There’s so much to just randomly observe and comment from a fresh perspective. I never want to stop looking with these eyes.
~See Lemons Just Live
Random Observation/Comment #595: Be Kind. The world can use more kindness. I’m slowly getting closer to the meaning of life.
In 2017, I became a father:
- Traveled to: Boston, San Francisco, Toronto, Grand Canyon (for babymoon), Las Vegas, Bahamas (for fyrefestival), Miami, London, Los Angeles, Austin, Peru, DC, and Philadelphia.
- Triumphantly: became a father, road a bike across the Golden Gate bridge during sunrise, made muffins for the homeless, witnessed the beauty of a Grand Canyon sunrise, drove route 66, promoted to Director, spoke at numerous panels and conferences, taught 100s of people about corda, held a baby water pig in the Bahamas, survived #fyrefraud, helped raise $107mm for r3, ran 4 miles for #concernspringrun, created a reusable design pattern library, wrote 30 blogposts in 30 days for our interns, saw the Hollywood sign from Griffith observatory, became an accredited investor, signed a lease to a 2-bedroom, wrote a few web comics for Adventures of Evie and Hencat, got a cute baby and awesome wife
- Ate/Drank: first Spatchcock thanksgiving chicken, the perfect old-fashioned, grilled artichoke in Peru, excellent ribs on Long Island, incredible seafood birthday lunch
- Read/Listened to: Kitchens of the Great Midwest, Turtles All the Way Down, The Happiest Baby on the Block, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett, The Circle by Dave Eggers, What to Expect: When You’re Expecting, What to Expect: The First Year, The Laughing Gull’s Puzzle by Kevin Rutter, A Dad’s Guide to Babies, The Expectant Father by Armin Brott & Jennifer Ash, We Are Legion by Dennis Taylor, It Devours!: Welcome to Nightvale by Joseph Fink ^ Jeffrey Cranor, The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer, All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
- Saw: 946: Addy Tips, La Reve, Billy Joel, Rangers game box seats, Drunk Shakespeare
- Completed: helped build Jasper2 on corda, Design pattern methodology, templates, and framework for multiple functional roadmaps, helped lead a few hackathons and training sessions
- Completed/Caught up to Podcasts: The Sporkful, Radiolab, The Way I Heard It, How I Built This, Science Vs, Revisionist History, Surprisingly Awesome, You Are Not So Smart, Hidden Brain, Invisibilia, Welcome to Nightvale, Shmanners, The Adventure Zone (So good for D&D finale!), Hello from the Magic Tavern, Ear Hustle, Levar Burton Reads, Improv4Humans, Hold On with Eugene Murman, Homecoming, The Orbiting Human Circus, Heavyweight, S-Town, Twice Removed
My word for the year is bubble. Psychologically, I’ve extended my personal priorities to the budding family. Economically, the digital currency market has 19x’ed within a year (and then dipped a bit). Politically, I’m not even sure what the values of this country are anymore.
This year has been surreal. After completing my 30 under 30, I thought I wouldn’t be able to top it. Fatherhood and post-baby husbandhood tips the scale in a different way. My peaks of happiness seep through the hours of sleep deprivation in the most satisfying way. I’ve mentally re-prioritized a lot of my world. Evie is the second love of my life and I’d do anything for her and the family.
All these fantastic things hopefully out weigh some of the scary world we live in. I wish it were just the news and natural disasters – it’s become the acceptance of ridiculousness at all levels. Maybe this is it: the next phase of society with on-demand commitment-less promises. Maybe I’m just getting old.
In 2018, I’m looking forward to:
- Travels: More work in Toronto, London, LATAM, and APAC in the future; Hopefully a joint trip to Colorado, California, or Europe.
- Challenges: Work-Life Balance is going to continuously be a part of my life forward, I also get scared of adult things like buying houses, thinking about school districts, and planning learning curriculum
- Mature Career: I’ve accelerated this by making some lucrative investments in my time and money into a technology that’s now the hottest shit on everyone’s mind. I believe there will be some bigger balances with management of people vs individual contributions that I will struggle with in an organic and fast growing environment.
~See Lemons Look Forward to 2018
Random Observation/Comment #594: Adulting is so hard. Time is better than money. Life is overall pretty good.
