Larry Myers

December Notes

December 30, 2023

I’m really enjoying the renaissance that trading card games are having right now. Magic still feels like the “grown up” version for adults, but I find Pokemon and Lorcana very accessible for playing with your kids. I’m still not sure I completely understand the pure collector side of the hobby, since the deck building aspects of the games are where most of the fun is. Being able to solve the puzzle of putting together a competitive deck is where a lot of the challenge and reward is for me.

In this modern age of too much screen time I appreciate having more choices that require direct social interaction around a table without phones in hand.

December 28, 2023

If I look at my favorite hobbies they have a common thread: lack of screens and direct interaction with the physical world. My career revolves around writing software to realize operational efficiencies. Literally automate everything. It seems fitting that my hobbies are board games, card games, and cycling. No screens required. There’s something very satisfying about playing games with physical pieces, and exploring the world on a purely mechanical bike. Both activities are also highly resistant to screens as well. I rarely touch my phone when deeply involved in either activity. My hope is that technology continues to do more for me and demand less of my attention, so that I can focus my time and attention on social contact with other human beings doing screen free activities.

December 27, 2023

I find deep satisfaction in deck building when it comes to trading card games. The challenge of putting together a competitive deck is a wonderful feeling, especially if there’s a good way to get rapid feedback with play testing. If a TCG has a well balanced and diverse meta it’ll have me as a dedicated player. This was one of the reasons I eventually gave up on Hearthstone, because each expansion found a way to imbalance the game in a new and unique way, and completely break the previous meta game. Pokemon seems to succeed here. Expansions build on each other, and don’t completely reset the meta, but instead allow it to evolve.

December 26, 2023

I am a purpose driven shopper. I do not enjoy going to stores with no idea of why I am going there. Fortunately I have kids who do not exhibit this particular trait, and have become excellent company for my wife’s shopping adventures. Bring on the the AI personal shoppers that will comb the entire internet for me based on some general inputs from me. I am ready.

December 25, 2023

I have gotten to the point where gift giving is far more fun than receiving around the holidays. My kids are genuinely fun to shop for, and getting the shop for all the toys I never had as a kid is deeply satisfying. I feel very priviledged that I can buy my kids the gifts they want, and not think too hard about a budget for Christmas shopping. I try to remind myself to be thankful for and content with my current financial status, and that the laws of diminishing returns around money are very real once your needs are met.

December 21, 2023

It is officially cold and flu season in the house. I’ve somehow managed to dodge most of it while my kids deal with congestion, coughs, and runny noses. Thank goodness epidemiologists have blogs and can publish nationwide data showing the world isn’t ending, we’re just relearning what a normal respiratory illness season is like when everybody isn’t isolating and masked up.

Hopefully we all get to recover from any immune debt and build up our systems to deal with the normal illnesses that we spread around. This year has been a reminder that we need social contact with each other, and we have to accept that getting respiratory virus is worth the tradeoff of being with each other in person.

December 20, 2023

I’m becoming more convinced that your 40’s are when you have to reinvent yourself, or at the very least rediscover yourself. So many of the major life milestones have happened, and you’re left with the realization that you have to figure out what to do with the rest of your life. I’m fortunate enough to have a fair amount of stability in my life, so figuring out what the next decade is going to be sounds like fun.

December 19, 2023

Consequences matter. I experience this in my role as a parent, employee, and friend. If you are in a position where you must establish and set rules and cultural boundaries please make sure you understand how to implement incentives and enforce consequences for people’s actions. I’ve written about this before, and I still think it is one of the most important aspects of being in a leadership position. If you want people to embrace responsbility and autonomy you must setup a fair system for them to operate in. The rules must be known and enforced. In the absence of a fair system you can watch a team quickly break down, and people will prioritize their own survival first. This is not a situation you ever want to be in.

December 18, 2023

I lost a game to a 7 year old tonight, and it was fantastic. Specifically it was my 7 year old daughter. I saw the exact moment she realized her win condition that would take 2 turns, stare at the cards in her hand some more, and then smile. Watching her carefully play cards from her hand over the new few minutes was awesome. There are few things more gratifying that watching your kids grow up before you and be able to hold their own against an adult.

December 17, 2023

Today’s episode of NPR’s Up First does a good job explaining how badly the national media in the US is failing the electorate in the run up to the 2024 presidential election. Trump is very publicly spewing fascist rhetoric. He is not being coy about it. The quote that stuck out to me from the podcast was, “the media’s job is to be objective, not balanced.” There is no “both sides” required in this discussion. It’s some truly scary shit and it should be reported accurately as such.

December 16, 2023

I get why new bike standards get popular, but geez does it make it harder to upgrade a bike. I have a 2020 Kove Rove ST that I adore, but I wanted to put a carbon fork on it. Apparently there just aren’t a lot of carbon forks out there made to carry cargo with straight steerer tubes. It’s all tapered headsets these days. It makes sense why some people are just ignoring the gravel / adventure bike trend and sticking with their steel bikes with components that have been readily available for decades. They may not be the fastest bikes, but they carry cargo well and continue to stay popular enough to have available parts that are easy to maintain.

