I know the folks at Langdon Hall really get me because they gave us a gorgeous loaf of freshly-baked bread and a whole lot of butter—basically, the foods that make me happiest—to take home with us when we checked out after our lovely stay this weekend.
Why didn’t anybody tell me that Sally Rooney’s Normal People would devastate me as much as it did? Ooof.
Will most likely have a lot to say about this later. Will most likely be unable to say any of it online.
Did L buy us tickets this morning to go see Hamilton on my birthday? Yes, yes she did. 💕
That moment you get to the train station before a six-day trip away (including about twenty hours in planes and trains) and realize you forgot your headphones at home…
Always a little tough to come home from vacation, but I was welcomed home with a dazzling display of fall colours along the riverfront here and a gorgeously sunny day, so I guess I can’t complain too much.
A few passages that stood out from my recent reading of The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton:
“If there be a hell upon earth, it is to be found in a melancholy man’s heart.”
“All other diseases whatsoever, are but flea-bitings to melancholy in extent: ’tis the pith of them all.”
“Thou canst not think worse of me than I do of myself.”
“He that increaseth wisdom, increaseth sorrow.”
“Now go and brag of thy present happiness, whosoever thou art, brag of thy temperature, of thy good parts, insult, triumph, and boast; thou seest in what a brittle state thou art, how soon thou mayst be dejected, how many several ways, by bad diet, bad air, a small loss, a little sorrow or discontent, an ague, &c.; how many sudden accidents may procure thy ruin, what a small tenure of happiness thou hast in this life, how weak and silly a creature thou art.“
The new season of Function is out, and the first episode is all about tech and mental health. Anil Dash was one of the people who reached out and literally saved my life when I was at my worst some years ago, so it’s heartening to hear him approach this important topic.
Love this passage on the back cover of this month’s Poetry Magazine.
The To Play in the Face of Certain Defeat exhibit by Esmaa Mohamoud at Museum London is breathtaking.
The session I was most looking forward to at the Place Matters conference was the one on micro-neighborliness; it met and surpassed all my expectations.
(If you’re interested in micro-neighborliness and want a good introduction to the concept, I always point people to Steve MacDouell’s excellent summary.)
Huge thanks to James Chan for his excellent moderation, and for pulling together an inspiring panel.
Somewhat related: if micro-neighborliness is greatly influenced by urban design, we need to design our cities for serendipity. I’ve written a little bit about designing mobility for serendipity before, but there’s so much more to I’d love to learn about, write about, and talk about in his area.
Excited to announce Teaching Public Service in the Digital Age, something I’ve been working on with an global group of academics and public servants. If you’re interested in re-thinking how we teach our future public servants, sign up for updates or message us.
They should rename the Spotify “Best of Broadway” list to the “remember all the times you’ve erupted into tears sitting in a theater audience and nobody looked at you with judgment because they were crying too” playlist.
When you can’t decide between peach sorbet and peach cobbler ice cream at Haven’s Creamery, you just order both and share them both with someone you love.
I’ve seen many photos of it since it was revealed, but seeing the President Obama portrait by Kehinde Wiley in person, right up close, is a whole experience in itself. It is a staggeringly stunning portrait that immediately washes over you.
My therapist recommended to me that I should track my daily water intake, so I threw together a tiny Shortcut to help me do that in the 90 seconds it took me to make it out to the parking lot from her office, so yes, I’m feeling pretty accomplished today. ☺️
In my community growing up, every celebration was marked by the serving of sharbat—we even served it at our wedding—so I was delighted to listen to the recent Gastropod episode on the delicious beverage. Worth a listen if you’ve never tried it, or heard of it before.
PSA: In an effort to combat the heat and my Friday afternoon sleepiness, all emails and messages I will send for the rest of the day will be sent from inside the pool, with at least 60% of my body submerged underwater.
A friend on Twitter asked me for some tips about Detroit since I go there quite often, and I shared a few quick tips (to fit in three short tweets) on things I’d recommend for a person going to the Motor City for the first time.
This isn’t an exhaustive list and only reflects what immediately popped into my head at that time, but wanted to save them somewhere easier to find in case someone else asks again.
Mexicantown in Detroit is amazing. I love stopping at Taqueria el Rey for chicken and tacos after crossing the bridge.
Detroit-style pizza is iconic. I prefer to get mine at Cloverleaf.
The DIA is one of my favorite places in the world. The Rivera murals are breathtaking.
Heidelberg Project is unique and eye-opening. Eastern Market is a feast for the senses. Guardian Building is jaw-dropping.
The BELT (alley) has good public art and a really great public space vibe and has my favorite Detroit bar, Standby, in it.
Downtown has some great public spaces, including Campus Martius Square and down parts of Woodward Ave.
You can’t leave Detroit without eating a coney; Lafayette makes the best ones.
Fave restos include: Lady of the House, Grey Ghost, Mabel Grey, Voyager, Sister Pie, Al-Ameer.
In between all time spent playing with our cat and lounging in our pool to beat the 110° weather, this weekend’s adventures also included a trip to the lavender farm and a drag show starring the Queen of the North, Ms. Brooke Lynn Hytes.
Spending my evening exploring this audio timeline of Billboard’s top five hits every week since 1958.
Yes, an audio timeline. It’s mesmerizing.
The secret museum in every city is a grocery store. It’s where you can grab and squeeze and not-at-all-weirdly smell indigenous produce. The fishmonger runs an aquarium. The butcher is a zookeeper.
Really digging these Canadian dessert stamps recently issued by Canada Post. Who wouldn’t love a butter tart on their lettermail?
Sunday evenings are best spent having dinner and wine on the patio and then floating relaxedly and luxuriously in the pool until the sun goes down.
In just a few minutes, my friend Alex and I are leaving to road-trip to Detroit to go see Carly Rae Jepsen at The Fillmore, so you know today is going to be a most excellent day.
In the final analysis, the car wastes more time than it saves and creates more distance than it overcomes.
André Gorz wrote this in 1973 and it remains more true and more relevant than ever.
Was this strawberry sorbet from Haven’s Creamery the best strawberry sorbet I’ve ever had? Why yes friends, I think it was.
Strawberry season was quite late this year, but the berries are out now and ready for picking—and eating! We were able to get quite a nice haul from the farm down the road this morning.
