Journal December

Watched 57 new (to me) movies this year. (No Great™s, though.)

  • This is the lowest in four years — by 50 movies. 2019 was the worst year for movies I can remember. It was so, so bleak.

  • I worry that streaming has changed moviegoing forever and that this bleakness (of movies available to see in public) is the new norm. Yet another way the internet is dehumanizing life as we knew it. #digitalperson #digitalanxiety


“The day of the year when I’m most reflective is my birthday, not New Year’s.” + “I only use two apps when I’m on a flight: Spotify and Notes.” — Dinghard

  • Totally.


Vegetarian Runza Not Good™


Damn. Being in Omaha introduces some heavy thoughts. The whole trip is just thinking and talking. About kids, relationships, friends, family, the past, the future, roads taken, roads not. Things I want to think about, and things I’d hoped to be done thinking about.


I’m tired of being just a dude, showing up to stuff, meeting people, driving around, flying on planes, shopping at Target, watching movies, reading, eating meals, navigating life, solo. I mean, I’m good, I’m not lonesome. But I’m tired. #relationships


“It matters who you choose to attach yourself to.” — A friend

  • Throughout my life, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of steering clear of drama and dramatic people. #relationships


When I’m in Omaha, I like to just drive around and think about stuff.

  • These streets (in particular) are loaded with memories, and each reminds of different people/times in my life: Giles, Harrison, Q, L, Center, Leavenworth, Farnam, Dodge, Blondo, 84th, 132nd, 144th, 180th.

  • Although, I like that I’m not driving down these streets every day — that I’m living in a place with very few memories attached. I like reflecting on the past, but I also prefer having moved on.



The Guardian: Empire of The Box

  • “the packaging of home-delivered products now accounts for 30% of the solid waste the US generates annually”

  • “in the US, Amazon is responsible for nearly half of all the 165bn packages delivered each year.”

  • “For thousands of years, human progress was indexed to the ease and speed of our mobility: our capacity to… chug across the land and fly through the air…. Progress today consists of having our food and materials wing their way to each of us individually; it is indexed to our immobility.”

  • “we are most likely to squander [any time saved shopping at home] on Instagram. The internet promises us time, then takes it right back.”


Trying Just for Men: Control GX Grey-Reducing Beard Wash

  • It’s time. This stuff works!

8PXL, environmental pixel illustrator

eccentric: “not in the center” (literally)


Bitsy: Endless Scroll, interactive comic about memories and adolescence

Bombshell Not Great™


Took another Enneagram test. I think personality test results are pretty silly. It feels fruitless to me to paint such a specific picture of a person. No one is one thing (and definitely not one of nine things) — and probably not anything for very long.

  • Many things I’ve been convinced of, I eventually changed my mind about. Things that’ve felt essential, I later replaced with other essential things. I think it’s important not to assume what people are thinking and feeling, and I’m irritated when people do that to me.

  • Am I analytical? Am I emotional? Am I a caregiver? Am I selfish? Am I introverted? Am I extroverted? Yes.

  • Reminds me of this: Everything is interesting because everything is not what it is, but is something on the way to being something else.

  • However, I think the test ca valuable (even horoscopes, which I think are total bunk) — a helpful way to introspect. Of thinking, ‘Wait, is that true about me?’ #theprocess

  • “Q: I feel a deep sense of grief for what I have lost.” The opposite: I tend to be good no matter what happens, and I embrace change as an opportunity to grow.

  • “Q: I always have a plan for what I would do if things go wrong.” Actually, I prefer not to plan. I like teaching because it requires me to improvise, and I think I’m good at it. In my experience, many of my best ideas have come at the last possible moment (often, by procrastinating), or at least, by leaving room for flexibility. It’s fun!

  • “Q: I have a sense that other people will never truly understand me.” Very few people really, truly do. (Like, three people).

  • “Q: I am an important member of my social groups.” Five+ years ago, I would’ve said yes, but I’ve drifted away from this since the move, and it’s something I’d like to change.

  • “Q: I can describe my emotions in a lot of depth and detail.” Dude. Totally. In more depth and detail than anyone I know.

  • “Q: I believe that things usually work out for the best.” Absolutely not. This assumes that someone is pulling the strings and steering the ship, which… no. Sometimes things really suck. Generally, I see this philosophy (‘it was meant to be’) as a kind of avoidance — of ignoring how things really are, and it feels unhealthy.

  • “Q: The traditional way of doing things is the best way.” No, I think tradition (especially as a justification for decision-making) is lame.

  • “Q: I try new ways of doing things just to see if they will work.” The day I stop trying new things to see if they’re better than what I’m already doing is the day I die.

BANG!, Old West dice game

Is there anything better than Mad Men on a big screen?


Austin Kleon: Problems of Output Are Problems of Input

  • “When I stall out, it’s time to start taking things in again: read more, re-read, watch movies, listen to music, go to art museums, travel, take people to lunch, etc. Just being open and alert and on the lookout for That Thing that will get me going again.”

  • “In your life, you will be evaluated on your output.… But your input is just as important.… The problem is no one manages your input.” — Your Output Depends on Your Input


I just want to eat mochi ice cream and watch Mad Men forever.


One promising (flirty) conversation with the cute girl at the Met Market coffee shop, and I’m good for the whole day. #relationships


“They want to sit at this table because you’re famous.” — 4th grader (Patrick) during lunch

  • No doubt, a reason I like teaching at an elementary school is that it’s one of the only places where I’m considered cool.


Mad Men3 Good™ {yearofjoe}

  • “I wish you were waiting for me.” — 3×03

  • “It’s a mistake to be conspicuously happy. Some people don’t like it. / No one thinks you’re happy. They think you’re foolish.” — 3×03

  • “What time is it? What time isn’t it?” — 3×04

  • “We took their money. We have to do what they say.” — 3×06

  • “Believe me: somewhere in this business, this has happened before.” — 3×06

  • “Put your nose down, and pay attention to your work…. You’re good. Get better. Stop asking for things.” — 3×07

  • This show is so perfectly cast, it’s ridiculous.

  • “The first kiss is very special.… It’s where you go from being a stranger to knowing someone, and every kiss… after that is a shadow of that kiss.” — 3×08

  • “There was nothing, then there was ‘it’, then there was nothing again.” — 3×10

  • “The faintest ink is better than the best memory.” — 3×10 #journaling

  • “I can sell ideas, but I’m not an Account man. / You’re not good at relationships because you don’t value them.” — 3×13

  • This show has a cynical view of relationships. One that, I think, rings true more often than not: relationships are transactions — a way (for most people in most situations) of getting from one place in life to another. Most people are just looking out for themselves, and they’ll abandon you on a dime. #relationships

  • “I’m not gonna let you break up this family. / I didn’t break up this family.” — 3×13

Happy Christmas Not Great™

HVOB: Trialog Good™


Dark Waters Not Great™


Pebble: 3270 Terminal, monospace/ASCII watchface

Pangram Pangram: Grafier, squarish, angular serif typeface

Vox: What Facial Recognition Steals from Us

  • “the human mind has… basic limits in how much information it can store. One of the things that technologies do is they reduce the transaction costs of being able to [find, store, share, and interpret] information.”

  • “Having any individuality requires experimenting in life, and experimenting requires the protections of some obscurity. But also intimacy requires obscurity: [sharing] different parts of your life with different people…. And the concern, when you lose too much obscurity, is that these domains bleed into one another and create… context collapse.”


Fred Rogers Was an Uncompromising Artist

  • “I think the greatest gift you can ever give is an honest receiving of what a person has to offer.”

  • “I don’t know that he cared whether people saw him as an artist. He seemed more intent that people not see him at all.”

  • “I could have walked into some positions that were already set. I could have walked into an office that was already furnished for me. But I would much rather have done [the job I made for myself].”

  • “Fred knows that I have something to give that’s important. And he lets me give it, and I give it freely, and then I’m part of it, a part of his creation.… That’s what makes us so tight. It’s because Fred lets us give. And what a thing that is, huh?”

  • “That was… where he lived. This place of creating, of making stuff, and I know for him it was vital, a lifeline.… In fact, he thought it was true for everybody. Fred believed that the creative process was a fundamental function at the core of every human being.”

  • “‘I think that the need to create has to do with a gap. A gap between what is and what might be. Or what you’d like to be. I think that the need to create is the need to bridge that gap. And I do believe it’s a universal need.… I don’t know anybody who has complete satisfaction with everything. Do you?’ For Fred, creating is an expression of optimism, an act of faith. Faith in progress, in invention, in some basic urge to constantly make life better.” #design

  • “If you could provide an environment that allowed people to be comfortable enough to be, simply, who they are, what would happen? Who would they become?”

  • “I think people don’t change very much when all they have is a finger pointed at them. I think the only way people change is in relation to somebody who loves them. #teaching

  • “There are those of us who have been deprived of human confidence. Those who have not been able to develop the conviction that they have anything of value within. Their gap is rather a chasm. And they most often despair of creating any bridges to the land of what might be.… the most essential element in the development of any creation, any art or science, must be love. A love that begins with the simple expressions of care for a little child.”

  • “When people help us to feel good about who we are, they are really helping us to love the meaning of what we create.”


Watching 4th graders change into 5th graders (roughly 9 into 10 year olds, children into adolescents) is one of the more existentially depressing things I’ve ever experienced.

  • It seems like there are two major shifts in a kid’s orientation to the world as they grow up: 1. age 4 (when they first turn outward and recognize they’re part of something bigger than themselves), and 2. age 10 (when they turn back inward, buried under mountains of self-consciousness and cool detachment). #growingup

  • And if my experience is any indication, that self-consciousness rules our lives for another 20+ years.

Remote Mouse, use an iPhone as a Mac mouse

  • For couch/projector computing.


I’m rarely happier than right before I’m about to eat.

In MS Coding & Robotics, we’re switching from a coding project (PICO-8 Top-Down Adventure game) to a robotics project (Sphero Bolts). Robotics is fun, I enjoy it. But my heart is in coding. I like that, with coding: 1. its lack of physicality means there’s very little to organize, lose, or clean up when class is over, and 2. it’s still magical to me that, with code, you can create something out of thin air.

Leif Erikson: (Self-Titled) Good™


I’m exhausted from having my opinion of myself hinge on the opinions of other people. I don’t want to care if I’m liked or appreciated. Or interesting, or cool, or funny. Or invited. Or if I’m attractive or wanted. I don’t want to want respect or approval. I just want to be satisfied and confident in who I am, in the choices I make, and in the work I do — 100-mother-fucking-percent on my own. #goodeitherway

  • This actually seems possible: 40 seems like a really good time to stop caring what people think. For real this time. I’m too old for this shit.

  • I’m thinking this after a rough middle school class where the kids were being disrespectful. But it’s really a response to how to difficult classroom management can be in my classes generally — and what that seems to mean about how kids vie me. And how much my ridiculous/embarrassing Bumble experience has affected my self-confidence.

Google Sheets: Pixel Art

Natural History Museum


I have my weekends back, and I missed them — unscheduled, chill, and all to myself. #relationships

  • That said — as much as I can spend whole days, easily and happily lost in whatever — it’s not the life I want, really. I’m living in a place I want to be, and I have a job I truly enjoy (two big-big question marks five years ago). What’s left, though, is a family….

  • I can tell I’m on the verge of a funk again. (I’m eating too much, not exercising, gaining weight, not sleeping well, dwelling on negatives, being more cynical, feeling insecure).

  • I’m feeling stuck. I need to make some changes. I need to figure out how to meet more people and be more connected. My job (as much as I enjoy it) is not the way to do that.

  • Here’s the thing, though: I need to figure out how to feel satisfied whether that family (or anything I want that requires other people) ever happens or not. I need to decide to be happy with my life as it is — exactly as it is….

  • It seems really unlikely now that I’ll find the woman I’m looking for. Like I almost definitely won’t, and I need to be prepared for that.

Bought an Epson Home Cinema Projector (2150). #treatjoeself

LibrarianShipwreck: Spotify Wrapped Is a Surveillance Report

  • “By broadcasting their Spotify Wrapped list, users not only further normalize surveillance, but they make it seem fun and cool…. the blithe way in which it reframes surveillance as a celebration provides an opportunity to pause and consider how much privacy is being surrendered”

FAVELA: Community Good™

07, web experiments

  • The Deep Sea + The Size of Space + Baby Map + Life Checklist + Progress + Share This Page

  • “Share with Sound — Sound is one of the best ways to communicate! Here’s how to do it: get close to another human, move your throat in such a way that sound comes out, make sounds in the local language that convey the idea of this page.”

  • “Share with god — Share this page with god by including it in your prayers! god will appreciate the quality content.”

Bought a Pebble: NATO Nylon Watchband (Dark Brown).

Vox: How Online Ratings Distort School Quality

  • “when we look at [raw test scores], we’re actually often measuring how prepared these kids were coming in — not what happens inside the school.… [A better] way of measuring schools is to see how much a school helps a student improve.”

  • Standardized testing is a kind of digitization — reducing people to numbers. And a kind of unbundling — removing ‘features’ (the score) from context (the kid as a whole, complicated human being). #digitalanxiety

Regex: Lookahead and Lookbehind, matching patterns only when they’re followed/preceded by another pattern

  • Writing Regex syntax is a fun puzzle. (I’m using it on this site to find/replace all kinds of things — tweaking typography, adding code to enable other scripts, deleting Markdown).

CSS: Attribute Selectors + Styling Links Based on URL

  • Using this to differentiate internal/external links on this site.

The Blues Brothers Good™

What We Do in the Shadows Good™


There are days when my job can feel largely thankless. Like the whole day is just dragging kids uphill. Which is surprising, because I think my classes are pretty fun. I mean, today, my students were coding in Scratch (3rd), making games in PICO-8 (MS Coding & Robotics), and recording podcasts (LS Radio Show). Sounds awesome. #teaching


Added a list of tattoos I would get if I ever actually get tattoos to Goals.


Pear Quest, 1-bit, pixelated side-quest adventure Good™

  • I love the art in this game!

  • Pear Font, 3×3 upper/lowercase pixel typeface

Groove Pizza, circular rhythm app


Mad Men2 Good™ {yearofjoe}

  • “Stop writing for other writers.” — 2×01

  • “there are other ways to think of things than the way you think of them.” — 2×01

  • “Ask not about Cuba. Ask not about the bomb. We’re going to the moon.… There is no such thing as American history, only a frontier. That [plane] crash happened to somebody else.” — 2×04

  • “This is America. Pick a job and then become the person that does it.” — 2×05

  • “This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.” — 2×05

  • This is the theme of the show. Life is self-presentation. Success, confidence, and power are real if other people believe it. You can decide to be anyone. Because who you are is a construction, anyway. There’s no past, only potential.

  • Advertising works the same way, just more transparently — so it’s the perfect framework for surfacing these ideas. … Perfect.

  • Don Draper would’ve killed on Instagram.

  • “Don’t go to bed angry.” — 2×06

  • “enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.” — 2×07

  • “do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?… marriage isn’t a natural state, but you do it. / Why? / I don’t know… kids.” — 2×09

  • “You look so comfortable alone by the pool all day.” — 2×10

  • “the only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone. / What if that’s true? / Then you can change. / People don’t change. / … As you live, you learn things.” — 2×12

Rewatched When Harry Met Sally…. Great™ #yearofjoe

  • “What’s the statute of limitations on apologies? / Ten years.”

  • “Right now everything is great, everyone is happy, everyone is in love. But you’ve got to know, that sooner or later, you’re going to be screaming at each other about who’s going to get this dish.”

I see it now. November


1974 Danish Christmas Stamp Sheet

Knives Out Not Great™


Thanksgiving is one of the more reflective days of the year for me. I’m always at someone else’s family’s dinner table.