I had some very ambitious blogging goals for writing about my experience as a new parent, but parenthood did not give me the same time. Regardless, I think I came up with a few gems. Here are my favorite blogposts of 2017:
~See Lemons Love 2017
Random Observation/Comment #591: Sometimes you need a break to get unstuck.
Why this List?
I personally love our logo designs. Kudos to Vault49 and their attention to detail. For those who haven’t seen it:
I know, so great. The best part is the cr3ativity we can have with c()mbining our logos with words:
- bar3 (we actually have this in a big neon sign in our office)
- corda c()r3
- dr3am team
- asset r3gistry
- member’s c()nfer3nce / c()rdac()n
- cordapp stor3
- Be r3ady
- Aspiring gr3atness
- c()de r3po
- legal, r3g, & c()mpliance
- centr3 of excellence (British spelling)
- br3w (in case we make ale)
- c()rda c()mmunity
- c()rda c()mposer
- c()rda online c()urses
- c()rda c()ngress
- c()okbook r3cipes
- corda c()in (j/k)
Always fun to take a break from solution architect-ing. Looks like I have some more random things to draw in my drawing journal.
~See Lemons C()ver3d
Random Observation/Comment #580: Make the best out of a bad situation.
I was in Exuma by 1pm with a tequila in hand and high spirits. The flight wasn’t the advertised “private jet”, but a packaged deal free flight, accommodations, food, and music in Bahamas was a good deal for $4000 for 8 tickets.
The rest of my party of 8 were taking a later flight from Miami, so I naturally used the skills one learns from backpacking Europe, and just spoke with everyone. In the next 24 hours, I would come to recognize at least 250 people (some of which were privileged white 23-year-olds), but most of whom just like music and took some time off to relax in the Bahamas.
On this beach with beautiful teal water, the frat crew did what all frat crews do best. Others just hung out and made casual conversation while enjoying the sun. Rose wine and Casimgos tequila were free and there were free 10-person boat rides to the island of pigs.
Things Go South
Great start to the day with high hopes, but everyone was thinking in the back of their minds “where are we sleeping tonight?” and “where are my checked in bags?”
Logistically, Fyre Festival was a nightmare at the beginning. How do you fit 6000 people on an island with a single stage and zero infrastructure? Wedding plans for 100 people takes 6-18 months. Coachella took 5 years to get it somewhat consistent. Burning Man started with 30 people. It’s not realistic with time and resources to hold a party of that size at scale with the promised amenities.
From the party on the beach to the rest of the trip, every single conversation I had revolved around excessive complaining. There’s the good and the bad in these memories, but it was super interesting to observe and witness from within. At no time did I feel endangered because I’m sure we’d get back. I may have had to sleep in some discomfort, but it’s a little unfair to complain when you’re on a beach in the Bahamas.
- Swimming with the pigs
- Geeking out with a fellow electrical engineer
- Geeking out with people about crypto
- People-watching very drunk frat kids passed out face first in the beach
- People-watching lobster red people who fell asleep on the beach and packed their sunscreen in their luggage
- Making new acquaintances with some pretty interesting people
- Arriving to the festival grounds seeing the dome tents
- Hearing the story that the “concierge” just shouted into the crowd something along the lines of “there are no assigned tents. It’s all open!”
- Looking for baggage in a giant red shipping container
- Finding that most tents had damp mattresses and squishy floors
- Seeing people carrying and looting mattresses
- Mayhem of people frantically looking for places to stay and not being able to find their group
- Thankfully meeting up with a group of people I know
- Line of people waiting to complain and ask for the next flight back to Miami
- Hearing stories of people who slept at the airport because they didn’t have tents and they wanted to catch the first flight back the next day (that flight was at 10am)
- Finding people who bought liquor at the duty free before entering Bahamas and drinking it in the tents
- Single DJ that played until midnight and then the whole stage with lights and everything shut down
- Looking for showers and only seeing 4 shower RV camps for the entire attendees
- Asking the bartender for bottled water so I could brush my teeth
- Sleeping on a damp mattress
- Waking up at 7am to news that the festival is cancelled
- Seeing the first bus shuttle leave at 8am to the airport and thinking if we should just hang out on the beach
- Long lines of people signing pieces of paper to get emails about next flights. A few of those papers got lost
- Sitting in the trunk of a truck with 8 other people to get a $30 taxi ride to the airport
- Waiting on a line at the airport for 3 hours (from 10am to 1pm) to get a hand-written ticket with a flight number to get full manifesto on entering US customs
- Dancing to music in the airport lounge because noon drinking was a good idea in this situation
- Talking to the tourism board of Bahamas saying that we love the Bahamas, but not Ja Rule
- 3-hour wait with no news on the next flight and1-hour wait to go through security and get on the flight
- Unfortunately finishing all the podcasts I had downloaded for the trip
- Getting off the plane and back to Miami by 6pm Friday
Luckily, it was only Friday, so the weekend in Miami with the team was still a success.