Someone sent me the upcoming issue of Poetry magazine in the mail, and I have no idea who my mysterious benefactor may be.
Whoever did send this wonderful gift to me, thank you so very much! It is bringing me such delight.
Highly recommend reading this phenomenal piece by Maciej Cegłowski on privacy, data, and regulation.
We are now twenty years into an uncontrolled social experiment, run by Silicon Valley, that has broken a great deal for the benefit of a few.
Excited to be on a train on my way to spend the morning talking about ethics in digital service design with the new cohort of Code for Canada fellows. Looking forward to some good, and potentially challenging, conversations.
Ark of Taste is a catalog of “delicious and culturally significant foods in danger of extinction.”
I had never thought of extinction in terms of food before, but this catalog is a sobering reminder of the things we lose through the years.
Still basking in the glow of that Raptors win? Articles to keep the good vibes going:
Gotta love the people who clog up the Slack with “why do people care about sportsball so much, my interests are much more refined” messages mere hours after the home team wins their first championship, because it reminds me of who I can completely ignore from now on.
Wearing pink shorts and a haphazardly-tied bowtie, so yes, I’m getting a few funny looks on the train this morning—and feeling pretty okay with that.
In commemoration of National Public Service Week, I say thanks to every single one of my colleagues in public service, no matter where they are, who work tirelessly to make life better for the people they serve.
Public service is a calling, and I’m so thankful for those who have answered that call.
There are few things as delightful as strolling aimlessly for a few hours through small neighborhoods in a city you don’t know as the sun rises up over the houses and parks around you.
Most of the time, when I’m on a plane, I’m either asleep or too busy reading or writing to look out the window. Today, I soaked in the bright blue skies at takeoff:
And then I basked in the pre-sunset skies at landing:
After observing all that majesty, everything felt right in the world.
Eid Mubarak, my friends. I hope your day is auspicious and filled with joy and love and delight.
That moment in Chernobyl when he says, “we’re asking your permission to kill three men.” Ooof. That was something.
This is some of the best television I’ve seen in a long time. What a stunning, but emotionally gutting, show.
Picked up a gorgeous neighborhood map designed by Jelly Brothers at the Boho Bazaar last week. It’s rare to find beautifully-designed maps of our small ’hood in our small city, so I’m very glad to have found this one.
Last night was the ultimate television-watching evening:
I ended up just watching the basketball game (Go Raps!) and will have to catch up on the other two tonight.
After spending the past two weeks listening to Dedicated on repeat, I’m happy to state that, while it may not reach the transcendence of E•MO•TION, it is a incredible collection of infectious songs filled with immense joy and delight—and one of my favorite albums of the past few years.
The practice of love offers no place of safety. We risk loss, hurt, pain. We risk being acted upon by forces outside our control.
Many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.
Poignant, resonant, important.
I’m very conscious of the sounds around me, and especially when I’m in high-stress environments, so the recent 99pi episode on sounds in hospitals was quite resonant.
(Somewhat related: I wrote a blog post about hospital beeping a few years ago.)
Wrapped up our museum tour of the city yesterday with a visit to the Camp exhibit at The Met. It was delightfully strange and full of joy; I highly recommend checking it out. Time to fly back home, now.
I haven’t posted a Micro Monday recommendation in months, but today I’m excited to recommend @hollyhoneychurch, who notices the small fleeting beauty and delight in life, and writes with a gorgeous, poetic prose.
Got to check out the Whitney Biennial this morning, and as always, there are some really excellent pieces in the exhibition. The works by Alexandra Bell, Milano Chow, Brendan Fernandes, Nicholas Galanin, Christine Sun Kim, and Ragen Moss are particularly striking.
Yesterday was a truly gorgeous day in Brooklyn, full of sunshine and heat and the sound of laughter and joy as people all congregated outside to enjoy the weather. It was a perfect day to get some ice cream from Ample Hills and enjoy it in the sun.
I never saw myself. I never saw any lives that looked like mine. And what happens, when you’re living in that world, […] is that you can not imagine your own interiority—because you get to think that your interiority is not something worth imagining.
Our magnolia tree, tulips, and daffodils are in full bloom. The front yard has exploded with color, and this brings me more joy than you can imagine.
My friend—and regular penpal—Tanja sent me a letter with this as the opening epigraph and I needed to share it here because it’s absolutely perfect.
The spring is on the verge of eruption: our crocuses are in full bloom, our tulips are on the precipice of blooming, and little buds are appearing on our magnolia tree. In a few weeks, our front yard will be an explosion of color, and this makes me so happy.
We froze a bunch of strawberries from the last time they were in season, so yesterday, we made jam. (Also, ate strawberry shortcake.)
🔖 ”If the industrial revolution heralded a landscape where silence was eliminated, the peace of town and country punctuated by the clank of machinery, then the digital revolution has shifted that very noise into our heads as well.”
Saturday morning spent listening to CRJ and writing letters to friends.
Today is Cleo’s third birthday, and we will celebrate by doing what we do every day: showering her with immense love and giving her treats. I never thought I could fall so smitten with this cat.
There are these incredible STEM Role Models posters from Nevertheless Podcast all over the walls of our office; seeing them, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to work in a place that cares so much about diversity, representation, inclusion, and equity.
Sometimes, you read something so beautifully evocative, so poetic in its mastery of words, that your heart hurts because you’re swept away with delight—and because you wish you could ever write with such grace. This very short reflection by Angella d’Avignon is one of those pieces.
Astronomers have taken the first ever image of a black hole; it was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world. I feel so blessed to have been able to see this in my lifetime. Space is amazing—and science is even more incredible.
Recently, a passenger beside me pressed the play button on an episode of Nancy. I tapped him on the shoulder and held my phone up: I was listening to the same episode. We laughed and smiled, happy to find a fellow fan in our temporary purgatory.
An important passage by Kristin Neff for me to remember these days:
Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings — after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?
There is literally nothing on television that makes me laugh as much as Desus & Mero makes me laugh. I am in tears by the end of each episode.
I am completely smitten with Ian Fisher’s paintings of clouds:
There has been a lot of writing about the decline of criticism recently, but this piece on the need to cover books like television shows, and the decline of literary criticism into a parade of likes and recommendations, has made me really think about what it means to engage in criticism and what it means to the various art forms up for critique.