December 15, 2023

Most of my life I’ve been an introvert. I also know that I need social contact with other people. In my 20’s when I lived by myself in Indianapolis for a year there were some weekends where I could go the entire weekend without actually having a conversation with another person. Twenty years later and I find myself craving community with other groups of people. I still need time by myself to recharge, but I now chose to spend my energy being with other people. One might say this is a sign of finally maturing and being a more well adjusted human.

December 14, 2023

Almost two months in and I have enough experience using the ZSA Voyager as my everyday keyboard:

  • My wrist strain and upper back tightness is gone. Completely. I no longer have to pause during longer coding sessions and stretch my hands every few minutes.
  • My typing speed has returned to around 60 wpm, but my accuracy still has moments where it craters. Usually when that happens I have to reset my hands and stop thinking so hard about what my fingers are doing. My muscle memory is actually pretty good at this point.
  • I’m actually a better touch typist now, and I really like not having to move my hands for things like arrow navigation.
  • Having a fully programmable keyboard is amazing. The 2nd layer has an section customized with macros for the common actions I use in vscode that usually would require trying to remember fairly complex keyboard combinations.
  • I am ruined on my laptop keyboard, if I’m going to have any serious work to do while traveling the Voyager has to pack up and come with. Thankfully the travel case is small and does its job well.

I’ll have to write up a longer piece on my experience with this keyboard, but generally is very positive.

December 13, 2023

In my 20’s, and even into my 30’s, I used to look down on people who did not seem to have any career aspirations. I did not understand why people weren’t spending large amounts of time outside of work on professional development. Now that I’m in my 40’s I certainly have more empathy and understanding to people who view their job as just a job. Climating the corporate ladder requires a large investment of your time. You have to develop the right relationships, work on the right projects, and join the right companies. You will be incentivized to give up your free time and deprioritize relationships outside of work. You will likely be very well compensated for this.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that decision, just make sure you actually want the money and prestiege. After you achieve financial security the dimishing returns on your happiness kick in very quickly.

December 10, 2023

Gaming stores are a great third place, especially as our modern society continues to lose them. I find them to be generally welcoming places where you can meet people, play games, and support a local business. They also tend to be kid friendly, and are a great way to meet diverse group of people to game with. With board games having a bit of renaissance I’m optimistic that the local gaming stores in our neighborhood will continue to be around for awhile.

December 9, 2023

We were out of eggs this morning, and I suddenly became very aware of how limited the options were for cooking breakfast for my kids. It made me wonder what the history is of eggs in cooking, and how they became a central ingredient in so many things. Apparently the answer is pretty deep according to Wikipedia. I’m sure there’s legit PhD level research on this topic, and if I ever whittle down the list of books at my bedside table I’m sure it’ll be interesting reading.

December 8, 2023

December is apparently when I start to plan my bike trips for the coming new year. While we’ve had unseasonably warm weather so far in December, it’s certainly not the glorious summer days where you can bike all day. Once the cold and damp sets in for the next few months my mind shifts to spring and wondering where I can plan a tour in the midwest. The Great Lakes region has so many great places to explore on bike, and Lake Michigan serves a natural boundary that guides you in loops.

Panniers, racks, and chill bike trails is my happy place.

December 3, 2023

Trading card games are having a bit of a renaissance. I remember playing Magic in middle school in the mid-90’s, and it was definitely not something you would do if you prioritized general social acceptance in the meat grinder that is 8th grade. Magic is still around, and still has the largest player base, but it still seems just as unapproachable as it was 30 years ago. I’m not sure what I think about Lorcana yet. The Disney brand ensures it’ll be popular, but the scarcity issues and general cost certainly on brand for Disney as well. I still really enjoy Pokemon. There’s real depth in the game, while still being approachable and fun. The card artwork is more fun and playful than Magic cards, but still has some truly beautiful cards.

Regardless, my favorite aspect of getting back into TCG’s as an adult is having another thing to do with my kids. Every shared hobby we can do together is a joy.

December 2, 2023

Labor shortages is one the major themes on the NYT today. The situation of overworked air traffic controllers sounds miserable, as does the lack of affordable elder care for the growing retired population.

In both cases the demands of the job don’t match the pay required to make it worthwhile. I don’t see how the situation gets solved, especially in the case of home care. Eventually the US is going to have to accept that we’re going to need to pay more for care for the elderly as a society, or the situation will continue to deteriorate. Not only will it result in poor care for our parents and grandparents, but it prevents the working generations from building careers and savings that will allow them to provide for themselves and their family as well.

Maybe technology will provide some answers for air traffic control, but health care will likely be one of the last bastions of the workforce that just simply requires a skilled labor force.

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