Tangential Tuesdays #61

I climbed a peak and slid down today

I don’t have much for y’all today. I spent the weekend up in Tahoe, taking an avalanche course. It was wonderful enjoying some time away from the computer.


The final day - we toured castle peak and slid down. It was glorious.

Tahoe received about 1.5 ft of snow on Thursday, but due to warm temps, it was pretty thick by Monday… we had a blast regardless.

Looking forward to many more tours over the course of the rest of the season 😃 - hopefully with better snow and less risky avalanche conditions.


Quote of the week

But wisdom, in one sense, is the opposite of love. Love survives in us precisely because it isn’t wise.


One of my favorite skiers doing Mt Shasta and making it look way too easy. I want to keep skiing Shasta until I can make it look this fun & relaxing 🤞.


That’s all for this week. It’s been a crazy week, with no signs of letting up anytime soon. No complaints 😛

Love,

Tay

Tangential Tuesdays #60

Progress, snow, overcommitting

hi. I hope this sunrise over Donner Lake makes your Tuesday 1% better.


Full disclosure: I'm starting this at 10:30 on monday night, typing on my phone in an uber. Not every newsletter goes as planned 🤷.

But that brings me to the first topic of the newsletter: overcommitting. I’ve been feeling a bit overcommitted recently. It's the ultimate 1st world problem: too many fun things to keep up with. Travel, planning my next trip, skiing, minds matter, watering plants, watching the bachelor, you know the deal.

But for real, I've been a bit overwhelmed. And although it’s frustrating at times, I think overcommitting - and following through is one of the best ways to be productive.

Humans are capable of so much! Sometimes it just takes a forcing function to get us there. Take the avalanche class for example. If I hadn't dropped like $2k on the course plus all the gear already, I might be tempted to just stay home this weekend.

But I know once I get there it will be an absolute blast. Its something I've been dreaming about for YEARS… And it’s happening this weekend :).

Come to think of it, the avalanche class is actually a pretty bad example. Tahoe is supposed to get like 2 feet of snow this weekend and I’d want to be up there no matter what.

This newsletter, however, is a better example. If I wasn’t committed to writing every Tuesday, I’d definitely just go to bed right now. But here I am…


On the nonlinearity of progress:

Last year over Presidents day weekend, we were lucky enough to wake up to about 18” of fresh snow at Squaw. It was only my 2nd day of the season, and I had only been snowboarding a smattering of times since starting school in Pennsylvania.

Despite being a bit out of practice, it is to this day it is without a doubt the craziest terrain I’ve skied in my life (hoping to change that this season).

When you combine the right people, with the right conditions, in the right place, good things happen. Sometimes that’s more important than showing up every day.


That same weekend of skiing, I invited Nathan to come on the trip. At the time, we had never hung out outside of work. I felt awkward and overbearing asking him to come on a 3-day overnight trip.

One concussion and almost a year later, we’ve become good friends. We’ll head to Japan together in about 3 weeks.

It is absolutely wild how much small decisions impact our lives.


On small decisions and randomness:

The identical twin studies in The Gene are interesting. I’ve never really thought about it, but why do twins with the same genes, and exact same upbringing sometimes turn out so incredibly different?

I think a huge part of it is that seemingly inconsequential or random decisions shape our lives more than we think.

I’m convinced that 99% of kids that go to college in the U.S essentially chose what school they went to at random. If they think otherwise, they are probably fooling themselves. When you are 18, you have no idea what you want or value in education.

Yet this decision has a massive impact on the rest of our life.


A quote that made me think twice:

“Empathy, altruism, sense of equity, love, trust, music, economic behavior, and even politics are partially hardwired.”


If you read on a kindle, you should start using readwise. It’s really helpful for remembering more of what you read. And if you sign up I get an extra free month :).

More to check out

The end of the beginning

Why older people should be allowed to change their legal age

What Trees Teach Us About Belonging and Life


Thanks for reading. Expect some snowy pictures of mountains next week ❄️.

- Taylor

Tangential Tuesdays #59

Travel Musings...

Hi. Writing this from a hostel Rome.

By the time you read this, I’ll likely be somewhere over the Atlantic ocean… or with any luck - back home in San Francisco!


At this point in the trip, my friends have already started their journey home and my travel muscle is sufficiently stimulated (for now). I’m more than happy for the excuse to take a night off from exploration and spend some time musing and reflecting on the nonstop onslaught of fun I’ve experienced over the past 10 days.

Some thoughts in no particular order:

What role should travel play in our pursuit of a good life?

This is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot. Everyone is traveling these days. And everyone is posting about it on instagram. And why shouldn’t they? It’s never been cheaper or easier.

“Buy experiences, not things” is the common refrain.

