21 good things from 2021

  1. Winter. The start to winter was fantastical; from climbing temps in December to full on blizzard conditions in a week. Excellent transition!
  2. Family. The blizzard meant my parents stayed a couple of extra days through the holidays, having them around for playing with grandkids and snow removal was quite fun.
  3. Books. It was a great year to read the Expanse series with the 9th and final book released in November. High quality. Also of note was the Overstory, American Republics and Mastermind.
  4. Bouldering. 2021 was the year I fell in love with the process of bouldering. Working ‘Formula Une’ for multiple sessions with incremental progress without a send was still very rewarding.
  5. Bouldering Project. Having the Hailey Bouldering gym come to fruition in a relatively short timeline was a highlight for sure. Getting a project to completion from concept with the help of the community was fantastic.
  6. Community. From bouldering to parenting to close friends, it was another year to be grateful for those that are near and dear.
  7. Generosity. Really, truly, incredible to see philanthropists at work in the final year of the CARES act. Being able to sit in on meetings where huge sums of money were given to unsuspecting recipients is an honor and a pleasure.
  8. Daughter (elder). Everyone says to appreciate every phase of the process, so I do! Watching C interact, learn and grow has been awesome, and her empathy is heartwarming. So proud.
  9. Daughter (younger). This little firecracker of a 3 year old is still hilarious, and happy to hold her own with big sis. Giving Unky a cat for Christmas was a highlight, for sure. So proud.
  10. Mindfulness. Also, a process, but continued interaction at Flourish and emphasis on the benefits (see Mastermind, in 3.) makes me love the process.
  11. Transcendence. Related to mindfulness, but more about experiences that transcend. Being in the Pio Yurt with a group of guys having a transcendental experience left positive lasting impressions.
  12. Travel. It was easy to say that the lack of logisticizing in 2020 made it easy to skip travel, almost as easy as it is to say that travel in 2021 was awesome. Exploring new parts of the world is always a good idea.
  13. Fall. The colors lasted a loooooooong time, were gorgeous, and a provided a solid connection (pun intended) to #11.
  14. Revelations. Not like endtimes, like realizations. ‘Personal responsibility’ weighs heavy in pandemic eras, but recognition of a few basic principles about myself and the ways I relate to the world around me make life feel richer. Here’s hoping for many more in 2022.
    1. Not all lessons have to be hard.
    2. If you keep noticing that something isn’t getting done like you think it should, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do it.
    3. Action begets action, more specifically action with some appropriately timed discussion begets action
  15. Craft. What started as #ronaprojects are now becoming regular activities in woodworking. Spoons and fishing nets, so far, but having a workbench full of tools at my disposal makes for much more productive sessions.
  16. AK. Fishing the salmon run in the POW was eye opening. Seeing the sheer abundance of nature was an powerful experience.
  17. HI. The more I travel to this place, the more I appreciate it. Finicky bonefish, endless surf, bountiful fruits, there are lots of reasons to keep coming back.
  18. CA. Filling the freezer with rockfish fillets should be an annual mission. Doing so with Dad and brother makes it much more fulfilling. Citrus, avocados and produce, the more I think about the place, the more it seems important to keep visiting.
  19. Work. The fact that I’m continually happy to get to the office is a blessing in and of itself.
  20. Growth. Even when the lessons aren’t hard, the feeling of acquiring wisdom adds to the richness of the apssage of time.
  21. Music. The act of writing a song for Linds (under the tutelage of Trevor!) was mind-expanding in and of itself; practising and playing regularly has offered completely new horizons. This will continue!

Not all lessons are hard

Nor do all hard lessons need to be difficult. Often, the signs are not subtle, and the lesson is easy – even fun. For some reason, believing this to be the case was not my default position, but I’m grateful to have learned this along the way.

New Defaults

Ben Thompson at Stratechery has a post that gives me hope. It is pretty easy to get spun out on negativity when thinking about the state of affairs in the world, but Ben’s suggested defaults offer an antidote:

  • First, it should be the default that free speech is a good thing, that more information is better than less information, and that the solution to misinformation is improving our ability to tell the difference, not futilely trying to be China-lite without any of the upside.
  • Second, it should be the default that the status quo is a bad thing; instead of justifying why something should be done, the burden of proof should rest on those who believe things should remain the same. This sounds radical, but given the fact that the world is undergoing profound changes driven by the Internet, it is the attempt to preserve the unsustainable that is radical.
  • Third, it should be the default to move fast, and value experimentation over perfection. The other opportunity cost of decisions not made is lessons not learned; given the speed with which information is disseminated, this cost is higher than ever.