- Was it disorganized?
- Not really that bad, but it was woefully unscalable and they made poor infrastructure decisions without enough buffer for planning. Communication was also terrible so people were more panicked than they should have been.
- Did I have a good weekend?
- It’s all about attitude. Good times can be had anywhere.
- Would I do it again if it was free?
- No. I’m officially too old. I rather organize my own separate party on the beach.
- Do I have tons of stories I didn’t write here?
- Absolutely. Life is about sharing epic stories and making lasting memories.
~See Lemons Survive Fyre Festival
Random Observation/Comment #577: NYC is filled with functional alcoholics. I am certainly one of them.
Why this list?
There are a lot of reasons why drinking changes for your 30s. It’s no longer about getting drunk and pulling off shenanigans – it’s more about being social and catching up with people in your limited time juggling multiple “grown up” responsibilities. The motivation changes as drinking becomes a part of the experience rather than the main focus.
A few other properties include:
- hosting more get-togethers (yay brunches),
- fewer calories to watch weight (boo), and
- complimenting a great meal.
Ultimately, it’s the important fact that drinking for someone older is just borrowed time. Have fun tonight, but pay for it with hangovers lasting full days tomorrow.
How to Write this List
I think most people with 5+ years of drinking experience have learned from at least one bad night. You know, the one that starts with 3 beers and the voice in your head claims invincibility thereby leading to 6 shots and vomit on your clothes by morning? Rookie mistakes. Everyone knows the beer before liquor rule and eat some starch to soak up the alcohol, but I wanted to write this list for the more refined drinker. This is grown-up drinking.
- Hydrate during drinking – it cleanses your palette, paces the spending, and avoids hangovers
- Know your place – Never get a mixed drink at a beer bar, wine at a pub, or beer at a whisky Distillery
- Respect the bartender – tip well. The $1 is usually for a beer, but a suggested cocktail that takes effort and beauty deserves $2
- Learn the basics of wine – you don’t need to be an expert, but it’s important to know what type you like to drink
- Learn how to make 2 good cocktails for seasonal or food pairing – this is for a hosting party or just having guests
- Stock great beer in your fridge – not expensive, but good for unexpected guests
- Keep stock of some great wine and some table wine
- Keep stock of at least one whisky, bourbon, gin, and vodka – every good bar should have a decent stock
- Ice is an ingrident sometimes ignored – I like getting a large cube mold for better presentation
- Invest in a bar kit – there are some great deals after holidays
- Buy some fun coasters – I love buying coasters from travel. Great conversation starters.
- Keep stock of Alka seltzer and blowfish – getting older means more hangovers
- Frozen margaritas and sugary drinks should be left to tex-mex with friends or on a beach vacation – It’s not easy to make a good one and has too many ingredients/devices
- Invest in decent wine, whisky, and pint glasses – it’s always good to have the appropriate glassware for the occassion
- Adopt a favorite liquor store – Befriend them and they’ll likely give you some good deals and some 5-10% off
- Research wine clubs if you like wines – you get a great deal especially if you’re already drinking 3 bottles a week – the cost of a $20 bottle of wine is closer to $15 or so in bulk or with the experimental types
- Wine fridges – if you drink a lot of wine and have enough space, a wine fridge does help make the wine last longer
- Field trips focused on drinking – this is an awesome trip with friends and family. There are wine and beer festivals all around the place and this is a pretty good excuse to indulge like an adult.