It’s rare that I read something that captures my mental state so accurately, but this idea of a “comfortable coexistence with suicidality” is so spot-on that I’m surprised nobody has articulated it before.
Moja Coffee beans are my favorite kinds of coffee beans. Getting a shipment in the mail always makes my day.
My friend Amy has hosted a podcast club (like a book club, but instead of reading the same book, you listen to the same podcast episodes) for the past two years. If you’re looking for a thematic approach to podcast-listening, her lists are an excellent place to start.
A beautiful, one-minute, animated video that is a wonderful jolt of perspective in the morning:
Austin Kleon avows that cheap wine tastes better in a juice glass. I agree, and go further to say that fancy juice tastes better in a wine glass.
Another resonant passage today:
For we are like olives: only when we are crushed do we yield what is best in us.
From Too Loud A Solitude, by Bohumil Hrabal.
A beautiful passage that is resonating with me today:
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
From Stray Birds, by Rabindranath Tagore.
This may be the most delightful sentence I’ve read all year:
If you listen closely, Ariana Grande’s hit single “thank u, next” sounds like she’s saying, “thank u, eggs.”
Celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day with beef stew, colcannon, soda bread, and a chocolate stout cake, and some Irish whiskey. That’s the most I’ve done to celebrate the holiday in years.
Here’s #MyMosque where we got married. It’s still a place where I find solace and strength. Praying for my community around the world, today and every day.
إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون
Doritos Cool Ranch? Yes. I feel so seen.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to discover Switched on Pop, but I’m glad I have. Spent the past week binging and listening through the entire back catalog.
There are massive wild turkeys in our neighbor’s backyard, and I keep forgetting just how majestic and large those creatures are. Going to spend a few minutes staring out the window at them, transfixed by their splendor.
For some reason, I always feel great after donating blood. Something about using my body to do something that can save someone’s life makes me realize just how lucky I am to have it and to be (relatively) healthy.
Two nights ago I couldn’t sleep and stayed up all night and was awake for over 36 hours and my body just shut down and last night I slept for twelve hours straight and I feel incredible this morning.
I can see the mountains through the window of my hotel room. This is important for me, as mountains not only inspire me, but remind me to look higher, think bigger, and be stronger. It is a delightful reminder to have as I wake up in the morning.
Spotify just sent me an email telling me about “new music from Carly Rae Jepsen and Solange, two artists you love,” and I’m convinced no email has ever been more perfectly targeted.
We’re only 51 days in and 2019 has already won the status of worst year ever. And trust me, I’ve had some objectively really bad years before. This one takes the cake.
Taking a break from people, for a while. (Still writing blog posts, so you might see updates, but I won’t check the timeline.)
Take care of yourselves while I’m gone. Be kind to each other, check in on each other, and treat yourselves with the tenderness that you deserve.
City council spent a significant amount of time today debating the validity of putting fluoride in our water and if I wasn’t already convinced I live in the wrong city (I was) this definitely cemented it for me.
(And so continues my slow retreat from civic life…)
Jen Sookfong Lee is posting #JensHoroscopes for the Year of the Pig, and the one that she just shared for those of us who were born in the Year of the Dog resonates so strongly with me that I actually cried.
(Probably says a lot about my emotional state these days.)
I’m not usually one to complain about the weather, but this is just obscene—especially coming a day after we had over a foot of snow fall and pervasive snow squalls.
Time to start living up to my name Wu-Tang Clan name.
The show means a lot to so many of us; I’m glad a new generation is able to enjoy and share in Jonathan’s beautiful creation.
One of the things I’m proudest of since moving to London (ON) is playing a small role in bringing electoral reform to the city.
I am the bird in this comic, and that person is the whole world so far this January.
This quote by Khoi on the complexity of healthcare is right on the mark:
Few of us would feel comfortable representing ourselves in courts of law without a lawyer, and yet we’re all expected to make our way through the complexity of healthcare entirely on our own.
Just when I thought the 8-10 inches of snow were making it hard to venture outside, now I’m greeted with this weather forecast for the next few days. My body is not cut out for this kind of cold.
Adwoa Afful reminds us that Toronto must reckon with its past before planning for future:
For as long as Toronto has existed, Black migrants and residents have had to meet a level of accountability to their host city in ways that another kind of migrant—tech companies—have not.
“We are not wise, and not very often kind.”
I wrote a short rumination inspired by Mary Oliver last month. I figured that today was a good time to revisit it, and all of Oliver’s work. Celebrate her life by remembering that “joy is not made to be a crumb.”
Fascinating piece by Virginia Heffernan on the effect that screens are having on our eyes:
We measure our vision against the phone, all the while suspecting the phone itself is compromising our ability to see it.
I’ve lived with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder almost all of my life, and for the most part, I’ve been doing really well and thriving these past few years.
Last week, the anxiety starting getting out of hand; it has culminated in full-on panic attacks these past few days, to the point where I’m not sleeping and when I do fall asleep I wake up every hour or so in sheer panic, my body sweating and gasping for breath.
I have ways to combat this, and I am working hard to use the tools I have been given to ensure that I not only get through this, but emerge stronger and healthier, but for now, the world is too much, too overwhelming. I feel like everything is going to collapse on top of me.
I’ll be okay—I have support and have a history of being able to get through this—but for now, I appreciate your patience as I navigate my way through a crippling and crushing time that is making everything, the whole act of life, feel like too much. Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding.
Finally got around to putting up my Crispin Finn 2019 year planner (now, time to fill it!) so I am officially ready for this year to begin.
With all this talk about Marie Kondo’s new television show all over the web and in my Netflix recommendations, I thought I’d revisit my earlier blog post about the luxury and privilege of de-cluttering, the problem of “tidying up.”
Thought my friends on micro.blog might find this comic amusing. 🤣
Sent out my first seven pieces of postal correspondence of 2019 this afternoon.
(Really smitten with the Olivetti Pattern cards; poured my heart out into them, too.)
Bill Watterson published the final Calvin & Hobbes comic strip on December 31, 1995. I thought it was a fitting comic to share at the start of this year.