“You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.” — Dr. Seuss


Activated my Bumble profile, after a few weeks of thinking about it, tweaking the details of my bio, and choosing photos. #relationships

L.M. Sacasas: The Social Unconscious #digitalanxiety

  • “I can tear a reproduction of a Rembrandt without repercussion and without hesitation; I cannot do so with an original. So I might feel myself at liberty to tear into a digital reproduction of the self in a way that I would not with a person in the here and now.”

  • the social unconscious: “a heightened awareness of the mechanics and machinations of social life. / just as photography revealed aspects of reality that would not have been otherwise apprehended by the naked eye but which were nonetheless always there [close-ups, slow-motion], so, too, does digital media reveal aspects of our social experience, which, in some respects, were always present but not always perceived”

  • “now that social life has been digitized, I become keenly aware of myself engaging in the work of impression management…. the consequence is that we experience the self as an artificial construct, or worse an extended and self-interested manipulation of social relations.”

  • “dynamics which had been shrouded in forgiving shadows of obscurity have now become newly transparent.… Transparency of this sort can be unforgiving and unrelenting. It can exhaust and demoralize. It threatens intimacy and risks transposing our relationships into a social Darwinist key.”



  • “For 514 miles: continue straight.”

  • I fucking love road trips. Junk food, loud music, hours and hours to think. It’s meditative — my head is clear. #relationships

  • Idaho: Nebraska of the west.

Coldplay: Everyday Life Not Great™

Tonic: Sugar Good™

Book of Basketball 2.0: The Secret

  • The Secret (of Basketball): “It’s not about basketball.… They won because they liked each other.… They won because their best player sacrificed to make everyone else happy. They won as long as everyone remained on the same page.… It’s not just about talent and stats.… [It’s about] how those players coexist, how they make each other better, how they trust and believe in one another, how they create shots for one another….”

It’s important for me to have friends around who are open to talking about feelings. I need those conversations in my life, I recognize when they’re not happening often enough, and they’re not happening often enough now.


Salt Lake City

  • “Caution: sharp curves” #relationships

Lauv: How I’m Feeling Good™


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Not Great™

  • “[Forgiveness is] a decision we make to release a person from the feelings of anger we have at them.”

  • “If you think of him as a saint, then his way of being is unattainable. He works at it all the time — it’s a practice. He’s not a perfect person. He has a temper. He chooses how he responds to that anger.”

Mad Men1 Good™ {yearofjoe}

  • I love this show. So much.

  • “Happiness is… a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing, it’s okay. You are okay.” — 1×01

  • “I’m married. / You still have to eat lunch.” — 1×02

  • “I hate the way you drive” — 1×02

  • “Bet you wish you could pour that in a glass and drink it.” — 1×06

  • “Don’s in advertising. / Perpetuating the lie. How do you sleep at night? / On a bed made of money.” — 1×06

  • “you will realize in your private life that, at a certain point, seduction is over and force is actually being requested.” — 1×08

  • “I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent.” — 1×08

  • “eventually, you come up here. Or you die wondering.” — 1×09

  • “just think about it, deeply. Then forget it. And an idea will jump up in your face. — 1×11

  • “No contract.” — 1×11

  • “A man is whatever room he is in” — 1×12

  • “sometimes when people get what they want, they realize how limited their goals were.” — 1×13 #design

  • “in Greek, nostalgia literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a space ship — it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the Wheel. It’s called the Carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels: around and around and back home again to a place where we know we are loved.” — 1×13

  • I remember watching the Carousel scene the first time. It’s one of the most perfectly-executed ideas I’ve ever seen.

  • Joan and Trudy, forever.

Dropbox Rewind, review/recover a folder’s history


I’m mostly over it, and I’m feeling good! In retrospect, the whole relationship feels like a blip. And now things are back to the way they were before. #relationships

  • It took three weeks from breakup to feeling released from the anxiety of second-guessing my decisions and actions.

I love the way younger kids just volunteer whatever they’re thinking about. No illusion of conversation (or context) necessary — just ‘Hey, this was on my mind and I wanted to tell someone, so check this out…’

  • This week I learned about: (Garrett) Formula One, (Ben) Soviet-era nations, (Josh) George Washington’s dental appointment, (Ayla) ballet lessons, (Parker) rock sculptures, a dozen arguments. Also tons of out-of-the-blue hugs. It’s all really great.

  • It seems that that transparency about thinking and feeling starts fading around 5th grade (i.e. puberty / early adolescence). And it’s a thing that really distinguishes the way kids and adults interact with the world. #growingup


Picked up a new classroom management strategy recently. When students are talking in class, instead of telling them (some version of) “it’s a problem”, I’m telling them how it makes me feel: (some version of) “when you’re talking, it feels disrespectful”. #management


Kid Social Media Influencers

Starting Mad Men again, still the Great™est show of all time. I’m returning to the G™OATs right now, and this feels like the right time in my life for it. {yearofjoe}


Media Accounting and Media Contracts #digitalanxiety

  • media accounting/contract: “What we gain or lose by engaging with different media and mediums”

  • “The printed newspaper of 1919 had edges, ended. There were ads but they were passive, not active members of the reading experience. They were not reading you. You paid. You got some paper. The paper did not continue forever.”

  • “[On a newsstand,] the front page is the only entry point, [so] only a single page of the publication requires hyperbole to convert passers-by to readers. Online, every article becomes a potential entry point. And so there is an incentive for pervasive hyperbole [on every page].”

Ford v Ferrari Good™

The Wind Not Great™

I haven’t watched this many movies or done this much reading in months.

  • Exactly 4 months (our first date was July 17th). #relationships

The World Is For Me (TWFM): “everything is your prop, your photoshoot backdrop. Everything exists to serve you. Everybody else’s needs are secondary.”


“[Wordiness] arises when you haven’t properly figured out what it is you’re trying to say. Whenever I’m stuck on how to express something… the problem is… that I haven’t clarified exactly what that point is, and that I’ve been engaged in a subconscious effort to avoid having to do so.” — This Column Will Change Your Life #design

The Five-Year Engagement Good™

  • “Cookie Monster wants to take the time to consider if he’s picked the right cookie for his life! / Well… Elmo thinks there is no right cookie — you just pick one and take a bite!” #relationships

  • There’s nothing like a movie starring Emily Blunt, Alison Brie, and Dakota Johnson to keep my optimism for the future alive.


Airplane mode for life.

The Peanut Butter Falcon Good™

  • Dakota Johnson, forever.

PICO-8 #tweetcarts: Mini Golf + Typer + Where’s Wally


Been tapping into the Treat Joe Self fund for extra junk food, chai, and beer. Always a worthwhile investment. #treatjoeself #relationships

  • I’m totally OK knowing that junk food is an unhealthy choice (physically and emotionally). It’s one of life’s truest pleasures, and it helps.


What Would Mister Rogers Do? by Tom Junod

  • This is the sequel to Can You Say… Hero? (a Great™ essay).

  • “he found a way to speak to all of us — to speak to children as respectfully as he spoke to adults and to speak to adults as simply as he spoke to children.”

  • “Fred was a man with a vision, and his vision was of the public square, a place full of strangers, transformed by love and kindness into something like a neighborhood.”

  • “As for Fred: It’s true that he lost, and that the digitization of all human endeavor has devoured his legacy as eagerly as it has devoured everything else.”

The Ringer: The New Savior of Boxing Is… Logan Paul?

  • “It almost feels like the thing they’re doing is secondary to the content they’re creating.”


Journaling. It’s always there to listen, it never judges, it calms my anxiety, allows me to change my mind, accepts whatever I’m feeling, lets me work through whatever’s on my mind, helps me figure myself out, and opens the door to understanding. #journaling

  • I journal more when I’m dating than any other time. #relationships


Rewatched the Before trilogy. Great™ movies. {yearofjoe}

  • “If there’s any kind of magic in this world… it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.” — Sunrise

  • “time is a lie. It’s all happening all the time, and inside every moment is another moment [a memory from the past], all happening simultaneously.” — Sunset

  • “a person evolves… Am I getting worse? Am I improving? I don’t know. When I was younger, I was healthier, but I was racked with insecurity. Now I’m older and my problems are deeper, but I’m more equipped to handle them.” — Sunset

  • “to truly communicate with people is very hard to do.” — Sunset

  • “when you’re young, you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you connect with. Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times.” — Sunset

  • “This is how it happens. You’re unhappy, you blame it on the other person, resentment grows, everything slowly rots, and you break up.” — Midnight

  • “this guy,… all he sees is the transient nature of everything. He looks out at the sea and thinks about the day when it’s going to be dry and littered with fossils.… He picks up a book, and he immediately wonders: who’s going to be the last person to read this?” — Midnight

  • I do this.

  • “When I see [our kids] fight, I see beautiful energy…. / That’s because you see anger as a positive emotion. You only end up hurting yourself, your work, the kids, me.” — Midnight


[Folder] archive #relationships

  • Omaha job alerts (NAIS, Millard Public Schools) unsubscribe


Some days, I wake up, and I’m like: “I see it now.” Where something that wasn’t clear before… suddenly makes sense.

  • In this case, it’s a moment from our relationship that seemed small at the time, but that I see now (from her perspective) was actually a big moment. #relationships

It’s over-over. Holy shit. What a beautiful thing and then terrible mess that was. #relationships

  • But was any of it real? I’m left feeling pretty disturbed by how dramatically our relationship changed over its short life. By the end, I was dating a different person than the woman I fell in love with.

Bumble, here I come. #relationships

  • Maybe. I’m not so sure I’m built to handle: 1. socially-mediated dating, let alone 2. being in a relationship.

  • Some good news is that now I have a bunch of good photos for dating apps. Which was a problem.

  • I’d like to meet a woman who doesn’t need Instagram in her life. Is that too much to ask?

7 Seas is my new favorite place in Tacoma.

  • I really do love living here. For me, it’s the ideal mix of what I liked about Omaha (medium-sized, approachable, drivable, unpretentious, creative) and Seattle (liberal, secular, PNW weather, mountains/water). It’s perfect.

  • I really didn’t/don’t want to move back to Omaha. #relationships

Anxiety management protocol (day 3)

  • Jojo Rabbit Good™

  • “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. / Just keep going. No feeling is final. — Rilke

  • Movies help me think. I’m watching, but I’m also thinking about totally different things. A good movie can bring me clarity, inspire new ideas, take me outside myself just long enough to see my thoughts and feelings from a new perspective. There’s nothing like it.

  • Terminator: Dark Fate Not Great™

Life in the WNBA


On a Nine Inch Nails bender.

  • The anger feels good.

  • “There is no you. There is only me.” — Only

  • A relationship is not about the other person. It’s about you me confronting your my own capacity to be in a relationship. #relationships

  • The Fragile, still the Great™est album of all time.

Journaling is incredibly useful for taking me back into thoughts and feelings, and at a level of detail I wouldn’t have access to without having written them down. It’s like time traveling. #journaling

  • Right now, I’m trying to keep in mind that — although I’m tempted to dwell on the good times that I’m missing from our relationship — I need to remember the bad times, too. #relationships


Working with middle schoolers continues to be irritating, odd, and dramatic sometimes. But there’s emotional vulnerability behind all of it that can be really creative and inspiring, too. These kids are thinking and feeling a lot.

A game proposal by Sophie in MS Coding & Robotics.

“Mr. Sparano, I have a question. But knowing you, you’ll say you want me to figure it out for myself.” — 7th grader (Brent) in MS Coding & Robotics

  • I’m so proud! It’s true. In this class especially (learning PICO-8), I’ve been working hard not to give students answers to their questions, but trying instead to help them figure out how to figure out the answer.

  • And in the first DDL (with sok stories), I told students I wouldn’t answer any questions about how the app works. In 3rd grade, I’ve been introducing Google Sites by showing finished versions of the site I want them to build and then asking them to build their own (without showing them how to). And then using my lesson time to discuss app-learning strategies (experimenting with tools, asking friends, web searching). Also in 3rd grade, I introduced the phrase “What can you do?” and discussed strategies for solving inevitable technology frustrations (no WiFi, pages won’t load, this isn’t doing what I expect generally) without me.

  • It’s all been so, so effective: 1. it’s more empowering for kids long-term to learn those strategies, 2. more interesting for me to talk about strategies than giving app-specific tutorials ans answers, and 3. the lessons are just more fun for everyone.


Taking any excuse to go to Target. 😎


Dots Bot (@dots_​_bot), randomly-generated geometric backgrounds


It’s so helpful for me to hear a friend say, “You made the right decision.” Because there’s no way to know, really — there’s only one timeline. And without knowing for sure: the anxiety, the what-ifs, the second-guessing can eat me alive. #relationships

I’m realizing now that I really dodged a bullet. #relationships

Anxiety management protocol (day 2)

  • Parasite Not Great™

  • Motherless Brooklyn Not Great™

  • Saw five movies in the theater this weekend (which is a record, I’m sure). Sitting in a movie theater is a real escape for me mentally and emotionally. And it’s so helpful for disconnecting when I need to redirect my thoughts.


I broke up with her this morning. More than anything, I’m feeling relieved.

Anxiety management protocol (day 1)

Brendon Moeller: Departure Lounge + Plumbline Good™


Lives Radio Show: Justin Kemerling

Firefox: Stylish, custom website styling (CSS)

Forty October


This isn’t what I expected 40 to feel like. I still feel young!

Celebrating with some Target shopping, a MOD pizza, and Spurs on TV. What else could I need?

Working at an elementary school is full of really special stuff that’d difficult to find anywhere else.

4th graders. The best.

  • “Happy Birthday, Mr. Joe fro yo!”

  • “How was your coffee?”

  • “Wha sup Joe”

eventize: to inflate an incident beyond its original context into something that generates the “maximum amount of engagement and brand-expansion opportunities”.

If it’s not right, it’s not right, and there’s nothing to be disappointed about. #relationships

  • I’ve been mostly released from caring. Relationships cause me so much anxiety, and it feels really good to be caring less.


god I missed Shark Tank.

  • “And for those reasons: I’m out.”

  • Reasons: kindness, presence, optimism, willingness to take responsibility and commit to making changes. #relationships

Cheesy Gordita Crunch forever. All three of us have Halloween birthdays.


Hot and cold. #relationships

I have incredible friends. I’ve leaned on two in particular (Nick and Ashley) recently — two people who’ve been there for me, for years, at any time, and with advice that’s absolutely changed the course of my life.


A walk in the woods.




Real Life Magazine: Bundling and Unbundling

  • unbundling: “[framing] each desirable feature of the world as an independent module that can operate anywhere…. The process rests on a faith that technology can isolate the true value of anything useful, removing it from its context without any loss of utility or desirability.” (e.g. extracting shopping from malls, food from restaurants, education from schools, news from newspapers, etc.)



  • Still, I’m wondering: why are so many people flying from Seattle to Omaha? What are they even doing when they get there? Like, it’s fine. But a destination?

The Ringer: The NBA Traded Continuity for Chaos and Is Living With The Results

  • “a sports league doesn’t control its own plots, because they depend on the actions of players.… It sells an environment of possibility, a prearranged setting in which certain kinds of stories can take place.”

  • A classroom is like this. #teaching

  • A big reason I’m so drawn to the NBA is the focus on the players as people — their personalities, their style of play, the fact that you can actually see them and their faces on the court (all the way back to NBA Jam’s Big Head Mode).

Been spending a lot of time in airplanes recently. Also, I think I’ve gotten pretty good at selfies!


Relationships mess with my head more than anything else. I become insecure, hard to please, I dwell. I go deep (deep) into my head and get stuck. #relationships

Game Maker’s Toolkit: Design Icons — Pac-Man

  • “each ghost has a unique way of chasing Pac-Man.”

  • “the game is completely different every time you play.”

