I’ve been thinking throughout the month that it’s taken me a long time to get here. I mean “here” in many ways. The only part of my life that is sub-optimal is the low morale at work, and despite that, everything apart from this one very broad issue is fine.

Everything is good. Really good. I am absorbing books and courses. This summer’s dinnerplate dahlias are sprouting outside. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with many of my friends lately, and I will see more of them very soon. I had a hard landing back here from Uzbekistan, to the news I am now the only not-new manager in my peer group and am back on double duty, but I’ve streamlined both teams and everyone is organized. I’ve burned off all of my stress and the marginal amount of resentment I had been feeling about the fact that no one in my group knows me well enough to know that one of them should have sent me a text, because blindsiding me never ends well.

I’ve been to Atlanta twice since I returned, the most recent being earlier this week. georgiaThe first trip down I linked up with Juan and we hit up the tiny German-themed town of Helen and hiked up Blood Mountain the weekend prior; he accepted one of the offers on his house at the top of the mountain, so that was pretty cool. Colorado is nice but I honestly prefer the landscape along the Eastern Seaboard; I miss the lush greenery and the leaves even if the mountains aren’t as dramatic. georgia2Alaska is also much more lush than here (and the most beautiful of them all).  Alaska has always felt wild to me instead of desolate; Colorado is desolate in its typical bleak way. It is brown as hell here, it gets old. We’ve had weeks of unprecedented rain in Denver these past few weeks, and now even the plains you fly over when you take off and land are green, which is pretty interesting. It won’t last… it’ll be 100 degrees every day soon enough, and the sun will feel like a nuclear blast.

Monthly trips to ATL are more logistically challenging than the ones to Texas due to the distance and timezones, but it will be fine. I will head back down there in a month. What motivates me at home is that my primary team is excellent and I genuinely like each person that reports to me; they are all doing well. We are still the best. I wish I heard more from my boss about what is going well within our group, but I shared that feedback this week and hope he can adjust. I shared last week within my manager group that I need everyone else to step up: I did not come here to be a slave and have such a heavy lift compared to the others: I came here so my life could improve holistically. That was a very hard conversation for me to have, but they were receptive and we have a plan.  This company used to be an awesome one to work for; there is a huge disconnect between the top and the rest of the company presently. Most people leaders are burned out. Virtually everyone across my org has expressed frustration, fatigue and disappointment. It pretty much sucks. I still want to get the fresh hell out of this division. Some days I want to run screaming into the woods and never return. Other days, I want to run straight into 6 lanes of I-25.

Despite that, there is a lot that is rewarding about feeling progress in all workstreams of my life: I am finishing my last UX course today, and I will complete the specialization’s capstone project when I return from Alaska & Myrtle Beach. It has been more time-intensive than I expected, particularly due to the project work that is associated with each course. I was going to complete the capstone while on vacation, and lately have decided that is a stupid idea, and all I want to do is read, hike, eat oysters, swim and see my friends and my mother.

This year thus far has not been what I had initially planned for it to be: I chose to change course after my winter thyroid debacle and invest most of my free time and money into doubling my efforts in health and fitness instead of multiple lengthy exotic trips, which have always served as a sort of time-out from daily life to decompress. My life has certainly not been shitty these past few years, but there have been many upsets, and many more changes. I’ve reflected periodically on the laws that have governed innovation and power in other arenas: Moore’s Law, Newton’s laws of motion and core economic principles. I would not have believed last year that I would be able to further expand my priorities, but as I’ve become even busier than I was previously, I’ve become even more efficient. With everything going on, I’ve still managed to get out and spend time with people, attend a few shows; I pulled my entire master bedroom closet out and have meticulously reorganized a lot of the house; I painted the ugly mismatched wicker patio ottomans and killed all of the weeds around my house (these are my least favorite kinds of chores, so they tend to take longer). Something about the way I am wired causes my level of motivation and efficiency to increase exponentially as I gain more tasks, rather than crapping out due to overload. How much more can I accomplish?

I told my mother yesterday that it’ll be more difficult for me to move on from Denver now that I love my second gym so much: I have been religious about my 3 days a week there, and have spent Saturday and Sunday at the other gym on the stairmill. My trainer has accommodated my crazy schedule, and I have remote sessions for when I am away for more than a few days. My weight went up when I started, and is now coming down. I no longer cringe at my reflection and am now actually lifting heavy shit. My posture has improved tremendously.  All the squatting and lunging has pulled my misaligned knees outward and evened out my shoulders. I am significantly stronger than when I started, and can do a lot of shit well that I couldn’t do at all in the beginning. It’s been 10 weeks since I began. I am going to get a body scan when I get back to get my body fat % (I won’t have a true starting point to compare it to, but I’ll have something).

