Hello– from chilly San Francisco. It's solidly spring and the light is bright but it's been cold– by which I mean 64 degrees. It's April and I had to wear a jacket.

Yesterday I sent an e-mail out to over 500 people, which to be honest, kind of scares me. I'd been hanging out around 300 for a while, trying not to watch it too closely for a while as the numbers slowly crept upwards, and then– bam! An old post hit Hacker News, Kottke, Morning Brew.

By default, Ghost e-mails you when you get a new subscriber, and Superhuman (god help me) has notification privileges, so I've been getting little bzzzts of new subscriber dopamine all week. Just now went and turned that off.

That's the "big" newsletter, though – Simpler Machines. You're reading Mere Beingmonthly, longer, weirder.

Don't remember signing up? No problem – there's an unsubscribe link down at the bottom of this e-mail. Then hit "unsubscribe from all e-mails" – or just toggle this one off.

Real Life Adulthood

April has otherwise mostly been client work and taxes. Client work– interesting and demanding. Taxes– enervating, but satisfying.

I actually kind of like paying taxes. I like the feeling of contributing to society. And this year – I had my usual barrel of forms but this year– this year! – I know what everything was! I know how to file strangely-employed contractor taxes and software professional they-fucked-up-the-cost-basis-again taxes. Feels like adulthood.

That said– I wrote so much Elixir code while I was putting off taxes.

More from Pivots

There's a bunch of Pivotal-related material up on the Pivotal Alumni Codex.

New this month– newsletters!

Davis W. Frank has started writing a link newsletter-of-sorts for practitioners of Extreme Programming and similar, called Interesting for Iterators.

There's also an open source copy of what used to be the Pivotal Labs Practices site. A lot of the magic of Pivotal was in our excellent facilitation and suite of workshops– collect them all!

The Internet was built on Adderall

I didn't exactly like this episode of Odd Lots but I've been thinking about it a lot.

The guest, Professor Danielle Carr, made one claim that I found absolutely wild– that coding is "boring," which I guess tells you something about how different my brain must be from normal people's. Coding is one of the most interesting things I can do. Cognitively demanding, sure– but it's dealing with requirements that I find actually hard.

Anyway though– the thing I found really interesting was that she pointed out that the internet – the modern internet, anyway, Facebook and stuff – was built by people on Adderall. Coders my age take a lot of the stuff, apparently. I don't know what that means but I've been thinking about it.

Apparently this is a recurring pendulum in American society – we take a lot of stimulants for a while, then we get nervous about them and drop it, then we find a new one and start up again.

Casual Constructed

Highly recommended: Buy a box of Magic boosters. Open 6. Build two 40 card decks. Play them against each other. Winner gets to open the pack, but the loser gets to add it to their deck. Repeat.

Been doing that with a box of Outlaws of Thunder Junction and it's been a real fun time. We've opened four Stingerback Terrors. Figuring out how to maximize that has been fun. Once we open enough packs we'll probably bump the decks up to 60 but 40 is a lot easier to manage in deck building.

This really does feel like how Magic is meant to be played. Decks are mostly commons. Rare availability drives deck-building. Uncommons feel special and desirable – we're starting to get full playlets of commons but haven't opened our first copies of many uncommon.

Favorite card in the set so far is probably Assimilation Aegis. Someone used it to copy a Giant Beaver – the whole table dissolved into laughter.

Criminals cannot have business processes

We've been watching The Sopranos– finally. About two seasons in. More when we finish but two things stand out to me so far–

  • RICO basically makes criminals having business processes extra criminal. You can do extortion or whatever but if you take the proceeds from that and use it to finance another scheme? Super jail.
  • Tony is an executive who really wishes he could go back to IC work

That's all for now. Hoping to feel a little less flattened next month – maybe get something written about the reading I've been doing about Spain. This is about what I've got in me for now, though– squeaking this one in just under the wire.

- Nat

Mere Being 012 - April - More from other Pivots, Magic, Criminal Business Processes

I'm not the only person writing about Pivotal. Plus, an old way to play Magic, and some notes on the Sopranos.