  • “Creating a fun game is not about satisfying yourself as a developer. It’s all about the people that actually play the game. The most important thing to think about when designing a game, is to understand that person who plays this game, and how that person will feel, how they will react. It’s really understanding how their mind works.” — Toru Iwatani, designer of Pac-Man

Emotica, emoji game builder


Finished the dDl logo, my weekly recess activity that I’m starting up again in November.

  • Having a logo for a recess activity isn’t required or necessary (it’s actually a little ridiculous.) But I wanted to do it, for fun (for me). And it also gives the kids something to identify with and hold onto. It makes it a thing. And I’m very much about making things things.

  • In graphic design projects, finalizing nuances and making choices where there’s no clear correct answer (choosing typefaces, kerning, distances between shapes) makes me super anxious. I don’t miss that feeling.

  • The dDl letterforms started as the PICO-8 typeface, although the d and l are custom.

  • Chaney, geometric, blocky sans typeface


Ups and downs. #relationships

Using Google Slides to Prototype a Mobile App #lesson, public Markdown docs



‘Am I unreasonably sensitive, or is this actually a problem?’ It’s a question I struggle with most days, about one of unlimited situations. And it’s a question I can never really know the answer to.

The Guardian: Why Are Cars Killing More and More Pedestrians?

  • “the world promised by autonomous cars is still a world full of cars.”



A reason why teaching technology is hard and why planning is time-consuming: when I don’t test every aspect of technology use before class (things that should work without testing — the simplest of things)… I’ll often discover a problem too late.

  • This week, it was printing from Google Drawings and playing NPR radio streams on iPads. Should work, but didn’t.


“Bye, Joe! See you at recess.” — 1st grader, (Lucius) who I met today.

  • Why. In the world. Are students calling me by my first name.

  • I’m more curious about this phenomenon now than I am irritated by it.

Kemerling: Do Not Work for Facebook Ever

  • Or Google, or Amazon. Or any tech monopoly that’s swallowing whole and shitting out our entire way of life.

  • “A job is not just a job.”

  • My favorite UW class is graduating this year, and I don't want to know where they'll be working. I know it'll depress me.

Is Amazon Unstoppable?

  • That’s how we earn our success — we’re willing to be frugal and egoless, and obsessed with delighting our customers.

  • FUAY delighted customers

  • “If you’re a consumer, [Amazon is] perfect…. But, the thing is, most of us aren’t just consumers. We’re also producers, or manufacturers, or employees, or we live in cities where retailers have gone out of business because they can’t compete with Amazon, and so Amazon kind of pits us against ourselves.”

  • “During the Reagan Administration, regulators and courts decreed that antitrust decisions should largely be based not on a company’s size or on its bullying tactics but, rather, on any price hikes imposed on customers. By the time Facebook and Google appeared, giving away their products for free, and Amazon arose, with its devotion to keeping prices down, antitrust enforcement was a remote concern.”


I could eat graham crackers all day.

Analogue Pocket, classic cartridge gaming handheld console + synthesizer

The Ringer: Modern NBA Dictionary


PICO-8 #tweetcarts: Vine Typography + Tree with Moon

Arcane Office, private Google Docs/Sheets alternative



I’ve had quite a few Sunday Night Taco Joe Times at the Omaha airport recently.

Simply Scrumptious Protein Bars (only available in the Omaha airport, I think. Super tasty.)


Vala’s Pumpkin Patch

  • Still, one of my favorite places on earth.

Especially the Pumpkin Mine.




waneella: Dusk


PICO-8: Hypnotize #tweetcart


Mourning the end of the beginning. #relationships

Spoils of #nature on Instagram

  • “What these mind-blowing images do not reveal is the queue visitors have to wait in for hours to take them.” #medialiteracy

  • FUAY Instagram. Seriously. Social media is killing us all.


scorpionic: characteristic of a Scorpio.


Tool: Fear Inoculum Good™

Joker Good™


It’s strange to me how often conversations about working in the design industry veer into conversations about management. Like, why are these two so intricately connected? (The same is true for design industry writing on the Internet.)

It might be possible to summarize my philosophy on teaching like this: kids create something, and it’s through that creating that they learn. #teaching

Starting The Assumption Assignment™ #relationships


4th grade field trip to Central Washington, day 2. #classof2028

  • The kids are so confused about my age (they asked about it today, and it’s been a regular bus ride question at CWA). They have no idea — today, the guesses were between 20–50. I’m essentially the same age as their parents, and (for whatever reason) that just doesn’t compute for them. Which I’m taking as a compliment.

Kindness and presence continue to feel paramount. Not just things I’m attracted to, but things that are required for me to feel satisfied in a relationship. Everything else that matters to me follows from those two things. #relationships

Everyday Virtue: Paterson & David Foster Wallace

  • “we can choose what we consider, decide what has meaning, and what doesn’t. And that if we pay attention and do this consciously, we don’t have to fall back on this default setting”

  • “the really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and being able truly to care about other people, and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty little unsexy ways every day” — David Foster Wallace’s ‘This Is Water’ speech

  • Makes me think of a philosophy that I discovered this year and continues to resonate: The opposite of narcissism is objectivity.


Inevitably, in everything, it seems, there‘ll be tension, conflict, disagreement, incompatible goals, disappointment, hurt feelings. The question is: is the relationship worth all that? #relationships

4th grade field trip to Central Washington, day 1. #classof2028

  • Why do people like camping? What a pain in the ass.

Real Life Magazine: Get Realer

  • financialization: “the move from an economy based on production to one based on investment, services, and rents.”

  • “In content and form, the aesthetic consequences of financialization play out as a substitution of technical processes for imaginative resources.”

  • “[CGI] produces nostalgia through over-satisfaction.”

  • “shot on location in the Uncanny Valley.”

  • “[A remake’s] failure to fully recapture that magic is a feature as well as a bug. Nostalgia is a shallow well to which you must constantly return for another drink — like Coca-Cola, it is sweet on the tongue but leaves the mouth sticky and gross.”

  • “Nostalgia wipes history clean of its pain, and makes it more desirable than any imaginable present or future, because the past is always a place immune from our death, whereas the future carries it, inescapably.”


Type it out, man. You’ll feel better. #journaling

Journal September



Brandon James Greer: Banana Star Grill

Who Speaks for Crazy Horse?


Hamilton Good™



The Guardian: People v Mosquitos

  • “the average annual number of human deaths caused by the mosquito [is] around 2 million. Humans came in a distant second at 475,000, followed by snakes (50,000), dogs and sandflies (25,000 each)… The crocodile was ranked 10th, with 1,000 annual deaths. Next on the list were hippos with 500, and elephants and lions with 100 fatalities each. The much-slandered shark and wolf shared 15th position, killing an average of 10 people per annum.”

  • “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”


I have lunch duty with the 1st graders on Thursdays, and I’m meeting many of them for the first time. One of them (Braylon) is choosing to call me “Joe” (instead of Mr. Sparano). Still don’t understand why — but I’m over worrying about it. I came to terms with this weird phenomenon over the summer, and I’m choosing to see it as a positive thing.


Passive income idea: a web-based worksheet/form-builder for teachers — add questions from a library of types (choose one, lists, blank lines, tables) and the app would auto-fit the questions onto a letter-sized sheet.


I’ve been working with a UW student (Brian) to resolve an Incomplete grade from last year, so I’ve been giving detailed graphic design feedback for the first time since last summer. And I don’t miss it. Whatever I do next, I’m hoping to avoid teaching graphic design. I still enjoy it as a hobby, and I still appreciate it out in the world — but I’m so over teaching it. I would do it, but only as a last resort.

  • And graphic designing professionally would be an even laster last resort.

  • It just all feels so silly: stressing about color, layout, typography. Not that these things aren’t creative, interesting, or meaningful — just that graphic design (in most cases) is rarely, truly, important. Especially compared to teaching technology and working with kids, which feels important to me.


Profile of a Facebook Moderation Site

Real Life Magazine: Bad Metaphors — Bandwidth

  • “Metaphors of ‘time’ and ‘space’ seem of little use in setting boundaries, as we’re asked to do more with less; admitting to the limits of our own capacities feels a little like failure. ‘Bandwidth’ presents a workaround: having ‘limited bandwidth’ is an objective, if regrettable, state of affairs, about which there is little to be done. Most of us can still remember our frustration at, say, the stutter of a still-downloading movie, mid-scene, and the total futility of any attempt to make it go faster. It’s out of our hands.”

  • “When we discuss feelings and relationships in terms of [the logic of computing]… it turns personal responsibilities into indistinguishable units of space. At best, they become something to be crunched, finished at the highest rate possible, like the upload or download of a file.”


Bought some Danner Boots: Vertigo 917 (light brown) at Vincent. I’m so hyped to have my own pair of boots!

Stranger Things1 Not Great™

  • A 100% classic instance of: it just wasn’t for me. Particularly: magic, monsters, and superpowers. Which feel arbitrary to me — like anything could happen at any time, and it could be justified. I prefer TV and movies where the storytellers were working within some kind of constraint.


I love the Guardian Weekly, but the news of the world can really depress me.

Jimmy Dean Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick Good™

Frank Chimero: How Social Networks Inspire Negativity by Making Positivity a Feature

  • “They could write a pleasant comment, but they are probably going to Like the post instead…. [So] positivity gets compressed into a little block of Likes metadata that is about 100 pixels wide, no matter if it is one like or one thousand.… [However], there is no feature for displeasure on social media, so if a person wants to express that, they must write.… [And] one negative reply literally takes up more visual space than tens of thousands of undifferentiated likes.”


Ad Astra Not Great™


Taco Bell Halloween Costumes + Cheesy Gordita Crunch

  • I think dressing up for Halloween is kinda dumb. However, if I could make the CDC an annual tradition, I might do it.

PICO-8: pakpok, bug platformer


In a meeting (that I was running), I had to ask other teachers to close their laptops. I probably came across a little irritated — because it’s irritating. Close your fucking laptop.

Bachelor in Paradise6 Not Great™

  • OK, I think this is it for me and The Bachelor universe. Thanks to post-show social media careers, the incentives for the cast to construct a ‘narrative’, to market and position themselves as influencers: the whole thing feels like bullshit to me now.

  • When I’ve explained my interest in The Bachelor in the past, I’ve said that at some level, the people and decisions are real — even if it’s necessary to zoom out a level or two. Now though, it’s difficult to tell where that realness ever actually begins.

  • And the show has started leaning into this ambiguity of reality. There’s a scene in the finale, where we see two cast members ‘reconcile’ on stage.… And then we’re shown a ‘behind the scenes’ moment, where that couple discusses that just-filmed conversation candidly, get into an argument, and (ostensibly) break up.

  • This is the show eating its own tail. It’s simultaneously constructing and deconstructing itself. It’s cynical. In choosing to film the ‘reality’ behind the scenes (of what was already supposed to be a ‘reality show’) — we can’t trust any of it.

  • Which is how all of social media feels to me. The Like Economy) incentives performances, bullshit, extremes. And so, every post becomes suspect — is this real, or has this been constructed to feel real? #realness


This month and next, I’m helping ‘coach’ after-school Running Club for JK/Kindergarten (4–5 year olds). The sincerity of these little kids absolutely kills me — volunteering their thoughts, asking questions about my life, spontaneous hugs and hand-holding, constantly. #sincerity>irony

  • On the first day, one kid walked up to me and said, “I’m nervous.” When would an adult ever say that out loud?

  • It’s an interesting dichotomy: the younger kids are, the more open they are about what’s on their minds… but the less of a conversation you can actually have with them about it.


The description for my after-school club this fall, LS Radio Show: “Students will use audio-recording tools and techniques to produce a collaborative radio show featuring interviews, news reporting, games/trivia, commercials, jingles, and more! Together, we’ll report on real stories from around campus that exemplify the qualities in CWA’s ‘Portrait of a Tarrier’.”

Clipchamp Create, web-based video editor



The Guardian: The Air Conditioning Trap, How Cold Air Is Heating the World

  • “This reliance on air conditioning is a symptom of what the Chinese art critic Hou Hanru has called the epoch of post-planning.”




As much as I enjoy my job, it’s incredibly stressful. 1. No matter how much time I prep (roughly 2 hours for a 1-hour class), I’m prepping until the bell every time, and I always feel like I could prep more. 2. When I’m teaching, my mind is full (full) of details to remember and track. Teaching technology is complex as hell (it’s confusing, changing constantly, and unreliable), so I’m regularly forgetting things during lessons and fudging up my plan. And 3. there’s very little relief — there are always near-future things to replace the stress of whatever I just finished: the next class, the next duty, the next meeting, the next event. It’s just a lot. #teaching

  • Thinking about the next job: is there a version of teaching (which I do love) that’s less stressful — less preparation, more forgiving lessons (if there are lessons at all), and less next-whatever? #thenextphase

Two teachers (Deanne and Matt) gave me unsolicited teaching feedback, during two different classes (both minor suggestions for giving kids instructions). I understand that they want to help, but I’m also frustrated and insulted by it. Teaching in their classroom isn’t a license to be critiqued. I’m a professional, and I‘m good at my job.

  • Or, I guess, the question becomes: am I? Would they do the same thing to another teacher?

  • Also, where are the unsolicited teaching compliments?

LEGO Winter Village Gingerbread House + designer interview

Today was the day that (looking back) was our relationship’s turning point. #relationships


The theme of the last 8 weeks of my life could be: How I learned to stop worrying and love the selfie.

  • I’m sending 2–3 selfies to Kellie a day. And for real, I think I’m pretty good at it, and — totally unexpectedly — I’m enjoying it! It’s confidence-boosting and creatively-satisfying in a way I didn’t expect.


Kids are cool and (because) they have no idea what cool is.


Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman Good™

  • “If it was legal to put electrocutions on TV, they’d be doing it if it garnered ratings and if advertisers would sponsor it. That’s really where the moral standard lies – with the advertisers.”

  • “And should [watching The Bachelor] make me feel bad? Even if I’m watching the show with a critical eye, just by turning it on every week and giving ABC ratings, aren’t I propagating some of the very things I find so troublesome to see? Perhaps. But I actually don’t think these issues would be solved if we all just stopped watching. There are bigger, more fundamental questions that we need to be grappling with: Why are so many of us desperate for the type of fame television can bring? Why is it so easy — and so fun — to judge others from the privacy of our own homes? And why do so many of us depend on romantic love to validate our worth?”


I arrived in Seattle five years ago today.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Trailer #1

It: Chapter Two Not Great™


I love 4th grade. This is my third year at CWA, and the third time where this age group is the most satisfying to teach. The same kids — one year older or younger — just isn’t the same. 4th graders (9–10 year olds) are so interested in life, so compelled to learn, so excited to become better versions of themselves, so capable, so fun to talk to, so not self-conscious, so not too cool for school. They’re the best. #growingup

“Hey, aren’t you Mr. Sparano?” — 3rd grader (Ashlyn) 100% seriously, to me, wearing a hat and shorts (which I never do at school)

Notepad Calculator, web-based running tape calculator (for showing math problems on screen in class)


IINA, macOS media player (VLC alternative)



PICO-8: Grass Blowing in the Evening Summer Breeze #tweetcart

Journal August



FUAY Husker fandom

  • I’m not bothered by sports fanaticism (I love the San Antonio Spurs, and the team feels like a meaningful part of my life). What bugs me about Husker fans is the reduction of every dimension of life in Nebraska to one thing. It’s shallow, homogeneous, narrow-minded, conservative, unsophisticated — it’s dumb. It reinforces the stereotype of the small-minded midwesterner, and I’m embarrassed by it.


First day of school. I felt so comfortable today: 1. it’s my third year at CWA, so I know the kids better than ever (especially the 5th graders, who I’ve known since 3rd grade), 2. I feel, finally, like I truly understand what my job is, and 3. I feel, finally, like I’m pretty damn good at it.

  • It was such a satisfying feeling to walk into class today (5th grade), and be able to say that, of the four adults in the room, I know the kids best. Teaching the same kids year after year is one of the major bonuses of my job.

