November 13, 2021

Some Thoughts on Dune

Going into this movie I didn’t know anything about the Dune story… the book or the prior film. Ultimately I think that was a disadvantage.

I was expecting an action blockbuster. I was hoping for something more. We got a fairly slow-paced movie with lots of dream-like slow motion sequences. I had a hard time figuring out what was going on with Paul, which I assume is clear if you know the story. This feel like a movie the book readers will enjoy. I don’t blame it for not explaining everything, but it made it difficult for me to get into.

I did appreciate how the movie visually explained some of the technical aspects of this world. They did a good job of showing and not telling. For example, the voice that Paul is working on mastering. Another example would be the body shields. Through the test fight with Paul and then the more intense fights later on it was pretty clear how those things worked without having any exposition.

This movie looks really nice. The visuals are pretty amazing. I quickly grew tired of the slow motion sequences even though they looked nice.

Overall I found this movie mediocre. I can’t really argue with people who loves it or people who hated it. I didn’t feel strongly about it either way. Chalamet’s Paul Atreides felt like a very passive character in this story. His performance was okay… even good at times, but it felt like everything was happening to him. Not until the very end did he start to have some agency in his story.

Which brings me to one of the main weaknesses of this movie… the way it ended. It felt like we got the setup and first act of a movie. Just when it started to come together and gain momentum, it was done. That wasn’t good. It felt like the fist act of a typical 3 act structure. On its own I cannot say this is a good movie. It is just… incomplete. If more comes later it might be a good overall story, but this film itself was frustrating.

November 4, 2021

Aaron Rodgers Has COVID

Aaron Rodgers may have already been one of the most unlikable characters in sports. His hair-ogance makes him difficult to root for if you aren’t a Packers fan. Now Aaron has come across as even more pompous with his, “I’ve been immunized” comments.

I already didn’t really like the guy, but I would not have argued against his talent as an athlete. I would have also assumed he was a competent leader of his team. I don’t know if this incident calls into question his overall leadership… but it does make him look immature.

➔ Aaron Rodgers’ Covid–19 case is a failure of leadership that won’t be forgotten | NFL | The Guardian

November 2, 2021

Podcast Recommendation: Decoder Ring - Selling Out

Decoder Ring is a great podcast. I learn a lot when I listen. They had a particularly good episode recently about the concept of selling out. I remember a time when it was important for me to stay true to myself… whatever that means. I remember a time when I was concerned that people thought that I was authentic.

I think I don’t care about it anymore. In a sense I have “sold out” by working a job. I have sold myself out to having a house and a family. I have sold out to the idea of being happy.

In my mind, I was the one who changed. I was the one who got older and more mature and forgot about the idealistic teenage who wanted to be authentic. Decoder Ring made me realize that maybe the world changed around me, and I just sort of went along with it… exactly what a sellout would do.

➔ Oprah’s Book Club and Jonathan Franzen’s fear of selling out.

October 31, 2021

M1 Pro MacBook Pro Computer Upgrade

My 2015 MacBook Pro is getting pretty old. Last year when the M1’s came out I was really tempted to buy a new computer, but I decided to hold out until 2021 to see what happened. I was hoping for new computers in June. When that didn’t happen I basically made an agreement with myself that I was going to buy whatever Apple came out with in the fall. I did.

I think I put in my order for a 14" MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro chip within 15 minutes of the announcement finishing. I was able to get my new computer on day 1 of shipping this past Tuesday.

I thought I would share my initial thoughts on my new computer.

Performance

I am sure you have all heard that the performance is insane. I cannot really add much to that discussion. The performance is a lot better than my 2015 MacBook Pro. The battery life seems amazing. So far it seems like this computer offers way more power than what I need most of the time. I haven’t noticed the fans spin up at all.

Design

I don’t exactly know what I expected out of this computer, but I thought it would be thinner and/or lighter than my old one. It is neither. It feels about the same overall thickness and weight. I might be wrong… I haven’t even compared the specs.

The case design changed a bit. It doesn’t follow the exact same “squared-sided” design language as the iPads & iPhones, but it does move in that direction. It has a retro look. I don’t know that I absolutely love it, but it has grown on me over the past week. It feels nice and sturdy and dense. One reason I love buying Apple products is that they always feel premium. This computer is no exception.

Screen & Notch

Knowing I didn’t need the most powerful computer I initially considered saving a bit of money by getting an M1 Macbook Pro from this past year. However, the mini LCD screen put things over the top for me. Most of the time I used my laptop plugged in to a 32" 4K monitor, but it is always open right beside it. However, this screen is going to inspire me to use it in laptop mode much more often[1]. I am also going to use this computer quite a bit to watch tv and movies. It looks amazing.

