a lot of boxes. I wrote a little bit about some positive things that happened in the past year. One of the benefits of having your birthday in January is it’s a nice little bookend. You can kick the year off and reflect in the same breath.

    I skipped a birthday post last year. Wasn’t feeling very positive about turning 33. This year around the sun, I’m feeling quite gracious and fortunate. It’s been a big year of growth for me personally and I feel like I have some more room to grow further still.

    Although, as I’ve begun to accept that I’m entering my middle-age, the idea of throwing a party becomes more and more distant. It’s really difficult to celebrate my birthday with friends strewn across multiple state lines, multiple boroughs and timezones 😢 I think when July rolls around, I’ll start planning something special for turning 35.

    To celebrate turning 34, I’m going to go see Mike Birbiglia’s, The Old Man and the Pool at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. With any luck, Mike will guide me into the warm embrace of the next stage of my life with his comedy show:

    Award-winning comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia takes the stage at the esteemed Vivian Beaumont Theater through January 15 only. His coming-of-middle-age story asks the big questions: Why are we here? What’s next? What happens when the items at the doctor’s office that you thought were decorative become functional?

  • Tough decisions

  • It’s hard to reconcile tough decisions.

    I often have to find a quiet place when I’m facing a tough or difficult challenge. It can be pretty difficult to find a quiet place here in NYC. Even my own apartment can be filled with noises from the street, sidewalk, traffic, neighbors and loud TVs.

    Luckily, I live nearby a park. I recommend going on a long walk or jog to clear your head. Though, not all are blessed with a quiet oasis in this loud urban jungle. Nowadays noise-cancelling headphones are abound. Couldn’t recommend them more. Even if you live in a quiet spot, I guarantee you’ll get some mileage out of a good pair of headphones in a coffee house or while traveling.

    Get to a quiet place. Breathe. Turn off notifications, and take your time. Don’t fret if you need to come back and repeat another day (or at a later hour). Dissect the issues and problems bit-by-bit. Challenging problems normally present themselves like an overgrown tree. Trim and tease out the simple problems first, then tackle the complex. I like to use a simple text editor like Visual Studio Code or iA Writer to compose little tables or lists.

  • 2022

  • 2022 in Review

  • Every subsequent year feels like it’s worse than the previous year. That’s not the reality of course. It just feels that way. Due to the connected nature of life now (thanks to Twitter and the Trinet). Each of us are saddled with an incalculable weight of the year’s past. We sulk around with so much in our little heads. The inane, the devastating, the memes, the news, the crosswords, the work, the emails, the to-dos, the payments, the notifications and yes — even your parents social status updates from Facebook.

    Naturally, we’re all very tired. I guess we live for this, right? We are after all, members of the human race. Despite what the madness every year brings us, we’re also graced with some good things too. When the years brings good tidings more so than bad tidings, I’d call it a good year.

    2022 was mostly a good year, I’d say.

    Let’s look over a few things from this past year. I even threw in a couple of things from 2021 I was dying to get caught up with.

    TV & Film

    There was a lot of content to watch this year. Ever since the pandemic became an endemic, I’ve found myself in theaters more than ever before. Alamo Drafthouse, I love you so ❤️ But the fact remains that streaming is now the de facto means to consume America’s greatest export, film and TV programming. Here’s some of my favorites from this past year (in no particular order or grouping).

    There’s so much more that belongs on this list 🥲


    There’s so much more I listened to, but I’m my favorite artist I discovered in 2022 is probably Sugar Candy Mountain. If you enjoy Tame Impala, you’re going to love them.


    Didn’t see much art this year. But, thankfully I had a friend who came to visit, and had a big list of exhibitions and galleries to see. We hopped around all day seeing art. I’ll need to see more art in 2023, that’s for sure.

    The Diane Arbus exhibition at David Zwirner was a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit.


    I played a lot of games this year. Or maybe I should say, I played a lot of Modern Warfare II this year. Activision/Blizzard really knocked it out of the park. But there were a few games that really outshined others.


    I have become a person who regularly relies on apps on my iPhone and Mac now. Wether or not I enjoy that admission is another thing.

    • TickTick – I don’t know where I’d be without this app
    • Duolingo – learning Korean, Finnish and Spanish!
    • Citymapper – old trusty, my daily carry for getting about NYC
    • Letterboxd – the original film diary
    • iA Writer – literally nothing compares


    Every year, my goal is to travel somewhere new. This year, I flew to Las Vegas twice. I traveled by Amtrak once in the summer. I hope to do more train trips in the future. It’s a luxurious and chill way to travel.

    • Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Saratoga Springs, New York
    • Great Sacandaga Lake, New York
    • Fort Worth, Texas


    I’m notoriously slow at reading. I have a Kindle that I swear by, but alas — like you, I am a mere mortal and only have so many hours in the day (and night). These books I really enjoyed (a few on this list, I have yet to finish, oops).

    Looking Ahead

    A lot happened in 2022. Personally, and globally. Not a lot of good things happened globally honestly. But, personally I feel like I’ve grown a bit. Things are looking up, I’m feeling positive about myself, and where I’m headed.

    Looking at my calendar for 2023, I really hope to travel more. Wait, why does that sound familiar? In 2022, I went back to the gym, and rode the ol Peloton quite a bit. Next year, will hopefully be no different. Another goal I have in mind is to speed up my reading habit, because I’m not getting any younger. Looking ahead, feeling’ rad. See y’all around✌️

  • Abelardo Morell revolutionizes the camera obscura, evokes the Old Masters in latest works

  • Cuban-born Abelardo Morell is notorious for his camera obscura works. They are in and of themselves wonderful little slices of life. The camera obscura method natively forces an image superposition upon the room the artist requires. Often inverted, these scenes are warped and contoured against the often unnatural geometric dwellings we occupy. The camera obscura was arguably, one of the first tools of photography thanks in large part to Daguerre. The images produces are often loud, chaotic and evoke the humdrum of city life.

    Morell is a beloved artist who has mastered this ancient technique over the past few decades. Images of images are a wonderful recursive experiments that artists have dabbled with for centuries.

    “Times Square in Hotel Room,” 1997.

    He’s devised a mobile camera obscura toolkit. It’s remarkable, and yet familiar in a sense. The tented camera obscura is constructed from a special material designed to keep light from penetrating:

    This new “tent,” developed in response, looked much less cumbersome. With no frame apart from the tripod itself, it was more of a teepee. The black cloth draped over it, Morell said, “is the best thing I’ve ever found.” Several companies had sent him materials promising “total blackout,” but, he says, “we’d put a flashlight to it, and it just wasn’t good enough.” The cloth he eventually found is made by a scientific company that tests lasers in dark spaces. It creates “pitch blackness inside” the tent, Morell said, “so whatever’s intense out there is intense inside — focus, color, brightness.”

    In a way, this a celebrated nod to 17th-century photomasking techniques. Some of the very first cameras had large black tents and huge glass plates. Traditionally, camera obscura images are tight urban interiors superimposed with inorganic cityscapes. But Morell’s latest mobile tent camera obscura produces a variety of images that evokes hints of impressionism filled with texture and picturesque brightness unseen in photographs before.

    Morell’s latest body of work feel like a gargantuan leap from his Times Square Hotel Room, and yet feels so grounded and inspired from works like the masters. The organic background texture fogs your sight of the real foreground subject, and beckons you to squint. The foreground depicted, being often further than a few meters away, is clouded with dirt, rocks and nondescript organic grassy material collectively gives us a painting of a photo (in a way).

    (Clockwise form top-left) “Wheat Field,” the Camargue, France, 2022. “A Single Tree in Late Afternoon,” near Arles, France, 2022. “Tree and Road,” La Crau, France, 2022. “Grass Field With Path,” near Arles, France, 2022.

    Abelardo Morell has a gift. I hope he continues to push the envelope with camera obscura even further.

  • David Rockefeller and His Legendary Rolodex of Index Cards

  • It would’ve been a typical sibling rivalry, except David happened to be David Rockefeller, grandson of esteemed oil baron John D. Rockefeller. He longed to live up to the Rockefeller name and its outsized legacy of business and philanthropic success.

    “John, of course, had the name,” David wrote. “Of all the children, John was the most like Father in personality; he was hardworking and conscientious.”

    These feelings remained over the next decade, becoming more acute during his military service in World War II. As an intelligence officer stationed in North Africa, he began to realize that others depended on his ability to forge relationships and work well on a team.

    When David returned from overseas, he dedicated himself to knowing–and being more thoughtful with—people. He started keeping meticulous notes on every person he met to become a better listener, colleague, and friend, resulting in a manual system predating the convenience of personal computers.

