Now

TL;DR

I’m making a gin, beginning to plan a housing community for friends + family, beginning a project to explore our modern “connection crisis”, working on getting back to video content, experimenting with AI (who isn’t), and trying new dating apps. Read on for details!

What Now: The Details and Digressions

:evergreen_tree: :tumbler_glass: Work continues on my current favorite project: developing a custom gin with two long-time friends! This began back in July, but really got going about three months ago, and we’ve been taking meetings and doing our best to get a good understanding of the undeniably complex alcohol product/sales market in the US. Most recently I have been delving into distillation itself, with its many complexities (something I’ve been curious about but intimidated by for a long time), and I’m beginning to formulate the recipe itself (soon to be augmented by expert guidance). That said, we want to be self-funded (bootstrapped) and right now we’re still not sure the financials will work out, so the end result here may not actually be a product on the shelf. But I’m hopeful we can find a way to get there because the project itself is really exciting! It’s one of those things where all the major components – the product, the marketing and brand story, etc. – it all just sprang forth nearly fully formed over just a few conversations between us and has continued to inspire us all many months later.

:handshake: This project has had an amazing element of collaboration with my two friends, and lets me take my existing enthusiasm for cocktails and spirits to a whole new level, so it has understandably taken a lot of my attention of late. With some luck you just might be able to buy our gin in 6-9 months or so (I’ll be sure to let you know)!

:man_construction_worker: Outside of that recent flurry of excitement, I continue to contemplate and experiment more broadly to decide which of my many projects and Idea s I should focus on and invest the most time into (if any). From the currently languishing Discourse plugin project to create a graph view for navigating connections between topics (that got a nice donation a while back which I still hope to take advantage of soon!), to a new Obsidian ↔ Fibery sync plugin, to various content creation ideas, a YouTube series on PKM tools, one focused on home bartending, and more. Right now I’m most hoping to return to my non-alcoholic YouTube channel with a somewhat adjusted approach to improve my publishing frequency, so let’s see how that goes… :crossed_fingers: (of note: my last attempt to do exactly that a month ago failed :sweat_smile:)

👀🧠 One project that I’m more comfortable keeping on the back burner for now is the open source dating app. I’ve realized that, although I and many others have so many ideas for how to potentially fix dating apps, the reality is that nobody seems to actually have a clear understanding of the underlying problems (besides, well, Capitalism), or a really well-articulated and consistent vision of how to solve those key issues. There are strong theories about the most significant issues – obviously paywalling of features is a big one, the swipe mechanic, and more – but it seems to me there might well be something even deeper going on. We’ve seen more and more news stories and studies about what I’ll broadly call the “connection crisis” of the last few years, and perhaps longer. Is it largely pandemic-related, is it social media, or are there other things going on here? I am very interested in finding out. Obviously there are many people looking into various aspects of this, but I’d like to take a step back and try to consider more angles at once. So I’m hoping to start up an ongoing investigation into this, explored and shared through vlogs, book reviews, interviews with experts like therapists and match-makers, free-form thinking sessions, app reviews and developer interviews, and more. If that’s something you’d be interested in following along with let me know!

That said, one dating app I do feel pretty good about for the moment is Firefly Dating and I’ve been an active participant in their community for a while now as a result (mostly on Discord). While it is not open source and it remains quite small, it does feel like the ethos of the founder and the way it is developing so far aligns reasonably well with the hopes I had for my similar project. Of course everything can change as things grow and more money (or expenses!) starts to be involved. But Daniel, the founder, seems to be local to the Bay Area we have plans to meet very soon, which I’m excited about. I see this as perhaps the kick-off of the larger project I just described so I’m really looking forward to that.