Scaachi Koul, as always, captures the past twelve months perfectly: 2018 wore us all the hell out.
“This feeling is bigger than burnout; it’s an almost cosmic kind of hopelessness.”
Have a joyous Christmas, my friends. Let your holidays be filled with laughter, loved ones, and light.
Not everything I think needs to be a public thought, and not everything I would wish to express needs to happen through words.
A few blog posts I’ve written over the past couple of weeks:
So proud to be a part of the CKX family. The wonderful team of Lee, Kelsey, and Alexander are doing important and incredible work, and I’m so glad to be able to come along on their journey.
You can learn more about CKX’s work in the recent year-in-review letter.
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
“We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
Oliver Herford (via)
Just started watching The Little Drummer Girl and I’m already overwhelmed by just how stunningly gorgeous both Alexander Skarsgård and Florence Pugh are. Like, remarkably, overwhelmingly and frustratingly attractive—especially together.
Sure, they may be markers of consumerism and conspicuous consumption, but those department store Christmas window displays are delightful and full of wonder, sometimes.
This is one of the best, most poignant, most powerful, and most visceral pieces on living with mental illness I’ve ever read. (As someone who lives with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, it was particularly resonant for me.) A must-read.
“I believe that we all are predisposed towards kindness; some days we just need a little nudge to find our heart and the humanity that can be easy to forget.“
Celebrated L’s birthday this weekend with the help of Taqueria El Rey, Motown Museum, Batch Brewing, Detroit Foundation Hotel, Lady of the House, Standby, Apparatus Room, Heidelberg Project, Rei Dos Leitões, and friends and laughter.
Canceling all my weekend plans just so I can watch the thank u, next video on repeat.
Was going to skip my morning workout today because I’m feeling a little under the weather, but then I dragged my butt to the gym and they were playing a Carly Rae Jepsen playlist over the loudspeakers, so now I know this was exactly the right life decision.
A few things I’ve been reading today:
So many passages in Emergent Strategy will make me reflect for a long time, but here’s the one I’m sitting with today:
How often, how quickly can I become aware of the miraculous nature of the moment I am in, and adapt towards the pleasure available in that awareness?
As an intro to my “weekend reading” post this week, I wrote about embracing vulnerability:
All we can do is to be who we are, and to embrace the options we choose for our own comfort, without judging others, and most importantly, without judging ourselves.
Everything that Atul Gawande writes is incisive and excellent, but this latest piece on why doctors hate their computers is among the best he’s written.
“Medicine is a complex adaptive system: it is made up of many interconnected, multilayered parts, and it is meant to evolve with time and changing conditions. Software is not. It is complex, but it does not adapt. That is the heart of the problem for its users, us humans.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about digital health recently, and especially about how we design digital services for those whose job it is to serve others (this line of thought is, after all, a core part of my day job) and this piece encapsulates a lot of the issues that I’m exploring around the inherent Taylorism built into the design of our digital services.
“Squeezing more patients into an hour is better than spending time entering data at a keyboard. More people are taken care of. But are they being taken care of well? As patients, we want the caring and the ingenuity of clinicians to be augmented by systems, not defeated by them. In an era of professional Taylorization—of the stay-in-your-lane ethos—that does not seem to be what we are getting.”
Why Doctors Hate Their Computers should be required reading for anyone in the world of digital health, digital government, and enterprise technology.
“The volume of knowledge and capability increases faster than any individual can manage—and faster than our technologies can make manageable for us. We ultimately need systems that make the right care simpler for both patients and professionals, not more complicated. And they must do so in ways that strengthen our human connections, instead of weakening them.”
“Halo Hafte is laughing at white people that think you are being divisive when all you tryna do is not be erased.”
Also really loved the Second Look, Twice exhibit:
I don’t have an official bucket list per se, but if I did, I’d be crossing “have an incredible meal at The French Laundry” off of that list tonight.
What a wonderful way to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
Was lucky to chat with the people behind DotHealth about healthcare equity, privilege, and the importance of access to information.
Me? I’m celebrating mango emoji day. 🥭
There is nothing like starting the day writing your morning pages with a fresh new Panobook and an americano while a storm rages outside the window. Feels like a morning made for (reading, writing, relishing) poetry.
Earlier this week, my friend Honey tagged me in the #mylifeinblackandwhite challenge, where I shared one b&w photo of my day—a photo without people in it, or any explanation attached—on Twitter every evening. Now that I’m done, I wanted to share them all here.
A very astute reflection on social media by Sherry Turkle:
We don’t measure up to the lives we tell others we are living, and we look at the self as though it were an other, and feel envious of it. We feel inauthentic, curiously envious of our own avatars.
A fascinating reflection on art and social justice by Wesley Morris:
Suddenly, the kinds of people who used to be subject to censorship are now the purveyors of a not-dissimilar silencing. Members of the old anti-censorship brigades now feel they have to censor themselves.
(This interview with Kaitlin Prest is also a really good one.)
It’s the time of year when I want to spend all my time walking among the color-changing leaves.
We decided to take the back roads to wine country yesterday and were rewarded with a splendidness of autumn colors all around us.
The many wine tastings we had over the weekend were delightful, but my favorite experiences were when we were outside—apple-picking or taking short hikes through the forests and vineyards—surrounded by the signs of the changing seasons, enveloped by the sights, sounds, and redolent air of autumn.
What a lovely weekend escape it was.
If you’re curious, here’s a list of the wineries where we had tastings:
And of course, the incredible restaurants where we ate:
We take pizza very seriously in our home, and are constantly trying fun new toppings to see what we enjoy most. Yesterday’s pizza dinner with friends had some highlights:
Of course, in my haste to eat them all, I neglected to take any photos, but the memory of them all is palpable. Thankful for leftovers, today.
Everything Heather Havrilesky writes is excellent, but this essay on gurus and artists is everything I needed to read, today.
Every sentence is worthy of a pullquote; go read the whole thing.
Tomorrow is Orange Shirt Day, and in advance of that, my colleague Alexandre Dirksen has shared a beautiful, and important, reflection on Orange Shirt Day, reconciliation, and the imperative of Canadians to acknowledge the injustices of the past.