    David went on to rise through the ranks at Chase Manhattan Bank, eventually becoming its chairman and CEO, all while managing and furthering his busy social obligations as a Rockefeller—a shadow of his former, socially awkward self.

    Via clay.earth for the full post. In case you are interested, you can read more about David Rockefeller’s index cards at WSJ.

    Lady Bird Johnson, WSJ
  • 2021

  • How to exceed more than 100 posts limit in WPGraphQL

  • Recently, I upgraded my site from Gatsby to Next.js. Personally, I wanted to see what kind of lift that would look like. It wasn’t too bad. My only problem with Gatsby so far has been how opinionated it all is. I spent way too much time configuring settings and plugins and fell into the weeds. I also didn’t love how the Gatsby-built GraphQL server queries looked different than the queries that happen on my actual site. I’ll write up a full post on that another time.

    The line diff for a bare minimum conversion from Gatsby to Next.js with no type errors and a successful build was something like +1100/-1500 lines, not terrible. But expected since I had to find/replace Gatsby imports with Next imports, and I was able to nuke all the Gatsby plugins.

    The single biggest problem I ran into was a dreadful non-error. Which was Next.js build was successful, but the maximum static posts it was generating was 100. What gives? Well apparently WPGraphQL limits queries to returning 100 posts out-of-the-box. To the authors: please document that somewhere.

    I have over 300+ posts. So, I found that to be annoying. After much searching, according to this post on Spectrum Chat, you just plop this filter in your theme, and that should fix the issue:

    function increase_query_limit($amount, $source, $args, $context, $info) {
      $amount = 1000; // whatever you want the limit to be, in this case 1000.
      return $amount;
    }, 10, 5 );
    add_filter('graphql_connection_max_query_amount', 'increase_query_limit');
  • Two Modes of Effective Work

  • According to The Origins of Herman Miller’s Modes of Work there’s two classes of work available to us. I believe these still apply even as most of us work in distributed teams these days. They may seem obvious:

    1. Alone
      • Chat
      • Converse
      • Co-Create
      • Divide & Conquer
      • Huddle
      • Show & Tell
      • Warm Up, Cool Down
    2. Together
      • Process & Respond
      • Contemplate
      • Create

    I think we’re really getting somewhere here. Reading that list made me very nostalgic for in-office coffee breaks at the water cooler 🙁 Going beyond these classes of work, we can go deeper — there’s really only two modes of work:

    • Just Get it Done (JGID)
    • Planned Work

    The Just Get it Done mode is tackling tasks that are probably collated in a list. Maybe you have a 20 clients you need to email before the end of the day. Maybe there’s a submission deadline you need to hit. Or maybe, it’s just shit that needs to get done today or this week. These tasks are often rewarding in the short term, because they unblock you field of vision. I find that clearing of these sorts of tasks early in the day unblock me later in the afternoon to contemplate longtail projects. Or heck, it clears my head for office hours too. If you find yourself with a mountain of unfinished JGID tasks every day, congratulations. You’ve just discovered that your organization is suffering a staffing or project management problem. Big yikes.

    The Planned Work mode is less rewarding in the short-term. But, is vastly more rewarding in the long-term. If you’ve ever wrapped a 6-month long project or released a new product — you know exactly what I’m talking about. This mode of work often produces JGID tasks. That’s the point. You take a big idea, and chunk it. Making a wholly impossible task, possible via piecemeal.

  • McDonald’s Minimal Global Packaging Redesign Explained

  • Brands tend to reduce their footprint and minimize messaging after substantial growth. That’s not a maxim, or anything. Just an observation. Google, AirBnb, Slack and IBM — are a few that come to mind. But there are hundreds of examples out there. Tech companies have it easy, because their product is imbued with their digital identity.

    Food brands on the other hand require great packaging to propel their brand identity. A harmony has to exist between the packaging, the restaurant, and the brand. Check out Burger King’s big rebrand. It’s flat, simple and oozes nostalgia of the 80’s. Now McDonald’s has a new packaging initiative? Clearly they’re competing, right? Of course, they are competing in the literal sense, for our dollars, our mouths and our attention — but why the sudden renewed interest?

    We’re exiting the the pandemic, for one. Albeit slowly, and on the heels of the highest mortality rates in the world no less, here at home in the USA. But secondly, the world is changing, and the fast food industry is taking notice and investing like crazy in new food technology. Plant protein is in huge demand.