I thought the 120hz display would also be a big factor for me. I don’t think I have noticied it, but I also haven’t gone back to my old display and done a comparison. Overall the screen looks amazing. I don’t know if/how the high refresh rate is contributing to that.

When I first heard about the notch it seemed insane to me. Why would we need to cut out part of the screen on something this overall size. I will say the screen part is very thin, and I appreciate the small bezels. While the case design may look retro, it is clearly a modern computer when you look at the screen. Ultimately I don’t mind the notch at all. In practice it has no effect on how I use the computer. I like that the menu bar lives in the “ears” on either side of the notch. When I use an app in full-screen mode it goes away completely anyway. It doesn’t get in the way of video. The notch is a non-factor when actually using the computer.

Keyboard

I sat out on MacBooks for the last several years, so I never got to experience the butterfly keyboard or the TouchBar. I like using tactile keyboards and I didn’t love the keyboard on the 2015 MacBook Pro. The keyboard on my new computer is better in every way. It is difficult to explain, but it does have a nice tactility that feels snappy. It definitely isn’t clicky, but it doesn’t feel nearly as mushy as the old version. I can happily type on this keyboard for a long time. [2]

Honestly I am a little sad this computer doesn’t have a TouchBar. I thought it would have been an interesting thing to play with while I am using the computer in “laptop mode”. It is fine either way. I enjoy and am used to the function keys. I love having Touch ID. This is my first laptop with that feature.

Final Thoughts

The new M1 Pro Macbook Pro is the best computer I have ever used. That is clear. It is extremely fast, especially for my needs. The screen looks awesome. The battery life is amazing. It has everything I could want out of a laptop. The Apple chips are clearly leading the way and I am happy to have a laptop that has one.

It is impressive that Apple released this computer with additional ports and no touch bar. The company made the decision to reverse direction on a couple items that seemed to be the future just a couple years ago. That is big deal for them. They have re-thought the pro line of laptop computers to give the people what they were asking for.

I actually thought the ports would be a big deal for me. However, I bought a cheap USB-C hub and have been able to plug everything I need into there. It is nice to have the MagSafe charger on a dedicated cable, but it is also nice to be able to unplug just one cable when I want to take my computer away from my desk.

Overall this has been a big upgrade for me. I was excited to get my computer on day one when I know a lot of other people are having to wait for theirs. This was an expensive computer, but I am confident it will serve me well for several years to come.


  1. Laptop mode… as-in, actually using the laptop keyboard with the screen much closer to my face. Not necessarily on my lap.  ↩

  2. I still mostly use this computer while connected to a mechanical keyboard.  ↩

July 31, 2021

The Show About the Show

I watched the entirety of The Show About the Show in a couple of sessions on the couch. That doesn’t necessarily mean I loved it, I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and it is short.

The concept is that this documentary film director (Caveh Zahedi) wants to get into television. He tries pitching several ideas but none of them are picked up. He documents the process of pitching the ideas and then pitches the process of picking a show as the show. Then the next episode will be about how he made the first episode… etc. etc.

The concept was interesting to me and it was all available on YouTube via Bric TV.

I enjoyed the first couple of episodes. It was novel and pretty interesting/entertaining. Then it started to spiral out of control… quickly.

I’m not even going to try to explain the direction the show goes. I will just say that the self-reflective nature of the show is an excuse for Caveh to be extremely honest to some of the people in his life.

The further it went the more I started to question the authenticity. The reenactments and talking head sequences have a relaxed while they are describing some very serious situations. Something just felt off to me.

After finishing The Show About the Show I watched a few interviews including this one on Bric. This bolstered my confidence that this guy’s life was really in shambles.

I honestly don’t know what to make of it all. I can’t say it is enjoyable, but it is interesting. I find Caveh to be a fascinating individual. He has recently published Episode 13 on his own YouTube channel. If his show comes back for a 3rd season I will watch it, though I am not sure I care what happens to him at this point. He is pretty much insane.

March 14, 2021

Never Ending Email

I don’t like to spend a ton of time in my email inbox. I don’t keep email open all day long. I turned off mail notifications years ago.

Email is clearly a valuable business communication tool, but it also distracting. I have been trying to strike the perfect balance between quickly acting on what is important while not getting lost in the sea of messages for years. I have failed. I am willing to admit that I am “bad at email”.

What does it even mean to be “bad at email”? A better term might be inefficient. I felt like I was spending a lot of time dealing with email, but I still felt unorganized and behind.

