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Monthly Review - July 2020

August 1st, 2020
  • The biggest piece of news for the month: I moved out of SF into my parent’s house in Dublin! With coronavirus & related precautions, urban areas no longer have network advantages over suburbs. While Emily and I think about where we want to move long-term (perhaps Denver or New York after coronavirus fades away), we’re saving a bundle.
    • We’re really grateful to have this option: both that our jobs allow us to work remotely during coronavirus and that my parents are willing & able to house both fo us while we ride out the storm.


  • Daily Gratitude 🤗
    • I’m trying to have 1-3 gratitudes throughout the day - something like 3 out of the last 5 self-improvement / autobiographies have mentioned daily gratitudes as a useful tool to keep a positive mindset.
  • Published monthly reviews will:
    • keep me accountable so that I make progress on things I care about
    • help me reflect on the previous month’s successes, failures, and learnings
    • give future me a sense of what I was focussing on at the time


  • I set up track programming - guidelines to week-over-week workouts to make sure I keep improving. What I have will likely carry over for about a month before I need to start thinking about macro-level periodization.
  • A few good workouts
  • I registered for the USATF masters virtual track meet in August!
  • Now that I’m back in Dublin, I have easy access to a (home) gym again!
  • I bought a Freelap BT112 which gives me instant fully automatic times for my reps.
    • With it, I ran a 40 yard dash in a fully electronic 4.60!


  • #roam/js
    • Every day, I copied my #[[Daily Template]] into the Daily Notes page. With this snippet, I don’t need to anymore!
  • #[[+roam]]
  • #starcraft
    • I switched to using camera hotkeys by killing the base camera hotkey
    • Now that I’m using a split keyboard, I’ve finally migrated all Zerg hotkeys to the left side of my keyboard


Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor

  • Deena was a preternaturally gifted athlete as a girl - starting her running career with a years-long winning streak. This became a disadvantage when her competition got better: she had never developed the mental fortitude to handle anything other than winning.
  • Her NCAA career was marked by extremely successful seasons followed by injury and disappointment. She ended up leaving the team for some time and didn’t seriously consider professional running.
  • And then she did, and jumped in head-first! She moved to New Mexico and began training with a group of men. Her coach taught her about the power of positive thinking. The remainder of the book follows Deena as she slowly adapts to her new life philosophy and reaches ever greater heights as a runner - peaking as an Olympic medalist and American record holder.
  • After a gruesome injury in the Beijing Olympics, Deena is making a recovery but no longer has the drive to succeed. She finds out that she’s pregnant and eventually makes the decision to retire. The book concludes with Deena coming back to racing as a Master’s athlete - and, with the power of positive thinking, immediately reclaiming her elite status by setting a Master’s world record in the half-marathon.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

  • There are three kinds of tasks: simple, complicated, and complex. A simple task can be easily performed. A complicated task is difficult to but is theoretically achievable. Complex tasks have gray areas, trade-offs, and unclear solutions.
  • Medicine since the Industrial Revolution has changed from mostly complex tasks to a series of complicated tasks as medical science & technology has improved. Even so, routine procedural errors for things as simple as changing IV drips cause a huge amount of unnecessary pain, procedures, and even deaths every year.
  • As piloting became more complicated, pilots developed checklists to ensure that they don’t make simple mistakes: pilots would prefer not to die. These checklists have evolved & grown over time - every plane today has a spiral-bound book of checklists covering situations both mundane and extraordinary.
  • Gawande and a team at the WHO applied created a checklist inspired by pilots to a single medical procedure. It worked beautifully: immediately demonstrating huge reductions in mistakes across the procedure.
  • By identifying the repeated complicated tasks in your industry/life/day-to-day job and creating a simple checklist, you too can greatly reduce the rate of human error in these routine but difficult-to-get-right tasks.

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

  • What’s easy to not do is also easy to do. Small positive actions, repeated frequently, will compound over time. These repeated actions create successful people.
  • When you’re just starting on the path of an exponential curve, it can be difficult to see if your slope is positive or negative. Similarly, failing to perform easy actions when you’re just getting off the ground won’t obviously produce failed results: the results only become clear much later when it’s too late to catch up.
  • “Slight edge philosophy” applies not just to financial or career goals - applied to relationships, it can produce more rewarding, meaningful, and deep friendships.