    Plant-based protein versions of the Big Mac and BLT are on the horizon. They’re closer to market than you think, and the fast food industry is about to explode in new varieties of alternative meat offerings. This is a huge deal. But while it’s compelling to vegetarians, and vegans — a large swath of American omnivores are not so easily convinced. To change their minds, you have to change their hearts. Burger King and McDonald’s are shedding the brand equity of the past 20+ years: fast, quick, and greasy — and trading it in for something new, something hopeful, perhaps impossible: fast and good.

    That’s a fucking hell of a tall order, I know.

    Rand Paul, did it with IBM in 1968. Despite being an immensely complex data organization, hand-built the machines that led us into the information age, and makes continuous breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, the company continues to grow and evolve his simple brand system.

    The fast food industry knows there’s an explosive growth potential just waiting to burst with the advent of plant proteins, and they’re laying the groundwork for the next 20-30 years of growth.

    Simply put, minimalism is the language that brands foam at the mouth for. It’s the ultimate designation for a successful product in any industry. I mean, just looks at Apple. The pinnacle of minimalism. The pinnacle of success. The champion of Americana. Capitalizing on that language, the fast food industry are willing plant-proteins into the mainstream. Will it work though?

    Adweek‘s piece on the packaging redesign has a great quote from the partners at Pearlfisher on the project. Which by the way, spanned nearly 4 years in development:

    No matter the region or language, we wanted the packaging design to communicate joyful moments while being immediate and universal.

    Hamish Campbell, vp, ecd, Pearlfisher

    Universal adoption of a packaging system will be key to success across all of their menu items. But, the packaging is only a small part revealed of a broader effort coming to the global face of the McDonald’s company. I predict we’ll see more and more of this minimal system Pearlfisher constructed very soon. I think we will definitely see plant-proteins and new offerings from McDonald’s coming to the forefront, with classic products like the Big Mac and Filet-o-Fish take a backseat to quickly evolving American fast food tastes.

  • 32

  • I turned 32 a couple of days ago.

    Just like last year, I’m late to writing about this birthday. Frankly, I was a bit overworked, anxious about the nation, and just flat out tired. It’s been exhausting, and we’re only two weeks into the new year.

    I typically enjoy having my birthday in January, because it gives me an organic moment to pause and reflect on my past year of life. This time around the sun, my reflections probably don’t differ too much from your reflections. Mainly because, so much of this past year was frozen in quarantine after February 2020. Everything basically halted. Seeing friends, family, plans, short and long-term — it all came to a halt.

    Later in the year, I had a corrective knee surgery to repair my femoral cartilage in my right knee (ouch!). I had to deal with a deformity I’ve been dealing with called Osteochondritis Dissecans. Its was not pleasant, but I was happy to have it fixed up. All thanks to a kind donor who died, and gifted me with a small piece of their cartilage so that I may walk normally again. So, listen up, y’all take care of your knees, ya hear? It was a dreadful recovery, but all is well now! I can walk normally again without pain. Given the pandemic, and social distancing, I wasn’t missing much during the recovery period. I’m very thankful I still have my job, and my health. That’s what matters most these days.

    The world is still reckoning with a record number of people dying from Covid-19. Vaccinations are beginning here and there. With any luck, we may be able to see each other normally again in the fall of 2021 (well, what even is normal now?). As of writing, we’re still reeling from the failed white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol that happened just last week to overturn the election of Joe Biden. Not exactly positive news, but interestingly greenhouse gas emissions dropped 10% this past year due to the pandemic.

    Lately, the future has been obfuscated by a very dense fog. It’s been scary. I’m angry, bummed, and disappointed I can’t see ahead. I so desperately want to charter plans. So much so, in fact, I drafted a bucket list for the first time.

    My friends and peers are moving away from big cities like NYC and SF. Trading in their 1 Bedroom city apartment rent for a 2-3 Bedroom house mortgage with a backyard and car, in suburbs (or hell, even in exurbs in most cases). Some are moving back to their hometowns to pickup even cheaper living and planning their future work-from-home lives saving a pretty penny paying half the rent-price premium where the their job may be headquartered. Honestly, I’m envious. A part of me so desperately wants to relocate back home, to Texas. I definitely suffer from seasonal homesick-ness (I just need my Tex-Mex and open skies, and one-of-a-kind thunderstorms — Texas just ticks the boxes, what can I say). Another part of me calls out to New Mexico, to Colorado or even to California. Even climate havens regions are at the top of my mind these days.