:rocket: Meanwhile I seem to have no shortage of grand ambitions. My previously discussed aim to create a Foundation to pursue more of these projects in parallel remains a long-term goal, but I have focused less directly on it recently. Another ambitious project has moved to the forefront, which is the hope to develop some kind of Community Living concept where my friends and/or family could all live next to each other and share resources and lovely amenities like a big garden, fully-outfitted and large kitchen + hosting space, hot tub, etc. I’m just at the beginning of this huge project and focusing on getting buy-in from a few key people in my life. So far so very good in that regard! I’ve also identified some potential properties that could work to realize this, although they would be ground-up builds which is its own challenge vs. just buying (and likely renovating/adding onto) an existing “compound”. I have been significantly inspired here by the local Oakland Radish Community, who publish a brilliant and incredibly helpful blog called SuperNuclear that documents many key aspects of their journey from idea to functioning 20+ person community, including governance, finances, company structure, etc. I highly recommend you check it out if you’re interested in this kind of thing!

:cocktail: One of my big projects this past year has been improving the setup of my house for hosting people in various kinds of events, get-togethers, etc. One of the key motivators for this was to start having regular “open bar” nights here, and polishing up the bar area was a particular focus in light of that. I eventually got to a pretty good place with everything and started hosting weekly “open” nights, which at times were well attended. But I ultimately found it wasn’t building the kind of sustainable experience I was hoping to create. It took a bit too much of my time and energy, and the attendance wasn’t quite consistent enough to make it worthwhile. But I hope to return to this in some form in the future, perhaps with more heavily pre-batched cocktails, themes, or specific activities to focus on each week, and perhaps as well with the support of more regular publishing around cocktails, etc.

🥞 🎊 In the meantime I’m returning to other kinds of hosting now that the weather is nicer as we move into summer. I just hosted my first brunch of the season, which was a whole lot of fun (breakfast tacos!). And I’m looking forward to expanding the kinds of get-togethers I am hosting, from the mostly food-or-cocktail-focus of the past into games, music sharing parties, and more!

:man_technologist: I just finished up a big consulting project with Marcia Gagliardi of Tablehopper, which ended up being an incredibly rewarding experience (and quite a bit more involved than I imagined at the start). It’s an interesting contrast to the consulting I did with ClickUp until early 2023, which was rewarding in its own ways, but felt less deeply fulfilling. So at this point I’m pretty clear that I want to focus on smaller clients, though not necessarily smaller projects; big challenges for small teams (and individuals) are what I think I enjoy most, especially when I’m really excited about their work and mission. So if you have an interesting project you want my help on, let me know!).

Along those lines, one of the things I’m hoping to eventually invest more time into is a volunteer-based technology services organization for small businesses. For now that has taken the form of me simply offering my consulting services for free or work trade to individuals and (very) small businesses, where it feels like my involvement will really help create broader change I believe in. I’m still very much figuring out how this works and what it will mean, but I feel like some version of this is a bit of a calling, if I can manage to make it sustainable. I’d love to find collaborators who feel similarly about offering their skills and knowledge for free or cheap to good causes, because one big way to make all this better would be to have people to work with on it. :blush:

:outbox_tray: With everything I am trying to do at once (see: Foundation concept mentioned above), I need to find ways to be more efficient if I hope to get to all of it. :sweat_smile: So I’m investigating and considering opportunities to outsource/delegate some of my activities, work, and projects to focus more on the things that matter to me and that I’m uniquely suited for. Notably this includes potentially outsourcing things I have until recently seen as things I am really good at and/or passionate about, or that I “should” do myself, like developing my PKM systems. As part of this I’ve also (like everyone else) been experimenting with newly-available AI tools and AI-based augmentations, like ReadWise Ghostreader, and even AI-based photo selection and editing! (you’ll even see AI-generated art as part of my Archipelago Bar branding, in fact) It’s an exciting time, and I anticipate huge efficiency gains in some areas of my life that I think are genuinely not valuable uses of my time (you’d be shocked at how long it takes me to decide on a set of say 100 photos from a photo shoot of 1000!).