Snipperclips, paper-cutting puzzle-solving Good™


JB Dunckel & Jonathan Fitoussi: Mirages Good™


Ran my first meeting ever in an administrative/management/‘leadership’ role (as the Specialist Cluster Chair). And I’m so happy with how it went. I didn’t want to present myself as an admin/manager/‘leader’ — I just wanted to open channels of communication, clarify, ask questions, and defer to more knowledgable people. I don’t see myself (or want to be seen) as an authority or expert — just the person who can bridge a gap and be helpful.

  • I’m allergic to hierarchy and being responsible for putting anyone in any kind of place. I don’t ever want to be forced to choose between corporate interests and the people doing the work.

Colordot, color picker


Side Quest: Generating stories through RPG, collaborative quests and chance (dice-rolling)

Luce Not Great™


Taylor Swift: Lover Not Great™


Game Maker’s Toolkit: Games Designed Around ‘Only One’ (GMTK Game Jam 2019) + the games

My version of the warm-up exercise (by the LS art teacher) from our faculty meeting. This was fun!

  • Despite having a degree in ‘fine art’, I never learned how to draw dimensionally. And I’m not that interested. I like thinking and rendering things in 2D.


Fuck email. School hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already feeling overwhelmed and behind on email. I’m so far away from understanding how people keep up that it literally doesn’t make sense to me that anyone actually does. How in the fucking world do people do it? How do people do anything else in their lives? How? #email

PICO-8: Top-Down Adventure Game Tutorial

  • This year, I’m intending to run a MS Game Design class or after-school club, and this is perfect for that. Perfect. #project

Feedbin: Save Webpages to Read Later


Tailor, automatic iPhone screenshot stitching

Good Boys Not Great™



The Ringer: How Do Influencers Make Money?


Today Kellie flew to Tacoma, and it was one of the best days of my life. #relationships

  • Hi babe. hi babe i love you


Version Museum, screenshots of websites/OSes/applications/games over time

Classic Games in 8×8 Pixels

Jason Anderson, blocky, abstract oil painter


Finally installed my ilovehandles Keep Track Shelf. Which I’ve had sitting, uninstalled in my apartment for 4 months. Which is silly.

  • Why did it take so long? Making permanent changes (like drilling holes in the wall) is really intimidating to me. As is making permanent decisions (like where, exactly those holes should be drilled).

  • How did I get over it? By deciding to just fucking get over it. And I feel great. I don’t want to procrastinate on stuff like this anymore. I want to be a person who just does things and moves on.

The Guardian: 12 Hours in a Besieged Abortion Clinic


This Column Will Change Your Life: You Can’t Change the Past, So Why Give Advice to Your Younger Self?

  • “Experience, as the saying goes, is a harsh teacher: it makes you sit the test first and only gives you the lesson afterwards.”

  • “regret, while entirely understandable, is a fundamentally self-contradictory emotion: the very fact that you’re feeling it means that you’ve grown into the kind of person who can look back critically on what you did in the past, when you were another kind of person. Which means that, judged by your present values, you’ve emerged from your life experience better than before, and ought (rationally speaking, anyhow) to be happy rather than regretful.”

CopyChar, emoji/Unicode character database

PICO-8: Time-Trial Racing #tweetcart


Had an incredible life experience this morning. Driving to work, I hit a dog (a white Siberian Husky, I think), who’d darted into the street from the sidewalk. In that moment, I thought I probably killed her — it was awful, seeing her in the mirror, rolling, there were pieces of bone and fur in the air. I parked the car, ran to her. Her leg was bleeding and certainly broken, but that was it.

  • She was unleashed and trying to evade a guy (not her owner), who’d been trying to catch her. The owners pulled up, they’d been driving around trying to find her. Several people (8–10) from nearby businesses walked up — including a nurse, who (using a towel I’d gotten from my car) wrapped her leg to help with the bleeding. There was so much love for this dog!

  • The owners (actually the owner’s mother in law, or something like that) made it clear that they didn’t hold me responsible. “I’m glad it was such a nice person that hit her. I’m not even going to take your name or anything.” People were really sweet to me. An architect invited me back to the studio to wash up (I had blood on my hands from helping lift the dog to the car).

  • In the mean time, my front passenger tire had gone flat. Waiting for the roadside assistance, a woman (Judy) (who lived in the neighborhood) stopped to ask what had happened. Coincidentally, she was a sort-of vigilante for reminding people to leash their dogs, and she gave me a hug, too.

  • This was all really intense, but ultimately really positive. The dog’s going to live. I felt terribly for her (and she was a champ throughout). But more than anything, it was just so good to see people showing up and giving a shit. It was beautiful, really.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee11: Ricky Gervais

  • “Comedy is a normal person trying to do something they’re not equipped to do. That’s what we’re laughing at. And the bigger their blindspot, the more exciting it is.”

  • “Just because you’re offended, that doesn’t mean you’re right.”

  • “What could be more arrogant than praying to the god that didn’t stop the Holocaust, thinking he’d help you find your car keys?”

  • “You can’t help what you think. But you can help what you say.”

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee11: Martin Short

PICO-8: TinyTVjam, ultra low-res (10×11) pixelated games


Letting kids choose how you welcome them into your classroom, with a handshake, hug, fist bump, high five


Scott Martin (Burnt Toast): Social Media series — True Story


Clean Stainless Steel with Vinegar and Oil


VLC: Disable subtitles by default


The Life and Work of Jim Henson


I’ve taken more selfies in the last 2½ weeks then I have, ever. It’s a head trip, such a complex thing for me.

  • These photos play a big part of maintaining momentum in this relationship, and I can’t not. I want to take them.

Trying an experiment, replacing dinner every day with a Soylent (just bought a month’s supply). This is an attempt to have a healthier relationship with food. I’d like to stop: 1. managing stress by eating, and 2. thinking about food as much as I do. This way, most days, my breakfasts are covered (coffee + a banana), lunch is covered (a salad from school), and dinner is covered. Pretty stoked about it!

  • Friday Night Taco Joe Time™ being the essential and necessary exception.

Brené Brown: The Call to Courage

  • “The opposite of belonging… is fitting in. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are, it requires you to be who you are.”


The Farewell Not Great™


Reach, pixelated alien action-platformer

Large digital images of The Great Wave

Nikita Solo (@angrysnail), low-res pixel illustrator

Hobbs & Shaw Not Great™


Bought a copy of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.

  • Which means this is the beginning of the end of my summer. Which is a little depressing. #summerofjoe

Be a dad. July


Oh jesus. Would I really move back to Omaha?

  • There’s a very extremely good thing (Kellie) going in my life right now. I’m seriously entertaining the idea of what it might be like (some day, sooner than later) to move back home.

  • It’s awesome on it’s own. But a bonus is that I can’t deny the fact that — five years in — I don’t have many close friends in the PNW. And certainly no friends closer than the group I have — still — in Omaha. That became so clear on my list trip.

  • The weather, though. It’s the first thing I think of about living in the midwest again. I hate it. And the second thing is my job. I love it.

This Ambient Weather Forecaster is still one of my favorite gadgets of all time. And I think it’s cool that Tacoma is one of the 152 cities on the list.

Still working on catching up on journaling, specifically photos and videos. Why do I go to the trouble? Why does it matter? Even if no one is reading/seeing/watching this, it’s all about the process — the reflecting and choosing which moments are significant to me. The posting (the words, images, videos) is just an artifact of having already finished the work that really matters. #journaling #theprocess

Tokyo Subway’s Duct-Tape Typographer


Moved “be a dad” back to the top of my life goals (it was parked in Undecided for awhile). I think about it more than most things, and I feel like I’ve maximized living life on my own. I love working with the kids at school, and it’s only entrenched that I want my own kid(s). I’m ready.

  • This has been true for awhile, but it’s been reinforced by conversations with Kellie… and the prospect that I could be playing this role sooner than later.

One of the biggest differences, professionally, between people I work with in Tacoma vs. Omaha is the style of our personal conversations. The people I work with here: 1. tend not to ask many personal questions, and 2. conversations tend to be battles of who can talk the most or tell the funniest story. Not everyone, but it’s more common than not.

  • This may be a PNW vs. Midwest thing. Or a teacher vs. graphic designer thing. Either way, it’s become my problem. I’ve gotten flack from a few co-workers recently: “No one knows anything about you, Joe.” Which is certainly not how I was perceived in Omaha — where almost all of my friends were work friends first.

  • Ask a mother fucking question, bro. And I’ve said this. I’ve actually said, “But you aren’t asking questions.” And it’s like the first time they’ve heard that that’s how conversations work and that’s how you get to know someone.

EverBlock Systems, life-sized, LEGO-like interior design building blocks

Aziz Ansari: Right Now Good™


Considering some Kansas City–Omaha Kings gear.


Ending the haircut experiment, after 18 days (on average, I usually cut it every 2–3 days). Growing it out is only making it more obvious that I’m losing it (I think, anyway… but who actually knows how it looks to other people).

  • This experiment was helpful, though: 1. I’ve confirmed that having hair is important enough to me (or, at least, that I feel less attractive without it and more attractive with it — which is a feeling I want to feel), and and I might re-start medication to keep the hair I have left, plus 2. I’ve decided (after buzzing it again) that I’m still happy with how it looks short (and maybe, even a little longer than I’ve been wearing it), so all is not lost.

  • So much of my confidence in my looks is wrapped up in the opinions of other people (i.e. women, mostly strangers, day-to-day interactions). Which I recognize isn’t healthy, but it’s also very, very real. A good interaction with an attractive woman is one of the best feelings there is.

Big Little Lies2 Not Great™


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Not Good™

macOS: Mirror iPhone to Mac with QuickTime


First FightCamp workout, and it’s just the thing I’d hoped for: 1. legit (it feels like the heavy bag I’m used to, and I can throw a serious punch at it, which I missed), 2. engaging (I was over the weird group experience of working out at TITLE, but I do like having a trainer yelling combos at me), and 3. convenient (it’s a boxing gym… in my apartment!). So stoked.

  • Feels so good to have finally found a seamless way to get boxing back in my life. It’s become a serious hobby for me, and it’s a thing I see myself continuing to do for a long, long time.

PICO-8: #tweetcart Game Collection

Lessons from the Screenplay: The Hidden Structure of Before Sunset

  • “Before Sunset is brilliant because it is a beautifully-designed real-time conversation that organically takes its two characters through a full arc, and the result of that is a structure so effortless it seems invisible.… That the film feels so romantic and raw is really a signal of the immense effort and honesty that was poured into [it].” #design

  • I love these movies.

waneela: Arcade + Street corner


Tim Sheil: Gardens Between score + Deep Cuts Good™

The Last Black Man in San Francisco Not Great™

McMenamins Elks Temple Hotel, hotel + restaurants + bars + music venue in Tacoma


As much as I love my job, I’ve started dreading the Wall of Stress that’s waiting for me at August 19th (our first day back). As soon as school starts, it tends to be super stressful, with an unlimited number of things I could/should be doing, until the following summer. I need to make some changes so that my job doesn’t feel this way. #teaching

Finally got a Nintendo Switch. #treatjoeself

  • This was inevitable, really. I’ve owned every Nintendo handheld since the start (Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, DS, 3DS, Switch). Not that I play that many games these days, but Nintendo handhelds are a thing that I continue to gravitate towards.

  • I’ve been saving the money I earn from after-school clubs into a Treat Joe Self Simple bucket — for buying stuff I haven’t budgeted for, and for covering the times when I’ve overspent. It’s a way of planning to be financially frivolous and celebratory, which is really working for me. #treatjoeself


“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.” — E.E. Cummings

  • “Think, ‘Perhaps I’m not interesting but I am the only thing I have to offer, and I want to offer something. And by offering myself in a true way I am doing a great service to the world, because it is rare and it will help.’” — Charlie Kaufman

Crawl Not Great™


Here’s something that bugs me about Christianity: when something good happens: god is at work, pulling the strings, taking responsibility. But I made that decision, I took advantage of that opportunity, I made that thing happen. Not that I do everything on my own, I’m always asking for help from people I know and trust. But in the end, if there’s a plan in action in my life, I prefer the version of reality where I made that plan. #religion

  • The core issue here is taking personal responsibility and living an intentional life, which is an essential thread that runs through most everything I do. #design

  • I think often about Adam Savage’s The Person Keeping Score is Me talk.

Flotato, run web apps as native desktop apps

The Gardens Between Great™ #summerofjoe

  • This has got all kinds of pleasure-points for me: 90s technology, time-traveling, childhood, Rube-Goldbergian mechanics, puzzle-solving. #pleasurepoint

  • I’m noticing that good video game puzzles introduce questions about the design of the puzzle. (Examples: Why is that thing changing when I do this? What is that thing doing over there? How in the world would I get from here to there?!).

  • Which means that: 1. a ‘game’ is just a series of designs presented to the player, 2. a ‘puzzle’ is just a situation where the player can see the design, but doesn’t (yet) understand the goal, 3. a ‘clue’ is just the game designer’s way of helping the player ask the right questions, and 4. the player ‘wins’ by understanding/deconstructing/reverse-engineering what each puzzle is designed to do. #design



  • I’m feeling night-and-day better than I was before this trip.

  • Things that became clear in the last two weeks: 1. my friends give me confidence and reassurance in being exactly who I am — they help me stay grounded, optimistic, and connected, 2. I’ve been spending too much time alone lately, and I feel emotionally unhealthy because of it, 3. I’m not working hard enough to maintain the friendships I have, 4. I’m not as generous with my time and energy as I want/need to be (or even as much as I used to be), and 5. if I don’t make some changes, I could possibly lose the friendships (old and new) that are essential in keeping me feeling like the person I want to be.

Bought the FightCamp Home Gym. #treatjoeself

  • A pretty big investment. It’s been a year since my last TITLE class (and a year of looking for alternatives), and I really miss it — especially, the experience of hitting a heavy bag. There’s really nothing like it.

Collective Soul: Blood Good™


Realizing that, as of this summer, I’ve been out of grad school for 3 years — a year longer than I was in grad school (2 years). And it feels like the 3 years since graduation have gone by way more quickly than the 2 years before it. And I’m thinking there’s a connection between the density of life and how long it feels. Which maybe means that I’m not doing enough to fill my life with the kinds of things that would slow it down.

Blinkist: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

  • “Whatever you do in life will be a struggle, so… you have to find something worth struggling for. You have to identify what you really enjoy doing. Working on something that makes you happy means you’ll not only be undeterred by the constant battle; you’ll grow to love it.” #teaching

  • “James realized that his misery stemmed from his belief that he was a victim of outside influences.… he blamed his situation on things he couldn’t control, and this made him feel powerless. [When] he realized that he was responsible for his life and his actions… he started afresh.” #design

  • “Buddhism teaches that identity is an illusion. Whatever labels you give yourself – rich, poor, happy, sad, successful, a failure – are merely mental constructs. They simply aren’t real and so we shouldn’t let them dictate our lives. You must, therefore, learn to let go of your identity.”

Real Life Magazine: The Easy Way Out

  • “convenience is not something we merely opt into but rather is to some degree imposed on us”

  • “Because convenience is oriented towards efficiency, it does not produce leisure. Instead, it often intensifies the demand for productivity, making us accountable for more output. So the needs served by technologies of conveniences are not, strictly speaking, the needs of consumers,… [but instead] as the needs of the production process [i.e. employers].”

  • “the adoption of early 20th-century technologies like washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and dishwashers rarely translated straightforwardly into more leisure time for American women. These time-saving technologies reconfigured roles within the family and restructured expectations in such a way that housewives often ended up taking on more rather than less work.… Some of the work was made easier, but its volume increased: sheets and underwear were changed more frequently, so there was more laundry to be done; diets became more varied, so cooking was more complex; houses grew larger, so there were more surfaces to be cleaned. Additionally, some of the work that, when done by hand had been done by servants, came to be done by the housewife herself when done by machine. Finally, some of the work that had previously been allocated to commercial agencies actually returned to the domain of the housewife — laundry, rug cleaning, drapery cleaning, floor polishing — as new appliances were invented to make the work feasible for the average housewife.”