    I definitely don’t regret not moving in the midst of this crisis. This past year was difficult. I’m happy it wasn’t made more difficult! I’m just slightly jealous of those who made it work, and happy for those who embarked on a big change during the pandemic! That takes guts, and ambition. Tip of the hat to ya’ll 🤠

    So, as you can imagine, I’m very much looking forward to receiving the vaccine. Excited to get back on track to making plans to visit or host friends, travel, and eager to build out a foundation for the next chapter in my life. Certainly eager to be groomsman in my brother’s wedding in November later this year! But I have a feeling, there will be big moves this year (physically, or emotionally or perhaps both). Maybe, that means moving away away from New York. Maybe that means moving to Austin. Maybe that means moving somewhere… unexpected. I really don’t know.

    I’ve never been the superstitious type, but 32 does seem to have a certain roundness to it. It’s certainly an even number. Maybe, it’s my lucky number? Never really had one of those before. I don’t know if it’s mathematical, or if it’s the way the ‘3’ and ‘2’ glyphs sit next to it — but, 32 looks like a screaming eagle to me, beckoning for a reckoning I think. So, here’s to 32.

    I guess I’m an adult now?

  • 2020

  • The Bucket List

  • At the time of writing, the Coronavirus Pandemic has claimed 1.7M lives. Truly horrible. Desperately grim statistics. Thankfully, there’s vaccines on the way, and being distributed as you read this. You may very receive a vaccine soon.

    While I still have my health, my job, and my life, many of my friends lost their jobs, homes, and everything in-between. The lasting effects of this pandemic will likely be felt for the next several decades. I even have one friend who was forced into retirement. All of these tragic moments have been giving me serious contemplation lately.

    My contemplations and reflections have been magnified lately by personal developments too. In October, I busted a femoral condyle thanks to a defect (also called Osteochondritis Dissecans) which meant surgery 😢. Surgery, a pandemic, being homesick and the unavoidable existential dread that follows, will get you thinking about mortality a lot. Needless to say, I am in desperate need of some optimism and hopeful things to look forward to. So, I began drafting a list. You could call it a Bucket List if you want, I’m not sure what else to call it. But, I started writing this list sometime before my surgery and have just been adding to it ever since. I’m sharing it here, because I hope others enjoy it too.

    My Bucket List

    • Watch the sunrise and sunset at the Grand Canyon
    • Visit Machu Picchu and hike to the Sun Gate
    • Swim in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
    • Never done any diving before, but I would love to learn so I can go scuba diving around a reef. Wouldn’t that be so cool?
    • Visit Disneyworld at least once and see Epcot and Galaxy’s Edge
    • Take a 16-day roundtrip journey across India with my brothers (yes, exactly like in Darjeeling Limited)
    • I’ve never developed any sea legs, but would love to see a glacier or two before they’re all gone.
    • Speaking of glaciers, visiting Antarctica is kind of off the table, but visiting Ushuaia, Argentina would be really rad.
    • This one may not be for everyone, but I would certainly like to have children someday. I’ve become very envious of my pals who have kids. Apart from the fortune they spend raising them, and all the work it requires, it seems to be a great load of fun.
    • I want to take piano lessons and learn how to play (finally)
    • Carpentry, is a skill which I do not possess. My grandfather was a skilled engineer and carpenter, so I would love to follow in his footsteps in that regard. Also, it would just be cool to design and build furniture.
    • See Daft Punk live in concert in person (fingers crossed they tour again one day)
    • I want to take a transcontinental road trip from NYC to LA. As you can probably tell, traveling is a big theme for me!
    • Volunteer with UNICEF
    • Visit Osaka, Japan and eat as much food as possible

    Well that’s my list so far. Maybe I’ll add more to it over time 😅 If you have a Bucket List share it with me below in the comments, I would love to read yours!

  • 31

  • I turned 31 roughly 3 months ago.

    I didn’t publish anything in celebration of my birthday. You could say I’ve been a little busy. But recently, myself and many others are now participating in the largest work from home experiment thanks to the outbreak of COVID-19.