Links & Quotes


  • Heavy strength training is not the best way of producing adaptations that contribute efficiently to force production during the sprinting movement, although it can work, especially in beginners. The neural adaptations it produces can be just as easily attained by high-velocity or eccentric training, and the hypertrophy it produces is not always helpful. High-velocity strength training for the hip extensors and flexors, combined with eccentric training for the knee extensors and flexors, is likely a superior approach.” - via Should we ever program heavy strength training for sprinting?

  • When setting the world 400m record, Wayde van Nierkerk smoked his first 200 (split 20.50). Remember that 20.50 must be a sub-max speed to survive the second half of the race. Nierkerk finished slow, splitting 12.05 in his final 100. Which broke the world record—speed or a strong finish? In comparison, Wayde van Nierkerk’s 43.03 broke the previous record set by Michael Johnson (43.18). Did Wayde van Nierkerk show better endurance than Johnson? No. Nierkerk beat Johnson to the 200m mark, 20.50 to 21.32. Johnson finished strong (11.52) in comparison to Nierkerk, but speed beats endurance in the 400.” - The 400 Is a Sprint

  • Improve Explosiveness with Trap Bar Jumps | Boxing Science

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Culture Wars

  • Ch. 1: Whispers from Fallen Civilisations - The Metasophist
    • Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West argues that all civilizations have a lifecycle - and the West would enter its winter around 2000, characterized by a decline of democracy due to excessive influence from moneyed interests, and a resultant rise of authoritarianism.
      • Eric Cline claims the true horsemen of [civilizational] collapse are climate change, famines, droughts, earthquakes, rebellions, and mass migration.
      • Climate change leads to famines, droughts, and potentially mass migration & instability: the population of Africa is forecast to increase from 1.2bn today to 2.5bn in 2050 and 4.4bn in 2100
    • Alternatively, Arnold Toynbee suggests that civilizational breakdown is precipitated by a decline of creativity by elites: their inability to devise solutions to the problems of the time leads the masses to cease their deferral to them.
      • Today, dominant cultural figures (celebrities, sports stars, politicians) don’t take risks or have any meaningful achievements.
        • Fashion used to go through radical changes. Every ten years from the 30s to the 90s, style changed radically. It has since stagnated. …The dominance of the business suit since the 30s is anomalous, given that for centuries formal wear underwent radical changes relatively frequently.
      • Toynbee noted that once the masses cease to mimic the elite, the elite begin to mimic the masses in an attempt to gain popularity.
        • Two examples are the rise of profanity and the decline of formal dress
    • If we don’t solve the challenges facing Western civilization, what could happen?
      • [Frustrated people] could become the fanatical adherents of political and religious mass movements - an early ghost of which can perhaps be glimpsed in the Woke movement.
      • In the modern world, a collapse would be much more dramatic (compared to the Roman fall); the higher the climb, the harder the fall.


  • Riding the Hedgefundie Adventure (UPRO/TMF) on M1 Finance

    • People often suggest a 60/40 equities/bonds portfolio because the lack of correlation between equities and bonds produces better risk-adjusted returns than either equities or bonds alone.
    • However, a 60/40 portfolio will carry substantially less risk than an equities-only portfolio, which might not be ideal depending on your financial situation. As a young, high-earnings professional with a long retirement time horizon, I’m more risk-tolerant than the average person.
    • Hedgefundie suggests an allocation of 55% UPRO (3x leveraged S&P) and 45% TMF (3x leveraged 20 year treasury bonds) to maintain the Sharpe ratio of a 60/40 portfolio while increasing risk to match an all-equities strategy.
  • Designing a New Old Home: Part 1. How we started, and suggestions for starting your own project

    • The obvious problem with some modern materials choices is that if they are chosen for a clean look, they often don’t stay that way. New home materials tend to get worse over time: A soiled gray carpet looks worse than a faded vintage Persian rug, a chipped polyurethane floor looks worse than old, worn wood.
    • Old houses harbor much of their charms in the materials themselves, which seem to get better over time, because the wear that the materials take on makes them more beautiful. Raw brass and copper grow a patina. Marble gets scratched or etched. Oiled wood floors get re-oiled, darken with age and grow their marks by getting dented. The finishes on these objects are alive. They do not soil so much as they move with time. Even raw plaster, as it is painted and broken and repaired over time, becomes more and more pretty.
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