Travel is rewarded with social status in a way that is puzzling to me. People are proud of how many countries they have traveled to. Many people love talking about all of the time and money they have invested into traveling.

But why? In many ways - I think travel is no different than other pleasure-seeking activities: scrolling social media, pornography, eating delicious foods that are terrible for us. That’s not to say that all of these activities should be avoided, but they should probably not be the end goal.

But for some reason, society doesn’t place travel into that pleasure-seeking bucket. And some of that is for good reason! I (and I’m sure many other people) would say they’ve learned a lot from travel.

That said - I suspect if people are honest with themselves (myself included) they would find that a relatively small part of their time traveling is dedicated to learning.

Sidenote: We definitely learned something from this hike turned bushwack that we thought was leading towards an epic view but instead led us to…. a watershed.

If traveling is actually about learning - then our goal should be to travel as little as possible - while still getting the benefits. Shouldn’t the ultimate goal to be satisfied living in one place? Rather than living a life of digital nomadism constantly seeking the next dopamine hit of checking a new country off your list.

On learning from travel

For a large percentage of the trip, my friend Hunter and I were gushing about how . much we loved Italy: the late dinners, the emphasis on food and sharing long meals with people, old buildings, aperitivo, negroni, espressio, etc.

Our friend Miki rolled his eyes and simply said: “Italy: a great place for vacation… not as great for living”.

This is a bit of a pessimistic take - but it does a good job of illustrating the fact that EVERY country has its own unique problems. To us - traveling for the first time in Italy, the place was pure magic. But for someone living there, the reality of the struggling economy was a bit more visceral.

But this is also the best part of travel. We can steal the parts that we love and discard the parts we don’t.

There are a few companies I’ve seen that I suspect are a direct result of people taking an experience they had while traveling and trying to bring it to the U.S:

  • Cabin. I’m tempted to take this night bus from SF —> LA just for the nostalgia of taking night buses in SEAsia

  • Bungalow. Feels inspired by hostels in Europe. Community events, lots of common space, high density of people

  • Probably many more than I can’t think of at the moment…

A few parts of Italy that I’m looking forward to *attempting* to steal 😃:

  • Occasional 9 pm dinners

  • More negronis… seriously can’t believe I am only now realizing how good this drink is.

  • Epic dinners and with friends after skiing (polenta recommended)

  • Drinking alcohol more often - but more casually and less excessively

  • Potlucks with friends… where people make exquisite dishes like twice baked polenta topped with guanciale and honey 😮

  • Less “I’m better than you culture”

  • More value on Home/Family

  • The pizza…

All that said - I’m looking forward to being back in SF. Italian espresso is great.. but I prefer $5 hipster single-origin coffee.

I am looking forward to trying to be content in one place.

Did I mention I’m going to Japan in less than a month? 😆


Some Italian pop for y’all.


Companies I’m excited about:


A few fav quotes from The Gene

Three profoundly destabilizing scientific ideas ricochet through the twentieth century, trisecting it into three unequal parts: the atom, the byte, the gene.

Seek simplicity, but distrust it

Science [would be] ruined if—like sports—it were to put competition above everything else.

Freaks became norms, and norms became extinct. Monster by monster, evolution advanced.

from war & peace:

He used to say that there were only two sources of human vice: idleness and superstition; and that there were only two virtues: activity and intelligence.

In the best, the friendliest and simplest relations, flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning.


Feeling optimistic 😊

Thanks for reading.

- Taylor

Tangential Tuesdays #58

Italy 🇮🇹

Happy NYE 🥳. Writing this from Italy.


I’m currently in the midst of a ~10 day trip in Italy, with two friends from high school, one of which lives with his family in Alessandria. This will mostly be a dump of my favorite photos so far and some random thoughts/stories from my first 2 days there.

View from a friend’s house in Valtournenche.


For some reason, this Italian village decides to celebrate the new year 2 days early. None of the Italians with us seemed to know why, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Italy in the small amount of time I’ve spent here, it’s that they take every opportunity they can to celebrate, slow down, and enjoy plenty of food and drink.

We (read: the Italians) cooked polenta with a beautiful meat sauce, then made our way to the night market where the celebrations continued with hot wine, génépi (local alcohol made from fermented wildflowers), and bombardino (think spiced rum mixed with whipped cream).

They followed this up with an insane firework show… all on the 29th of December.


Italian dish called stinco (roasted pork shank). All the Italians we were with insisted this was mediocre stinco… but it’s far better than anything I’ve ever eaten at a ski resort before. Now to learn how to cook it…

So far all of the cliches of heard about Italian culture really are true. From the ski house, the ski lift, locally produced sausage and cheese, and a bakery were all within walking distance.

Regardless of what they’re doing, people here simply refuse to not eat incredible food for every meal (except for breakfast… which is typically only bread or cookies).