    But here’s a brief recap of my first year in my 30’s:

    It was good. Like, really good. My work/life balance has never been better. I’m feeling great (going to the gym roughly 2x a week helps). We moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan at the beginning of last fall. Specifically, we moved to a neighborhood called Inwood. It was a last-minute decision to move, but it was so worth it. 

    The food, the people, the proximity to the parks, and direct access to nearby highways means we can get to I-684 pretty quickly if we want to travel upstate or out of the city for a weekend. So far, we’ve only been as far north as Brewster and so beautiful in the fall:

    Apart from moving, and my work being fulfilling, I still have a big whole in my heart for my home state. I have a deep love for Texas, my friends back home, and more than anything I miss my family. I kind of miss owning a car (but i definitely do not miss oil changes and maintenance). I miss the night sky and Texas thunderstorms that lasted for hours during the night.

    But that’s just regular homesick stuff! Enough about that. Nothing a little traveling back-and-forth can’t solve.

    The real pickle has been stewing for a long time.

    It’s been really hard to stay positive lately. It’s not a singular thing. It’s a culmination. Here’s some stuff just from the top of my head:

    I have felt (and I am not alone in saying this) like the past four years of my life have been completely broken. This country is not the place I know. This president is a fool and his circle-jerking comrades are pissing in the communal pool.

    All right, now that that is out my system! Turning 31, feels good. My first year in my thirties, was great. I forgot to mention, we visited Italy last fall too!

    It was a fantastic trip. We narrowly missed Venice’s catastrophic flooding too. One of the primary reasons we planned on visiting Rome and Venice was because of climate change. We weren’t really sure when we’d have a chance to see those ancient relics, old canals, and Roman monuments again in the future. So, I’m so glad we took that trip. Here’s a few pictures:

    Our trip to Italy was easily the biggest highlight of starting my thirties. It was a beautiful trip. Tiring at times, but the food, the people and the scenery was to die for. I’ll post some more photos Another time because I took so many pictures on my iPhone and only just recently organized them all. It was my first trip abroad, and I left my Sony a6300 camera behind to travel as light as possible. I’m glad I did, because the iPhone X camera was a real trooper on the trip.

    So yeah. Personally feeling pretty good. Turning 31 felt good. But in the back of my head, my anxieties are quietly scratching the inside of my skull. Hopefully, the world can come be pieced together again. I’m cautiously optimistic, and probably a naive idiot but whatever. I’m in my thirties now 🙃

  • Tesla raises $2B in secondary offering at $767 a share

  • Rules for writing great Science Fiction scripts

  • I think any genre succeeds from a few of these recommendations. But, a good rule of thumb, constraints are good. Typical creative constraints make you squint your eyes and see the world differently. Think of them as adding or subtracting weight resistance like at the gym. Only instead of working out your body, you’re exercising your brain! Here’s the first tweet in the thread:

    Adrian Bowyer is a retired Mechanical Engineering professor from University of Bath. A careered researcher in computational geometry, geometric modeling, and Biomimetics. According to his website, he is the founder of the RepRap Project, “humanity’s first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine.” Pretty awesome! Sounds like he has some insights we should all hear out.

    Here’s the entire thread (saved from Thread Reader here) in a bullet-list for posterity:

    • The overriding rule, never to be forgotten, is: “Coincidence is a failure of art.” – Tom Stoppard
    • It is easy to blow something up. It is hard to have a character say something original, insightful and clever. But writers are dirt cheap. The ratio of explosions to wit should be 1:10 or less.
    • If at any point a reasonably scientifically informed audience is going to say, “But… PHYSICS?!” do it another way. The same goes for not following Darwinian evolution.
    • If the action is set in the future or the past, go through the script and remove every contemporary informal idiom of speech, where “contemporary” means at least the last fifty years. Replace EVERY cliche with a newly-coined metaphor or phrase.
    • The good guys should not beat the bad guys (if they do) because the bad guys have a system with a single point of failure.
    • Human culture has much more continuity than saltation. Have characters in the future occasionally do something from the past as a hobby – making bread, riding a horse, painting in oils; that sort of thing.
    • Spend money on set dressing. They won’t have oil drums in the future, nor will ship’s containers make it to other worlds.
    • Constraints make things more, not less, interesting. In particular, if something is powerful it should be difficult to use. For example, if someone is capable of telekinesis, then, when they use it, it should cost them a few days bed rest. And so on.
    • The Universe runs on conservation laws (Lagrangian symmetries). To make them more convincing new phenomena should also exhibit conservation laws.
    • Arthur C. Clarke’s “indistinguishable from magic” law is true. But that’s not an excuse to put in any old glowing-orb nonsense when the plot needs a deus ex machina. Go back and rewrite the plot so the deus ex machina isn’t needed.
    •  Faster than light travel makes everything parochial, and therefore less interesting.
    • Bipedal life will be very rare in the universe, as it is on Earth.
    • Artificial gravity is less captivating (!) and less probable than weightlessness.
    • “Go with your gut,” will be just as terrible advice in the future as it is here and now. Plots should reflect this immutable fact.
    • Brainstorm a number of un-commented-on technical innovations and put one in the background of each scene for the audience to notice, or not.