Inspired by @eli, a quick look at my current home screen. Between the automation offered in Shortcuts, Drafts, Things, and Launch Center Pro, I can live the “mostly empty home screen” life.
After reading this poignant and beautiful piece by Brené Brown, I’m starting to understand my current internal rumblings as signs of a midlife unraveling.
I’ll definitely be re-reading and reflecting more upon this in the weeks (years?) to come.
Excited for a fun and action-packed week ahead, but if the rest of the week ends up being anything like today, I’m going to burn out by Monday. Already feel like collapsing from the pressure, struggling to stay afloat.
Time to take a break and take a walk in the sunshine.
Last week, I attended an “inclusion café” for public servants in Ontario that was focused almost entirely on micro-inequalities and how, over time, the violence inflicted through those micro-inequalities leads to an immense trauma.
It was a conversation that rarely happens—not just in public service, but anywhere—and I was reminded of previous conversations about the violence of language that I’ve been having over the past few weeks.
It was heartening to hear these conversations. Kudos to Anima Leadership for bringing this to the inclusion café and to the public service.
After a bit of a hiatus, I’m back. Hesitantly.
I’m still carrying the conversations about the violence of language with me as I re-engage, but there is too much good here to permanently leave. By being a part of the community, I can work hard to make it even better.
The AirBnB where we are staying has a LEBO art piece on the mantle, and it’s a painting of the actual house where we are staying! Must be a custom commission. I’m completely enamored.
In addition to that amazing LEBO piece, this AirBnB definitely has one of the greatest collections of southern vernacular art I’ve ever seen. It’s like an art gallery in here, and I absolutely love it.
Today marks the first time in over a decade that my blood pressure is hovering around 120/80 and my resting heart rate is below 70bpm.
I may still look completely out of shape, but this is probably the healthiest my heart has been in my adult life. I’m proud of myself for doing the work to get here.
I am okay with disagreement; I am not okay with dismissiveness. When your response to someone with whom you do not agree is discourteous, dismissive, and insulting, then it is clear you do not wish to engage, but instead to denigrate.
“If you prefer some echo chamber, though, have at it.”
This is a response that is not meant to engage in honest and curious conversation; it is a response intended to insult and dismiss the views of another. It is a response that says “I have no respect for your thought or for your right to have it.” It is not meant to further discussion and debate, but instead to end it by denigrating a person’s character.
We like to tell ourselves that micro.blog is a great place because we are civil and we have good conversations and discussions, even when we disagree, but I have faced more dismissiveness and insult on micro.blog in the past year than I have at any time in that other “micro” social network. This is not the civil community that we make it out to be, and by pretending that it is, we ignore when people feel actively excluded.
This is the reason I keep leaving micro.blog from time to time—to take a break from the negativity, especially since there are no ways to block discourteousness and insult to my character so I must be faced with it every time I log in—only to come back because I believe in the promise of the community.
It is the reason I am leaving again; it is the reason I probably won’t be coming back, this time.
Happy first day back at school to every student, no matter what their age, who is excited to learn so many new things in the weeks and months to come.
And a very special happy first day to all the teachers that guide us on our personal journeys of learning and exploration.
I may be slightly biased (as they are both my friends) but the most recent episode of Wonk With Mike—featuring an in-depth discussion with the amazing Kate Graham about mayors in Canada—is enthralling, timely, and full of things to learn and explore.
There are few things that bring me as much delight as the weddings of good friends. Yesterday, my friends Dana and Merlin got married in a beautiful ceremony in wine country, and I was so lucky to have been able to celebrate with them.
Prior to the ceremony, I also stopped in at one of my favourite wineries for a quick drink and bite; it was a perfect preamble for a lovely evening filled with friends, family, and love.
Not going to lie: this is definitely the most exciting part of my long weekend.
It took me a long time to be proud of my food and heritage. This piece on the ethnic food we were embarrassed to eat is great.
I’m surprised it took so long to get to this point. My ability to pay for (and have access to) higher education at a particular school doesn’t correlate to my ability to excel at a job. Glad the industry is moving away from credentialism.
It’s Micro Monday! Today, I’d encourage you to chat with @kitt, who is not only an amazing conversationalist and adds so much to the m.b community, but also regularly finds beauty and joy in the world and shares it with us.
Signs my mother knows me very well: she went to Lisboa and brought me some conservas as a gift.
(She obviously knows of my affinity for tinned fish.)
There’s a particular satisfaction when a person who really knows and appreciates wine (including hanging out with a bunch of winemakers and sommeliers) comes to your home and not only gushes about the wine you chose to serve him, but also compliments your wine collection.
My wife sometimes gets small gifts from grateful patients. Yesterday, she came home with a watermelon a patient had grown in their garden.
I usually don’t like watermelon; this one, however, was flavorful, delicious. Maybe there’s a case to be made for gratitude-grown fruits.
Can’t stop singing and dancing along to the new Janet Jackson track. Everything Janet does is pure joy.
Back to Micro Monday, after a long time. This Monday, I recommend following @vega who adds so much to our community and recently shared an excellent rumination on diversity and the indieweb.
A weekend full of trips to the lavender farm, swimming on the beach, sushi lunches, spending time with friends, nicoise salads, swimming in the pool, shopping at the farmers’ market, bottles of rosé, and lots of laughter.
Last night, I watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time in my life. The songwriting was mediocre, the plot was nonsensical, but OMG WHAT A FUN EXPERIENCE.
It may not be completely my speed, but I now understand why it’s such a phenomenon. Such a fun night.
As someone that has over twenty years of writing on the web still around, I‘m very interested in what the archiving of our every thought means to us as individuals—and how it affects our ability to grow, learn, and change our minds online.
There is no one like, and will never be another, Aretha Franklin. Today, amidst my tears, I celebrate her life, the life of the Queen. #RestInPower
“Blood is a burden, love. It should be. It should be heavy, a weight you carry. All of us carry that unshakeable chain.”
A few months ago, I backed a crowdfunding campaign to create a cookbook made up of recipes from chefs here in London, Ontario. I didn’t know what to expect from the project; I just wanted to support the culinary community in the city.
Yesterday, I picked up the final product, and I am floored by its quality and the immense care that went into making this book. I can’t wait to dive into it.
