Jon’s Patch Notes : version 12
These are my semi-regular Patch Notes – updates on my life and things I’m learning and exploring. Subscribe here.
In this release:
After three thousand miles of driving and a dozen sleeping arrangements I just want to plant a garden and lie in a hammock with a book. It’s been amazing but I’m ready to settle down somewhere for a bit. Particularly I’m looking for walkability, nightlife, nature, and affordability (so far I’ve found it to be a pick 3/4 situation but feel free to correct me).
Currently in Oceanside, CA. The ocean is indeed beautiful but the city has character too: it’s small enough to be walkable yet large enough to have most things I’d care to walk to like coffee shops and tacos. It’s cheaper than San Diego and San Francisco and isn’t spread out like Los Angeles. I like it.
next steps, 2021 update #
My life has become steadily more fascinating since my Next Steps post - yet I can take little credit for this. It’s thanks to random people sending me emails; people I most definitely would not have bumped into otherwise. Those emails have led to fascinating phone calls, meets in various cities, job offers, invites to communities, and offers of collaboration.
- To those people: thank you! Such moments inspire me to keep writing in hopes of spreading the joy of internet connection to more human beings.
Most of this comes down to the simple fact I sat down, wrote some words, and published them to the internet. The potential of writing on the internet for anyone is staggering and it’s clear to me most of this potential has not been realized yet.
For the past year I’ve been building at Ressemble - better communication for sales teams. I’m happy and well-compensated and I’ll likely stay for a while. I believe our effort has a good chance of giving me the resources to work on harder, less fundable problems after.
I love code and what it enables for me and the world at large, but I’m coming to terms with the fact I’d rather look at a writing app all day instead one for code. Preferably a writing app I can use outside or while walking, with voice dictation. In particular, I’m excited to help create (or perhaps someday fund):
digital journalling software to better understand our minds
r&d on integrating the practice of talk therapy with journals
tools to better manage our mental health with biometrics
life-blogging and collaborative documentation tools
open anonymized data feeds for large-scale health and wellness research
self-hosted and deep, human-centric privacy ideals
interactive discussion and exploration layers on online maps
tools for thought, augmented reality
digital creation and exploration
collaborative writing and annotation
reading and writing environments
e-ink, psychedelics research, water desalination, solar energy, automated farming, distributed grids, ambient computing
The more options the harder it is to commit to one. I’ve also gotten a better sense of how many amazing efforts there are in this world and how few I can meaningfully contribute my energy to. Just finding out about communities and efforts is a challenge, and then connecting and coordinating with them only more so. Matters of geography, pay, healthcare, and retirement need to be considered.
My living situation is pretty up in the air as well. Further than about two months is unclear; I know I eventually want mountains and trees around me. Colorado, Mexico and Northern California are all possible next destinations. Ideally I’d like to cut my housing costs by half and take fewer trips via internal combustion engine and more by rail and sailboat.
Some general life things I want to in the coming year or two:
get a motorcycle license
a week thru-hike along the PCT
drive from Alaska to South America
learn to surf
continue practicing piano
Otherwise, I’m going to continue learning, exploring, and meeting amazing people. And I’m definitely going to continue writing online - but more on that in a bit.
my fractured online identity #
My willingness to write under my real name has been steadily declining over the past few years. Sure, I have a blog and Twitter but I’ve been avoiding going deep on questions and ideas which mean a lot to me - topics such as religion, mental health, sexuality, therapy, and my own childhood.
When I do write about them, it’s typically under a pseudonym. I’m much more open in private conversations online or around friends, coworkers, at meetups, and even on random walks with strangers. It’s specifically publishing things to the global record that I am careful about. I have two distinct fears:
people I love today being hurt by information I share intentionally, such as my family, relatives, and friends. I’ve realized this one is unavoidable but I’m going to strive to be as graceful and considerate as possible about the whole process.
people I will love in the future being hurt by information I created yesterday by limiting my employment opportunities because of things I’ve said. This one seems inevitable as well.
what do I really want to write about?
I want to write about experiences which require a level of context and nuance beyond proof-reading and hitting “Publish”, particularly on a site with a strong tie to my legal and professional identity. Topics and explorations such as:
my childhood and growing up a third culture kid
the experience of having my worldview shattered the first few times
stories about the beauty and wonders I’ve witnessed
my life and amazing characters I’ve met along the way
struggles and demons and failures and the dark moments
questions for society and suggestions on how we might improve things
why don’t I write about them?