This week, spending so much time with dad, I reached a new level of frustration with him (although the things I’m frustrated by are the same as they’ve always been). It was enough to realize that that frustration doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t have the capacity to be the kind of dad I wish I had — someone I respect and look up to, someone who listens and can give advice, someone with perspective and wisdom from having seen and figured out life a long time ago. Even if he wanted to change, no amount of trying or caring could rewire his brain.

  • The good news is that I think I’ve reached a point where I can let this go. I truly feels silly to be frustrated by a situation that can’t change. It’s a lost cause, and it’s not fair to either of us.

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch, report for the Museum of Capitalism

  • “Maybe this explains what’s so galling to people about the Folsom & Co. not-really-scam: it simply lays bare the categorical deception at the heart of all branding and retail. The different watch values are, in the strictest sense, speech acts: the watch is $29.99 because someone said it’s $29.99. It’s $29.99 because a certain person is wearing it on Instagram; it’s $29.99 because it’s photographed next to flannel and a Chemex.”

  • “the entire existence of [these cheap watches] are examples of the now-household term, ‘brand storytelling.’ And the internet makes it possible for anyone to tell any story, about anything, from anywhere.”


Talking to a friend (Nick) about feeling disrespected by kids at school, he suggested that their behavior (calling me “Joe”, talking openly in class, interrupting me) may be just be evidence of how comfortable they feel around me. He asked, “What’s your goal? Do you want to be the kind of teacher that inspires that feeling in students, or do you want to be the controlling authority figure?”


Talking to dad, we remembered a story from when I was really young (4/5/6?). He and I were in a store in Omaha, and I’d found a little toy I wanted to buy. I put it in my pocket so I wouldn’t have to hold onto it, then forgot about it. When we got into the truck, I realized we hadn’t paid for the toy, and I told him. His response was to calmly walk me back into the store and then asked me to apologize to the clerk.

  • This was a fairly traumatic incident in my life, that I remember clearly. Not because it was a pivotal life lesson about stealing, but because dad had orchestrated this moment, where he was trying to teach me a lesson, and I was like: but I never intended to steal it (or the kid version of that). I felt like shit being seen as a person who was capable of doing something I wouldn’t have chosen to do (shoplift).

  • I mention this now because, working with kids, it’s so important that these teachable moments are accurate to the kids’ intent. Making cynical assumptions about a child’s character can, itself, leave the lasting impression. #teaching


A reason teaching is hard is that it shines a spotlight on personal issues… which then lead to professional issues. For me, the spotlight as been on my: 1. difficulty controlling my emotions, 2. difficulty speaking clearly, 3. difficulty planning ahead and anticipating how things will play out. It’s hard. Ultimately, classroom management isn’t about the kids, it’s about me. #management

NBA Free Agents Tracker


I’m trying a summer experiment and growing my hair out, for at least the next 5 weeks (until school starts). This’ll be the longest I’ve let it grow since I cut it off (4 years ago). I’m not sure what to expect, and I’m a little nervous, but I’m feeling like it’s time for a change. I don’t feel attractive, and I attribute it to my hair — which affects my confidence… whether or not women actually care.


Bought some Levi’s 511™ Slim Fit Jeans (dark hollow + khaki).


I’m really enjoying Songland.

  • Seeing people reach their goals, and with flying colors is a beautiful thing. Also, seeing people meet their mentors: that kills me.

  • “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.”

  • “chasing goosebumps”: in a creative process, working until you find that mix of choices, where you know it’s right.

  • “Everything about your love was one sided.… You used my dream against me to tie me to you.… You’ve got your reasons and, yeah, I got my rhymes. So this time, this time…. I got myself together, got a new attitude. Hope that I see you never, I’m so over you. Got myself together, you’re out of my mind….” — Better Luck Next Time


Bob Boozer is my new favorite basketball player. He was born in Omaha, played for the Kansas City–Omaha Kings (actually the Cincinnati Royals, who eventually became the Kings), AND the SuperSonics (along with the Knicks, Lakers, and Bulls).



I can’t shake the thought that being a dad seems like — probably — the most interesting and satisfying life experience possible, for me. And I’m thinking that adopting could be the best route. Why not just cut to the chase? (Being a dad is, ultimately, the goal of any relationship I’d want to be in — as much as finding a great lady is also something I’d like.) And why not take the opportunity to help a kid who needs a place to be?

  • This is very much in line with the places my mind goes when I’m traveling — especially when I’m at the airport.

A rare thing I miss from my life in Omaha (especially, being a graphic designer): having lots of friends who enjoyed talking about creative process, choices, relationships, pop culture — ideas-centered people. Teachers tend to be pretty practical people (I get it — I am, too.) But I’m missing a huge chunk of the kinds of conversations I used to have. And more significantly: I’m missing having people around who get the stuff that’s usually on my mind.

AoM: The 5 Universal Laws of Success

  • “The First Law is… performance drives success, but when performance can’t be measured, networks [of people] drive success.”

  • “The Fifth Law is… with persistence, success can come at any [age].”


Spotify: Liked Songs playlist

  • Oh dang! This feature went away a few years ago, and I’ve really missed it. By far, the thing I listen to most on Spotify is the playlist of my current favorite tracks. (My ★ playlist was the workaround.)


Catching up on six months(!) of journaling. I procrastinate on this because it’s hard work. But I’m always happy to have put the time and energy into it: I figure things out, I make sense of things, I feel better. #journaling

  • After I write through my thoughts, I tend to process that writing a little further (subconsciously) and then want to make changes to what I’ve written. And that process (the iterating) leads to more fully understanding what’s on my mind and how I truly feel about it. #iter8ordie

  • But this process is most valuable in small chunks. Processing a few months-worth of thinking doesn’t give me the chance to process all those ideas on their own.

Imagine If the Cleveland Indians Existed Alongside Other Racially-Charged Team Names

Raspberry Pi: Broadcast Your Own FM Radio Station

  • What if: students could create their own radio station? It could feature news reporting, interviews, music, shows, commercials (with DJs to tie it all together). Students would individually produce their own audio segments that we compile into a ‘station’. Then, we transmit that broadcast as an actual signal inside the school. We’d set up a few little old-school radios on display in the hallway, and students could listen. #project

Demo-Man, interactive PICO-8 tutorials

Spider-Man: Far From Home Not Great™

  • I really need to start checking trailers for giants and mechs.


Fastmail, private, ad-free email/calendar/contacts

  • Making the move from Gmail, which is my last Google service (personally, anyway). Dope! #summerofjoe

LaunchBar: Search contents of a file + Append text to a file

Midsommar Good™

  • What a movie! Made me think about essentially everything (movie-making, death, family, friends, relationships, grad school, traveling, parenting, religion, drugs). Walking out of the theater, I felt like I’d just returned from some far-off place. And it’s one of the rare movies I’ve seen recently that was still on my mind for hours afterwards. This is the power of movie-going.

  • The Ringer: Is ‘Midsommar’ a Female Empowerment Fairy Tale or American Nightmare?

  • “The scariest parts of this movie are [the horror of the everyday]: Dani’s lack of an emotional support system, Christian’s culturally sanctioned entitlement, and the mutual terrors of codependency.”

sudomod: Sega Dreamcast VMU as Retro Gaming Console


Alesis Strike MultiPad, compact drum kit

  • Still considering how to keep drumming while being a minimalist. This could be it!

Designing a Rock-Skipping Robot #design

  • Holy shit, this will be a fantastic way to demonstrate the design process to the CWA kids (who tend to love skipping rocks).

  • “So often, people want to jump straight to [building], which usually won’t work. But it’s almost worse if it does, because you have no confidence that you're close to the optimal design.”

US Senate Hearing on Technology Companies and Algorithms

  • Tristan Harris clips

  • “software is eating the world without taking responsibility for it. We used to have rules and standards around Saturday morning cartoons, and when YouTube gobbles up that part of society it just takes away all of those protections.”

  • “the most important topics to us are increasingly complex, while we can say increasingly simple things about them. And that automatically creates polarization because you can’t say something simple about something complicated and have everybody agree with you. People will (by definition) misinterpret and hate you for it, and then it’s never been easier to retweet that and generate a mob that will come after you.”

PICO-8: Lander, spacecraft-landing game

  • I’m building a collection of simple-but-still-fun games to use as examples in class.

Time-traveling June


Roli LUMI, illuminated MIDI keyboard

Jaws Good™


Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon Great™ #summerofjoe

  • I love this series (including Show Your Work! and Steal Like An Artist). And I appreciate how they’re written iteratively: they start as ideas or discoveries which become personal journal entries that become published blog posts that (over time) become a recognizable pattern of posts that eventually become a cohesive collection of ideas in a book. I’ve followed Kleon’s blog long enough to have seen the original posts that became this book, which is just really cool. #iter8ordie

  • “I think trying to be creative, keeping busy, has a lot to do with keeping you alive.” — Willie Nelson

  • “A list is a collection with purpose” — Adam Savage

  • “You will someday die with items still on your list, but for now, while you live, your list helps prioritize what can be done in your limited time.” — Tom Sachs

  • “You are not responsible for the world — you are only responsible for your work — so do it.” — Sol LeWitt

  • “What I’m really concerned about is reaching one person.” — Jorge Luis Borges

  • “We pay attention to the things we really care about, but sometimes what we really care about is hidden from us. I keep a daily diary for many reasons, but the main one is that it helps me pay attention to my life.… Many diarists don’t bother rereading their diaries, but I’ve found that rereading doubles the power of a diary because I’m then able to discover my own patterns, identify what I really care about, and know myself better.”

  • Thinking about the How to Learn About Yourself class I might do some day: it could be a workshop of the techniques for finding the patterns of what you’re into/not — hands-on Pleasure-Point Analysis. #project

  • “The purpose of [doing your work seriously] is to keep people from despair. If people [interact with] your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job.” — Sara Manguso

  • “I’m making explorations. I don’t know where they’re going to take me.” — Marshall McLuhan

  • “Everything you think is a response to what someone else has thought you said.” — Alan Jacobs

  • “if you really want to explore ideas, you should consider hanging out with people who aren’t so much like minded as like-hearted. These are people who are ‘temperamentally disposed to openness and have habits of listening.’ People who are generous, kind, caring, and thoughtful.… People you feel good around.”

  • I told a friend (Melanie) recently that I’d like to meet more people in Tacoma who I have more things in common with. She asked what those things would be. Like-hearted is what I meant.

  • Although most of my Omaha friends were in the design industry, what really tied them together was like-heartedness.

  • “Like a tree, creative work has seasons. Part of the work is to know which season you’re in, and act accordingly. In winter, ‘the tree looks dead, but we know it is beginning a very deep process, out of which will come spring and summer.’”

  • “It’s the American view that everything has to keep climbing: productivity, profits, even comedy. No time to contract before another expansion. No time to grow up. No time to learn from your mistakes. But that notion goes against nature, which is cyclical.” — George Carlin

  • (I’ve journaled this before.)

  • I feel like I’m in a season of contraction, but it’s helpful to think that it’s part of a process, and things will expand again. I don’t feel professionally very successful right now. I don’t feel friendly. I don’t feel generous with my time, energy, or attention. I don’t feel confident or optimistic about relationships.

  • “I don’t want to know how a thirty-year-old became rich and famous; I want to hear how an eighty-year-old spent her life in obscurity, kept making art, and lived a happy life. These are the people I look to for inspiration. The people who found the thing that made them feel alive and who kept themselves alive by doing it. The people who planted their seeds, tended to themselves, and grew into something lasting.”

  • “Hitler was making another speech. But Leonard had had enough. ‘I shan’t come! I’m planting iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead.’ He was right. In his memoir,… Leonard Wolf noted that twenty-one years after Hitler [died], a few of those purple flowers still bloomed in the orchard under the apple tree.”

Yossa Von K, low-res pixel illustrator & game developer

FightCamp, home boxing gym + workout videos

Pi0CKET-tiny, ultra-mini Raspberry Pi gaming handheld

  • PICOPi, Linux build that boots directly into PICO-8


LEGO 7: Rock and Roll Animal Music Box

Christoph Niemann: Easter Eggs

LightNote, music theory lessons

Write, casually-sent email app (by Matt)

Making beats with Geoff on an Elektron Monomachine.


The Ringer: NBA Teams Don’t Stay Good or Bad for Long

Installing PICO-8 on a Raspberry Pi

PICO-8: Spinning Gems #tweetcart

Yesterday Not Great™


Mini vMac, Classic Macintosh emulator (Systems 1–7.5)

After Dark in CSS, the classic Mac screen saver



Minit, 1-bit pixelated adventure Good™ #summerofjoe

Annabelle Comes Home Good™


Just realized that (now that I live an hour south of Seattle), I’m only a 2½-hour drive from seeing a Portland Trail Blazers game. Gotta do this next season!

The Guardian: How 80s Economics Created Inequality

  • “we will need to accept that how much people earn in the market is often not what they deserve, and that the tax they pay is not taking from what is rightfully theirs.”

  • “[All] goods and services… depend on the economic and social infrastructure, including transport networks, communications systems, energy supplies and extensive legal arrangements covering complex matters such as intellectual property, formal markets such as stock exchanges, and jurisdiction across national borders.… In sum, it is impossible to isolate what is ‘yours’ from what is made possible, or influenced, by the role of government.”

The Ringer: Is This the Summer from Hell or Business as Usual for Hollywood?

  • “Fewer people are buying tickets to movies because fewer people need to leave their homes to see new things. And so to draw out the homebound consumer, a theatrical experience must be an event.”

  • 2019 is one of the worst years for movie-going I can remember. Streaming (watching movies at home) isn’t the same experience disconnecting, creatively-satisfying, life-affirming for me. And I notice, personally, when I have fewer movie-theater-movies in the queue. It’s so sad to think that this movie-going era of my life might be evaporating.

  • There’s also something pretty dark about a future where everyone just stays at home, watching movies and having everything delivered.

  • FUAY direct-to-streaming movie

  • “Movies are no longer about the thing; they’re about the next thing, the tease, the Easter egg, the post-credit sequence, the promise of a future at which the moment we’re in can only hint.” — The Birdcage

  • “Marketers revere the idea of brands, because a brand means that somebody, somewhere, once bought the thing they’re now trying to sell.… Sequels are brands. Remakes are brands.” — The Day the Movies Died

Adventuron, text adventure game-maker

Graphical User Interface Gallery, database of classic OSs


Technology promises to simplify, but it does the opposite. The more advanced a thing becomes (the more it promises to do for us) the more complexity it introduces into our lives. (Examples: pen/paper vs. computer, walking vs. driving, talking vs. texting/email). The more advanced the technology: the more maintenance it requires, the more likely it is to break, the more it relies on other technologies to keep working, the more likely it is to eventually become obsolete and need replacing, the less certainty we have that it’ll work when we need it to. #digitalanxiety

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj: Why Your Internet Sucks has a snapshot of my first website:

From April, 2003, when I was 23 — 16 years ago!


Switched back to a sans serif on this site: Neue Montreal.

  • I like to think the typeface on this site reflects something about where I’m at, personally. This time, it feels like time to undo the specificity and character I was aiming for with the last typeface. Visually, the goal (I think) is objectivity.

  • Neue Montreal is a nice alternative to my first choice: Untitled Sans (designed specifically not to be special).

  • I’m on the fourth typeface: 1. Input Mono, 2. Rubik, 3. Turnip., September 2018 – June 2019.

Game Boy-styled mechanical keyboard

Calling Code, curvy monospace typeface

Toy Story 4 Good™

  • “If you sit on the shelf the rest of your life, you’ll never find out.”