Went to see Come From Away this evening and I was blown away. Beautiful writing, phenomenal music, incredible singing and acting, and striking stage direction—all complementing a heartfelt story of community, generosity, love, and strength.
There’s a disinhibition in not caring, because the emotion of caring is inextricable from the act of caring for someone or something; the former compels the latter.
The video for Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” (a stunning piece of instrumental music) features Elisabeth Moss falling apart as she walks through Toronto (the city is recognizable, yet foreign) and it is one of the most impacting music videos I’ve seen in a long time.
I’ve found it hard to describe just why I loved Coco so much, why it is my favorite movie I have watched in years. I keep telling people it is the perfect movie for the moment, for me in my life right now, and in the context of the world I live in.
In the future, when people ask why I adore Coco so much, I’ll just point them to this incredible reflection in The New Yorker:
This world is hard enough already: its technological conditions induce emotional alienation, and its economic ones narrow our attention to questions of individual survival. As it is, I haven’t assembled the ofrenda I ought to. I barely feel like I’m taking adequate care of the people I love right now, and I mean the ones I know personally. I feel certain that I’m failing the people I don’t know but that I love nonetheless—the people in our national community, and the people who are seeking to become a part of it.
“Coco” is a movie about borders more than anything—the beauty in their porousness, the absolute pain produced when a border locks you away from your family. The conflict in the story comes from not being able to cross over; the resolution is that love pulls you through to the other side. The thesis of the movie is that families belong together.
On a side note: I wish all film writing was this poignant, this beautiful.
My wife had a bout of shingles last year and it was pretty horrible. I didn’t realize how debilitating it could be. The question is: why are so many young people getting it these days?
Chen points out that stress may also to play a role. “Shingles can happen among healthy young adults with no other underlying diseases and who are otherwise athletic, and sometimes we think it might be stress-induced,” he says.
Stress can suppress immune function and trigger outbreaks of cold sores and other herpes virus–related symptoms. “This is all speculation, but I think you could point to social media and modern culture and the emotional and physical and spiritual stress a lot of younger adults are feeling,” Chen says. “I don’t think this is driving higher rates, but it could be a factor.”
As someone who works in public service renewal and digital talent, this explains a large part of what I work on, every single day:
Despite being more necessary than ever, digital literacy hasn’t permeated deeply into the folds of the government. As we’ve seen, public servants often lack the expertise to know how to critique and test technology, and return poorly designed or faulty technology for improvement. The solution isn’t teaching civil servants how to code but instead teaching what kinds of digital tools and products are usable, and what expectations they should have from a product so we can avoid failures like the IRS website. It’s not just a software problem but an understanding problem.
It’s a societal loss that so many men grow up believing that showing aggression and stifling emotion are the ways to signal manhood. And it’s a personal loss to countless little boys who, at best, develop mechanisms for compartmentalizing certain aspects of who they are and, at worst, deny those aspects out of existence.
Sayaka Murata’s Love Letter to a Convenience Store is one of the strangest things I’ve ever read, but it’s oddly compelling.
In the New Yorker, an interesting reflection on “bullshit” jobs. I tell myself my work is useful and valuable, but sometimes I wonder…
Politicians are so fixated on job creation, he thinks, that no one wonders which jobs are created, and whether they are necessary. Unnecessary employment may be one of the great legacies of recent public-private collaboration.
I’ve been noticing that many of the books on my to-read list looked vaguely similar. LitHub has discovered that there is, indeed, a book cover trend emerging, all tracing back to Lauren Groff.
Absolutely love this list of 15 powerful women shaping how we eat in America today.
There are many reasons to love Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but the way it portrays Amy Santiago is a major one—unlike most other characters on television:
Pop culture has long reinforced the idea that intelligence and desirability can’t easily coexist in a female character. In a recent episode, Brooklyn Nine-Nine allows Amy to break down this dichotomy while recognizing its cultural pervasiveness.
Yesterday, the World Cup finals began. It is my favorite sporting tournament; it is the world’s favorite sporting event. Of all places, the New York Review of Books captures its history and spirit perfectly:
Ninety years ago, Jules Rimet welcomed commerce into international soccer to launch a competition wherein, he wrote, “foundational violence is subsumed to discipline and the rules of the game.” Today, we’re living in times when rules-based approaches are being scorned and smashed—and even Rimet’s global institution has been shaken by the crass logic of cash and political exploitation by strongmen. But on the fields where World Cup teams play, and in the bars and living rooms and cafés where we get to watch, his vision persists.
There are many reasons to be scared of the effects of climate change, but the arrival of a global dust bowl and the health issues it will cause is definitely among the big, underreported concerns.
The verdict? Wine was incredible (let the staff pick it for you) and the food was divine. 👌🏾👌🏾👌🏾
This post by Mike Monteiro on suicide is one of the most important things I’ve read on the topic in a little while:
When you hear that people “struggle with depression” I want you to know that struggle is the most real word in that sentence. Every day can be a fight. And every morning that struggle starts again. Someone who has to wake up and fight 365 days a year isn’t selfish, they’re exhausted.
There’s so much in what Mike writes about here that I can relate to, strongly and poignantly.
We’ve evolved to give more weight to our flaws, mistakes and shortcomings than our successes.
I’m particularly bad at being kind to myself; it’s something I need to work on more consciously.
Reading: “Every day, women across the country consider the risks. That is our day job and our night shift. We have a diploma in risk consideration.”
Reading: “There’s an unfair burden placed on people who experience oppression and discrimination to rise above it, or turn the other cheek.”
As a huge fan of Jeopardy!, this look at how the Jeopardy! writers room comes up with all of those questions was enlightening.
This profile on Jemele Hill and the future of ESPN by Bryan Curtis is fantastic, and comes at the right time.
Reading: “The truth hurts white people. Colin Kaepernick has hurt white people, and that is why it’s convenient to banish him, because he holds America’s worst nightmare: the mirror.”
Reading: “I make things for the same reasons babies put things in their mouths: to better understand the world, to sooth ourselves, and learn what to say.”
Reading: “Social mania may be ideal for mainlining breaking news, but it’s not great at providing meaning and context.”
Fascinating: “Between 1990 and 2014, visits to public libraries grew by a whopping 181%. For context, the population of the US increased by 28% during that period.”