In the grand scheme of things, I’m writing little that hasn’t been spoken and written ten thousand times prior. My life is pretty tame. Chances are a hundred years after my death nothing of me will be remembered by anyone - and that’s fine by me! But people I love today stand to suffer as a result of me writing and this makes things tricky.
identity, the internet and permanence
The internet doesn’t forget and I have a strong feeling employers will become better at searching in avoidance of expensive public relations lawsuits. I can’t blame them: with every half-baked thought I put out today, the odds of someone tomorrow getting upset and making my life miserable increases.
To be clear: if I become un-hirable and need to chop logs in a remote town to buy myself rice and beans - I’ll be fine! That become a lot more difficult to say when there are children in the picture.
I worry about the safety and stability of my future family being threatened by an anonymous mob of internet people. If I were filing to go public it would be the bulk of my Risk Factor Disclosures.
Is this is an irrational fear? Probably. Still, I’m not sure burning legal bridges to mental health work and politics is in my best interest quite yet. On the other hand, if a company doesn’t want to work with me because of things I said in good faith, I probably don’t want to work with them either.
what am I doing about it?
I’m grappling. I’ll write. I know I will because I already am and it’s what I want to do. It’s more a matter of figuring out how and where I want to publish it. The internet is the most incredible thing humanity has built and I want to reach and connect without worrying about my income, physical safety, or family.
A large part of how happy I am in life is thanks to regular people like myself not allowing social stigma, potential employers, or stooges keep them from sharing their experiences and learnings with the world. This is hugely inspiring to me and I’m forever grateful. I feel it’s only fair to add my own voice to that symphony.
My preferred long term solution to this problem is to acquire fuck you money. That will take a while though. And I really can’t wait that long. Another potential solution is to continue publishing under a pseudonymous identity, though I also believe such protections will be useless in a few years.
Mostly I just need to get over these fears, accept the risks, and move forward with writing about the things I care deeply about.
road tripping through the southwest #
I got to do an amazing 8-day road trip with my good friend Nancy through some of the country’s most beautiful national parks. Thought we were traveling off-season, we got to see some incredible sights and made some memories for a lifetime.
We were also hit with every type of weather imaginable: I learned that winter gear does indeed work (but it’s oh so pricey). Two-person travel also seems to deliver the best ratio of flexibility:fun - unexpected lodging issues pose less of a problem, decisions are easy, and getting ready to go can be pretty quick.
Big Bend, TX #
We learned a lot about aerodynamics and water currents and waterproof clothing. Our plan was an overnight canoe trip down the Rio Grande river, but a winter storm cut it short.
Hours 0-2 were cold but manageable. We had to drag our canoes at several points and I was basically wearing glorified sandals (there were no neoprene socks in stock sadly). We were paddling against the current but had the wind at our back and a blissful ignorance of what was in store for us.
Hour 3 was sitting under a giant bush drying off while simultaneously losing any body heat I had managed to retain up to that point. The wind was picking up so we decided to make our way back.
Hours 4-5 were brutal. Even though we had the current, the wind was now pushing us back into the canyon as we were trying to row out of it. I could feel neither my feet nor my hands, and maneuvering a two person canoe into the wind taught us a lot about communication.
For the final thirty minutes we strapped the two canoes together and furiously paddled to keep them pointed towards shore and moving. Tying them together helped somewhat with the stability but even still, every foot was a battle and the river didn’t surrender them easily.
We were met with a welcome committee of curious onlookers at shore as we defrosted. All in all, a spectacular adventure in a beautiful canyon.
Zion National Park #
My favorite park of the trip. Whereas Big Bend and Arches were more a bit more barren, Zion combines gorgeous geological features with plenty of greenery and trees.
Waded the Narrows, a river canyon. This was really fun! It became slightly less fun after I fell in and soaked my fleece but and it started snowing on our way out, at which point the only response we had energy for was hysterical laughter.
This trip really reminded me of how little you can plan for beyond bringing lots of water, snacks, and a good attitude. Much like the weather, life isn’t going to unfold exactly like you want it to, so why get upset when it doesn’t?