MoPop Educator Happy Hour

I’m in a funk. I’m feeling cynical, irritable, unhealthy, unconfident, unattractive, socially awkward, disconnected, like a weirdo outsider.

  • Most of my social interactions feel awkward, and I’ve been avoiding them. I feel like people treat me with kid gloves — like the ways I think, the ways I spend my time and the things that interest me are unusual (and viewed skeptically, especially at my age). I have no close friends nearby, and I want to make more friends, but I also avoid scheduling time with anyone. I want to be a dad, I think. But I have zero dating options in my day-to-day life, but I also continue to feel like setting up a dating profile (especially the photos) is one of the most complex and fraught tasks possible for me. And based on the feedback I’m getting from women I meet, I have few reasons to feel confident about that process anyway. My anxiety continues to feel limitless. I continue to use food as stress relief, and I continue not to make time for exercise. I wouldn’t say I’m depressed, but I’m not optimistic about the future of the world either.

  • This train of thought accelerated a few weeks ago, when Katie and Mandy made a concerted effort to “learn more about me and be my friend”. I believe they were sincere, but it made me uncomfortable, and it’s taken me awhile to reconcile why. Katie, especially, introduced the idea (that I haven’t been able to shake) that people at school have no idea who I am, that the way I think is unpredictable and confusing to them, and that possibly no one I work with understands me — or sees me in the way I see myself.

I’m really disappointed in how much I allowed my frustration to show with the kids in sScreen Printing. The kids were being disrespectful to me, and their behavior needed to be addressed. But I wish I would’ve responded with love. Showing my frustration (not smiling, being short, demanding, cynical, joyless) transforms those moments from professional to personal. I’m complicating the problem by introducing my feelings into the situation.

  • There are several things wrapped up in this: 1. feeling demoralized by students’ lack of respect, 2. my continued difficulty with classroom management, and 3. my continued struggle with managing my emotions.

From a student (Ashlyn) in Summer Fun Screen Printing. I appreciate it, so much! But why my first name? This phenomenon is such a mystery to me right now!


In Summer Fun Screen Printing, some of the students have been disrespectful (interrupting/singing/humming when I’m talking to the group, talking back, bending rules, doing things I asked them not to, calling me by my first name). At a level that’s slightly (but noticeably) different than during the school year.

  • I don’t think they’re being disrespectful on purpose. Which (I’m realizing now) is why classroom management has been so hard for me, emotionally. They’re acting in these ways because they don’t respect my authority as their teacher. They may think I’m cool. They may even call me their “favorite teacher” which one student (Ryan) said this week. But based on my style of teaching, or my personality, or… WHO KNOWS WHY, they don’t take me seriously. And it’s just hard. #management

  • Teaching confronting your ego. It’s a reason I think it’s so valuable — but also why it’s so hard.

A 3rd grader (Ben) is printing a poster for his YouTube channel, and (talking about the videos he plans to post) used the word “content” correctly and unironically. Oof.

sok-stories, point-and-click + drawing game-maker

Kindle Oasis: Invert colors, for reading at night (dark mode)


Apollo 11 in Real-time

Printing trading cards in Summer Fun Screen Printing.


I’m wondering if Summer Fun Screen Printing was a good idea. It’s a fun process, and I really like the kids in the class. But I’m technically on summer break, and yet, still working full work days (cleaning/coating screens and otherwise getting ready for class). Is missing a week of summer vacation worth $1,000? Not sure.


Summer Fun Screen Printing started today. It’s been a few years since I last screen printed, but it’s all coming back. And it still feels like magic. I love: 1. the combination of analog and digital, 2. the solid colors, 3. that it requires expertise to do well, but that it’s also easy to start doing. The kids think it’s pretty cool, too.

  • For our first project, students are designing a personal, hand-drawn trading card. They’re drawing a symbol on tracing paper (using Noun Project and Font Awesome for inspiration).


I’ve been spending time up on my apartment building’s rooftop deck, reading and writing, and I love it. Living in a part of the world that’s surrounded by mountains and water feels as satisfying and interesting to me today as it did when I first moved here. It’s a constant reminder of not-living (intentionally) in the midwest.

  • Also, Procter is the best neighborhood. It’s perfect.

Neighbor on the elevator asks: “Do you shop at Met [Market, the more expensive neighborhood grocery store] or Safeway [the discount neighborhood grocery store]?” I said: “Safeway. I aspire to be a Met Market shopper.”

  • This — framing something negative (Met Market is expensive) as something positive (but I’d like to be able to afford it some day) — is an essential communication trick that I’ve figured out over the last few years. In my 20s and early 30s, I tended to more cynical and negative, and I’ve worked to flip that around.

Field of Dreams Not Great™


How Capitalism is an AI: Market Failures in the Attention Economy

  • “None of the actors within the system is malicious or stupid – their behaviors all make sense given their incentives as dictated by the rules of the system. This is true of television, of internet media, [politics], and of consumer capitalism broadly.”

  • “the objective function of a politician is optimized not results but for votes.”

  • “Expecting new and ‘better’ personnel to behave differently within the same structure and system of incentives is a wishful thinking (if not outright delusional).”

  • “Because we have (rightfully) lost faith in our institutional leaders and the systems of incentives that govern their behavior, but we do not yet have a replacement system, we now find ourselves in a dangerous transitional period.”

  • “I have to constantly remind myself to get into a Systems Thinking framework when I’m thinking about improving our broken institutions…. So, rather than talking about how bad an individual politician, party, corporation, or special interest group is, the discussion becomes: what are the incentives that might lead an actor with this position in the system to behave this way? How might we change the incentives or rules of the system to lead to different outcomes?”

  • This applies to classroom management, too. Problems with student behavior starts with the environment (which is dictated by the teacher). #management

Late Night Not Great™

BitFontMaker2, online pixel font editor


Bitsy: Redlander, ship-repair adventure

PICO-8: Matrix Code

PICO-8: Sk8Border, anti-border-wall skateboarding

PICO-8: Brawl, 2-player, 1-hit fighting


Another recurring struggle of my life is a failure to figure out how to be honest — to say what’s important to be said — without making it uncomfortable for other people.

  • Thinking this after visiting the UW VCD Juniors. At the end of class, I said that I hope they can continue to be as friendly to each other and as open to feedback as they already are. What should have felt like an optimistic, triumphant conclusion felt a little too serious and uncomfortable. I’d warped the focus from them to me — which I do a lot in moments like this.

A hard thing about teaching is the discrepancy between how meaningful it feels for me, personally vs. how the students feel in the same situations. As an adult, I bring a perspective to the room that’s a lot different than the students, and so, I often notice really special things happening that they can’t yet see — things related to growing up, changing, making mistakes, iterating. Which is great, but I also know that my acknowledgement of these moments can be weird sometimes for the kids, and I’m not sure what to do about that (because I think they’re worth mentioning). #teaching

Visiting year-end UW Design exhibitions, I’m recognizing one of the reasons I’ve lost interest in teaching design is that although many design school projects are (on paper) intended to help other people — that’s disingenuous (in practice). Often, students do discover valuable, helpful things in the midst of their work… but rarely implement them. Ultimately, the intent of design school work is to demonstrate that a student is capable of designing. These projects are more about the designer than the solutions or the audience they’re intended (on paper) to help.

  • I’m totally guilty of this, as a teacher and a student. But it’s something I want to be more cautious of in the future. Any project that’s intended to help other people, actually should.

Font for Nerds, 3×3 pixel typeface

Christina Neofotistou (@castpixel), low-res pixel illustrator


Noticing that I have the same hair-loss pattern as Jony Ive, and that I’m responding to it in the same way (just buzzing it really short). It feels pretty great knowing that!

  • Losing my hair is on my mind a lot, as much as I wish it wasn’t. Still looking forward to a day when it doesn’t matter to me anymore, and I can just be at peace with it.


Using Your Calendar Should as Your To-Do List

  • Why: 1. because you're already using [your calendar], 2. if you can minimize the number of applications you need to go to to figure out what you should be focusing on, you’re going to be more productive, and 3. you can see [visually] the relationship between your tasks on a given day and your other commitments.”

  • I’ve been looking to simplify my task management, and I think this is it.


One of the recurring struggles of my life is making sense of generally feeling misunderstood — like a weirdo outsider. I don’t feel accepted by new people in my life in the PNW (thinking, mostly of CWA teachers), as much as skeptically and confusingly patronized.

How Wrestling Explains Trump

  • kayfabe: “the unspoken contract between wrestlers and spectators: We’ll present you something clearly fake under the insistence that it’s real, and you will experience genuine emotion. Neither party acknowledges the bargain, or else the magic is ruined.”

  • “Chants of ‘Build the Wall’ aren’t about erecting a structure; they’re about how cathartic it feels, in the moment, to yell with venom against a common enemy.”

  • “[Kayfabe] rests on the assumption that feelings are inherently more trustworthy than facts.”

10 Years Good™

  • I’m the same age as this group: Justin Long (‘78), Oscar Isaac, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pratt (‘79), Channing Tatum (‘80).

  • Other celebrities born in 1979: Rosamund Pike, Zhang Ziyi, Brandy, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Adam Levine, Lee Pace, Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson, James McAvoy, Lace Bass, Robyn, Kevin Hart, Rose Bryne, B.J. Novak, Evangeline Lilly, Pink, Flo Rida, John Krasinski.

  • So, people that also turn 40 this year. There’s something… reassuring about knowing that these people are also getting older — and also don’t seem old now.

Classic Paintings in 16×16 Pixels


CWA Graduation. It’s fun to look forward to the day when I’ll know most of the graduating class (still several years away).

  • Seniors get to decide which faculty member hands them their diploma on stage, and most of the students choose high school teachers. Some day, I’d love for a graduating senior to pick me. Not that I want the recognition — it’s really not about me. Really, the goal is to have made that much of a difference in a student’s life.

Listen Up Philip Good™

  • “Just trying stuff out to see what the right thing to do is.”

  • “nothing lasts forever, and we both know hearts can change.” — Guns N’ Roses

The Red Hot, Tacoma hot dog restaurant


Last day of school + 5th grade Moving On ceremony #classof2026

  • These were the first kids I really connected with at CWA (as 4th graders last year). I taught my interview lesson with them, went on my first field trip with them, and they were the group that confirmed for me that teaching technology to little kids was the right move for me.

  • Although, my connection with this group faded as puberty has taken hold (especially in Carie’s class) — as they (naturally) became more social, harder to manage, and lost some enthusiasm for being students. Which frustrated me, which (regrettably) showed in my teaching, which fractured those bonds and created some distance between us. And so, tonight wasn’t as difficult as I would’ve expected a year ago.

  • Luca gave me a hug during the high-five line, and Ayden said (talking in the hallway after the ceremony): “I’m going to miss you” (with tears in his eyes). Those were really special moments for me.

  • They’re the two 5th graders I connected with most, and I’ll miss them a lot. They both made it a point to walk up to me in class every week and ask how I was doing. That’s how these connections are built, and I need to work harder to do that on my side.

  • I want more connections with kids like this, and I have work harder. This has been a hard week for me, coming to terms with the fact that (based on generally flat interactions with kids throughout the week), I don’t have many of these relationships. I have to be outside at recess, eat in the lunch room, make more time before and after school for casual conversations. I’m not doing that now because: I’m planning, or I feel like I need to disconnect, or — more likely — I’m just being lazy.

  • I have a great connection with the 3rd graders, and I think I could build something really special with them if I put in the work.

Austin Kleon: It’s Outside You Trying to Get In

  • “I never feel like I have a book in me. I always feel like there’s a book around me.… My job is to grab that stuff around me and shape it into something.”

  • This is how I feel about ideas, too. It’s why I read and watch as much as I do. There are ideas waiting to be connected and sense waiting to be made.

  • “My advice to you is to change your basic relationship to songwriting. You are not the ‘Great Creator’ of your songs, you are simply their servant, and the songs will come to you when you have adequately prepared yourself to receive them. They are not inside you, unable to get out; rather, they are outside of you, unable to get in.” — Nick Cave


A 4th grader (Ali) was still so stoked about the PICO-8 tutorial he completed during LS Game Design (3 days ago) that, when I walked into his regular 4th grade Technology class today, he turned to me and said: “Frog animation”.

Justine Sacco Is Good at Her Job, and How I Came To Peace With Her

  • “the only divine truth of the internet: Do nothing. Never tweet. Never apologize. Never say anything at all. Be an inert bundle of molecules and let the world tear itself apart around you.”


It’s the last week of school, and it’s been a hard one for me. In (what feels like) an ocean of gratitude from students and parents to their homeroom teachers, I feel like an island. Where are the thank-yous for the work I’ve done this year?

  • I’m genuinely disappointed, but this is also a little silly. I need to flip my expectation. I should expect that I won’t connect or make much of a real difference in the lives of most of my students. Not that I won’t try, but I shouldn’t expect my efforts to land. And I already know there’s more I could be doing to build those connections anyway.

  • Instead, I should celebrate the connections I do have.

  • This might be a common thing for specialist teachers to feel (since we have less definitive conclusions with our students), and as next year’s Specialist Chair, I’m wondering if I could help create those celebratory opportunities somehow? #project

Email from (Luca) a 5th grader:

  • “Dear Mr. Sparano, / Thank you for teaching me. I am very grateful. I love your classes. They have tough taught me many things. For anything I will need in the future. I will honestly never forget you I love technology so much in my life so this will help for years to come. You being my first person that I sent my Gmail to. This is special to me. I love you. you were always kind to me even though all the questions I asked you. You always were there for me no madder matter my question. You had no answer but you always answered me the next time. My favorite class was the time we named memes. / I loved it because I love memes and you connected are things together to make it fun. That’s the type of off teacher I like. They connect to our lives and make school which was boring really fun. That’s the teacher you are so that’s why I had such a great year. I love you so much. / You just made everything so much fun for me and my classmates. / Thank you,”

  • The sincerity, it just pours out of kids. I love it. #sincerity>irony

PICO-8: Octopus Tentacles #tweetcart

Rocketman Good™, Raspberry Pi game dev tools


For our last LS Game Design, I did something a little different. Instead of trying to teach a traditional lesson (which is what I’ve been doing), I allowed the kids to choose their own PICO-8 or Bitsy tutorial and work independently. It was more hands-off (from me) and more self-directed (by them).

  • Mostly, it was a response to having a consistently difficult time in these after-school clubs getting students to listen when I need it. I haven’t even been teaching much — but it’s been a struggle nearly every time.

  • This structure (choose your own adventure, I help troubleshoot when necessary, we all share at the end) was super successful. 1. For students: they were waiting on me less, working more intently, making more choices, and working more at their own pace. 2. For me: it required less all-group teaching, less management, less coordinating pace. Some students got a lot done, some not much at all — but they all felt successful. This was the most focused, easy to manage class yet. It was awesome.

  • When I introduced PICO-8 two weeks ago, some students were skeptical at first… but they really got into it once we started coding. It’s fun and magical to make things work, and it’s so satisfying to see kids experience that feeling.

The Guardian: When Survival Is a Popularity Contest, the heartbreak of crowdfunding healthcare

PICO-8: Infinite Terrain w/Sunset #tweetcart


Peter D. Harris, nighttime cityscape oil paintings


Ask Polly: Time Moves Too Quickly!

  • “I can’t help but think about how time slowly eats up the life that I have, turning the raw, beautiful potential of the future into the hollow sadness of memories in the past, forced through a focal point of the present that is gone too quickly. I am haunted by entropy even as I am in what I think might be the best years of my entire life.”

  • “Not only do you believe that thinking is the key to cherishing the present more, but you also believe, at some level, that you might just be able to solve the problem of time.”

  • “Thinking — particularly that puzzle-solving type of thinking — speeds up time.… Feeling slows down time.… When you feel connected to yourself, and connected to others, that feeling stretches out the moment instead of condensing it, reducing it, diminishing it.”

