Writing an About page feels a bit impossible because, like everyone else, my priorities, goals, and focuses are always changing. Life is a movie, not a photo.
Well, I could just copy the first sentence from the Spring 2022 entry here:
My priorities have shifted a lot in the past 6-8 months.
It's still true, but in a different way than it was a year ago. I have had somewhat of a reawakening in my attitude towards social causes. I was deeply involved in climate change activism in 2018 and 2019, but got overwhelmed by the pervading sense of doom I felt about the state of the world and disillusioned by the black-and-white thinking I saw on both sides of the issue. Without really realizing it, I stopped thinking about global issues, and rationalized my disengagement by telling myself that by the statistics humanity is doing better than ever...and if we we're truly screwed, what could I possibly do?
In the past 9 months, I've started to re-engage with the world's issues. At first I found it completely emotionally overwhelming–feeling real empathy for every struggling person you see in NYC takes a lot of energy–but I'm learning to filter a little more. I think to stay functional, I have to keep some emotional distance from the issues I want to engage with.
I've found Metamodernism to be a really helpful lens to look through. Metamodernism is a philosophy that acknowledges the paradoxes inherent in life, and works within the truth that there is rarely a Right Answer to anything. Each different lived experience leads to a different perspective on the world, and I think it's both demeaning and arrogant to say that any one perspective is the Right One. Metamodernism formalizes that idea.
The community workshop I referenced in my last entry has grown into a Real Thing (check out @highsideworkshop on Instagram to see what's going on here). Along with that, I've started feeling less and less like a software engineer, and more and more like a community facilitator. It takes an increasing amount of my time and energy to keep it moving in the right direction, and I'm totally ok with that.
Highside has gone through several phases:
- January – June 2022: At first it was a public health hazard (mushrooms growing out of the walls, black mold everywhere, etc). I spent a lot of time renovating.
- July 2022 – February 2023: It suddenly became a venue, and that went quite well...until everyone involved realized that running an underground venue wasn't what we wanted to spend all our time on.
- March – September 2023: Then came a long period of...not much. I went through a breakup that forced me to do a lot of thinking, and during that time I didn't have the energy to make big changes in the direction that Highside was going. I reconsidered nearly every bit of my outlook on life.
- October 2023 – now: I've started to rework Highside to be much more community-oriented. I want this to be a third place for collaborative & creative work, run and directed by the people who use it. Long term, I hope to make it a co-op and mostly remove myself as the manager. We've started having a broader range of events here as a result, which is awesome.
One side effect of spending more time on Highside is that the way I originally used to paid for it – my software consulting business – is making far less money than used to. I care a lot less about money than I used to, so that fact on its own doesn't bother me, but I am starting to think more seriously about how to get Highside to pay for itself, since I won't be able to keep floating it forever. I'm going to resign the lease for one more year, and if by the end of 2024 it's not self-supporting (or damn close), I'm going to have to shut it down. If that happens, I'll be sad but ok with it...I've learned so much from this place, and met so many awesome people.
For the first time in my life, I'm finding that I enjoy traveling alone. I feel a pretty strong pull to go spend a few months wandering around by myself and see what happens. I also would love to learn another language properly – spending a month in Mexico this year made me realize how fun that would be. Whenever I'm not needed at Highside, I think I'm going to spend a while living in Chamonix or some other European mountain town.
That's all for now :)
My priorities have shifted a lot in the past 6-8 months. I’ve recognized the fact that people are what makes my life meaningful and interesting (major duh, in retrospect) and I’m reorganizing my life around that realization. As a result, I now live in Brooklyn—not something I ever thought I’d say!
I’m working on the biggest project I’ve ever taken on: a community workshop in Bushwick. I’m renovating a crusty old warehouse to make space for working on vehicles, creating art, making music, and anything else that people want to do in here (I’m writing this from the warehouse floor). I’m building a magnet to attract interesting people who love making real, tangible things, whatever that looks like. In a place like Brooklyn where ample space for making things is rare and expensive, this will be a spot for unusual, thoughtful, and motivated people to hang out and make things together. No one will pay unless they feel called to. I’ve never had such a clear vision and goal for anything in my life, and it’s really, really exciting. (I’m giving updates via stories and posts here, if you’re interested.)
On the work side of things, I continue to do consulting work around the Selling Partner API. The open-source PHP SDK I made is now the most-downloaded SP API package on Packagist, with ~30,000 downloads—it’s being used more than anything else I’ve ever made! It’s satisfying making a (small) contribution to the OSS world that I’ve gotten so much help and utility from. I’ve also dived into the crazy world of DAOs, and man is it a blast. I’m an active contributor in Foster (a community of skilled and kind people who edit each other’s work and co-write together) and LabDAO (trying to democratize the biotech research landscape), and a member/participant in several others.
I love this city, but I’m starting to get some serious cravings for the mountains. I need to figure out how to balance the two. My long-term goal is to spend half my time in the city and the other half in the San Juan Mountains, but I haven’t figured out how that’ll work yet. I’ve got time :)
Onward and upward!
Here’s the contents of my old About page, written Fall 2020:
I’m a wandering software engineer. Right now, I’m focused on making it easier for developers to integrate with Amazon’s Selling Partner API. I also do a lot of consulting work with the Selling Partner API. If you’re looking for help with the SP API, get in touch!
More generally, I really enjoy learning how things work at a low level…not just software, but anything. Other topics I enjoy diving deep on are manufacturing processes, the mechanics of vehicles, and technological/political solutions to climate change.
Interesting and fun things I’ve done include:
- working with companies from startups to large companies
- creating a browser extension that had over 25,000 users
- consulting for ADVrider, a motorcycle forum and news site with over 350,000 members
- on a related note, fixing up a broken ’70s motorcycle and riding it across the USA (twice)
The best way to get in touch with me is via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also welcome phone calls. In fact, I think everyone, myself included, should pick up the phone a little more often: (413) 588-2815.
If you enjoy my writing, you might want to subscribe to my email list! I’ll send you an email whenever I publish a new post.