Back To School

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As you can tell from the title, the kids are back in school, and the youngest is physically back in school. I know, big deal. As the beginning of the school year approached, and as talks of sending kids back to school progressed, we were wary of sending our kids back to school. We are fortunate enough to live in a school district where they take science seriously and have taken every precaution possible to accept students back into school, which made us feel better. And as other families and parents have experienced, we were all ready for that separation of school and home. In the understatement of the century, this pandemic has taken a toll on all of us and after a month of distance learning for this school year, we were ready for our youngest to go back. I’m sure he missed the structure of school as well.

After three weeks of in-person school, everything seems to be going great. He gets to take the bus to school, which he loves. He comes home exhausted but has tons of stories to tell us from his day. And as parents, we get our peace and quiet back, during the day at least.

Our older one is not yet back at school as there are greater logistic issues with the middle school. But she seems to be doing fine for now with the remote set up. I’ve been impressed with her school’s curriculum especially for her French class. Every Friday they cook a French dish. It’s basically a cooking class. And we benefit from eating an impressive French meal she prepared herself. Of course, I’m eager to help her and watch over her shoulder and help when she needs it.

Nine months into this pandemic and it still wears on you, but we’ve adjusted to the move and now being back in school so I can’t complain in the grand scheme of things.

Now, on to some links…

Someday Our Kids Will Not Believe Us About Any of This

I think about this especially as I see my youngest one being more and more aware of what is going on around him. He freaks out when he touches something outside. He asks what would happen if he “fights the police”. And our oldest sees all the political ads and asks tons of questions. Good ones at that. And now that we are closing in on a year of living like this, I’d like to make an effort to remember and take note of everything going on around us.

How to Build a Better Dinner

Since we’ve all been working from home and staying in as much as possible, we are all cooking a lot more, ordering take out more, or a combination of both. This article by Kenji Lopez-Alt reminded me how kitchens are run and inspired me to have more cooking “building blocks” on hand to help you make meals by combining different blocks. One of the secrets to how a restaurant pushes out all those dishes for all those guests is the amount of prep that goes in beforehand.

iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Reviews

New iPhones came out last week (standard 12 and 12 Pro, we will have to wait for the Mini and Pro Max) and I upgraded my two year old XR. I got a iPhone 12 Pro in Gold, 128 GB on T-Mobile. The gold looks great in person. 5G is mostly a feature that’s been shoved down our throats. The speeds in my area are comparable to LTE. I’m enjoying the OLED screen and camera improvements the most.

I linked to Gruber’s review up top, but The Verge (iPhone 12 Pro) and MKBHD (iPhone 12) have great video reviews if you’d rather watch than read.

Tweet of the Week

I’ve probably mentioned it on Twitter, but Ted Lasso is probably the best show I’ve watched this year. Whatever hype you’ve heard, it is all true and you should probably watch it right now. Here’s a thread that tries to explain why it’s so great.


It seems like every election year is the most important of our time. That was definitely the case in 2016, but in all seriousness, that is the case again in 2020. It’s no secret how I feel about the current administration, but regardless how you feel about the current presidential candidates, there are a ton of other government positions and propositions that we are voting on.

For us in California, there are a number of propositions on the ballot. If you aren’t up to speed about what the propositions are about, CalMatters has great videos on each proposition. They are neutral in the way they explain them (unlike all the annoying commercials and ads you see on TV and YouTube), and they do so in a clear and concise way. Each video spends less than a minute explaining each proposition.

And once you have filled in your ballot, please make every effort to turn them in early. At an OFFICIAL ballot drop box or polling location. Not a fake one like those dirty California Republicans are setting up in different counties in California. You can find the closest, official one to you here.

You can also track your ballot from when they send it to you, to when it is received after you drop it off at ballottrax.

Please vote. You can make a difference.

The New Helicopter Parents

Danielle Braff in the New York Times:

Welcome to e-learning, where some parents have become reluctant helicopters, circling their kids as they attempt to learn, helping them with their every move. Throughout the country, grown-ups privileged enough to be able to stay at home, or to even have a few minutes of “spare time,” can be found sitting adjacent to their children on Zoom — or just a few feet away, poking their dependents when attention wanes, and yelling at them to raise their hands, speak into the camera and stop fidgeting.

This has been my life from March-June, and then when school started again, from August until last week, Monday, October 5. I was kind of torn with the idea of sending our kids back to school when the pandemic is nowhere near under control. At the end of the day, I was ok with all the precautions the school was taking, and the fact that our youngest needed the structure and socialization of school. And my wife and I needed our sanity back. Given everything else going on, I think I can say that distance learning has been the hardest thing on me by far.

Although this aspect of the pandemic has been covered in the media, like it has in the New York Times, I don’t think it is being discussed honestly between other parents.

Secrets of the Most Thankless N.B.A. Job: Referee

Fascinating article covering a typical day in the life of an NBA referee in the Covid Era. Zach Zarba shares this story about the late, great Kobe Bryant.

It must have been my first year in the league. My “welcome to the N.B.A.” moment. I’m reffing a Lakers game and it’s Kobe Bryant. Kobe in 2003, 2004, was younger and brash. He was chasing a legacy. He was a great player and intense. I remember there was one game and Kobe asked about a play. He thought he got fouled on the elbow shooting a jumper. He barked about it.

The culture of the N.B.A. is that, for us, if a play in question happens in the first half, you can kind of go in at halftime, look at the play, you can come back and either tell them, “Yeah, you were right,” or “No, you were wrong.” Sure enough, Kobe got fouled and I missed the play, and it should’ve been a foul.

