Justin Duke

Turning 25

This week, I turned 25.

I spent my birthday doing the thing I want to spend every birthday doing: I reverse seared a filet, bought a nice scotch, and watched an old movie with Molly.

We were going to watch Bridge on the River Kwoi but didn’t want to start a three-hour movie at eight pm, so we watched The African Queen.

We have become so old. It is fantastic.

I do the thing I do every time I turn a new age, which is expressly deny the very concept of maturation until it seeps into my life anyway.

Like grabbing dinner and drinks with a couple friends who had moved out of town but were back for the week, and suddenly understanding that “grabbing dinner and drinks” has become an act that shifted from “order a pizza and go bar-hopping” to “make sandwiches and drink wine”.

(I mean, I still eat pizza, and we still go to bars. But we eat less pizza, and spend less time in bars, and besides on the week of your birthday you’re forced to wonder how things have changed.)

I am re-reading what I wrote this time last year, and discovering that most of my thoughts are redundant. I feel more mature but no more wiser. I feel like I’m getting more rest but am slightly worried about forgetting what it feels like to be restless.

I am waking up early (I referred to waking up at 7 as sleeping in); I am eating well. I find myself so tired at the day, but it’s an earned fatigue (to steal a friend’s phrase.). I am reading and writing and learning French, conjugated word by conjugated word. I can deadlift more than I could deadlift twelve months ago. I beat Persona 5.

And I’m happy. Really, really happy. If there’s something that I’m unhappy about, it’s that the days are short and the weeks are short and the months are the shortest of all.

We’re going to DC in a few weeks, and then after that Paris, and then after that we need to plan our next trip — Tokyo, maybe, or Edinburgh or Prague. And then after that, maybe Little Rock. I have always wanted to visit Little Rock, for reasons unexplainable.

There is still so much to discover.


The best podcasts

First, some background and context, because I’m a super persnickety podcast listener:

  1. I think podcasts, like anything else, need to be interesting and timeless. If an episode is useless or pointless to listen to three months after its publication, then its a bad episode; if that describes most episodes, then it’s a bad podcast for me. 1
  2. I don’t like most politics or tech news podcasts, mostly because they end up guilty of the above.
  3. I don’t like comedy podcasts, much to my chagrin. 2
  4. In my experience, most interview-style podcasts are more marketing/PR than actual information. Obviously that’s a broad brush (and a couple of the podcasts on this list are interview podcasts!), but in general I feel like the ROI on interviews are low.
  5. This list is constantly evolving. It was last edited in August of 2017. (And I’m always looking for new things to listen to!)

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Time is money, friend

Cushion, a SaaS for freelancers, has a transparent log of its running costs and expenses that recently got posted to HN and spun up a lot of positive discussion.

(This page has been around for at least a year, and I think it’s awesome – it’s what inspired me to similarly start tracking expenses for Village Blacksmith.)

One of the fairly common discussion points on the post was about how the accumulation of so many ‘small’ costs – in the $10-$50 a month range – can add up to such a substantial amount.

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Waking up early

Ever since I got back to Seattle after Christmas, I’ve been waking up early.

Not, like, super early, but 6-6.30 am. This is a big deal for me; I’ve never been able to really drag myself out of bed until around 8 or so.

But suddenly (probably thanks to jet lag) it started clicking. 1

I’ve settled into a little routine: wake up at around 6am, set up the coffee machine while I jump in the shower, then spend until 7am catching up on emails and reading. I work on freelance or side projects until 8, at which point I either go to the gym or write for an hour. By 9am I’m back at my desk, with breakfast (a smoothie or a protein bar because I’m still lazy) and I feel like I’ve accomplished a half a day’s worth of stuff already.

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Of all the talk of burnout in the technology industry, sometimes I feel like the opposite is a more apt descriptor:

With phosphor-based electronic displays (for example CRT-type computer monitors or plasma displays), non-uniform use of pixels, such as prolonged display of non-moving images (text or graphics), gaming, or certain broadcasts with tickers and flags, can create a permanent ghost-like image of these objects or otherwise degrade image quality.

The length of time required for noticeable screen burn to develop varies due to many factors, ranging from the quality of the phosphors employed, to the degree of non-uniformity of sub-pixel usage. It can take as little as only a few weeks for noticeable ghosting to set in, especially if the screen displays a certain image (example: a menu bar at the top or bottom of the screen) constantly, and displays it continually over time

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So I finally beat Skyrim.

Well, I’m using a flimsy definition of the word beat.

Skyrim, if you’re unfamiliar, is an open world RPG with no real clear cut goals or finish lines. There are major quests and plot lines, but there’s no final credit sequence where the game spells out “ta-da! You’re done forever! Go do something else!” It’s open-ended the entire way, and you more or less make your own goals.

(Also, in fairness: if you’re unfamiliar with Skyrim, this post will lose some of its luster. Not all, but certainly some.)

Skyrim (and its associated game series, Elder Scrolls) are notoriously difficult to ‘beat’.

Why are these games so difficult to beat? Two reasons: (1) The main thing to do in the game, often referred to as the Main Quest, is a tiny portion of the game (and often the least fun bit of it. All the other things you can do in the game tend to be way more fun. (2) All those other things? There are literally infinite quests. People have spent hundreds of hours in this game and not touched the main quest.

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Digital nesting

I’ve been working remotely for around six months now. It is awesome and I love it very much. There’s one thing about remote work that surprised me: I, uh, don’t really move around that much. One of the things I thought would be especially awesome about working remotely is the ability to work wherever I wanted. No office means, well, no office – I could work from my desk, sure, or I could work from my couch or my comfy replica Eames or the coffeeshop down the street or take the train up to Portland and work there for a week or fly back to Richmond to visit my family for a couple weeks and just work there!
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How liberal arts matters

The idea that a liberal arts education is better for a software developer than a traditional engineering education is increasingly in vogue. This is convenient for me, as I received a liberal arts education: I went to the College of William and Mary 1, where I started out an English major and then pivoted to Marketing and Computer Science. (I joke that this was a move borne of cynicism, not pragmatism.
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Use a surfboard

Over the holidays, this tweet was making the rounds: When you overhear people complaining that their tools are the root cause of failure send them this video of Kelly Slater on a table. pic.twitter.com/0Mw1CByeUy — Jesse Hanley (@jessethanley) December 28, 2016 First off: watch the video! It’s pretty neat! Kelly Slater is one of the best surfers in the world. Don’t take it from me, take it from Wikipedia:
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My favorite things of 2016

Here are the ten best things I discovered this year. It covers art and content. You should take my word for it – these are very good things and I promise you will like them. Noname Noname is a rapper from Chicago. You may have heard her on The Coloring Book or Acid Rap. Her debut album, Telefone, is perfectly executed: it might not be my favorite album of the year, but it’s the one I’m most impressed with.
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© 2017 Justin Duke • All rights reserved • I hope you have a nice day.