Reading: “Fall is good and great, and it will come in time. But September’s summer days are wonderful: a kinder, gentler summer without the scorching heat waves.”
Reading: “The reason why Hooters appeals to me so much is because by tailoring itself to heterosexual men, it has unwittingly created a space where female patrons can go to be invisible.”
Reading: “How do you think big when you’re supposed to not get in the way, not overshadow or intimidate?”
We usually buy our strawberries by the crate from the farm down the street; I hadn’t realized just how much of a stranglehold Driscoll’s has on the berry market.
Oddly captivating: a moving line graphs the motion of everyday objects.
Reading: “Premium mediocrity is creating an aura of exclusivity without actually excluding anyone.”
I’m not much of a kombucha drinker, but my wife really enjoys it, so I was glad to share this fascinating secret queer history of kombucha with her.
Reading: “Cast iron balconies are at once bulky and intricate, their patterns tangled with flowers, leaves, and other motifs from nature. Wrought iron balconies tend to be simpler, but they make up in artistry what they lack in complexity.”
We ate very well this weekend (Hakka cuisine one night, schmaltz rice and Hainanese chicken another, and an octopus benedict for Sunday brunch) but the highlight was definitely this fresh burrata and poached Ontario peach dish. Still dreaming about it, today.
As a self-identified pedestrian at my core, this article was enlightening. “The more we embrace the romanticism of walking, the more we seem to look down on those who walk because they have to.”
Reading: “Part of the problem is in the word ‘like,’ that little heart we tap ten thousand times a day. I like lots of things, so many things, but I am not guided by what I like.”
Reading: “You are trying to push on a mountain, and you may only be able to move it an inch — but — you’ve moved a mountain an inch.”
Reading: “Growing up, I knew there would be food on the table, in the fridge, a delicious, seemingly inexhaustible supply. For me, the act of cooking was to be about self-sufficiency, adulthood—not a reanimation of childhood.”
Total eclipse of the sun, observed July 29, 1878, at Creston, Wyoming Territory. NYPL Digital Collections.
If we talked about what happened in Charlottesville the same way we talk about events in a foreign country, here’s how Western media would cover it.
Reading: “Instead of ruthlessly abusing each weekday as if it is some blunt utilitarian instrument, what if we leveraged everything we had to make each day stand for itself?”
Reading: “The opioid epidemic could kill hundreds of thousands in the next decade. But America can beat it, with the right political will.”
The story of the Duck Tales theme, history’s catchiest single minute of music. And now you’ll have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Reading: “The worst thing as an urban dweller is to be stuck with the auto as your only option.”
Reading: “Men are trash; we need to listen to women when they flame us w/ the truth about ourselves. It’s only when shitty behaviors are confronted that true behavioral change begins to takes place.”
This evening, L and I decided to embrace our inner teenagers: we went bowling, ate fast food, watched a blockbuster movie in the theatres, and went glow-in-the-dark mini-golfing. An evening full of delight, laughter, and so much fun.
Wait: thousands of bags of Doritos washed ashore a decade ago and nobody called me when it happened? I thought you were all my friends…
Reading: “We are ancestors. We are descendants. And while we can’t fix the problems of the past in the present, we can make sure that we break the patterns that formed those problems.”
July was a dry month; our lawn, like those of our neighbors, was tinged with beige no matter how much we watered the grass. Last night, the rain came, torrential, unrelenting, loud, almost frightening. I stared out the window and rejoiced at the majesty of the downpour.
Reading: “Nostalgia, which fuels our resentment toward change, is a natural human impulse.”
Reading: “By keeping your book in one location each time, you free yourself from the distractions of a commute or the pounding waves of a beach. As a result, a strange new relationship forms, between you, the voice of the book, and the room.”
You’ll find the West Loop near the edge of Springbank Park. It’s a modest walking trail of about 2.5km, from the parking lot, down to the river, then back up past the playground. L and I do this loop often in the evenings: an after-dinner stroll to settle our bellies and spirits.
Reading: “For us to be fully effective as a humans, entertainment is a critical outlet, because otherwise we might just be ruminating on all the problems in the world, sending our minds into downward spirals.”
Reading: “Pain is an inextricable thread in the fabric of life, and to tear it out is not only impossible, but destructive: attempting to tear it out unravels everything else with it.”
Sitting on the train, next to a family (a couple and their three kids) who are taking the train to the big city for the first time. The look on the faces of the children is delightful, equally full of curiousness, intrigue, excitement, and anticipation. A lovely morning commute.
Reading: “Speaking up costs us friends, jobs, credibility and invisible opportunities we’ll never even know enough about to regret.”
There are few things that make me as happy as a perfect breakfast sandwich. This look at 17 breakfast sandwiches from around the world makes me salivate.
My wife delivered a talk about HIV PrEP at a Pride Week special education session this evening; I was so proud to see her up there, making a difference in the lives of so many people in our city.
Reading: “Canadians haven’t been conditioned to see history in epic, revolutionary terms. For them, it’s more transactional: You pay your taxes, you get your government.”
Reading: “The primary experience of the adult human being continues to be rumination, with real life happening in the background.”
Reading: “Life can disappear on us just like a cup of coffee consumed on autopilot.”
Today I watched ‘The Big Sick’ and it hit pretty close to home: from an immigrant Muslim family but I’m mostly non-practicing, married a white (non-Muslim) woman, didn’t follow my parents’ expected career aspirations, etc. I’m not used to seeing myself represented well on screen.
Reading: “You can try to create around you a little bit of space that is all your own, a place where the rules of interaction you’ve chosen make sense and your actions have integrity.”
Jon Bois’ “17776” bills itself as episodic fiction about the future of football, but it’s really a rumination on meaning, loss, purpose, and time. It’s beautiful and poignant and fascinating and you should read it.
Reading: “Technological breakthroughs that make clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels would also make it easier to develop the political will for rapid action.”
My backyard is filled with fireflies, their lights flickering on and off melodically—a type of luminescent symphony. I sit at the window, mesmerized.
Things I learned this morning: don’t try to set up a new Sonos speaker while drinking coffee or the cat will freak out and run across the coffee table and knock over your favorite Le Creuset mug, breaking it into pieces and spilling your coffee.
