Why Do I Have a Newsletter?

The expanded title for this post should really be Why do I have a newsletter and a blog? This question was posed to me by a new internet friend over email. He asked it without any intention other than to spark something for future discussion. His inquisitive prompt has been rattling around in my brain ever since. In fact, I can’t stop thinking about it, which usually means I should write about it. Do I write about it on the blog, or in the newsletter?

Since you’re reading this on the blog, I’ll say that this is the version I’m writing for the blog. I may or may not write something related for the newsletter. I guess that gets to my current thoughts on why I have both. I don’t automatically assume that people who read one would necessarily read the other. I purposely avoid (this topic excluded) overlapping content. The essays” that serve as the newsletter intros could easily be blog posts; however, I go into them thinking of them as a different thing. I have some ideas jotted down that could become either one or the other. Once they take shape, I usually know which of the two they’ll evolve into.

My newsletter follows a pretty rigid format. It’s 3 things I think are worth sharing with other humans, with a varying length essay at the beginning. The essay usually has some connection to the 3 things, but not always. The 3 things could be linkpost content on the blog, but for the same reason as the essay vs. blog post, I don’t repurpose them in either direction. Not overlapping the content means if they do choose both formats, there are no reruns. As a reader of other blogs and newsletters, that feels right. My newsletter isn’t just a blog digest”. There are enough tools out there that solve for that need if someone wants to roll content up that way. If someone really wants to read my blog posts in their inbox vs. on the blog or via RSS, at the bottom of each individual post page, there’s an option to subscribe by email.

In the end, I’ve landed on the reason I have both is that I want to have both; it’s not more complicated than that. My want to have both as the author connects to the possibility that readers of my words may want to read one or the other or both or neither… but since you’re reading these words, you’re in at least one of the first three groups for the moment.

2024 Apr·13


Everyday Zen

I find myself doing these little activities around the house that just make me feel very calm. Unexpectedly calm. They may sound odd, because they’re not thought of as things which would give that feeling. One of them is only satisfying during the last step, and gross during the rest of the task. The other is enjoyable throughout. I got to thinking more and trying to figure out why they make me feel this way. I think I have.

They are two tasks that fall into what I would consider everyday zen in my current existence. I have a huge family with so many tasks and routines. Some of those are tedious and just have to be done, but some have a real quality to them. Making coffee would fall into that second group, but there’s a whole post coming dedicated to that.

The first task is cleaning our cat’s litter box. This is the one that is gross for the first steps; scooping the waste and sifting it down to just the parts to place into a black dog poop” bag to throw out in the waste can. The last step, though, is great! Smoothing the litter out, sometimes adding a bit of fresh litter first, is amazing. I feel like one of those zen sand artists for those mere 30-45 seconds. I find it so satisfying and mentally clearing.

The second is trimming off the new growth of shrubs we have in our front yard. This is something I do as often as I notice the new shoots coming up from the bottom. I trim them so that we have a clear view under the shrubs, but with the top full and acting as a bit of privacy screening for the front windows and porch. Trimming that new growth is so enjoyable. I do with with hand lopping shears. It is my everyday zen version of trimming a bonsai tree. I could see myself one day having a bonsai of my own that I meticulously groom and have reverence for the process. Until then, this is my suburban busy dad equivalent.

Finding your everyday zen tasks and routines is a cool process. I’d love to hear about what things give others the same type of feelings I describe above.

P.S. My mom’s everyday zen is folding clean and warm fresh-out-of-the-dryer clothes.

2024 Apr·06


Weather forecasts have become much more accurate

Hannah Ritchie, writing at Our World in Data:

The first big change is that the data has improved. More extensive and higher-resolution observations can be used as inputs into the weather models. This is because we have more and better satellite data, and because land-based stations are covering many more areas around the globe, and at a higher density. The precision of these instruments has improved, too.

These observations are then fed into numerical prediction models to forecast the weather. That brings us to the next two developments. The computers on which these models are run have gotten much faster. Faster speeds are crucial: the Met Office now chunks the world into grids of smaller and smaller squares. While they once modeled the world in 90-kilometer-wide squares, they are now down to a grid of 1.5-kilometer squares. That means many more calculations need to be run to get this high-resolution map. The methods to turn the observations into model outputs have also improved. We’ve gone from very simple visions of the world to methods that can capture the complexity of these systems in detail.

As someone with two armchair meterologists” in my life, I found this article fascinating. There’s so many extensions of this idea of more data capture and faster computing leading to increasingly accurate predictions at scale. One that comes to mind for me is crash detection in cars. It’s a stepping stone to the somewhat inevitable conclusion of full self-driving capability. The stones in-between are simply more data and better compute power. And oh, by-the-way, your vehicle will know if it’s going to rain and adjust for that too.

2024 Apr·02


A Special Type of Hoarder

I lean towards minimalist tendencies as much as I can. In a very different set of life circumstances, I’d be someone with few physical possessions, in a tiny house in some lush remote location. The life that I find myself in, the life I’m happily living to its fullest potential, has both more people and more things in it. I try to ensure that the possessions I have serve a purpose. The older I get, the more aggressive I become about thinning those items to just the things that truly add value to my life. My goal isn’t number of items, but more that I don’t feel the anxiety that comes with having a life overburdened with stuff.

