Miscellaneous Updates

Or: it has been months since I wrote anything, so I’m scratching that itch.

Assumed audience: People interested on my current thought life, the state of various projects, mid-year updates, and so on.

In time-hallowed blogger fashion, in the ancient paths of the elder days of internet writing — 

The last time I posted a Journal entry here was March 21, nearly 3 months ago! I have felt the need to write the last few evenings, though, and so this evening: I am. Nothing too fancy, just some notes and updates on how things are going 5 months into 2021.

Writing: you remember how at the end of 2020 I finally did not say I was going to tackle some essays this year, for real and for true, but actually this time unlike all the years before when I had said the thing and failed catastrophically to follow through? Well, good thing that instead of broadcasting any such intent publicly, this time I just privately told my friend Jake Meador that I wanted to write a bimonthly essay over at Mere Orthodoxy. Because: no essays have been or will be forthcoming at this point. Things I didn’t expect sent me off focused on other (ultimately much more important) things immediately, and so you should expect to see exactly zero long-form writing from me this year. Who knows, you might be surprised, but that’s what you should expect.

You will note, I haven’t gotten back to my Heuristics for Good Software Design series, either. The project is, hopefully, not dead, though! I still have a slowly-growing pile of heuristics under my writing ideas tag in Bear, and I do expect to start it up at some point, likely in the fall. (That’ll teach me to announce a project when I haven’t drafted any of the other materials for it!)

It’s not just that I have had those other, more pressing things to attend to, though, or that I have been tired (though I have).

In a conversation with another friend a few weeks ago, I verbalized something I have been mulling on for a while: especially when it comes to the work of public theological writing, I simply don’t know what to say or what kind of writer I want to be. Or rather: I have a little sense of it, but I have no idea how to become that kind of writer, or whether doing that kind of writing would make a difference to anyone at all. When I was more comfortable writing theologically a decade ago, I was also much happier writing in a way that looked a lot like all Christian blogging did a decade ago. The world of Christian writing has moved on since then, and I myself have changed in countless ways as well.

There might still be room for the kind of writing I did on the third incarnation of my website, but I’m not interested in doing it; and for the kind of writing I might be interested in doing, I have not the skill nor the depth of understanding on many matters to speak as well as I want. For now, given my other commitments and concerns, I have contented myself with mostly silence, broken mostly only by the occasional book review and a plethora of quotes from John Webster. Good enough for things as they stand, I think.

Fitness: two little notes here — 

  • On my plan to do at least 30,000 push-ups this year: I started out smashingly, then got off track when I got sick back in February, and managed over the course of April and May to get back to at least doing push-ups every day, even if most days that was 50 or 100 instead of the several hundred I had planned. Today, as the start of a new month, seemed a good point to recommit, so I did the 200 push-ups I had planned

  • On running: the Colfax Marathon is scheduled for mid-October, and I am planning to run it and hoping to beat my 2019 time. As with push-ups, I got off to a great start in January, and then hit some bumps in February and March. In April, I re-engaged by way of a month of running however I felt like — mostly meaning lots of anaerobic work — and then picked back up aerobic base building in May. As of today, I kicked off some speed and hill work, and I’m feeling good!

Work: things at LinkedIn are mostly good! But/and a fair bit of my fatigue is work-related. I have been working in some shape or form for almost two years on the same project, and wow am I ready to work on something new. The project has been worth it, to be sure: when all is said and done we’ll have made a major upgrade to millions of lines of JavaScript, addressing many of the biggest frustrations and complaints our developers have had over the years. But between months of slogging through dependency upgrades as a foundation, months of planning and organizational wrangling for the official cross-cutting initiative I’ve been running since January, and then the ensuing months of keeping the project running smoothly on a technical front… I’m exhausted mentally!

This has been a big part of why I haven’t been writing especially on technical subjects. The truth is that most days I’m having a hard time just getting my brain to get through everything I need to at work, and have very little left over for software specifically afterward. I also have had some pretty hard thinking and writing to do for work, in the form of my ongoing efforts around the Semantic Versioning for TypeScript Types RFC I have been iterating on for nearly a year now.

Add in the couple hours of trying to help with kids and pets after the day ends, and when all is said and done I might still be learning new software-related things1 and even throwing together or maintaining a few tiny new open source libraries, but both of those are easier for me than writing about software or especially theology is at the moment: I can learn the basics of a field, and I can even write small bits of software like that, as weird forms of relaxation. Some kinds of off-the-cuff writing [ed.: like this blog post] also fit in that bucket, but those aren’t the kinds of writing I’m thinking about lately!

One of the reasons I appreciate LinkedIn so much, though: Just after the official phase of this project wraps up at the end of June, we have our annual weeklong shutdown over the week of the 4th of July… and then I’m taking another three weeks off right after that, for a total of about a month off. I am very much looking forward to a sort of mini-sabbatical, and look forward to coming back refreshed and recharged and ready to do new things at work.2 As for what those will be? Not sure yet. There are a bunch of good options in front of me, and I’m quite pleased that 2½ years along, the biggest itch I’m feeling is that it’s definitely time to shift my focus a bit. Every other role I’ve had, I was about ready to start actively looking for a new job by this point!

Other things:

  • I’m continuing to do some music (both composing and slooooowly getting my piano chops back) on the side. I don’t expect to publish anything except perhaps to finally put up a reasonably well-polished version of last year’s Fanfare for a New Era of American Spaceflight later this summer. I’m learning a bunch by way of studying public domain scores, which I haven’t done since college — hat tip to James Tauber and Ed Faulkner for pointing me to IMSLP and Mutopia respectively as sources for scores! And I’m learning a bunch by doing, too: from my silly-but-fun Trailer Music Jam composed over my Albuquerque getaway to some free materials in orchestral mixing in Logic Pro I’ve been taking in.

  • I’m still reading a bunch of books, albeit slower than I did in 2019: between not having a Winning Slowly book club and doing a lot of other kinds of reading and study, my book consumption is down a bit and that’s fine. I expect to make my way through most of the rest of John Webster’s oeuvre by the end of the year, and that has been a particular joy to me. (I’ve also read enough of his work now to see his tics and be amused by them, which is fun in its own way.)

  • The local coffee shop is serving food and drink from ceramic dishes and cups again, and I cannot begin to express how happy that makes me. Covid-19 really, really sucked in so many ways, many of them far more serious than this — but the small joy of it is also a very deep joy for me.

That is all for this entry. Plenty of words! Good to jog the old writing brain a bit!


  1. Yes, I do indeed have a bunch of bits and bobs about set theory and logic in my new Anki notecard collection. ↩︎

  2. Real talk: there will be some of the old thing still going. That project won’t be done done until late fall, because of how different teams ended up shuffling work around; and there are knock-on projects which probably won’t wrap up till next year! But the official end” of the project will be a great time to take a good break. ↩︎