Develop your internal motivation. Focus. Be kind. Ignore the rest.
I read Neil Pasricha’s 2016 book The Happiness Equation as part of a pandemic-fatigue powered period of self-discovery. It certainly has its gimmicks and many of the concepts felt familiar to me. Still, I did appreciate the book and came away refocused on returning to being a happier person during such a tumultuous time.
Below I share a few of my notes from reading the book, though I recommend you buy a copy yourself.
Continue reading The Happiness Equation
Climate catastrophe is sound science.
More slowly than I’d like to admit, I’ve changed behaviors in recent years. A resolution of mine for this year has been to do more. I wanted to capture a small accounting of what I’ve done so far and how I think I can do more.
Most prominently, last fall, we installed a 12-panel solar array on our roof. According to projections from our installer Solar States, this should more than account for our electricity usage.
Because of that installation, we replaced our traditional natural-gas hot water heater with a heat pump variety from A.O. Smith. We intend to turnover our other appliances (stove, clothes dryer and furnace) too, as part of electrification. Despite being a home from the 1890s, transitioning all of our home to electricity which can be primarily served by our solar installation will be an important contribution. I’ve happily encouraged a couple friends to follow this same transition.
Continue reading My environmental impact
This year marks 10 years since the launch of Constitution Daily, a new editorial arm for the celebrated National Constitution Center. Find the blog here, which is richer and livelier than it even was at launch.
In the early days of my publishing company, my cofounders and I helped conceive of and launch the Constitution Daily as part of an editorial strategy consulting project we led for the museum. It was one of the most rewarding such projects I’ve been a part of, and resulted in several close friendships and an award.
I’ve been checking in and am so impressed by how vibrantly the U.S. constitution-focused blog remains. Led by their CEO Jeffrey Rosen, the blog includes an impressive weekly podcast and routine deep dives. This was a major early example of my belief that there were publishing lessons to bring outside of media. I’m humbled by where they’ve taken the project, and I’m proud to have played a small part.
A common joke I’ve heard among parents goes something like “The only parenting advice to take from other parents is to not take any parenting advice from other parents.
Yes, you can get too much advice; yes, each kid is a bit different and every family dynamic has its own quirks. But I really did get value in speaking to lots of friends and family before the birth of my first child a year ago. Granted, we spent the last year in a pandemic lockdown, so much of our experience won’t be recreated.
Exactly because of that, I won’t be overdoing it with advice. Still, I do think a few short pieces of advice were most helpful for me. Take it or leave it.
Continue reading One year later, here are my first small pieces of advice for new parents
The social human species evolved to default to truth when encountering each other. That works well more than it doesn’t but in complex society it results in many unintended consequences.
That’s the heart of Talking with Strangers, the 2019 book by journalist-public intellectual Malcolm Gladwell. That year, I saw Gladwell speak about his research informing the book. Though I got a copy of the book then, I only just got around to reading it.
Like many others, I enjoy Gladwell and admire the journey he’s taken as journalist, extending into longform narrative nonfiction to push forward our understanding of the world. Below I share a few short notes for myself in the future.
Continue reading Notes from Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Talking to Strangers’
A version of this essay was published as part of my monthly newsletter several weeks back. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.
For a couple of years in college, I spent a few days a month working at the Belmont Stables in Philadelphia’s West Fairmount Park. It’s just a dozen or so stables built in 1936 to house police horses on perhaps an acre of land.
I was under the tutelage of Ike Johnstone, an imposing, grandfatherly, gregarious kind of man who made you work for his respect. Ike, whose son played in the NFL, effectively ran the stables, which were owned by the City of Philadelphia, and operated his Bill Picket Riding Academy — a summer camp for mostly poorer Black kids from North Philadelphia.
Ike, who is Black, hosted horses for a handful of mostly Black families — offering a kind of opportunity and access that always seemed a point of pride for him. Despite that healthy Black riding community he fostered, Belmont Stables was unrelated to the Fletcher Street Riding Club that is most associated with mixing social justice and Black horse riding in Philadelphia.
“Plenty of Black cowboys if you know where to look,” Ike told me once.
Continue reading Either you ride the horse or the horse rides you
One of the reasons I’ve maintained this blog for more than 10 years is as an effort to hold myself accountable. I want to make sure I know in the future where I stood on something.
I am the publisher of a news organization and still operate as a community journalist. I do maintain the dated and increasingly unpopular opinion that journalists do have a responsibility for prioritizing policy, over politics. That is, though I don’t believe in an “objectivity ideal” and despite the anti-media climate we are in, I still prize journalists fighting for results and data and something resembling a shared truth. This is unpopular work, but I think it’s important.
This, then is not a partisan cry. I believe Donald Trump should be impeached.
Continue reading I believe Donald Trump should be impeached
Self-deception or not, I am an active participant in an annual reset. I personally appreciate taking a break, evaluating my goals and setting new ones for the next.
I hold some personal truths close, but I share annual resolutions each year. Even, or perhaps especially, after the very strange 2020, I am quite ready for 2021. Like you, I spent most of 2020 locked down at home or wearing a mask — as depicted above while walking my newborn daughter through a favorite nearby park. This will continue for what seems much of 2021. I suppose now I’m better prepared for it.
Continue reading My resolutions for 2021
I am not alone in welcoming the end of this chaotic and disruptive year.
I’ve been gifted enough perspective to be well aware of how fortunate I am. Still, I’m allowing myself to wallow in the enthusiasm I hold for the end of 2020. The feeling of closure around the end of year is purely psychological and it’s a feeling I enjoy every year. But, man, 2020 am I right?
Continue reading My 2020 Review
This is not intended as a note of self-pity but rather a kind of reminder for me in the future. 2020 will be a famously challenging year. My experience was far less painful than many due to an array of privileges.
But goodness, I still found it stressful — and fast changing. One way I found myself thinking about it was by keeping a very strange list of the actual conversations I had with family, friends and coworkers this year.
Continue reading Actual conversations I had in 2020