The misinformation problem has been the most pressing issue in my mind, with Trump, COVID and vaccines being at the forefront. Thompson helps make me think of misinformation as mold; much better for it to see the light of day than be stuck in a dark corner to fester.

The latter two are just great ways to live life, run an organization, or participate in citizenship.

20 good things from 2020

A bit of an antidote to the negativity I hear about the year. (in no particular order)

  1. Backyard bouldering. Carbonate traverse, Baldy boulder, all kinds of stuff in the channel. This really just represents the concept of getting out and discovering local options for doing the things we love.
  2. Food. Gardening, bread baking, condiment manufacturing, you name it, there was a true renaissance in handcrafted food products this year.
  3. Crafts. #ronaprojects #covidprojects, I made some spoons for the first time and loved it.
  4. Connection. Ironically, 2020 was about connecting with loved ones, albeit remotely, and valuing the in person interactions even more.
  5. Mindfulness. So much more recognition flowing to this space this year.
  6. Responsiveness. This idea that we can have a Sputnik moment was sure not seeming likely until the pandemic rolled around, and the vaccine rollout has proven that we can still rally.
  7. Yoga. Man, I wish I would’ve discovered how nice it is to watch a yoga video in the living room years ago.
  8. Family. Spending so much time with the kiddos was a rad blessing, especially in hindsight….
  9. Family. Spending time with grandparents, in isolation and with no agenda, was definitely a blessing.
  10. Reading. It was a great year to catch up on some reading, highlights include: Breath, The Body, Underland, Entangled Life, The Wayfinders, N.K. Jemisin and The Return of the Thief.
  11. The emperor has no clothes. It does appear that noisiness is losing its ability to combat reality, however that may be defined for some folks. Voter fraud and vaccines are the biggest examples.
  12. Seasons. My oh my, but the spring and fall were glorious this year. Nice temps, beautiful flora, and the climbing and fishing were oh so good.
  13. Daughter (elder). The learning curve got steepened this year, especially when it came to processing emotions. So proud.
  14. Daughter (younger). Continued interaction has led to fantastic growth and hilarity. So proud.
  15. Biking. The early spring purchase of a fancy mountain bike really changed the sport, opening up a whole new batch of unexplored local terrain.
  16. Pods. Having Uncle Trent and Trevor as neighbors to hang out with this spring made for a much richer experience for all of our family. Reducing the number of interactions throughout the year made for much higher quality at work, home and play.
  17. Generosity. 2020 has shown the generosity of people, from straight up philanthropy to random acts of kindness. Our local Mexican restaurant had their wages covered for two months this spring by an incredibly generous patron.
  18. Kindness. The overwhelming majority of people in our little valley wear masks and respect distance. Obviously, there are exceptions, but when you see what goes on outside of our valley or in other parts of the country, we have a high quotient of kind folks.
  19. Technology. Tech is finally seeming to make lives better for people beyond the marginal return of entertainment. The vast majority of people I talk to that are working remotely are quite pleased – though those with children are a wee bit frazzled at times. I find it truly exciting that there will be more opportunity for change in the way we work and school ourselves.
  20. Reflection. This unusual year has given more cause for reflection, I feel like I’ll have to come up with 21 good things from next year and continue this trend.

China

Branko Milanovic is arguing that the phenomena of China’s rise to economic superpower is largely ignored by mainstream economists, and I would tend to agree. In his podcast with Russ Roberts the discussion revolves around the western/free market economics perception that the only thing that prompted China’s meteoric rise was that they opened up to free markets (if they would’ve done MORE, they’d be further along).

They duly note that it will be impossible to evaluate these claims, but the fact remains that China is the economic miracle of our lifetimes.

I’d imagine that one of the most effective ways to evaluate China is as a corporation; Xi as CEO and citizens as workers. Capital allocation decisions are up to managers, not the market, in a corporation and they are measured based on they equity performances.

Noise

Daniel Kahneman has a new book coming out, a copy of the prologue is currently available here.

I’ve been throwing the term ‘noise’ around for the last, oh, 4 ish years in kind of a “Wag the Dog” sense, but the refinement that Kahneman provides gives an even greater sense of urgency to the act of recognizing noise.

I generally find myself biased against algorithms for their lack of ‘humanity,’ which implies a mix of bias, noise, and the je ne sais quoi that make us what we are. That algorithms provide the advantage of noiselessness is something I’ve largely underrated; I usually jump to the idea that an algorithm should be taking someone’s job: appraiser, mortgage lender, etc.

I also find ‘noise’ to be a much kinder description of the variability of responses to situations that I normally equate to hangriness, hormones, sleep deprivation and/or a lack of exercise.

In sum, I’ll read the book and will spend much more time thinking about overcoming noise in all aspects of life.