It was my grandfather’s birthday today, so I just wanted to reflect for a moment on what a great man he was and feel thankful for his influence on me and the love he shared through my childhood and adulthood. He died a few years ago, and I feel it’s important to take a moment from my busy life to remember him through a few reflections. I hope to write more, to collect these reflections over time, and I need to start somewhere: why not now?

Growing up, I always knew him as Poppa. In more recent years, I became conscious of his sense of presence, both in the way he carried himself, and the way that he was present to a conversation. It wasn’t until the last several years of his life that I noticed how his lips would move slightly as he followed what the speaker was saying; he listened with more than just his mind, and I learned to be more present with him while he spoke, as well. His own presence pulled me more towards that same space. In the last several years of his life, when I would visit my grandparents in upstate New York, I noticed that in keeping them company my own mind would slow down. They were simply slower, in their old age; just as sharp, but slower. I would sync up (down, rather) to their rate of time flow; the days of my visits seemed to go by quickly. We would have breakfast, I would read; we would have lunch, I would check my email and do some work; we would have dinner; we would watch some television (he liked to watch the McNeil Lehrer News Hour on PBS, and Judge Judy, for which I didn’t have quite as much tolerance). Sometimes we would go out to dinner: the Chinese restaurant called Daxxon down by the old Thruway shopping center was a favorite, as Poppa was friends with the owners.

My grandfather was on the board of and served as president, secretary, and in other roles for a significant number of charitable organizations. His office walls held many award plaques. He didn’t speak much about this side of his life, and I know little about it; he served humbly.

I don’t want this to be a long exposition; I just wanted to post something to mark the day, and to resume some thoughtful self expression on the Web. Happy birthday, Poppa.

This is my first post in a while, and I want to get back into the habit of writing things on the Internet. There’s a bit of perfectionism present: do I really have something new to say? Can I adequately express the ideas in my mind? With practice, I can get better.

I’ve recently moved to San Francisco, and am getting settled here. I’ve found a nice place to live, and am exploring my neighborhood. Today I went for a long run, through Golden Gate Park, all the way to the beach. Altogether, I ran about 8 miles, door-to-door. Living in L.A., it’s hard to escape the city: runs on city streets don’t feel good to the lungs. I’m impressed at how _small_ S.F. is, by comparison, and how distinct its neighborhoods are. Public transportation here is great. There’s a lot of character and history, here, however it is not dry, in the form of historic buildings and monuments. Rather, it seems vital and alive. After a couple years of travel and not really having a place of my own, I find myself in a dynamic new life context, around ambitious, optimistic, and weird people. Weirdness seems to be celebrated, here. Those quirks are what make us unique and signal something interesting, some unique life experience, some story, something to share.

People are doing things, innovating, finding empowerment in attempts to change the ways whole industries work. Technology powers virtual marketplaces, and within these spaces new virtual products emerge and compete. When something virtual facilitates an improved process for something we do in the real world, with moving parts which include people, there’s a traction point where algorithms can become directly involved in the organization of reality. Machine learning, or artificial intelligence, is the new hot thing, having matured enough that a phase-shift is emerging in terms of the types of problems engineers are trying to solve. As a whole, we are embedded within our machines, which are embedded within us. People rush about in’s warehouses, at the behest of algorithms created by people. (See this RadioLab episode: “Brown Box“.)

The further problem of societal anxiety related to an ever more rapidly changing job landscape is one that technology itself can help with, and I hope more people focus attention in this direction. In other words, as more jobs which people used to do become automated by increasingly intelligent algorithms and better designed systems, people find themselves facing a future in which opportunities shift more quickly. The unique feature of our time is the nature of ever more rapid technology-fueled change. History may tend to repeat itself, particularly when we forget the past, but there is something new, here. I’d like to follow and observe this thread.

That’s all for now. I’m looking forward to reinhabiting this virtual space.

I think of the word “surrender”.
One wants to surrender to the moment
By surrendering the past and the future
By first surrendering to the past and future
Because when you surrender to something
You accept it for what it is
You understand the past for what it is
You don’t try to make it something it is not
It is not any thing
It is only what we make it
See the contradiction?
You understand the future for what it is
Which is only our making-of
Surrender to it
And another contradiction arises
But it can be resolved, as can the other, by realizing
That we surrender to ourselves