I would commonly leave things unread in my inbox and allow things to stack up. I found myself skimming through a huge list of unread email to make sure there wasn’t anything critical there while keeping a ton of emails that I just needed to come back and read later sitting there to distract me another day.

There is this term “inbox zero” out there that was coined years ago by Merlin Mann. People commonly think that literally means a state with zero messages in your inbox. I think that is wrong. I was achieving that from time-to-time after much effort, but it could only ever last for a few minutes. Email was always coming, now matter how much I tried to keep it at bay.

Over the last couple of weeks I have tried to get a point where I am spending as little time in my inbox as possible, but I am able to process through all of my messages and get caught up. This is a process commonly known as triaging your inbox. This is a simple concept, but thus far it has proved extremely valuable to me.

Checking Email

I have split apart the concepts of checking email and actually dealing with email. Checking email is quickly processing through my inbox and making decisions about each message. There can be 1 of 4 actions…

  1. Delete/Archive - I’m not going to differentiate these 2. Both of them result in an email disappearing directly from the inbox likely to never be seen again. I will delete if I know it is worthless. I will archive if there is a chance I might need to refer back to it again.
  2. Action - I have a folder that I call “Action”. I will move an email here if I need to respond to that email, or it contains a task that I need to complete. I will not do anything with it at that moment other than file it into my action folder to be dealt with later. Even if I think I might need to respond I will throw it into my action folder. If it turns out I don’t… great.
  3. Waiting - This is another folder that I use for items that don’t require me to do anything right now, but they are of interest to me and I want to make sure and follow up with them later if nothing else happens in the thread. I have considered calling this folder “Attention” because they are items that I want to pay attention to.
  4. Reference - There are items that I need to read later and want to make sure and keep them around. Again, I won’t read the message while I am merely processing through my inbox. I will keep it unread and move it to my reference folder.

Dealing With Email

I typically get over 100 emails a day. I pop into my inbox 3–4 times a day and try to weed through my list of unread as quickly as possible. I will take one of those 4 actions until my inbox is clear, then I will get out of email again.

Dealing with email is something I strive to do 2–3 times per day. I try to keep this as short as possible, but I still end up allocating around 30 minutes per day at a bare minimum. Sometimes it end up being much longer than that.

I will open my Action folder and respond to messages in the order I have received them. Once I have responded I will archive the message so it is no longer visible in my action folder.

I will look at the waiting folder and reference how long messages have been sitting here. If a thread has gone quiet for a period of time I may send a message asking for an update.

I will read through a few of the emails in my reference folder and decide what needs to happen to them. Typically I will archive them from that folder so I can search for and reference them if something comes up.

Conclusions

Thus far I am spending more time in email than I was before. However, it feels more focused. I have a system that will keep me from missing important emails. It is embarrassing how simple it is. I feel like I have tried systems like this before, but for some reason they didn’t stick. Hopefully this time I have found something sustainable.

I am two weeks into my experiment at this point and I feel like my email is staying under control. We will see what happens if things get extremely busy and I fall behind. I am going to do my best to allocate a little extra time each day to email so that doesn’t happen.

February 14, 2021

The Little Things

I watched The Little Things on HBO. This is the second Warner Brothers movie they have released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. So far they are 0 for 2. The first was Wonder Woman 84. I did not enjoy that movie at all. The Little Things was not as bad as WW84, but it also didn’t do anything new or exciting.

I’m a sucker for a cop drama or a serial killer movie. I was predisposed to enjoy this movie. The story was good enough to keep me interested and watching until the end [1]. That doesn’t mean it was a great story. Pacing felt extremely slow at times. There wasn’t a satisfying resolution in my opinion.

Aside from some awkward plotting and scenes with questionable acting, my main criticism with The Little Things is how familiar it felt. This could have been one of several cop/killer movies that came out in the 90’s.

In reading about the movie I learned that it was actually written in the early 90’s… which makes a ton of sense. It never got picked up by a director back then so it has been sitting on a shelf only to be dusted off and released in one of the most challenging times for film ever. They didn’t re-write the scrip, so it was needlessly set in 1990.

The Little Things wasn’t a bad movie. It was sort of entertaining to watch Denzel, Rami, & Jared act out these roles. Was it worth 2 hours of my life? I don’t know about that. Hopefully HBO Max has some winners this year in the direct-to-streaming releases. They aren’t off to a very good start.


  1. This is something WW84 could not achieve. I only made it to the end because we were talking about it on our podcast.  ↩

January 24, 2021

Palm Springs

 Palm Springs was a great movie. It was very funny, but also profound. If you have Hulu you should definitely check this movie out if you haven’t already. I was lucky enough to start this movie completely ignorant of the premise. That was a great experience. If you are still pure, stop reading and go watch the movie. 

