Friday, April 29, 2011


This post relates to NTTATS, but focused on our experience of life, and in particular our experience of volatility.

I have a core hypothesis that humans appreciate order, that we, in anticipation, expect our experiences to proceed linearly from our past, in an orderly progression, and that in retrospect we "smooth" experiences in our memory to make the past seem more orderly than it appeared in the moment.

Let's talk through some examples.

Consider your sleeping patterns.  How many hours do you sleep at night, taking as your data set the last 3 months?  7 hours?  9?  Chances are you  have a pretty good idea of your average night's sleep.  But dipping into the specific data will vary considerably.  If the average is 8 hours, but some nights you linger an extra half hour awake, playing Bejeweled on your phone, but still wake up at the same time.  That's a 6.25% difference in minutes slept!  And in the moment, when you wake up with 6% less sleep, you may well feel grumpy about it.  But two months later, that incident of less than average sleep will have faded in your memory to seem more or less the standard.

Now consider your moods (or those of someone in your life); looking back over those same 3 months, you may recall being "mostly" happy/content or sad/grumpy, but my suspicion is that your recollection will be seriously colored by your mood at the current moment.  And further, that your expectation for your mood in the near future proceeds primarily from your current state.

The upshot is this (I know this post is wordy, but my mind has been clouded by a sinus infection for days...) - the natural world and our experience of it exhibit significant volatility.  Everything observed closely reveals this volatility, but both society at large and our minds individually seek to flatten out or smooth the data to make it seem less volatile.  Put another way, we try to make the chaotic look orderly.

As with NTTATS, this volatility idea seems really obvious to me after talking it out, but when I first became aware of the concept it seemed novel.  And as with NTTATS, I'm struggling a bit to put into words the practical application of the knowledge.  I think that in both cases the real value is to alter our working expectations to accommodate a reality where the future will necessarily not proceed exactly per past experience.

We need to internalize that volatility is the rule, and not the exception, and then so many frustrating things about the world will look differently.

Let's flesh this out in the comments.  Maybe the pressure in my head will subside soon and I can be more coherent.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Month 4

4 seems like 4 years or 4 days, depending on when I stop to think about it.  Time is always relative, but the first months of being a parent are unlike any other bendy-time I have experienced.  Maybe it's the sleep deprivation, or maybe it's just that you change so much so quickly.

One big development this month is in your structural stability:

For me the money shot in that video is the last two seconds - I love that look in your eye.

What else happened in month 4?  It was definitely your most traveled chunk of life so far.  You took a road trip to Atlanta and back with your mom, and then again with me & Mom to see a friend get married.

You travel pretty well, still mostly sleeping in the car, but ~ 2 hour road trips are about the max we can make comfortably while you are breastfeeding.  Yes - you are still a gigantic jerk when it comes to taking a bottle.  While you still eat 10+ times per day, we have probably successfully fed you from a bottle 4 times, total.
These plastic rings comprise about 90% of your toy box right now.  I don't love plastic, but they are light enough for you, they clip to everything (keeping stuff handy is a big deal when tending a child), and they are not sized for easy swallowing.  You mainly suck on them.  There are no teeth yet to poke their way out of your gums, but you slobber and suck non-stop.

Did that sound critical?  Sorry - you are adorable, but the constant moisture coming from all your openings can get a little old!
Our longest trip, to date, was a short vacation last weekend to Florida with my family.  What is a 7 hour car trip for "normals" turns into a 10 hour trip with a kid that needs to be fed every 2 hours.  I know car seats keep you safe (it's the law!), but I seriously considered whipping you out in transit through the back roads of Alabama.  Your Mom wouldn't let me.

As it turned out, we had a pretty good trip.  You were mostly indifferent to the sand and surf and heat, but your mom got to go all hyper-protective of your skin with the hat, body suit, tent (pictured in the background), umbrellas, and the million SPF/UPF lotion...if you haven't heard this already, Yo Mamma Loves You.

You are definitely more reactive these days, and that is a welcome change.  I didn't get much noise from you in this video, but you have definitely taken to babbling a good bit, and sometimes in seeming response to us.  Mom will say "I love you!" and you go "[gurglr gurgle OOoooooo..."  Every cute sound you give us makes up for approximately 15 minutes of screaming...I'm hoping to balance the accounts soon, maybe shake out a net credit of good vs the bad.

Who am I kidding?  It's already more good than bad.  Because when all is said and done and I'm on the verge of leaving this all behind to join a monastery, I get the chance to see you all stylin' like this
and it gives me hope for the world.  Someday you and I will walk down Collins Ave in Miami with our shirts unbuttoned like this and the ladies will say, "Wow."  Or something like that.

