This bit of clickbait came up on my newsfeed:

Polyamorous Relationships Do Work – But They Must Involve This

Spoiler alert: “this” is “communication and consent.”

One more time for the people in the back:




There’s a debate at work regarding acronyms. There’s lots of opinions out there in the world on acronyms. The pro-acronym camp looks something like this:

  • They are helpful mnemonics that reduce cognitive load. You’d never have passed algebra class without PEMDAS, right?
  • The increase reading and writing speed (fewer words to read, fewer keystrokes to press).
  • Acronyms reduce word count, making text more concise. Less to read is better in the twitter age, right?

The anti-acronym camp looks something like this:

  • They are confusing jargon that increase cognitive load. Stopping to remember what an acronym stands for and looking it up slows you down.
  • They increase reading and writing speed only if the acronym is familiar to the reader and writer.
  • They are shortcuts to get around word count limits.

So, to abbreviate or not to abbreviate?

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I think a lot of people don’t even start learning to code, because they think they need a four year degree in computer science to be useful.

This is false. Five minutes of programming now can save you hours of mundane grunt work later. More »

Reading is hard. It’s a cognitively demanding task. Be kind to your readers, and write well.

I’m not impressed by your 40 page essay, when it could have been written in four.

If you have too much text on your slides, your audience will be reading and not listening to you. Use pictures, or less than 30 words per slide.

This isn’t a new phenomenon caused by twitter either. This has been going on for centuries.

First off, this game is the amazing love child of Skyrim and Ocarina of Time. It’s beautiful and peaceful. It allows you to creatively solve puzzles. It rewards off-the-beaten path exploration.

But I have one problem with it. Small spoilers below (although the game’s been out six months, and almost everything below is discernible from the trailers).

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Test ride #2 included hills, 53 miles, and 22 pounds of gear.san jose

It was doable, but perhaps not sustainable. I could definitely handle 50 miles and 22 pounds of gear for two days in a row, and maybe even three days in a row, but adding more intense hills and going 7 days in a row? Perhaps too much. I’ve pared down to 18 pounds but may go up as high as 20.

Some thoughts on the missions I’ve visited so far:

Mission Solano, the northernmost mission, was cute. It’s a small little historic landmark in wine country. It’s very humble. There was some art, but a lot of the gold and extravagant art I associate with Catholic churches just wasn’t there. A replica of the original Californian flag was there, and being the most recently built mission it had some more recent history (like the gold rush).

Let me preface the next two thoughts with the following: I did zero research on the missions before this trip, and mostly chose this route because I’m Californian born and raised, and El Camino Real is a long, well-defined route to follow for backpackers and bikepackers with historical significance. I should also probably say that I’m not Catholic at all, and from a cultural point of view I’m learning more about Catholicism at each site than anything else.

Mission Santa Clara is on a Catholic University campus. I didn’t tour it, partially because everything was a sprawling campus and I couldn’t figure out what was the Mission and what was the university bookstore. It’s less than 10 miles from where I live, so I can come back to it. I was very surprised it wasn’t a state historic park.

Mission San Jose is a state historic park, but it’s also active as a Catholic church. There were baptisms going on while I was there. This also surprised me.

imageDid a short 20 mile test ride today with ~26 pounds of gear that included a pitstop at Mission Santa Clara. I’ll be repacking and reprioritizing my bags tonight, then making another test ride tomorrow.

I was extremely anxious about this trip. I originally wanted to hit all 21 Missions in two weeks but have since realized this was unreasonable. I pared down my itinerary and now I’m feeling much more confident and excited!! Just one more week!


I’m sure there’s some famous quote about how the media you consume colors your vision of the world. Whatever book I’m reading or show I’m watching influences my interpretation of my own life.

Current audiobook: The Martian
Current anxiety: upcoming multiday bike tour

Some spoilers for The Martian below: More »

13902791_10104627558886723_9058545920674417047_nThis plaque marks the end of the Mission Trail; alternatively, it marks the beginning of mine. The plan is to visit all 21 missions in California. Visiting Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma last weekend was my first.

I’m reading a non-fiction advice book written by multiple authors, and many sentences include first-person plural words like “we” or “us.”

At times, I identify with what the authors are saying, and feel like I’m part of that “us.” At others, I feel like it is just their opinion, and the “we” who is saying whatever they’re saying comes from the authors and no one else. At still other times, I find myself questioning whether I’m meant to be included in the grouping of “we.” I also find myself putting myself into others’ shoes – the friend who recommended the book to me, for example – and wondering if they would feel part of the “us” community the authors suggest.

This could all be solved with inclusive and exclusive we. Many languages around the world have two distinct words for we. Inclusive we refers to the speaker (me) and the listener (you), and possibly some other third party (them). Exclusive we refers to the speaker (me) and some other third party (them) but definitely not the listener (you).

In a semi famous linguists’ urban legend, one missionary speaking a language that included a clusivity distinction said “We (exclusive) will be saved by such and such deity.” The listeners, understandably, did not seem excited to convert to the religion.

Although clusivity can help clarify a situation (or make for a laughable faux pas), I also wonder if the vagueness of English “we” is a benefit. The reader of this advice book is free to choose whether or not they self-identify with the authors. If the we is interpreted as exclusive, the reader can dismiss the authors’ advice as “just their opinion.” If the we is interpreted as inclusive, the reader can feel validated and feel like they are part of a community.

Have you ever been in a situation where clusivity would help (or make things worse)?