You can assume the rest of this post is going to spoil Palm Springs

You learn about the premise very early on in the movie, but those first 10 minutes are something special if you have no idea what is happening. 

This is the newest entrance into the sub-genre of movie that I will just call a Groundhog Day film. The protagonist is cursed to live the same day over-and-over again. Typically he is the only one experiencing the repetitive nature of the day. 

In Palm Springs, Nyles (Andy Samberg) is forever reliving the day of his girlfriends friend’s wedding… in Palm Springs. He seems pretty numb to his existence until he inadvertently gets the bride’s sister Sarah (Cristin Milioti) stuck in the same time loop. 

This is the first repeating day movie where it has really dawned on me what a metaphor for our existence they are. We are all stuck in our daily routines, becoming numb to the things that really matter the most in our lives. This has never been more true than over the last 10 months as the entire world has struggled through COVID-19. 

Palm Springs turned out to be a perfect metaphor for life right now. It really highlighted how lucky some of us are to be going through that life with people you love. 

It was a phenomenal movie that I will surely revisit in the next several weeks. I want to watch it again with my wife. I think she will really like it. My only real criticism of the movie is that I wasn’t sure how I felt about the extremely scientific resolution. I didn’t dislike it, but it also felt strange. Maybe I can grapple with that a little more on my second watch. 

I have read a couple of articles about the movie that state that is supposed to be open-ended at the conclusion. I didn’t get that at all. I also don’t feel like it could even be read as open-ended based on the interaction with the family. I’d love to hear from you if you can explain a reading of the film where they didn’t both get out of the time loop. 

I guess if you really don’t like Andy Samberg you might want to avoid Palm Springs. It is filled with his brand of humor, and he is on screen almost the entire time. For me those were both a positive. I loved it!

January 3, 2021

Bart Simpson Mania


I can distinctly remember the first episode of The Simpsons. I think it came out when I was about 8 years old. My oldest brother wanted to watch it, but we were going to be gone that evening for something. We set the VCR to record it. 

I watched that episode of The Simpsons several times. We usually gathered around the TV most weeks to watch The Simpsons all together. I didn’t think of it as a big deal or controversial at all. I do remember Bart being seen as a “shocking” character early on. As a very respectful and obedient child he was quite a curiosity for me. 

At some point I bought a Bart t-shirt from the local gas station. I have to imagine it was a bootleg. I know I had one with Bart skateboarding that said “cowabunga dude”. I feel like I also had a shirt with his famous catchphrase “Eat My Shorts”, but that could have been just a fantasy. 

Looking back on it, it seems strange that I was allowed to watch the show considering all of the controversy described in the podcast. I continued watching it for the next few years, but I wasn’t a diehard fan like many of my peers. At some point I moved on to watching South Park & Bevis and Butthead. 

My daughters are both around the same age as I was when I started watching the Simpsons. For the last several years I have said that I was going to re-start watching The Simpsons and see if I could make it through those supposedly magical fist 7 seasons. I have put it off long enough where now I feel like I want to bring my daughters along on that journey with me. 

For some reason I still feel like I shouldn’t let them watch it. I cannot explain why I feel that way. Surely The Simpsons is much tamer than most of the kids shows these days. I really can’t say. I guess we will find out. 

November 25, 2020

Ted Lasso on Apple TV+

 It isn’t really a secret anymore, but Ted Lasso is a great show. I am going to add my recommendation for this show. It seemingly came out of nowhere on Apple TV+. I haven’t watched many shows on Apple TV+ during my free trial, but Ted Lasso made me happy I had it and was able to experience the first season. 

Ted Lasso is a show about an American football coach who goes over to Europe to coach football in the premier league. Even though the entire premise of the show is based around “sport”… there is very little actual football happening in the series. Don’t let that scare you away. It is mostly a comedy about the relationships. 

I like that the show is not cynical. Ted Lasso is genuine and constantly cheery. This could have been annoying, but it was executed extremely well. It wasn’t his constant positivity that saved the day. It was his honesty and care for others. It was very funny and yet didn’t feel the need to punch down or make fun of characters like so many other shows. It felt refreshing.

I am happy to hear that Apple has renewed Ted Lasso for at least 2 more seasons. I think it has turned out to be one of the most popular series on the new streaming service, and it is just what they needed to get people to try it out. I am sure the budget for Ted Lasso was tiny compared to many of their other shows. I hope it doesn’t get ruined in series 2. 

If you have a way to watch Apple TV+ I would *highly* recommend Ted Lasso. There are only 10 episodes that are 30 minutes long each. It is an easy watch. I plan to watch season 1 again, it is that good!