- Be a regular at a local bar – There’s nothing better than going into a bar and knowing the bartenders.
- Quality over quantity – 4 times out of 5, I’d buy the more expensive Belgian beer to enjoy myself. Plus, the higher alcohol content usually evens out.
- Try not to drink in multiple gulps – drinking is marathon, not a sprint (and no one is keeping track)
- Save the money and the calories – I know some people who won’t drink soda, but would gladly drink 4 beers and mixed drinks (I’m one of these people). If you’re watching your weight and take 5 drinks to get tipsy, you might as well save it for once or twice a week instead of every night.
- Avoid weekday day drinking (but embrace brunch) – I remember when I first started drinking when studying abroad in Germany. People will literally order a beer during lunch and sip on it as part of their meal. I think since then, I’ve been desensitized from the stigma of day drinking. The problem with that is day drinking never ends with night hard working. It usually ends up with taking a nap and sleeping for 3 hours in the middle of the day.
- There are events where it’s always okay to drink – these can include (but are not limited to) fishing, sports games, concerts, brunch, beaches, and open bars.
- There’s no such thing as a girly drink – I love ordering cocktails that take some skill to make or some special ingredients I would never buy.
- Buy a round for your friends – If you have a regular group of drinking buddies or someone buys you a drink, order them a round every once in a while. It’s the right thing to do when you’re having a good time.
- If your bartender comps you a drink, tip generously – sometimes a bartender will get the 4th or 5th drink with an upside down shot glass. In NYC, that would come up close to $25, so I usually leave around $35
- Avoid well shots (tequila) – I don’t remember a good time after taking one of those and mostly because there are cheap substitutes. I think shots are okay if you specify the brand (like Jameson) because you know what you’ll be getting. Also know when this is appropriate (not at brunch with your in-laws).
- Don’t assume something that’s more expensive is good. Don’t assume something that’s less expensive is bad.
- Everything in moderation – Including moderation. Have a good time and be safe! Don’t throw up in an uber because you’ll get a bad rating.
~See Lemons Drink like a Pro
(Many Thanks to my beautiful wife, @vnessawithaneye, who came up with all the clever ones while anything distasteful was totally my idea)
Random Observation/Comment #576: There was a time when I lurked meetups around NYC to meet new interesting people and pick up women. The picking up of women didn’t work very well.
Why This List?
If you’re organizing meetups for your company around software or specific industry trends, it’s always a good idea to follow the lessons learned from some very experienced meetup organizers. Even if this list was available (because I’m sure plenty of people have written about it), I didn’t internalize it until I wrote the list myself. Thus is life.
- Provide at least 3 weeks prior to the date of the event basics (hopefully you already have recurring venues booked)
- Set up reminders from the system or directly with 3 weeks, 1 week, and 72-48 hours before event. Have the reminder include more details or interesting facts.
- Tell people who else will be attending as people will be more inclined to join if there are opportunities to make connections during the networking
- Consider giving pre-reading material (but know that it will likely not be read)
- Consider telling people to bring their laptops! The focus of a technical meetup could be more hands-on coding
- Consider not doing a dial-in as this encourages more people to show up in-person
- If you have a global audience, consider buying a USB conference microphone: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G2Y44ZK/ref=psdc_7073956011_t3_B00G57DFDG (Jabra)
- Even if you’ve created a meet-up signup, also create an outlook invite so people can see it on their work calendars (also, meet-up might be blocked on bank computers)
- Advertise on the correct internal and external calls
- Take photos during the event, but also use photos from previous events (if recurring)
- Think of contests with incentives
- Use a venue that is close to subway/metro stations if hosted in the city
- Encourage people to present their work
- When selecting the date of the meetup, never do weekends and never do events too early. Wednesday to Fridays are usually best days after 7PM and also check for conflicting days with any other major events
- Setup meetups where you’re not the main presenter, but a facilitator to bring others in the industry together. “Special Guests” are always cool.
