Posted by & filed under Philosophy, Quotes.

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

– St Thomas

This is one of the most beautifully expressed and profound truths I’ve ever encountered.

Posted by & filed under Culture, How To, Personal.

Create a mini private social network for your neighborhood at

I almost started this post with “In today’s society…” before I caught myself. But in all seriousness, creating and maintaining strong relationships with your neighbors is a really good idea. But breaking the ice and creating a meaningful network with the people who live near you can seem difficult or impossible. I found a way to do it, and it’s working better than I imagined it could.

There’s a website called that lets you create a private, local, social network for your neighborhood. You can invite neighbors by email, via postcard (mailed by, or print flyers and stick them in mailboxes. You need a quorum of 10 neighbors before your neighborhood site (“”) becomes permanent — this is to make sure there’s just one nextdoor site per actual geographic neighborhood, and to make sure someone doesn’t reserve it and then slack — but when the deadline to get your 10 invitees approaches, you can click a link to get an extension. I did this 3 or 4 times since it was slow going at first, and I’m glad I did.

Once you have your site up, you have a way to post classifieds or free items, ask for recommendations, find local help with yardwork, ask about crime or wildlife sightings, organize a block party, or … whatever you like.

I set one up for my neighborhood a couple months ago, and after a very slow start, once we hit 10 members network effects kicked in and we suddenly hit 20 and yesterday hit 30 people in 27 households. It’s fantastic. You might not want to (or be able to) friend all your neighbors on FB, and might not want to manage an email list (which doesn’t work nearly as well), but this is easy and effective.

Full disclosure: if you create a nextdoor site of your own using my referral link, you and I will each get a $50 Amazon gift card. But everything I just wrote about nextdoor is 100% true. I really like it, I think it makes my neighborhood safer and more fun, and I highly recommend it whether you use my referral link ($50 free!) or not. 🙂

Posted by & filed under Personal.

I’m trying to simplify my life.

That should be easier for me than for many others — not because I have any special talent for reducing simplicity, but because my life has become so busy and complicated, there’s really only one direction it can take (“regression to the mean”?) and that is toward simplicity.

Three things are happening now relating to this shift:

1. Selling our rental property.
We’ve now had two offers on the house, and I think we’ll be able to make one of them work and finally stop being landlords. Given our weekly rental strategy (the only financially viable option for us, which we’ve miraculously been able to sustain) it’s been a meaningful – sometimes heavy – workload to keep the house rented and the tenants happy. I’m a little disappointed we won’t have this long-term investment anymore… but that feeling is dwarfed by relief that I won’t have to deal with that place ever again. One house is plenty to manage!

2. So long, Fantasy Football.
I enjoyed playing for about a decade, especially in a “dynasty” league (with IDP, free agency, rookie and veteran contracts… it was pretty amazing), but last spring during my recovery from surgery I decided it was too much of a distraction from my life’s priorities, and I bowed out of that main league. I forgot to quit my other more casual league, and didn’t realize it till right before the draft. Not wanting to leave them in the lurch, I played for one more season. (So when the guys at work asked me to play in the league too, I couldn’t say no since I’d be doing the research anyway… yeah, I sound like an addict.) Anyway, now I am finally done with fantasy football, and I don’t plan to start it up again. There’s a bunch of free time I will get back, with my attention and priorities aligned.

3. Grades, Schmades. (R is cool but… reality check).
I had been meaning to take a programming class, and after an interesting conversation with an old friend of mine who does amazing things with R, I thought that sounded like a good choice. So I signed up for a 4-week Coursera class “Computing for Data Analysis”, which is all about learning R. The weekly assignments are due by midnight each Sunday. Last week, I finished the course lecture videos around 11pm Sunday and completed the quiz [9/10, hey I get this stuff] with minutes to spare before the deadline. This week I vowed to manage my time better but I’ve been so busy with work and trying to sell that house and with my family, that I only improved by an hour, finishing the lectures around 10pm tonight. I went ahead and took the quiz [10/10, w00t], but this week there are programming assignments too, which look somewhat challenging, for me, but totally reasonable… if I had a few hours to devote. Which, I’m finally admitting to myself, I just don’t. So, even though I really like what I’ve been learning how to do with R, I’m going to stop caring if I pass or fail this class and just take in the lectures at my own pace, if and when I can spare the time. No more Sunday midnights.

So, there are my three real steps toward a simpler life.
Step 4 is next month — when I take my 12th and final round of chemo!! Of course we are adding a puppy to the mix at home, with all the chaos that entails, but hey, nobody’s perfect. 😉

Goodnight, all.

Posted by & filed under Personal.

So I’m hanging out with 19 homeless people at a shelter in Plymouth, as a volunteer chaperone.

It’s a “damp” shelter, meaning they don’t have to be stone cold sober/straight, as long as they are able to behave calmly and don’t drink or do drugs while here. Earlier, Peter (a friend and former neighbor from Plymouth) taught me how to play cribbage while the men finished eating. Now they’re watching “Men Who Stare at Goats” very loudly, making it impossible for me to study. [Tangent: I’m trying to learn R (a programming language for stats and data visualization) via a Coursera class “Computing for Data Analysis”. It’s fascinating and (for me) challenging — though the hardest part is finding the time. Maybe Shawna was right, that I sometimes take on too much. Did I mention I’m on chemo this week? Yeah, it’s too much. /end tangent]

Anyway I’m going offline in a minute to watch the 2nd half of this movie with these semi-intoxicated, largely peaceful, homeless men. I might get a couple hours’ sleep before I get up and go do another showing of our rental house that’s now for sale, and then drive 100 miles to pick out — but not take home, yet — a yellow lab puppy. Then to a social engagement. And the last night of chemo till February — which will be my last of 12 cycles, w00t!).

Then Sunday is the Pats:Broncos AFC title game, and the weekly quiz and programming assignment for my course, and Monday is a day off (with Abi and Harper!) before diving back into work, which has been very interesting lately.

As I wrote this the movie ended. Now it’s mostly just snoring-level noise… but I’m too beat to study. Oh well. 🙂

OK that’s my status. Good night all!