I love you, Buddy.  Q1 is in the books, and the earnings exceeded analysts' expectations.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

sharing with my son

I want to teach my kid everything I know.  And I want to learn new things just so I can teach him those too.

At this point, I hope he develops a natural curiosity about the world that I can feed information into, because I'm not sure how to inculcate curiosity if it's not naturally present.

I've started looking at things around me as potential laboratory experiments for the two of us.

This morning, for example, I was cleaning out the pan from yesterday's bacon drippings...when the left over fat cools in the bottom of the pan, it turns white and sticky.  But after just a few minutes on low heat, the fat turns clear and slippery.  Where did the white go?  I can't wait to tell the kid how we and everything in the universe is far more complicated than it might appear on the surface, that we are all made up of infinitesimal bits and a lot of empty "space".  And then we will watch Sponge Bob.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

traveling with kids

This post from Meg makes me a little sad, a little nostalgic, and a little inspired:
Our Mexican Vacation
 I remember the prior post about France, and how I shared it with my wife; at the time we did not have a child and we were working through a decision tree about whether we wanted kids or not, and how we wanted our life to look if we did bring a child into the family.

I may have mentioned it here before, or this may be new to most of you, but just before we got pregnant, and well before we made the move from Chicago to Chattanooga, mi esposa y yo were seriously considering a different sort of adventure.

The basic idea was that we were both going to take a sabbatical from our work and hit the road (or airways, or sea-paths, etc) and see some of the world.  We had been decent travelers before; together we had been to Buenos Aires in Argentina, to several spots in Italy, on a driving tour of Canada (hitting Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto in a whirlwind), as well as a number of spots in the States.  And so we thought we might light out in search of New, and Different, and Exciting.

The plan was to blog about our travels, possibly generating some community that would eventually evolve into a business, or a travel advice resource, or at least content for a book / magazine article.

And then this happened:

we call this look redneck vogue

Well, he didn't immediately show up this sophisticated looking, but in the midst of our planning to quit-our-jobs-and-wander-the-world, we got the two-pink-lines-on-the-pee-stick news.  And we did what any reasonable people in our situation would do, and re-imagined our plan as a travel-with-baby adventure.

Oh, how we daydreamed for about a week, talking up our ideas for how our child would love to be a world traveler, and how our blog could framed as a guide to other parents: This is How You Travel With Child!  And then reality set in, as it is wont to do.

But, here's the thing, I am a big believer that perception informs reality, and that the constraints we see for our lives are largely of our own design.  I was reminded of this a few months ago when some friends of friends blew threw town on the return leg of their own travel odyssey (read about it here).  They had done something so similar to what we had envisioned, and I was jealous and encouraged and wistful.

And now Meg drops this post on me, and it finds me in the midst of some serious career malaise, and it's making me thing, again, of what may be.

Friday, April 8, 2011

a request for feedback

I haven't been as prolific in this space as I was, and for many a reason.  Whatever.  But I have had an idea for another related page (similar to DRW FOOD or MEDIA) that would be concerned with reviews of contemporary journalism.

The idea came to me when reading the hatchet job NY Mag published about Cathie Black, and has generally been reinforced by the success of the Daily Show at pointing out the low standards and poor rationales exhibited in much of the TV/Cable news.

So the format would basically be: find a piece that speaks to some interesting bit of current news, and explore the inherent biases, cognitive and otherwise, as well as any exceptionally poor of language.

Is this too niche?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

on intellectual property

[This post has been clogging up my "drafts" folder for months...I've been collecting web bits and pieces that I saw as informing the debate over intellectual property with the idea I would soon sort through them all and write some sort of grand thesis on the topic.  But I haven't.  And it's weighing on me.  For now, I'll just share the link collection as it stands and we'll see what happens next.  In brief, I will say that I think that IP (and piracy, copyright, DRM, etc) will be one of the most important economic issues of the next 50 years, and the ramifications of the relevant law on society will be broad and deep.]

(started 12/10/10)
Man, oh man, this is a biggie.  And I know from go that at least one of my readers has a seriously different opinion, but IP, copyright, patents, "fair use", "piracy" - these things are collectively one of the biggest issues percolating in the world community right now.

Friday, April 1, 2011

this is cool

Blogger rolled out some updates to the platform; check out the version of this site at:

You can choose other views from the menu on that page, top left.  Very cool.