My rapid progress has been surprising to me. I am a fast learner, but I wasn’t sure my body would learn as fast, and it has. I have folded bovine colostrum into my diet, and earlier this week my shiny new Platinum Biomax lamp was delivered. I switched the Biomax lamp on yesterday for 25 minutes and that will be a cool experiment. These lamps aren’t cheap, but I’ve accepted most of this stuff as (well-researched) investment into the long term health of my immune system. I have been pretty dutiful about getting adequate sleep, winding down appropriately while listening to podcasts, and waking up early. My body still functions optimally when I eat very little, and my food intake has had to be modified a bit since I began with all of this, but I am still fasting for a significant period on more days than I’m eating like a normal person.

I informed my landlords recently I’d like to renew my lease on the condition my rent does not increase, and they said great, so I will be doing that. If I take any other unanticipated trips this year, they will be beach trips, or to visit friends within the US. I am really, really looking forward to going back to Alaska for a few days and hope there is no unanticipated disaster waiting for me in my house, as heli season is over and it’s currently vacated. I am overjoyed that Di, my former hiking partner, will be up there, and we are going to slog up Bird Ridge at the very least while I am there (I will always remember this hike in terms of one review I saw years ago titled “Hope Crushing False Peaks”). I cannot wait to stuff my face at Altura and see Matt. It still hurts that I left, I don’t know if that will ever subside. What I feel after these many months is that it’s not feasible for me to imagine myself living there again right now.

I’ve been on a sort of themed reading journey focused on economics and cities, particularly America’s inner cities. jjJane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities will always sort high on my favorite non-fiction books, and in the past month I’ve finished some other classics (some better than others, and a few of them outdated): The Theory of the Leisure Class; Progress & Poverty; The Heavenly City Revisited. I’ve knocked out quite a few podcasts recently as well, mostly from Jordan Peterson, Bari Weiss, Lex Fridman. This is an interesting and also depressing time to participate in civil society in the US: primarily because it doesn’t seem very civil anymore. I am not sure we will manage to depolarize and solve any of our domestic issues. Jacobs’ book really helped me understand why our cities pale in comparison to many developing cities abroad (a lot of it is zoning, and the formation of public housing). People don’t change much over time, which is what I took from Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class.

There is a lot exemplary about this country, but our idiocracy is spreading. There was a very good article in The Economist lately about America’s vitality and why its system is so apt to bounce back; Progress & Poverty speaks of this as well, in much darker terms. Sometimes I’m not always sure the gains are worth what we lose in the health of our culture and society, and we are in a bad place these days. There have been some really interesting books out lately about what is happening here and now in America: Sebastian Junger’s Freedom, Tim Urban’s What’s Our Problem?Michael Shellenberger is running again for governor of California (I find it highly unlikely he’ll win, but who knows what can happen anymore). Many of these folks have been guests on prominent podcasts lately.

Another timely podcast was Bari Weiss’ panel on ozempic, the release and fanfare which, to me, is another example of the road to hell being paved with (marginally) good intentions, and larger profit forecasts. The release and off-label use of these drugs triggers me like nothing else, and I was happy to hear that one of the people in this debate argued along the same lines: hey idiots, stop selling crap food and lying to Americans about what’s healthy and we won’t have these problems. I’ve explained totalitarian rationale many times to people – that individuals don’t matter – more and more I feel like individuals don’t matter here either. We are only worth as much as our purchasing power. It’s been particularly sad to me to grow older and see my own health improve over time while I see so many other people declining; I don’t even have an accurate picture of this living here because so many people in Colorado are healthy and focused on fitness, but the health of this country is poor at best in many measures. Ozempic will not make anything better, it will just shift money from one drug company to another.

I’ve put most of the other books I have to read on pause, but I am finishing up Tim Snyder’s The Road to Tyranny and will be taking a few to the beach with me. My library game is strong; I have about 6 books out a time and haven’t returned one late yet. I’m posting this a bit early as it’ll be another hectic week, but I’m looking forward to using my new non-work computer on my trip, so I may post again over the next few weeks.

We also booked Mongolia for June ’24 and Kyrgyzstan for September ’24, so it’s on 🙂 my 40th year on earth should be a good one barring any disasters… maybe my friends in New York are right, your 40s are actually the best years of your life.

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