- In the meet up page, be specific to the type of audience and material you’ll be covering
- Important people to attend from your company
- General meeting logistics manager – someone that has some experience in this space and thinks about printing event signs and bringing tape
- Invite all people in your office if this is work related – Could also be a great group networking opportunity
- Salesperson – if your meet up is hoping to bring some broader interest of investers or potential partners, be sure to have the right internal representatives
- HR (or method of collecting interest) – we should keep track if people are interested in joining a dev team or at least working as partners
- Day-of event
- Bring Music! Really awkward to not have any
- In the beginning, introduce the people from your organization in the room so they can start conversations during networking timespan
- Consider bringing name tags – suggest your name and “things to talk to me about”
- Spread out in networking events. Talk to new people and include others who are just on their phones
- Start the event with an Ice breaker or a raise of hands to gauge technical ability of the audience
- Depending on the size of the group, have people introduce themselves around the room and which company they’re from
- Content (ordering of content)
- Try not to focus the presentations on the company in the beginning
- If this is a software pitch, make sure it’s explained with a short analogy for usage and latest developments
- If you have a demo, consider reversing the order: Analogy, Demo, Concepts, Call to Action
- Tangible project examples always resonate better
~See Lemons Organize Meetups
Random Observation/Comment #573: It’s never too late to redesign your life.
Ever since I’ve started drawing every night (currently at a 200+ day streak), I’ve started doodling more random infographics about life. This one came to me when I was thinking about a community hub model to connect people to their interests. I wanted to map what people need for a well-rounded happy life.
What is this?
Starting on the top left quadrant, this is one of my biggest drivers: self improvement. As long as we’re smarter every day, learn from our mistakes, and set realistic challenges for the physical and mental space, we’re on the right path. You can optionally add spiritual in here for those who seek to be one with everything. I find physical and mental challenges allow one to continuously learn and stay healthy.
On the bottom left, this is self improvement as well, but towards a social construct with the purpose of contributing your special strengths into a greater vision. That vision could be one aligned to a company, your own entrepreneurship, or a cause. I measure my happiness at work by making sure that I’m good at what I do, and that I’m doing what only I have special skills to do. These skills can always improve and grow from novice to mastery.
On the top right, this is your community (career, sports, family, etc) and connectivity into the world. I believe these relationships are your immediate reach of influence and where you call home. It’s important to foster the well-being and growth of this community because these people are the ones you love and can’t see your life without.
On the bottom right, this is the broader view – a place where you can return your blessings and teach to those who will be a part of the generation to change the world. The world is often a crappy and scary place, but I believe the majority of people are good. I always recommend helping and giving back where you can.
The left and right hemispheres may seem like they imply what you do and do not have control over, but the key here is that any step you take in any of these quadrants is significant to bettering humanity.
There are tangible action items for improving and expanding all of these aspects of your life. I often plan my vision, desires, and goals around where I want to improve and grow in these areas. The bottom right side is likely the one people will have the least examples, but I firmly believe sharing and giving back what you learn is how this world can get better. For those who already volunteer regularly: #keepthatshitup.
~See Lemons Design His Life
Random Observation/Comment #569: You don’t need a reason to feel great.
I loved fireflies growing up. Whenever I visited Pennsylvania, I’d grab a mason jar and run around the meadows with my brother catching them. Because the flickering green made me happy, I always thought I had bottled happiness.
I learned a valuable lesson that first summer: happiness needs air holes.
Fast forward to early 2016, my wife learned about the happiness jar project when listening to the Another Round podcast. We had recently gotten married, I was nervous about starting a new job, and we just moved to a new place. A little skeptically, I asked, “so what is it?”
She explained the project. Full details here, but essentially when you experience a moment of happiness, you log it on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it into a jar. At the end of the year, you open the jar and read all the happy memories. An ideal container is something large and preferably translucent so you can see the happiness fill it up.
In response to relationship projects, my inner Ackbar exclaimed, “It’s a trap!” But, of course, I caved. It sounded kinda cool, plus have you ever known me to turn down a side project?
On one of our I-don’t-know-what-number-because-ive-blocked-it-out-my-mind trips to Ikea, we spotted the perfect jar. She already bought some colorful construction paper at a local 99¢ store. During a much needed break from furniture assembly, we pre-cut the paper and opted for a minimal design, an arched label, “Happiness Jar.”
- Dates optional but preferred
- It can be anything momentous like a big trip to a funny situation. #allthefeels.