    Give Adrian (@adrianbowyer) a follow on Twitter here.

  • 2019

  • Away CEO Steph Korey Replaced After Verge Investigation

  • Zoe Schiffer, at The Verge writes:

    Away CEO Steph Korey is stepping down, just four days after an investigation from The Verge highlighted the company’s toxic culture. Korey, one of the luggage brand’s co-founders, will be replaced with former Lululemon executive Stuart Haselden, though Korey will still continue on as executive chairman.

    Stuart Haselden has impressive credentials. For one, he’s an Army veteran. Changing company culture is hard work, just look at Uber. It doesn’t happen overnight. Perhaps, he is just what Away needs.

    His previous work at Lululemon, Saks and J. Crew were pretty long stints, totaling nearly two decades. Almost his entire professional career has been at the crossroads of retail and finance. Something tells me that Haselden, an Auburn alum (Tim Cook’s alma mater), just might be up to the task of turning around Away’s toxic work culture:

    Haselden’s mandate will likely involve turning around Away’s company culture, and he may have relevant experience. Lululemon faced its own reports of toxic management, which culminated in CEO Laurent Potdevin’s resignation last year. In the aftermath of the scandal, Haselden took control of the company’s people and culture functions — the teams that are directly responsible for creating a healthy working environment.

  • Skateboarders Are Saving Your City

  • It’s fun. It’s cathartic. It’s great for team-building, self-esteem, your mental health and frequently, a decent workout. I’m talking of course about skateboarding. It has even passively impacted other areas of life previously unbeknownst to the common urban dweller. There’s so many beautiful urban spaces in cities like like Tokyo, New York City, Dallas, Berlin, Los Angeles and I could go on and on for days. Simply put, the best cities to skate in, are also the best cities to live in — CityLab reports:

    After-school skate programs in Colorado and Dayton, Ohio, are proving to be therapeutic for young people with challenges such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Skateboarding’s informal, non-competitive nature normalizes failure—skaters practice a trick hundreds of times, building resilience and perseverance. In Dayton, which has seen the worst effects of the U.S. opioid crisis, these programs can disrupt the toxic peer groups that can lead to substance misuse, and establish good role models instead.

    Cities that aren’t the most walkable (look at you L.A.) gets a bad rapport, but the citizens certainly know how to assemble and appeal. There’s a lot to learn from Los Angeles. The same ethos that keeps Los Angeles locked into an ever-evolving urban jungle, is also the engine that keeps urban development in check. Upsetting that balance can mean the difference between a highway dividing a neighborhood, or a brand new bus station. Skateboarding can teach us a lot about DIY and teamwork. The skateboarding communities positive and often progressive ethos could be adopted in communities as a model for fighting for inclusivity and preservation of neighborhoods:

    Academics Sharon Dickinson and Chris Giamarino have critically reviewed the tactics skateboarders use to protect the spaces they practice in from being shut down or redeveloped, to understand why some campaigns have been successful while others have failed. DIY or guerrilla regeneration can be applied, alongside more conventional approaches. In Los Angeles, for example, skaters succeeded by appealing to municipal priorities relating to creativity and entrepreneurialism, and presenting their use of the space as convivial and inclusive.

    Next time you see a (laughably impossible to enforce) no skateboarding sign in a public square, know you’re in a good place.

  • Peeling Off 20 Years Worth of Subway Ads

  • Twitter surfaces some of the strangest things. Behold, the original movie poster for Road Trip emerging like Han Solo from carbonite. 20 years of subway ads, rail dust and grime.