“In a soulmate we find not company, but a completed solitude.” -Robert Brault
Love this: Letters and Liquor is an illustrated history (with stunning hand-lettering) of the most important drinks in the cocktail canon.
Reading: “I find myself constantly reminding people that thinking is an activity too. Yet how much time do you really make for it?”
A family member on my wife’s side breeds, raises, and trains falcons. This afternoon, we spent some time on their farm admiring the beautiful birds and learning more about them. They really are majestic, smart, gorgeous creatures.
Reading: “Procurement challenges show the need for continued focus on bringing more technical talent into government service.”
We used wavway to create an all-Canadian playlist for our drive from Toronto to London this evening and were thoroughly impressed. Great way to discover more Canadian music.
There a few senstations that will linger: the feel of cobblestone beneath my feet, the smell of grilled sardines, the cacaphony of a tram careening through winding streets, the taste of salt on lips after swimming in the sea, the sight of stacked rooftops from our windows. 🇵🇹
Off to the airport after a wonderful vacation. The last day of a trip is always bittersweet: sadness to be leaving an exciting séjour, ending an adventure, but happiness that comes from the nostalgia for home, the yearning for routine, normalcy, and comfort of the every day. 🇵🇹
I rarely enjoy driving at home, on roads that I know and in a car that I own, so it was no surprise that I found driving this tiny electric car around the narrow, steep, crowded, foreign roads of Sintra one of the most stressful parts of the trip.
Still, Sintra is as beautiful as you imagine: a real-life fairytale world. 🇵🇹
I wrote a short musing on São Bento station and my love of beautiful, art-filled train stations. 🇵🇹
Reading: “In an age of increasing privatization, there’s a case to be made for putting effort into the design of democratic spaces. It reminds us that creativity can have a place in the daily rush of urban life.”
In the midst of snorkeling, admiring seahorses all around us, we realized that the anchor had slipped; our boat had drifted away to shore. We were rescued from our “lost at sea” moment by a passing fisherman—it was a frightening-at-first, but ultimately memorable adventure. 🇵🇹
We are in a small, sleepy fishing village, just outside a small, less-sleepy town in the Algarve. There are few, if any, tourists; we intend to live as locals, as much as we can, for the next few days. 🇵🇹
A glass of sangria and a piece of pie and the sound of fadistas singing the melancholic songs of fado throughout the room. A night of beauty, music, and saudade. 🇵🇹
Still keep coming back to this majestic piece of street art. 🇵🇹
Today, we sat where the river meets the ocean, where the fishing boats come in to drop off the day’s fresh catch, where the gardens curve as if all roads lead to the water, where the rushing tributary surrenders to the vast, yet calm, expanse of the unknown of the sea ahead. 🇵🇹
A day spent exploring historic architecture, tasting port, eating excellent meals, and enjoying the sights and sounds on both sides of the Douro river. 🇵🇹
The city is quiet at sunrise; not a single car passes me as I stroll along the cobblestone streets. I wave hello to the half-dozen people milling about, most heading to the train station on their way to work. The sounds of birds singing echo through the narrow laneways. 🇵🇹
Even after a delectable dinner at Belcanto last night (the inventiveness blew me away) we could not say no to a poolside breakfast. With full bellies, we now head north on the train. 🇵🇹
Checked into the hotel—one of the nicest we’ve ever stayed at—and immediately went for lunch at a rooftop bar with a gorgeous view of the old city. An auspicious beginning, despite the 113° weather, to our little escape. 🇵🇹
At the airport, waiting for our flight to start boarding. Late nights at the airport are interesting: the hubbub is softer, the activity is slower. Everyone is ready to sleep, but holding out for a few more minutes to get on the plane before they take their slumber. 🇵🇹
Reading: “To be alone, after all, is to admit to that rare quality: a contentment with one’s self.”
Leigh Ann Lunsford: “My grandmother once told me, ’Relationships are work, honey, and they aren’t 50/50. Some days when I get up, I only feel like giving 10% — then your granddaddy has to give 90% that day. But there is always 100% love.”
Reading: “The priorities are not to make cities smart, or even wise. The first priority has to be making our cities just.”
Reading: “In the current era of sports, the best players achieved superstardom in the same way as any other generation, but now they are staying there for longer than ever before, becoming legends and being the best in the game at the same time.”
I’ve eaten many excellent, incredible, extraordinary meals, but there have been very few meals (Alinea, Cal Pep, The Ledbury) that I can truly call transcendental. Last night, at Backhouse, I had one of those—definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area.
Reading: “The Internet has centralized into a very few hands. We have an extremely lucrative apparatus of social control, and it’s being run by chuckleheads. The American government is also being run by chuckleheads.”
I loved Wonder Woman for many reasons, but what really resonated with me was to see a character that shares my name (Sameer) and who had the same skin color and mannerisms as I do, on the big screen, and not as an object of simply ridicule. Brava, and thank you, Patty Jenkins.
My love gets discharged from the hospital tomorrow. This has been a long, tiring, often-heartbreaking two weeks; it is never easy to see the people you love be unwell, and even harder when you are helpless to do anything to make it better.
Reading: “For all its magnificent intricacy and beauty, the show he produced is a work of creative non-fiction, not public-interest journalism. The difference matters.”
Even in a city as big as Toronto, in an airport as busy as YYZ, you’re bound to run into people you know at the Starbucks in the middle of the terminal. It is, after all, the “watering hole” of the airport desert: a place of sustenance, but mostly a place of congregation.
Reading: “This is the work of writing and editing for social change. Every word matters, and yet there is no perfect word, only imperfect alternatives.”
Still can’t fathom how someone could willingly take away access to healthcare from anyone — if anything, we should be going over-and-above to ensure the health of the people around us, because it makes us stronger as a society.
If you take the VIA Rail train to Toronto in the morning, you undoubtedly end up ordering the coffee. Even if you come armed with your own cup, you inevitably end up asking for the VIA Rail brew when the cart pushes by…
Reading: “To be on is to be alive, energetic, aflame, to display one’s best self. Similarly, on is language’s best self, demonstrating how much can be done with so little.”
Something new, something strange, something exciting, something confusing. Something to try, something to learn, something to explore, something to enjoy. Let’s get this something started.