Back on the coffee today

Update 2/11: I’m off for 12 days now, woo hoo

On Sunday, I survived my first day without coffee. Then yesterday, I survived a second day without coffee.

Pros of coffee abstinence include:

  • Better sleep.
  • Generally feeling a ton healthier.

Cons of coffee abstinence include:

  • Low-grade headache and other withdrawal symptoms.
  • Leah questioning my sanity.

I am back on the coffee today.

Highlights from Dreamland

One of the most important books of the decade:

They couldn’t conceive of their children on heroin. For every symptom, the parents had an answer. Did they see burned aluminum foil around the house? We thought he was burning incense. Was he slurring his speech? He was getting over the flu. Were his grades falling? He was going through a phase.


Drug overdoses passed fatal vehicle accidents nationwide for the first time in 2008.


It was true about much of a country where the streets were barren on summer evenings and kids no longer played Kick the Can as parents watched from porches. That dreamland had been lost and replaced, all too often, finally, by empty streets of bigger, nicer houses hiding addiction that each family kept secret.

Sam Quinones — Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

Idea: Kickstarter for events

Events are great because they bring people together.

In scenarios where there isn’t already a cohesive group, organizing an event has two risks:

  1. Will enough people sign up to make the planning effort worthwhile?
  2. Will the people who signed up actually show up?

A Kickstarter for events could solve these two problems.

First, the event would have some minimum number of signups required for the event to happen. It doesn’t happen if it doesn’t achieve critical mass.

Next, the organizer would track which signups actually show up at the event. This data could then contribute to the attendee’s reputation score on the platform, and calculate the likelihood of attendence.

Problem worth solving? It seems mundane but I keep wanting this for situations I come across in the real world.

Four short links – January 24, 2019

Reality of open source businesses, marketing ideas, income equality debate, and organizational alignment.

  1. AWS, MongoDB, and the Economic Realities of Open Source (Stratechery) — How and why MongoDB is getting massively pinched by AWS.
  2. Ideas for promoting your software product (Justin Jackson) — Good list of marketing ideas to test.
  3. Noah Smith on Worker Compensation, Co-determination, and Market Power (Econ Talk) — Great debate on the nature of income inequality growth: whether it exists (because that’s not decided), and various labor market attributes that might influence it (e.g. the growth of temp agencies).
  4. What Elon Musk Taught Me About Growing A Business (Dharmesh Shah) — The clearest articulation I’ve seen of organizational alignment and its importance. If your organization isn’t aligned, go back to start.

Monica, the CRM to make you a better friend

Monica is my new favorite software. It’s a CRM to “organize the social interactions with your loved ones.” In the few weeks I’ve used it, Monica has done a great job proactively encouraging me to be a better friend.

Monica is also open source on GitHub with an active community. It’s clear how this has influenced what the product is. I’d love to see Régis Freyd (the creator) turn Monica into a viable business too. This would ensure its long-term sustainability, and also help solve for product gaps (e.g. hiring for design polish).

Continue reading “Monica, the CRM to make you a better friend”

Here’s Oregon’s New Bill to Re-legalize ‘Missing Middle’ Homes Statewide

Here’s Oregon’s New Bill to Re-legalize ‘Missing Middle’ Homes Statewide. So cool: requires cities to allow missing middle housing in low-density zones, gives them state money to do the necessary planning, and removes parking quotas for accessory homes.

Book notes: Thinking in Bets

Just finished up Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts.

Overall, Thinking in Bets is a pretty middle of the road business book. It’s good for lots of tactical details around “thinking in bets” and avoiding inherent biases. It doesn’t have an overly compelling narrative.

Some of its more salient points include:

  • “Resulting” is judging a decision based on its results (which are probabilistic) instead of the thinking and process leading to the decision. A good decision can always have a bad outcome because no decision is ever 100% predictable.
  • Transforming “I know” into “I think with N% certainty” creates space for evaluating what you think you know that led to your current conclusion. It also creates space for others to critically examine the facts leading to your conclusion without you being “wrong”.
  • Sugar industry funded research that eventually triggered low-fat food products. Took decades of real-world impact to realize the flaws. See Snackwell opinions from Michael Pollan.
  • Separate the message from the messenger to avoid bias based on perception of messenger. For instance, liberals could learn a lot from conservatives this way. Tactically, practice this by removing the name from the statement and evaluate more objectively.
  • Remembering the future is the best way to plan for it. From the vantage point of the present, it’s hard to see beyond the next step. We end up over planning for addressing problems we have right now. When we work backward from the goal, we plan the decision tree in greater depth.

Overall, Thinking in Bets provides useful reference material for “thinking in bets.” Which is the title of the book. Which you don’t really understand the meaning of unless you’re a poker player or read the book.

Four short links – January 7, 2019

Consumerism, philanthropy, consumer surplus, and banning single-family zoning.

  1. How This All Happened (Morgan Housel) — History of the American economy since WW2, explaining consumerism, consumer debt, and the rise of financial inequality.
  2. Relentless: How One Guy Brought the Internet to America’s Schools (Without Fail) — The right way to be rich is to use your privilege to work on harder and harder problems.
  3. Creating Surplus (Fred Wilson) — Useful chart depicting which goods/services have gotten cheaper because of technology, and which have gotten more expensive in the same period.
  4. Could Oregon Become the First State to Ban Single-Family Zoning? (Willamette Week) — State legislation is becoming a possibility.