:mag_right: Speaking of PKM systems, I am thinking about and researching these constantly, and am in progress on a large migration from multiple tools over to Fibery, although it has stalled out somewhat recently (not due to lack of interest, more to lack of time and self discipline; migration work is not fun!). I’m also missing some things in Fibery and the recent addition of Canvas to Obsidian has me considering keeping it in keeping it in my workflow. Unfortunately I haven’t even had (or rather made) time lately to do anything further with this, but I’m hopeful that I may be able to pull together a bit of funding and a coder or two to create a Fibery ↔ Obsidian integration/sync. If you’re a user of either Fibery or Obsidian, consider lending your support!

:brain: All the while I’m pursuing a better understanding of myself, my motivations, needs, and the different aspects of that through the Internal Family Systems model, and working with a therapist and coach. Right now my coach and my “therapist” are the same person, which is interesting, but works fairly well so far. We alternate weeks as far as what “mode” we’re in and what we’re focusing on. I hope to have more thoughts on this soon.

:rose: I have made slow, intermittent progress in overhauling my various dating app profiles (OKC, Hinge, Bumble primarily), and over the past year my actual motivation for doing the day-to-day interaction of swiping and commenting was honestly pretty low. Perhaps it’s no surprise that I didn’t meet many people who really excited me for quite some time. But after trying to consciously increase my “engagement” earlier this year I still had questionable results. I did a bit of work to improve my profiles, but honestly they were already more complete than many (if not most) that I come across. :smile:

So what to do? Well, I mentioned Firefly above, and that has been a more enjoyable experience, but has so few people local to me that it’s not really a viable option yet. Feeld, however, despite having a reputation as a open relationship and hookup app, is actually looking like a more exciting option! The key aspects? 1: there is an emphasis on openness and being really clear and up-front about what you want (both in terms of relationship/connection and sexuality), which is refreshing and a bit freeing, and 2: the profile browsing is not limited to the currently-dominant swipe mechanic – you can look at a profile and move on to another one without deciding, and then return to that profile later if you wish! This seems like such a small thing but is huge. It turns out that the binary yes/no of the Tinder-esque swipe approach really clashes with my decision making process, which often benefits from time for consideration (and reconsideration), among other things. Being forced to decide in the moment, as quickly as possible, before being shown another option is not good for my potential to meet new people, I’m fairly confident of that by now. And unfortunately once more dynamic apps like OKC have moved to the swipe-based approach over the past few years and there are very few apps that are friendly to folks like me anymore. So Feeld is currently the most interesting to experiment with.

Having said all that, I did meet a few promising prospects in 2023, at least one of which I remain in touch with. And it’s nice to make new friends or just to take it slow, but it’s a bit frustrating to be potentially on the cusp of a good connection and get stuck in sort of ambivalence. Of course it’s better than no prospects at all.

:open_book: :turtle: Since last updated I did finish “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, which I’d had on my shelf for years. It was very good, and thought provoking, but my god do I not understand the climber’s mentality. It sounds like a largely miserable experience to climb Everest, and I think there are other, safer ways to push oneself to their limits. I don’t want to get judgey here, but it really does seem somewhat of a waste of life, time, money, and resources… I hate to say that because it all really was a tragedy, but I still can’t see it as much but a waste. I can at least be glad I don’t have the summiting mania myself!

Having completed that, I’m just in time for Robert Sapolsky’s next challenging subject: free will itself:grimacing: I’ve enjoyed and I think tremendously benefitted from all of his books that I’ve read previously, and the subject of this one intrigues me even as it challenges me. So I’m in!

Get In Touch

Feel free to comment on anything of interest here. I’m always looking for input, feedback, suggestions, ideas, and new collaborators for the things I’m working on and interested in!

Why a “Now Page”?

Derek Sivers‘ “Now Page” movement really appealed to me when I first heard about it from a friend. So in 2019 I started this page and have kept it updated (semi-intermittently) since. I encourage you to start your own and let me know about it!

How now is now?

The giant caveat to the “now” of this is that I am a chronic procrastinator. This is a list of things I am actively working on, as well as some I very much want to work on and complete soon, but it’s also likely that much of it won’t get done “soon”, or perhaps ever. I aim to improve on that over time. To see how this page has evolved over time, try out the Discourse Post Edit History function (the little pencil icon at the top of this topic).

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