Random updates:

  • Taking an avalanche course over MLK weekend, excited for ski season 😃

  • Reading the gene, it is *really* good. I didn’t realize how much progress we have made in the field over the last 50 years.

  • Attempting to read war & peace. Enjoying it but it’s a marathon so no guarantees if I’ll actually finish it.

  • Have a lot of ideas I want to write about 🤞

Interesting co’s:


Thank you all that have made 2019 great. I have no idea what twists and turns 2020 will bring. My only goal for the coming year is to keep finding ways to get lost… and to share a bit of that with y’all.

Happi (almost) 2020. I wish you all the absolute best.

with love,
Taylor

Tangential Tuesdays #57

Why you should be optimistic about the future, homework, mushrooms, airpods

Hi - welcome to this week’s newsletter.


I’ve been rethinking the way I write this newsletter recently. I love sharing articles I read and things I learned each week - but sometimes the sea of links that makes up this email can feel more like homework and less like fun.

Do we really need more homework? Probably not. Consider this an attempt and experiment at moving a touch away from an aggregation of links.


One idea that I’ve been exploring is this: the difference between a job you enjoy and a job you don’t is far less than most people think.

Take one of my 1st jobs for example: Working for the Appalachian mountain club at a hut. Objectively, there were a lot of less than ideal parts to the job. Someone had to rake composting toilets every day. You had to clean bathrooms and make beds. You had to do mountains of dishes. And for all of this, you were rewarded with minimum wage.

Based on this job description - it’s probably surprising that getting a job at the huts is extremely competitive and attracts college kids from many of the best colleges on the east coast.

There’s a lot of lessons to learn from how the huts are run - but for now, I want to focus on the fact that with the wrong people, this would have been a terrible job. But with the people I worked with? Most days it didn’t even feel like a job. We were just kids getting paid to cook, live with our friends, and go hiking.

I contrast this experience with the winter I spent working at Winter Park. When I tell people about the job - people often tell me they have dreams of doing something similar.

I was the same way… before I actually tried it myself. I hated the repetitiveness of my job and made ~0 friends. Although the skiing was amazing, it wasn’t enough to offset the mundane day-to-day.

The question is: how much of this was pursuing the job at the wrong time of my life? I don’t think I was particularly open to making friends and trying to socialize. I didn’t have a car and was living in rural Colorado… I think we tend to underestimate how very small changes can lead to very different outcomes. In my (extremely limited) experience, jobs within the same industry (tech) but at different companies can look widely different. Way more than I would expect.

We worship bold career changes, but if you’re not loving your job, chances are you don’t need a bold career move or a silver bullet. You just need a tweak.


Jeremy and I hosted a dinner party on Sunday. It was glorious to bring some of my friends I admire most together in the same room.

One idea that I brought up got less traction than I would have expected. To me - that only makes it more interesting. I argued that augmented reality (AR) is already mainstream, in the form of airpods. There are people that essentially spend their entire day with airpods in: walking, ordering a coffee, even while talking to other people.

This feels like a pretty big deal. Combined with the microphone, you can now communicate with a computer / the internet throughout the entire day. I don’t know exactly what this means but it feels like there is a lot of opportunity in the voice/audio space at the moment.

In a similar vein - I love this video on why you should be optimistic about the future. In it, Marc Andreesen argues that the singularity is here and actually started 300 years ago. Human progress over the last 300 years has been insane.

The biggest story that no one is talking about is the fact that the U.S economy has continued to grow over the past 10 years while reducing climate emissions (!) I know I’ve talked about this in the past but that is incredibly impressive and should be celebrated more. It’s only that it’s been canceled out by the growth in emissions from developing countries… that’s still reason to be optimistic as far as I’m concerned.

Watch the video here. I think you will enjoy it :)


🍄🍄🍄🍄

It is prime mushroom foraging szn (if you live in california).


I actually wanted to end the newsletter here - but then I read this article on dating markets (and how they’re changing with dating apps).

It’s hard to think of a technology that will have a more visceral impact on my life over the next few years. No doubt me or a close friend will meet their husband/wife via a dating app.

This might still seem strange if you’re not single and living in a major city but dating apps are fully here and have changed the dating market forever.

Basically, the same thing is happening in the dating market as is happening in the Hedge Fund market: things are getting more efficient, very few are pleased about it, and there are lots of strange advice books, blogs, and videos coming out.

😂🙌

Probably the most interesting aspect of this is that dating apps are so popular that they influence the market as a whole. Even if you have never used a dating app in your life, it is almost certainly influencing other people’s choices to date you / consider dating you.

With all new uses of technology I think it is only natural (and correct!) to be skeptical. That said, I’m cautiously optimistic. Making markets more efficient has historically been pretty good for the world !


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back in NH for a few days starting this Friday… let me know if you are around 😊.

- Taylor

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