Unicycle #9 - Life Notes

As a reminder, I’m Alex Grintsvayg and you’re reading Unicycle. I welcome your feedback - hit Reply or message me anonymously. If someone forwarded you this email, subscribe here to follow along.

Hello dear friends :-)

This week’s email will be short. I don’t feel up to writing something deep and I don’t want to half-ass it. My primary goal is to keep writing regularly. To best way I know to do that is to keep it fun and keep it honest. And this week, a lot of thinking honestly didn’t feel fun.

What’s Happening in Real Life

  • We’re two weeks into a roughly month-long construction project. The goal is to renovate our basement: new floor, new ceiling, two large windows, improvements to the bathroom, and a small gym by the laundry room. It’s noisy and stressful, and opened my eyes to how houses are really built. For instance, I used to think that the way to build a building was to carefully measure and draw all the plans, then execute them exactly as written. In reality, the plan (at least our plan) is a rough sketch and the contractors figure out how to make it work on the fly. In software development, this is roughly the distinction between “waterfall” and “agile” development. Waterfall is doing the whole design up front, then all the development, then all the testing, and so on. Agile is doing a mini-waterfall of design/development/testing/release every week or two, with room to change course if priorities change or previous work doesn’t go 100% to plan.

  • My 3.5yo daughter will be going back to daycare. She sorely needs other kids to play with. I could spend all day on my own, reading or working or just doing nothing. So I forget what it’s like for her when she can’t do any of those things. I wonder if this is a personality difference, a different stage in our development, or that my life is reprogrammed by books and the internet. Words and code meet most of my social needs. My daughter has no access to either. her only tools are talking and in-person playing — our original forms of interaction. It feels like looking back in time, at what life was like before.

  • I spent half an hour last week getting on and falling off my unicycle. It’s the first time I’ve touched it in years. While I didn’t make it more than a few feet from the wall, I did find my first mantra to focus on: falling forward. Normally when you’re falling forward, your instinct is to get your feet under you and catch your balance. But on a unicycle, you’re always a little forward. That feels very weird for me, so as soon as it happens, I pedal hard and end up leaning backwards and bailing. Therefore, my goal on each rep is to fall off forwards, not backwards. If I can do that, I consider it a win.

Music of the Week

DJ Black Coffee was in heavy rotation for me this week. This mix (from a decade ago, actually) is my favorite. If you like it, he has a newer one that’s also solid.

Read of the Week

If your thirst for insight remains unquenched by this week’s newsletter, go read Marriage Counseling with Capitalism by Rhys Lindmark. It’s a fictional counseling session to discuss humanity’s relationship with capitalism and introduce the idea of post-capitalism — an economy that goes beyond money and short-term self-interest. It’s a bit cheesy but the drawings are nice and the vision feels good. I think Rhys missed a few things about wealth and status and we’re hashing it out on Twitter (getting back on Twitter is another part of my “write more” plan).

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