When you tell a player and you drop your guard and say, “Hey, I missed that play,” 90 percent of the time the player is going to say: “Hey, don’t worry about it. You’ll get the next one.” That’s the kind of working environment. I come back out and walk up to Kobe and say: “Kobe, you were right. You did get hit on the elbow.” He looked dead at me and I’m expecting a pat on the butt or whatever. He looked at me stone-faced and said, “Get it together.”


33 Things I Stole From People Smarter Than Me

I stumbled across another great collection of pieces of life advice. Again, they all are great, but this one for me hits close personally.

“Your last book won’t write your next one.” I don’t remember who said it, but it’s true for writing and for all professions. You are constantly starting at zero. Every sale is a new sale. Every season is a new season. Every fight is a new fight. If you think your past success guarantees you anything, you’re in for a rude awakening. In fact, someone has already started to beat you.

“If you think your past success guarantees you anything, you’re in for a rude awakening.” Wow, that is some fresh humble pie.

I recently separated from my last job, and given my experience in the industry, I figured I wouldn’t have any problems finding new work. It’s been 3 weeks and my phone has been silent and inbox has been empty. I’m still confident I will find something eventually, I just didn’t realize it would take this long.

Eight Secrets to a (Fairly) Fulfilled Life

I came across a great read, with an admittingly clickbait-y title, but it’s totally worth the click. All eight points are great but this one resonates with me loud and clear.

The solution to imposter syndrome is to see that you are one.

Humanity is divided into two: on the one hand, those who are improvising their way through life, patching solutions together and putting out fires as they go, but deluding themselves otherwise; and on the other, those doing exactly the same, except that they know it.

It was through this same site that I realized that everyone is totally winging it, all the time. Once I learned this, and then now adding this corollary regarding imposter syndrome, I can hopefully put to rest any debilitating fear I have about getting “found out”.

It is also completely ridiculous that when I first introduce myself to customers, I will always throw in, “I don’t know everything, but I’m really good at finding the answer” which is literally the best anyone could ever do at anything, but my mind will always find a way to talk itself into thinking I’m an imposter.

This is a great reminder that everyone is doing the best they can at everything. It’s just that some have been doing it longer.

Hamilton on Disney+

I’ve been enjoying Hamilton as soon as it was released on Disney+ and after the third or fourth viewing, I started to wonder how they got those tight shots at a live Broadway musical. Michael Paulson in the New York Times:

Declan Quinn, the director of photography, spent two months watching performances and reading the script, trying to suss out the best angles to capture key dramatic beats. He installed nine cameras around the Richard Rodgers Theater — one with a view toward the audience through a hole cut into the back of the stage set, one fixed on the balcony rail for a wide shot, and seven hidden behind black drapes so they would be less distracting to theatergoers — to shoot a Sunday matinee and a Tuesday evening show. Between those performances, the cast ran through 13 of the 46 numbers, but this time with onstage equipment — a Steadicam, a crane and a dolly-mounted camera — for close-ups and overheads.

Originally planned for a theater release, Covid–19 changed all that. While it would have been nice to watch in a theater, I’m glad that those who are subscribers are now able to enjoy it without going into one.

Proceeds from the sale, Seller said, will be shared with the beneficiaries of the Broadway production, including the nonprofit Public Theater, where the Off Broadway production was staged, and members of the original cast, who in 2016 won a hard-fought battle to share in the profits of the stage production. “The actors are absolutely reaping the benefits of our financial rewards,” Seller said.

The cast welcomed the arrangement.

Also glad that those who deserved it, got paid.

Sports Are Back

Professional sports leagues are back into play and the New York Times put together a list of some rule changes that they feel would make the different sports more interesting.

If you own a team that finishes last in the division three years in a row, you and your family must divest entirely.

But the team stays put.

I like this one too.

If leagues can have a salary cap, they can have a concessions cap, too.

Tie ticket and concessions prices to the team’s current record or its last championship. Last place? Your beer is a buck.

Would have made the Chargers’ season last year a lot more fun.

On Facebook

John Gruber on Anne Borden King’s experience of getting pseudoscience cancer ads after she posted about her breast cancer diagnosis.

They don’t advertise on legitimate media because legitimate media won’t have them, and because Facebook makes it affordable by doing all the hard work of targeting for them. Facebook is a criminal enterprise fully and knowingly complicit in all of this — from the spread of bigotry to the spread of pseudoscience.

Conversely, legitimate advertisers are abandoning Facebook because they want nothing to do with any of this. To remain on Facebook is to be complicit by association.

I deleted my Facebook account at least over a year ago. I am very close to deleting my Instagram account. Facebook is a terrible, horrible corporation.

Why Time Feels So Weird

The global coronavirus pandemic has heightened our awareness that time is subjective. For some people who enjoy working from home, the days have whizzed by. For others desperate to travel or visit a loved one, time has slowed to a crawl.

I’ve noticed that my sense of time is all messed up since the pandemic started. In the middle of March, when shelter in place was first implemented, the rest of the month took forever. Then April flew by. We’re halfway through July and I can’t believe all of our family’s May birthdays were two months ago. It seems longer.

For those of us with kids, we can relate. There’s a saying, which I’m paraphrasing, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Each day, especially now, seems long with keeping them entertained, fed, and, most of all, healthy and safe. But it’s nuts to see our youngest one is now 5 years old. The passage of time is weird.