- No peeking until the end of the year
What did we write?
For me, I focused on inside jokes within the trips and large successes with TEDxBushwick and conferences. My wife had similar accomplishment-based notes, but also general thankfulness for mentors and friends through tough times.
What did we learn?
We decided to keep it clearly displayed on a shelf in our living room. It was a nice signal to recognize these moments as they occurred. Surprisingly, just seeing the jar could make one of us smile when we felt down.
When we opened it on New Year’s Eve and read each story, we had never been happier and never more in love with each other. We are continuing the tradition. I was again reminded that it’s possible to bottle happiness – airholes not always necessary.
~See Lemons Happy
Random Observation/Comment #568: Have compassion and perspective. If you’re kind and have a view that keeps humor in mind, I think things will be just fine.
In 2016, I turned 30:
- Traveled to: Bermuda, Naples Florida, St Petersburg Florida (for Niki/Tomas wedding), Toronto, Maine, Switzerland, South Africa, Oregon, Redwoods, Washington, Alaska (cruise), London, Maryland, Tokyo, Singapore, and Sydney.
- Triumphantly: Moved into a new apartment with my dream view, successfully completed TEDxBushwick, judged for idiotarod, joined R3 as an associate director, got promoted at R3 to a director, created micro-resolutions, rode the Rodelbahn, presented Corda as the NY dev relations, hiked through ape cave, saw Crater Lake national park, saw the redwoods, saw a few whales fluke, saw a bear in person 10 ft away, saw an Alaskan glacier, attended a fun destination wedding (niki & tomas), attended a travel/beer themed wedding (jen & grey), attended an awesome cipriani wedding (crystal & riley), attended an Indian ceremony wedding #aksans2016, camped overnight on a beautiful lake, rode a train around a few mountains, checked off Australia!, and presented at a workshop in a fintech festival
- Ate/Drank: Fish chowda, dark and stormy’s, rum swizzles, Bermudan lobsters, amazing lobstah rolls of Maine, fondue, meat volcano, bitch please biscuits and gravy, poke bowl from a real Hawaiian place, Alaskan salmon on the grill
- Read/Listened to: The Long Earth, The Long War, The Long Mars, Dark Matter, Welcome to Nightvale, and A whole bunch of podcasts. So many that I needed to write a list of 30 podcasts
- Saw: The Humans, Bruccceeeee, Modern Love Live, (Plus tons of awesome movies at Alamo Drafthouse that just opened across the street)
- Completed: Built a meteorjs application, wrote Jasper for CBDC in Ethereum dApp, Wanessa Happiness jar, 30 day drawing challenge (and continued drawing journal), caught a lot of pokemon in the craze (but then stopped because it killed my battery), 30 days of mealpass, Completed 100 Actions of The Day (#AoTD part 1 and part 2), and crushed an embarrassingly large number of Candy Crush levels (I’m almost at level 900).
2016 was a pretty shitty year for the rest of the world with the death of legends (notably: Prince, Bowie, Ali, George Michael, and John Glen – full list) and exposures of general public distrust through elections. I’ve thought a lot about education and careers this past year mainly because of my career switch into something I find fascinating with a group of extremely motivated and brilliant people.
However, most people are not so lucky. I listened to a Mike Rowe (from Dirty Jobs) podcast recently and he noted the 4 main steps to looking for a career:
- Look around and see where people are headed, and then go in the opposite direction
- Embrace all the things that scare you
- Become really good at that thing
- Figure out a way to love what you do
And he said that most millennials looking for jobs now have these steps backwards/upside down because they want to do what the love right away without the hardship. For me, I think the most important thing about opportunities and “luck” is that it only happens when you keep moving and searching. For those who are stuck at any of those above phases – keep looking and figure out how to make it happen.
In 2017, I’m looking forward to:
- Travels: Likely a lot more business travel to San Francisco, London, and Asia.
- Challenges: Parenting (whenever this happens, I’m already thinking about prepping for it), growing a community of strong leaders and continue herding cats during projects, Keeping up with technology (never stop learning), breaking bad habits and creating more productive ones
- Adolescent Career: Fostering collaboration without feeling the need to do absolutely everything
~See Lemons Look Forward to 2017