  • When a Transit Agency Becomes a Suburban Developer

  • John Surico for CityLab writes:

    The big magnet to the Westchester County town is its Metro-North Railroad commuter rail station, which provides a 45-minute connection to midtown Manhattan. Although Harrison has had a steady population increase since 2010, Belmont is thinking about the future: namely, a younger generation that prefers the bustle of urban life to the quiet of suburbia. The community needs more to make them stick around, he believes. “What I’m trying to do is attract Millennials, so eventually they want to buy here in Harrison,” he said.

    That is what inspired Harrison’s Halstead Avenue project, a $76.8 million mixed-use real estate development built in collaboration between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which oversees the Metro-North, and developer AvalonBay Communities. It is the first time ever that the Metro-North will sell a parcel of its land for transit-oriented development (TOD); in this case: 143 apartments, 27,000 square feet of retail space, two pedestrian plazas, and a 598-space parking garage, most of which is reserved for the public and commuters.

    That is kind of mind-blowing. Metro-North/MTA is selling a parcel of land to a real-estate development company at the benefit of Harrison residents. Harrison, for residents outside of New York, is a Long Island Sound shore-town in Westchester just north of New York City.

    Essentially, the Transit Authority has taken on additional duties as a real-estate developer. The soon-to-be built apartments however convenient to the residents, are likely to be mostly luxury apartment units. Only seven of the apartments are earmarked for affordable status. I’m sure this will be fantastic in the long-run but, I have the feeling that only reason this is really kicking off, is because it ensures the certainty of Harrison’s nearby real estate valuations as impending tumultuous financial times loom. The lack of affordable housing aside, it’s interesting to see the MTA dipping their toes into real-estate development. Not sure that is the best idea, but it is literally a slide taken directly from the MTA’s latest plan to maximize use of commuter rail capacity.

  • Summerland Peninsula Returned to Penguins, Suburb is Erased

  • Besha Rodell for The New York Times:

    The “penguin parade” has been a major attraction since the 1920s, when tourists were led by torchlight to view the nightly arrival of the birds — the world’s smallest penguin breed, with adults averaging 13 inches tall — from a day of fishing and swimming.

    For much of that time, the penguins lived among the residents of a housing development, mostly modest vacation homes, in tight proximity to cars and pets, as well as ravenous foxes. The penguins’ numbers fell precipitously. But in 1985, the state government took an extraordinary step: It decided to buy every piece of property on the Summerland Peninsula and return the land to the penguins. The process was completed in 2010.

    The birds are now thriving. There are about 31,000 breeding penguins on the peninsula, up from 12,000 in the 1980s. Phillip Island Nature Parks is the most popular wildlife tourist destination in the state of Victoria, drawing 740,000 visitors in 2018. And late last month, a gleaming symbol of that success opened to the public: a $58 million visitor center, a striking star-shaped building with glass walls that look onto penguin burrows.

    The penguins are alright! 🐧💕

    This is the first time in a very long time, I’ve come across a positive environmental story. Make sure to checkout the entire piece at The Times. There’s incredible photography, and it’s such an uplifting tale. It’s proof-positive that when we come together, invest in long-term preservation efforts, we can make a lasting impact protecting what matters most to us — our shared home.

  • The Chandrayaan-2 Lunar Mission Successfully Launches

  • Jeffrey Gettleman and Hari Kumar for The New York Times writes:

    The mission was relatively inexpensive in space terms, costing less than $150 million — less than it cost to make the 2014 film “Interstellar.”

    But Chandrayaan-2 will take much longer to reach the moon than the relatively straight shot made by the Apollo missions, which cost billions (the presence of humans added to the price tag).

    The Indian orbiter will conserve fuel by making ever-widening orbits around Earth before being captured by the moon’s gravity and pulled into lunar orbit.

    This launch was a historic leap for India and the ISRO (India Space Research Organisation). This was the second attempt, two weeks ago, the launch was scrubbed at the last minute. The last Lunar mission the ISRO spearheaded, was the Chandrayaan-1, and if you need reminding — it was a colossal success and the entire science community of Earth benefitted from their findings. Generally speaking, the Chandrayaan-1 discovered water on the Moon. It used infrared spectrometry to detect water on the side of the Moon that faces away from us here on the third rock from the sun.

    Photo from The New York Times

    Chandrayaan-2 includes a rover, a lander, and an orbiter. The rover will collect samples for analysis. Given the fact that rovers sent to planetary realms typically outlive their lifespan, the possibility of sending a rover to the Moon is truly thrilling.