If you point your cart north, when you want to go south, how will you arrive?

Someone, or more likely something, out there in the surveillance world thinks I’m a senior. For years now I’ve been receiving mail from AARP and its adjacent services. If there’s a new clinic for seniors, they’ll make sure to mail me a card. They even followed me after I moved apartments!

Most recently, the surveillance machinery figured out I speak Russian so I got this nice card offering help in renewing my Medicare. (Which I don’t have because I’m in my thirties.) They’re so close, and yet so far.

A postcard advertising Medicare-related services in Russian.
A postcard advertising Medicare-related services in Russian.
“Medicare is a complicated program…”


COVID-19

On the second day of the shelter in place order in Oakland, I went for a walk around Lake Merritt. Turned out I wasn’t the only one.

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People walking, and running, around Lake Merritt

There weren’t as many cars driving around so it was much quieter. I could hear birds, I could hear footsteps, and I could hear the hum of people’s voices.

People walking under the big Children’s Fairyland sign.
People walking under the big Children’s Fairyland sign.
People walking under the Children’s Fairyland sign at Lake Merritt.

Some were walking their dogs, some were reading with their dogs, others were jogging with their dogs. There were a lot of dogs.

Since gyms were closed as well, I noticed a lot of different types of exercise: running, boxing, lunges on benches, Tai Chi, soccer, you name it.

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People exercising around Lake Merritt.

Most businesses were closed, except for a few restaurants that only served take out.

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Signs on temporarily closed businesses in Oakland.

Finally, there was joy! Couples chatting with each other, children running around, ducks being ducks, trees blooming.

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After all, human wonder always makes its way through.

A child plays with large soap bubbles on a lake shore.
A child plays with large soap bubbles on a lake shore.
A child plays with soap bubbles.


Or How to Improve Your Sleep by Dropping the Cascade

What happens when you drop the “C” from CSS? At Medium, we’ve been experimenting with a new way of using CSS to style our user interface components: a few months ago we started using small, atomic, and non-cascading classes instead of the usual BEM modifiers. The result is that we have a slightly more awkward but much more robust system of styling visual components.

Block Element Modifier

CSS has only one global scope. There are no namespaces, no local scopes: if you define a class—say author—to use on the story page, you have to be very careful to not to re-use the same class anywhere else because the same set of rules will be applied there as well. For generic components this is OK and even desirable: a Medium button should look pretty much the same on any page, after all. The complexity hides, as it always does, in the gray area of pretty much: what if you want a button to look slightly different but just on this one single page. …


Beautiful JavaScript is now available in Chinese!

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Thanks O'Reilly for sending me a copy.


Heaven and hell

Suzuki told an old Chinese folk tale about the difference between heaven and hell. In hell everyone has very short arms. They sit around tables full of sumptuous food, trying to eat with very long chopsticks, but they can’t get the food in their mouths because chopsticks are too long and their arms too short. They try in agony to feed themselves, to no avail. In heaven everyone also has short arms, but everyone is feeding each other across the table and having a lovely time.

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Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki
by David Chadwick


Your code is just your code.

It is not your life.
It is not who you are.
It is your code.

Some of your code is concise and clear.
Some of your code is muddy.

Sometimes your code needs refactoring.
Sometimes you need to leave it alone.

Keep sorting this out.
You will learn this by writing code.

Please enjoy it!

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This letter was inspired by Buddha in Blue Jeans, a wonderful tiny Zen guide on sitting quietly and being Buddha.


Anyone Can Get a Black Belt

I’ve always thought that if you were practicing martial arts, getting a black belt was the pinnacle of your career. As it turned out, I was wrong. And while I was reading about different ranking systems I realized how much we, computer programmers, could learn from traditional martial arts.

The systematic use of belt color to denote the rank was first used by Kano Jigoro, the founder of judo, back in the 1880s. At the time, there weren’t any intermediate colors. White, a color of purity and simplicity, was representing the beginner. Black, being the opposite color, was representing a student who was filled with knowledge. In the early 1900s the belt system expanded to include more colors and, since then, other martial arts adopted the system or a variation of it. …


Come Celebrate Beautiful JavaScript

This morning I was at the Oakland International Airport. (Oakland International is an amazing airport, by the way, much better than SFO.) I was walking towards an exit and then almost took a wrong turn. That was when I noticed the sign and took this photo:

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Look at this person. They’re my hero. This is the chillest chiller who is calmly walking away from the fire. Flames are almost touching their elbow but they just don’t give a fuck. In fact, maybe they set the building on fire. …


XOXO ’15

Last night I boarded a Southwest flight to Portland. I was seated in between two dudes: one was “devastated” because the flight didn’t have WiFi and another just sat there repeating “really? c’mon!” every minute or so until we took off.

This means that today I’m in Portland, at the fourth XOXO festival (and conference), celebrating independent art and technology. I’m not really sure what to expect but the opening remarks sounded promising.

I ate breakfast. (If you eat something and its not on Instagram, are you really full?) While it doesn’t sound very exciting, it did give me a glimpse into the world of Portland food trucks, one of the cutest representatives of which was a Cereal From A Van. Imagine an old Dodge van with a dude dressed up in an Elmo onesie inside, surrounded by cereal boxes, and knowing way too much about cereal. …


naively programming

I was looking for an old story of mine on our internal Medium and stumbled upon another story, an experiment I tried a few months ago. Realizing that the experiment ended up being a success, I decided to re-package it for the big Medium.

A few months ago I read The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chodro and learned about a technique known as “naively resting.” It’s used to improve your meditation practice and it has to do with taking a naive and childlike attitude toward it, keeping it very simple. Don’t be militant or judgmental about thinking. When your mind wanders off, without making any big deal whatsoever, simply come back. …

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