Then there’s the part of my brain that sees items that most would consider trash, yet I see future purpose. Future could be two weeks from now or two years from now. This characteristic demonstrates itself with some household need to fix, adapt or adjust some thing in some way and then me excitedly saying, I have just the thing for this!” I then normally head to the garage and come back with a random part or component that was destined for the garbage can when I placed it into one of many little jars of future potential inventory.

This happened yesterday, which is when I got the idea to write this post. My wife received a lovely wind chime from a neighbor a few weeks back. We hung it on our back porch, where we already had a bamboo wind chime, and then we heard the problem. The bamboo one had conflicting tones from the metal one. I took the metal one down and told me wife I’d come up with a solution. I had just the thing and just needed a free moment to deal with it. Yesterday was that moment. After an oil change in one of the cars, I was putting my tools away and saw the wind chime hanging there on the shelves.

I took it down and reached for one of my containers. This container used to be filled with parmesan cheese. For the past several years, it’s been filled with various bits of plastic and rubber. I get this thrifty storage system from my mom and dad. Growing up, if you saw a Land O Lakes margarine container in the garage or anywhere other than the refrigerator, it contained something important. I have former pickle jars with machine screws. A former jelly jar has extra nuts and bolts that came with assemble-at-home furniture.

In the rubber & plastic parts container, I pulled out six rubberized corner guards. They came off the corners of the mirrors I used for a garage dance floor project. In an ironic twist, I often have not only just the thing, but also just the right number of said thing in these scenarios. The wind chime had six metal tubes. I trimmed the corner off the rubber triangle pocket and slide it into the tube. I took a screwdriver and gently pushed the material up in to the tube so that you could no longer see it. I repeated this with the other five rubber triangles and metal tubes. I lifted the wind chime to hear the result, and it was perfect. It now has tonal harmony with the bamboo one that hangs on the back porch and they sound lovely together.

I fully recognize that this behavior is off brand” for an aspiring minimalist, however, if my goal is to keep only the things that serve a purpose… I’m not far off in the end.

2024 Apr·01


A Life Item Inventory

Uses pages are awesome. You see them all around the web, especially the indie blog scene. I’ve had an itch to create my own ever since creating my Now page. Recently, I received a lovely email from Pete Moore. Upon taking a look at his site, I found his Uses page. What a gem it is. After being impressed by the aesthetic he has going on with the page, photography and the curated items he has in his life, I found the itch growing to join the club.

The ironic thing about starting a uses page is that it literally forces you to take inventory of items in your life. I always joke that if I didn’t have six children, I’d be more of a practicing minimalist. Documenting the things that I have in my home office and coffee equipment has me asking myself if the items belong in my life. I regularly perform decluttering exercises, and regularly write about them here. I think now, the updating of my uses page will serve as a moment of review, reflection and recommitment to not having things in my life that don’t serve a purpose.

The other nice thing about finally creating a uses page is that I’m further along the path of my submission to the awesome Workspaces newsletter. Ryan has been an internet friend” for a long time and I can’t wait to have my space highlighted there.

While it will take some time to get it fully updated, I published what I had as a starting point today. You can access it from the links above, or from the nav link on my About page under the header image.

2024 Mar·31


OverARChing

Not long ago, I wrote this linkpost as an extenion of or response to Manu’s post. Since then, The Browser Company seems to be going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. They’ve decided to unship some features that I use often, like Notes. I’m all for refining your product, but it seems as though this is more of a pivot they’re not yet sure how to make. I’ll keep watching from the sidelines to see what comes of Arc on MacOS and Arc Search on iOS, but that’s about the extent of my engagement. I’m no longer using Arc as my default browser on either one. I’m back to Safari and enjoying it.

Ironically, Manu and I shared a laugh the other day when we saw that The Browser Company is launching a miniseries on their YouTube channel titled We Might Not Make It and in the teaser they feature his post:

Manu’s rant makes an appearance.Manu’s rant makes an appearance.

2024 Mar·24


My Own Micro

Ever since I left Twitter, I’ve been torn. I knew when I left I was done with social” media. I didn’t replace Twitter with Mastodon or Threads or both. I don’t care to consume information in that form anymore. I did, however, miss the ability to post a quick blurb or thought that may be valuable to someone else or to future me.

These are things that haven’t, and may never, marinate in my brain to the point that a blog post will be written. They’re not just writing ideas. Many folks call them micro blogs. Some of those same people post them to a service like Micro.blog. I think it’s awesome that Micro.blog exists, but I had no interest in spreading my micro posts or thoughts to another service. I’ve grown to embrace the everything is a plain text file mantra that Blot fosters. So… I created my own Micro.blot? I call them fleets and you can view them by clicking the balloon icon in the navigation bar of my site. You can also just visit or bookmark them here.

I can post them very quickly with either a shortcut I built or by sending a text message 1. Yes, good old SMS to the rescue. Why both? Well when I’m driving, it’s pretty easy to invoke Siri via CarPlay to send a text. I’d argue it’s easier than using the shortcut, though I know that could be made to work too. Messages is one of my most used apps throughout the day, so I figured why not make a way to write fleets I have floating around in my brain while I’m there.

They won’t appear on the front page of the blog, nor in the list of posts on the site index. They won’t appear in the RSS feed. In fact, you can’t subscribe to them in any way. They’re just something to stumble upon, or browse occassionally. They aren’t social”. They don’t appear in any algorithum ranked flow of information. They’re slow. They’re small. They scratched an itch.


  1. More on the shortcut is written here.↩︎

2024 Mar·24