The Guardian: A 4°C Rise, How the Future Would Look

Death of the Calorie

  • “A US Senate committee report in 1977 recommended a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet for all…. The food industry responded with enthusiasm, removing fat, the most calorie-dense of macronutrients, from food items and replacing it with sugar, starch and salt. As a bonus, the thousands of new cheap and tasty ‘low-cal’ and ‘low-fat’ products… tended to have longer shelf lives and higher profit margins.”

  • “Exercise [has] clear health benefits. But… it plays a smaller part in weight control than most people believe. As much as 75% of the average person’s daily energy expenditure comes not through exercise but from ordinary daily activities and from keeping your body functioning by digesting food, powering organs and maintaining a regular body temperature.… powering the brain consumes about a fifth of a person’s metabolic energy each day.”

  • Coca-colonisation: The point in a culture’s history when junk food is readily available.

  • “The calorie system lets food producers off the hook. They can say, ‘We’re not responsible for the unhealthy products we sell, we just have to list the calories and leave it to you to manage your own weight.’”

Bitsy: The Strange Floating Eye That Sometimes Comes Into Your Room… And Messes With Your Stuff


Retirement party for (Judy, Bob, and Diane) three CWA teachers. These are the kinds of things I’d love for people to say about me when I retire: 1. Joe is an innovative teacher, 2. he isn’t afraid to try new things, and 3. he models gracefully how to rebound when something doesn’t work, 4. he’s legitimately curious what’s on kids’ minds, 5. he’s surprisingly current!, and 6. he respects kids for being kids. (I'm not saying I do these things now, just that it’s my goal to be known for these things some day.)

HTML5: <video> player

  • Switching to native <video> embeds on this site instead of YouTube. Why didn’t I think of this before?!

Scratch vs. PICO-8, tutorial videos

The opposite of narcissism is objectivity. May


This is Design School: Annabelle Gould

  • “A good rag is not gonna save the world.”

  • I really appreciate this about Annabelle: she cares about graphic design while also recognizing that it’s not really that important.

  • I consider Annabelle a teaching mentor. She really cares about her students, and she’s full of ideas on how students can improve. And with zero ego in the way — she’s just a very real person.

  • “To teach is to learn twice over.” — Joseph Joubert


Gaming Historian: The Story of Zelda, Link’s Awakening

  • “The development team loved what they were doing, and it showed. They also weren’t afraid to try new things — that showed as well.”

waneella: Birds and Lanterns


Two 3rd graders (Ben and Alexander) have started an improtu “Pun Club” during my crosswalk duty on Wednesdays and Fridays, where we workshop new pun ideas. I’m not quite sure how this became a thing, but it’s fun.

  • Originally, it was endearing how much they didn’t understand about how puns work — but now, they’re starting to get it, and it’s neat to watch that happen.

  • One of them (Ben) said, “It’s helping me think more creatively, I’ve been thinking of puns during the day.”

  • Why did I record this? I wanted to remember it. It’s a special thing for me, that these kids have chosen, uninvited, for a few weeks in a row, to show up and chat about puns and video games for 20 minutes.

Here, we figure out a pretty good pun about a math class.

Picked up another new nickname (from different 3rd graders): “Joe Asparagus”.

iPiccy, web-based image editor

  • Used this in 5th grade today, for the pretty slick masking tool.

HTML5: <audio> player

“[To a narcissist,] phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite [of] narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and fears.” — Erich Fromm

  • I’m still a very self-centered person.


I think I’m making my CWA clubs more frustrating than they need to be. (Thinking about this after another bumpy LS Game Design.) Most of the time, when I attempt to teach (asking for students’ attention, and then anticipating they could all listen or follow instructions… for just a few minutes) it’s really hard. I’m not teaching much, but it’s hard every time. Especially at the end of the day and after school (which is understandable). For everyone’s sanity, I need to teach less — these clubs should be mostly opened-ended designing/making/exploring. #teaching

  • Although, if I pull back too much, the kids will notice that too (which happened in MS Coding & Robotics last quarter).

  • I need to figure out how to make these clubs fun for me. Right now, I’m on the fence about whether they’re worth the effort (≈ $1,000 for 10 × 90-minute sessions.)

The Ringer: Home Is Where the NBA Titles Are Grown


Lindsay Ellis: Product Placement and Fair Use

  • “It’s like people only do things because they get paid, and that’s just really sad.” — Garth

It’s Impossible to Lead a Totally Ethical Life — But It’s Fun to Try

  • “the choice isn’t between [this environmentally-conscious product or that environmentally-conscious product]. For environmental purposes, we should choose nothing.”

  • “When people list unethical behavior, they often cite the illegal actions of corporations or the heinous decisions of politicians…, but what’s missing on the list are the smaller and far more numerous everyday choices we make.”

  • “a more moral way to handle the problem would be to attempt to resolve it — to think of [the living creatures] who are affected, production processes, supply chains, and the nature of capitalism itself — and to reach a reasoned conclusion that at least takes others into consideration.… There isn’t a simple answer to complex questions, but the ethical approach is to engage with the difficulties rather than avoiding them.”

  • “When considering ethics, good and evil become limiting concepts. It’s far more beneficial to consider our ability to make personal choices that [correspond to] either our higher or our lower nature.… evil lives in the conscious desire to act solely for oneself.”

  • “feeling guilty is a selfish response. It’s more self-involvement, which is pretty much the opposite of ethical living.… guilt is only a boon for guilty people’s egos, and will make you more likely to look away from injustices. The ethical response to bad acts is considering how to right them, rather than thinking about your personal feelings.”

  • “the Aristotlean view [is] that figuring out how to live the good life is fun.… A truly ethical life is joyful, lived with a clear conscience, ‘knowing that we are doing the best we can, even if that means our behavior may be unsatisfactory at times.’”

Thomas Game Docs, video game video essays

Pokémon Mini, Nintendo’s smallest handheld system (from 2001?!)

Animated Knots, knot-tying database (and neckties!)


Bought a Title Black Double-End Bag. #treatjoeself

  • This is my solution to continuing to box in Tacoma, which has been a trickier problem than I expected before the move: 1. big box gyms are too awkward and expensive for me, 2. my apartment’s gym isn’t big enough for a heavy bag, 3. I’m trying to avoid buying workout furniture that lives in my apartment. Turns out that a double-end bag is the quiet, minimalist, but still fun and effective solution I was hoping existed!

  • This was a fun prototyping and problem-solving project on its own, figuring out how to mount it (adjustable nylon straps with clips and carabiners), weight it at the bottom (a 25-pound dumbbell), and protect it from damaging the wall (pipe insulation).

Demo-Man, PICO-8/gamedev tutorials

DSEG, LCD typeface

Notting Hill Not Great™


LibrarianShipwreck: On Using ‘Google’ as a Verb

  • “When we say ‘Google it’, we reinforce the view that Google is the search engine, we normalize the surveillance capitalism ethos within which Google operates, we recommend that the person we’re advising submit to that same apparatus, and we provide free advertising for a company that is already profiting quite well off of us.”

LibrarianShipwreck: Neil Postman’s 6 Questions to Ask of New Technology (+ 2 More) #digitalanxiety

  • “What happens when you hit this piece of technology with a rock?… A device that can be easily damaged and not easily repaired is one where a person does not truly have possession of the device, they must always be aware that should something go wrong they will be powerless without the help of that specialized technician.”

  • “Waste is a problem inherent to new technologies, though it is often put off as really being a question for old technologies, but allowing this distance hides the fact that a devices death should be considered in its creation [and purchase].”

  • Usually, I can’t avoid thinking about the end of a thing when I buy it. It’s a not-insignificant weight on my conscience, and those thoughts feel about as ridiculous to be having as they do essential and important.

  • But/And, I also feel the weight of these things globally/culturally/systemically. Like, FUAY new gadget, man.

  • “this question… should be directed… at the sector that is frantically flooding the market with new devices.… Those who have designed, marketed, and sold a device filled with hazardous materials… have a responsibility to ensure that these can be disposed of without creating harm.”

Booksmart Not Great™

Another contributor to my digital anxiety that’s so pervasive I haven’t officially acknowledged it yet: charging. The battery clock (iPhone, Pebble, MacBook, wireless headphones, DS) is always ticking. #digitalanxiety

  • Example: my MacBook battery status icon isn’t accurate anymore (after just 2½ years), and when I’m not plugged in, the computer can/will power off without notice.


3rd grade field trip, day 3.

waneella: Behind The Station

  • I really think I’d like to live in Japan some day. A CWA teacher (Jeremy) said that teaching at an international school is a relatively seamless way of earning a living and getting by in a country where I wouldn’t speak the language, and I’m pretty stoked that teaching is a solution to both of those problems. #thenextphase


3rd grade field trip, day 2.

  • A bonus of these field trips is getting to see a different group of teachers teach (our trail leaders). This time, I’m noticing that getting kids to listen and take you seriously has a lot to do with: 1. how confidently you speak, 2. how clearly, and 3. how concisely. Kids will (intuitively) not respond to wishy-washy-ness and lack of clarity. More successful teachers do all three things, and the rest don’t. There’s a 1-to-1 correlation. #teaching #management

  • This is another reason why teaching is hard (and good) for me. Speaking clearly and concisely has been an ongoing challenge for me.

  • Spending more time with the 3rd graders (8–9 years old) has brought something into focus: kids at this age have very little concept of themselves as part of a larger system (they’re constantly shout-talking, talking other each other, with no concept of how conversations work). Which is irritating (my brain is mush!) But they're also not yet self-conscious — they’re still just wacky kids who don’t give a shit what you think of them (in a good way). #growingup


3rd grade field trip to Mount Rainier Institute, day 1. #classof2028

Dropping Rowan off at school this morning, Joanna stopped to tell me that she was happy that I’d signed up for the Specialist Chair position. She said she appreciates my “quiet leadership” at CWA and the ways I’ve supported Rowan’s interest in coding and games this year.

  • This means a lot to me. I really want the small things to matter (all that connection-building). But most of the time, I’m not sure (or at least, it doesn’t feel like) it makes much of a difference.

21 (#05.21)

In 5th grade, for our last project, students are starting The Future of My Technology — picking a favorite technology in their lives to concept a future version of. To jumpstart their thinking, I asked some questions based on 5 Things We Need to Know About Technological Change.

  • I asked: “Who’s affected negatively by your technology — who suffers?” One student (Piper) said that since her technology (3D printing) uses plastic, the earth suffers for it. Then I asked: “OK, so how could that influence your future design?,” and another student (Ryan) suggested a 3D printer… that prints with trash!

  • Also: “Who is your technology biased towards — and against?” As an example, I held a pencil in my hand, and I asked: “Who is this pencil was designed for?” It took some pushing, but they eventually realized that a pencil’s design is biased towards someone with the ability to pick it up — for someone with hands! That rocked their world a little bit.

  • I’ve been looking forward to these questions all year — a synthesis of design and technology, and I knew these kids would be interested in thinking about fairness and bias. Some full-circle, Matrix-revealing, special teaching moments, for sure. #design #teaching

In LS Game Design, I showed a Bitsy demo I’d made (Joe’s Junk Food Adventure). This school year, I’ve built several demos this way: 1. where some kind of problem/question arises in class, 2. I do some research, 3. work through the tool myself to build a demo that answers the question, and 4. then bring it back to class to show the kids.

  • More than ever this school year, I’ve leaned into not-having all the answers. With LEGO Robotics, micro:​bits, and Bitsy, I started projects knowing only enough about the tool to know that we could be successful — but not exactly how we’d get there, and just using classroom questions to guide the sequence of the lessons.

Joe’s Junk Food Adventure


Center For Humane Technology: Design Guide/Worksheet


After visiting UW this week, a few people at CWA have asked: “Do you miss it?” 1. I do miss: teaching classes that involve more creative problem-solving, really getting into the weeds of a project and watching students figure it out, having more in-depth conversations with students about life. 2. But I don’t miss: talking about design constantly, nitpicking the nuances of graphic design, or grading. I did that for 7 years, and I was ready to move on.

  • And with the last group of students in Color & Comp (the Class of 2020), they helped end that phase of my career as well it possibly could’ve.


PICO-8: Random 8×8 Sprite Generator

My Famicase Exhibition, fan-made NES cartridge designs (for generating game ideas)

John Wick: Chapter 3 Not Great™

Making Sense: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

  • “what [Facebook] realized was that appealing to outrage and fear was much more successful than appealing to happiness. Because one person’s joy is another person’s jealousy. Whereas if you’re afraid or outraged, you share stuff in order to make other people afraid or outraged [too]”

  • “The Google Captcha system:… touch all the photographs that have a traffic light or all the ones that have a bus.… What you’re doing is training the artificial intelligence for Google’s self-driving cars.”

  • Oh damn. What! That’s totally what this is!

  • “it’s so obviously a dodge that [Mark Zuckerberg is] looking to use end-to-end encryption to absolve himself of responsibility for content that he’s put on the site. [Because then the content would be private.]”

  • “the value of [Facebook’s] system is based on getting to peoples’ most raw emotional state because that’s the thing that has greatest predictive value of whether you’re going to spend money or what you’re going to be interested in.”

  • “there’s a fundamental flaw in their business.… [The chemical industry originally] dumped waste products wherever it was convenient…. Then one day, the country woke up and realized: this is a disaster.… And we decided… we’re going to assign responsibility to the people who created the mess.… And it went from being an incredibly profitable industry to a not-very-profitable industry.… when you assign that [financial consequence], you realize: well, actually, this isn’t that good a business. And… I don’t believe that Facebook or… Google are that good a business if they actually have to pay the costs of the toxic digital spills they create.”


In 4th grade, students finished their Addicting Game Design projects. I loved this unit, and they did, too.

Teach Like a Champion: ‘Wait Time’ Technique, giving students more time to raise their hands before calling on anyone

  • I love this blog! Teaching continues to be an incredibly fascinating thing to think about and try to get better at. (#teaching)

  • I’m committed to mastering teaching, I don’t mind that it’s gonna take a really long time. I’m excited for the challenge. It’s so interesting!


Starting the 4th grade documentary project. I showed the “Mockumentary” I made last year. I just hit play, then asked them to stop me when they identify a creative choice that they’d make differently.

  • They loved it — they wanted to find these things! In both classes, we discussed this (a 35-second video) for a half-hour.

  • This is another example where I’m satisfied with having-turned what could be a dry exercise (what not to do) into something fun.

  • I framed this whole exercise around choices (in video, music, pictures, sound, narration, etc.): “How do these choices help communicate the message of the documentary?” This kind of project feels like the culmination of my whole teaching life — the nexus between teaching design and teaching technology. Setting goals, communicating, and being intentional. #design

Elwha Dam Mockumentary

Kemerling: What Are You?

  • “Online I’m a designer, activist, collaborator, citizen. Offline I’m still those things, but there are other more important words I use when I think of what I am. And those real world titles I’ve come to protect from the noise of what happens online — son, brother, friend, neighbor, husband, father.”

  • The way we describe ourselves online seems to skew professional. We use those titles to market ourselves — to distinguish us in the “digital void”. The more important titles (the ones that describe personal relationships with ourselves, friends, and family) tend to be less meaningful to others — and so, those words are less useful as marketing tools.

  • And choosing to use the (private, meaningful) offline titles online means we’re awkwardly leveraging something personal for professional gain, which can make things weird. #digitalperson #weird

OpenMoji, CC-licensed, monoweight emoji/icon set


Spent the day at UW, for mid-quarter feedback in two of Annabelle’s VCD classes (juniors and seniors). It’s been a long time since I’ve given VCD feedback, and walking into the Art building, I had a moment of panic that I might not even know how to do it anymore.

  • And then… it all came back to me, no sweat. But it was surprising how foreign that headspace felt to me, after spending 15+ years of my life swimming in it.

“Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.” — The Book of Life


A 3rd grader (Ayla) started calling me by my first name. I told her it’s important for her to call me Mr. Sparano, but I also asked why she’s using my first name: “Because you’re my friend.”

  • This is an ongoing phenomenon. Is it possible that classroom management has been tricky for me because the kids don’t see me in the same light as most teachers — even if that light is really positive? #management

The Guardian: The Story Behind Harper Lee’s Lost True Crime Book

AoM: How to Improve Your Speaking Voice


How to Go Viral: 6 Ingredients of Highly Sharable Content

  • “People like to share ideas that make them look cool, smart, in-the-know, morally superior.”

  • There’s a lesson in here somewhere: design a post/headline/tweet for maximum viral-ness. #lesson

PICO-8: Blocks For Life, resource-management platformer

04b03, 4×5 pixel typeface

Digging for Fire Good™


Here’s a phenomenon The Bachelor/ette makes me think about: when people discuss the show, it’s common for them to attribute anything (everything!) eventful to a producer. Positive or negative, the most interesting moments must have been orchestrated by some outside, hidden force — which means nothing meaningful can happen naturally, nothing can be trusted. And I wonder: 1. how much of that kind of skepticism also infects our personal lives, since our personal communication is so often mediated (texting, social media), and 2. what do people actually trust, sincerely anymore?

I really can’t stand the word ‘educator’. Why create distance with showy language? Why not use a clearer word — like ‘teacher’? Why sound like a douche? And why are words like this so popular?

“On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your favorite color of the alphabet?” — CGP Grey

Kanopy, public library movie streaming service

Game Boy Demakes, screenshots of demade games

󠇰Snetris, Snake + Tetris


It’s interesting, meeting new people in the PNW, the default assumption is I’m not a religious person. Casual, Christian-critical talk is pretty common among the people I’ve gotten to know here. Which is so different from the Midwest, and which (again) I’m so grateful for.


Last week, during my introduction to our bike rack unveiling, I mentioned that I was a graphic designer before I was a teacher. Since then, a few students have brought it up: “My mom is a graphic designer.”, “What kinds of things did you make?”, “Did you design” (Yes). Which is just cool! It’s nice to know that they’re listening, and I like being able to add that context.

One of the upsides of teaching in other teachers’ classrooms is that I get to see them managing the same students in the same environment. And at times, I get to see them feeling (personally) the same frustrations I feel. It’s helpful to know that even teachers who are truly at the top of their game (and who I really admire) still get frustrated with kids — and lose their cool.

  • Today, some 5th graders got into a pillow fight during what was supposed to be a chill 5-minute break before my lesson. Their teacher (Carie) was clearly pissed, despite having experienced these moments infinite times and knowing that 5th graders — naturally and inevitably — get really goofy at the end of the year. #teaching


4th grade field trip, day 3.

  • Jammin 181 FM, funk, R&B and soul music.

  • This was playing in the NaturBridge kitchen.

I love my new boots.

Thanks to tutoring from a 4th grader (Will) during some of our downtime on this trip, I finally have all of the NATO Phonetic Alphabet memorized.

FUAY feedback survey


4th grade field trip, day 2.

  • One of the trickiest parts with working with kids is managing constraints: 1. anticipating what kids will want to do and designing constraints around that, 2. setting consequences that matter, 3. communicating those constraints and consequences in advance of the situation where they could happen, and 4. then following through. #management

  • There can be no ambiguity. Kids will find the holes and wiggle through. Every time. Always.

  • I’m still calibrating. I’m still learning what holes to even anticipate — which means I can’t yet seal them up in advance. Right now, I’m discovering too late what the constraints should’ve been, so I’m not communicating them in advance, and everyone’s frustrated. But this should get (and is getting!) better over time. #teaching #iter8ordie

  • I’m thinking of this with the kids’ bedtime. They just want to know: “How late can we stay up? Can we talk? How loudly? Can we use flashlights? Can we use the strobe mode? Can we play American Ninja Warrior [climbing between all four bunks in a room as fast as possible]?”

  • These kids were awesome about all of that, but I can see opportunities with the next group to just lay the groundwork in advance instead of building those rules on the fly.

(photo: 05.07_a.jpg)


4th grade field trip to NatureBridge at Olympic National Park, day 1. #classof2027

  • For two years now, after we get to our cabins, kids almost immediately discover that they can use the vents to communicate between rooms. It’s so interesting! What is it about secret messages that makes it so appealing? #growingup

  • “[Holding a pencil] Without a pencil sharpener, this is pointless.” — 4th grader (Carly)


A friend from school (Katie) discovered this site (although, not this page) and asked what it’s for. Why do I go to the trouble of documenting (in such detail) so much of what’s on my mind? 1. Journaling and list-making help me manage my anxiety and mental health. They’re the best techniques I have for processing my thoughts and feelings. And 2. this site is a way of saving ideas somewhere — so don’t lose them (individually), and for making connections and finding patterns (collectively).

  • There are so many reasons why this site exists though! (I have a list.) And I plan to eventually write What’s this site for?.

The Guardian: Word of the Week — ‘Rebrand’

  • “the earliest sense of ‘rebrand’ — from as long ago as 1788 — is of fraudulent activity: to rebrand a sack of flour or a cow was to put a new brand (owner’s mark) on it, and so try to pass it off as one’s own.… rebranding is still just a trick, putting a new label on the same thing to see if it will fly.”


One of the reasons being a dad is intriguing to me is that I like the idea of helping a kid navigate the complexities of growing up — including inevitable struggle and heartbreak. But I’m wondering: is it selfish to want that? If I don’t help bring a kid into the world, then there’s no struggle or heartbreak to be navigated.

A ‘friend’ (Katie) asked (after seeing this site and feeling that it’s an unusual amount of information to have collected… and that’s without seeing this Journal page) if I’ve ever considered that I might be on The Spectrum. Which, no, I haven’t. Not once.

  • However, now I’m wondering how this site reads to other people? Is it really that unusual/weird/strange?

  • She also said that, maybe, one of the reasons I feel like I have so few dating options is that I’m the same level of friendliness to everyone. That it might be hard for a woman to tell if I’m interested, because I’m so friendly?

Long Shot Good™

  • It’s been a long two months since my last satisfying movie-going experience. Moviegoing is still the best way for me to disconnect, and I feel like I need it regularly.

  • Why is moviegoing so helpful for me? 1. It’s a true disconnect — physically (because I’m in a place that’s reserved just for this other thing) and mentally (because I’m focused, for two hours, only on this other thing). 2. With the right movie, it’s creatively satisfying — it’s a fully-realized, complete idea and I’m inspired by that (I almost always leave with new thoughts to think about). And 3. it’s an affirmation of adulthood and independence — I can eat a bunch of Peanut M&M’s, drink a big Coke Zero, and spend $25 on two hours that’s just for me.

Is Instagram’s Future Snapchat’s Past?

  • “Social media is more about wining, it often feels, than it is about connecting.”

  • “The very qualities that made Snapchat fun and weird also made it hard for business and influencers to thrive there.”

  • There’s a direct (and sad) connection between social media’s popularity and its business-y mechanics. Posting to social media is always participating in an economy of likes. And so, a post is always marketing. People are always promoting a brand (even if it’s just a personal brand) and always selling something (even if it’s just a set of life choices). Likes are the measure of success — the market validation. Before social media, there wasn’t a way to quantify personal ‘value’. With likes and followers (any kind of social media metric), there’s no difference between a person and a business. It’s so fucked up. #digitalperson

  • This kind of thing really pisses me off, I can’t help it! I can remember, sometime in high school, instead of filling out a bubble sheet for homecoming king/queen, I left the bubbles empty, wrote “popularity contest” at the top, and handed it in.


Unveiled the new bike rack to the Lower School. Everyone’s pretty stoked about this.

I’m going on two overnight trips this year with the CWA kids before the end of the school year (3rd and 4th). Since the teachers announced that I’ll be on these trips, the students’ demeanor towards me has shifted just slightly towards warmer and friendlier — more personal, less distant. And this is on top of having pretty solid connections with them already.

  • This reinforces how difficult it is to build connections with kids during my class. My kid connections have to be built anywhere but my class — during lunch, in the hallway, other classes, even. Anywhere.

  • Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working harder to have real convos with kids in these moments (and hand out more high-fives), and it’s been helpful. Classroom management has been easier and more fun recently, and this is why. #management

“What happened to the American dream? It came true! You’re looking at it!” — The Comedian (Watchmen)

Pebble: Pixel Grid Analog, watchface


unconditional positive regard: “it is essential in any helping relationship to have an anticipation for change.… that anticipation presents as hope — an optimism that something good and positive will develop….… [It requires] the ability to isolate behaviors from the person who displays them.” #teaching, Mac menu bar app directory

Resolutionator, display switching


In 5th grade, I asked what makes a website different from a book. One student (Finn) answered: “ads”.

Insta-stories, anonymous Instagram

  • I think it’s super weird that people know when I’ve viewed their Story. I don’t think that posting something on the Internet entitles anyone to know whether or not I’ve seen or interacted with their post. I’m not your data point.

  • Interesting, though: with an Instagram Story (or any kind of read receipt), I’m a data point either way. Knowing that I haven’t viewed something may still be meaningful information. #digitalperson

On communicating online vs. offline: “Writing things to or about people when they are not in front of you and you can’t see their reactions makes one more prone to nastiness. Not being able to hear another’s tone of voice makes misunderstandings more common, and the escalation from confusion to anger is quick and often irreversible. Being able to publish or send things immediately — without waiting to find an envelope, a stamp, and then a mailbox the next morning — makes it easier to write things you will later regret.” — The New Atlantis

Sorry, y’all, ain’t got no haters. April


Picked up a Garfield book today (in a classroom), for the first time in years. I can remember, sometime in 4th/5th/6th grade, noticing and loving the way Garfield and U.S. Acres books were colorized — with super solid, flat color. #pleasurepoint


Bought a KÜHL KLASH Moto/Rain Jacket (carbon). #treatjoeself

  • My ideal jackets (like these) 1. fit well and 2. have collars.

4th graders lining up the three rings of the bike rack to see the combined image. (We picked it up from the fabricators this morning.)


Avengers: Endgame Not Great™


This Column Will Change Your Life (The Guardian), series

  • Forget Their Future: Worry About What Your Kids Are Doing Now

  • “‘[It’s foolish to believe] that the proof of the rightness or wrongness of some way of bringing up children is the kinds of adults it produces’.… it’s a terribly incomplete way of looking at life. What about the quality of experience right now?… Judging your experience solely in terms of its future effect is to disregard the present – even though that’s the only time it ever is.”

  • Using Reactions Instead of Feedback

  • “positive reactions… work better than negative ones.”

  • This has been one of the trickiest parts of teaching for me to unlearn: my instinct is to want to correct students who aren’t following instructions, but it’s so much more effective (and positive) to thank students who are (and use them as examples for every one else). #teaching

  • “the best kind of [reaction] focuses on how someone made you feel, not on evaluating their talent. After all, there’s something weirdly arrogant about complimenting another person for being a good writer, strategist, team player, and so on: who made you the judge of such things? But praising them for inspiring you, persuading you, or helping you grasp a complex issue, is a totally different matter. You really are the only objective judge of that.”

Bitsy: Spider, spider-perspective

Wireframe, game-making magazine


Another thing I like about teaching: I feel like I’m being helpful. I enjoy having the chance to help kids think about their lives (their decisions, relationships, goals).

  • Last week in 5th grade, students designed a Screen Time Experiment (where they changed something about screen time and unplugged time for a week in an attempt to improve a feeling they’ve been experiencing lately and evaluate the results.) 1. One student (Ayden) thanked me for the chance to even think about how he could make more time to talk to his family (he decided not to wear headphones in the car, so he can make time to talk to his parents). 2. Another one (Jeremy) told me that his experiment was a success, that he loved it (he made more time for daydreaming). He ran up to me before class to tell. I mean, what’s better than that? #teaching

And this student Lily went to the trouble of writing down her thoughts on the experiment — and interviewed her parents about it!

Architect’s Micro-Studio Apartment

Trispace, monspace-ish typeface

Curious Elders (Austin Kleon)

  • curious elder: “someone who manages to retain their curiosity as they age and stays interested in what young people are up to. The curious elder isn’t interested in judging youth, they’re interested in learning from them.”

  • Oh yeah, this is definitely me!

New York Times: Diary of a Song, video series

How Autism Feels, From the Inside (Op-Docs)


I feel like I might be reaching critical mass professionally. I’m feeling appreciated by the school (I got an unexpectedly big raise for next year). And I’m really satisfied with the work I’ve been doing lately: in 3rd grade (classroom management), in 4th grade (pretty dope lessons all year), and in 5th grade (the Screen Time Experiment unit, which students and parents have both really responded to).

  • I learned today that there’s a Mr. Sparano Fan Club in 4th grade.

One of the things that (I think) differentiates me from some teachers is that I try to talk with them — instead of at them. #teaching

After chatting about Basketball yesterday, Ayden said this morning, “I enjoyed talking about basketball with you.”

Bought Merrell Ontario Waterproof Hiking Boots (Dark Earth).

  • I’m investing in some hiking/camping equipment (for the first time ever) since it’ll be an annual part of my life teaching at CWA.

GoBites, travel utensils (sporks)

  • Considering buying a bunch of these for home. I really like the idea of having just one kind utensil (I still having found any metal utensils I like). The only thing that’s stopping me is that it’s kind of a weird thing to do?


If I’m truly cutting out Amazon, does that mean I need to give up the Whole Foods salad bar (one of life’s truest joys)?

Doodle MeetMe, showing availability for 1-on-1 meetings

Pebble: Icon Design Library

Bitsy: Video Tutorial Series


This week, I’m subbing in a few 8th grade art classes (their Photoshop unit), as the only teacher. The first was today, and it went as well as I expected it to go — not well. It was really difficult to get students to stop talking for the 10 minutes of my intro.

  • I don’t know these kids, really at all. (And there’s no reason I would or could — I’ve just had very little interaction with them.) But I’ve written off the chance that a class of CWA middle schoolers could be manageable, and I expect to feel like shit when I leave the room. Maybe this isn’t a healthy teaching perspective, but it’s true.

  • That said, I need to remember that, in 3 years, the middle schoolers (grades 6–8) will be the kids I’m teaching now (grades 3–5) — which I’m anticipating could/will be really great. The awkwardness and disconnection I feel now (the overwhelming feeling I feel when I’m teaching the MS should/will evaporate.)

ForkLift 3, FTP/file manager app

Hostinger, web host

PICO-8: Tic-Tac-Toe, a juicy version!

Pebble: Blockslide, blocky number watchface


The Guardian: Why The Online Influencer Industry is Going ‘Authentic’

  • The Atlantic: Influencers Are Faking Brand Deals

  • I think a lot about how the idea of ‘selling-out’ has changed (and just within my lifetime).

  • I also wonder if there’s a point in the future when Internet consumerism collapses, because the components (content, clicks, marketing, products) are mostly bullshit: 1. Internet content exists to capture clicks, 2. clicks only matter as an avenue for marketing, 3. marketing exists mostly to sell products, 4. products only exist because people will buy them.

GB Studio, Game Boy game-making tool


Two very predictable life things that are super frustrating… but that I continue to participate in anyway: 1. I know that buying shit often generates as many new problems as it solves, and 2. I know that it’s foolish to trust that technology will work as advertised without lots of troubleshooting and super glue.

  • Examples: 1. the ilovehandles Cantilever Flatware I bought rusted on the first wash, and 2. the GameCube-to-USB controller adapter I bought/trusted-in randomly switches between 1st/2nd player input (which makes it unusable).

  • The only solution to either of these is to not participate: to not buy stuff and not trust technology. Is this possible?

Learn X in Y Minutes, programming language overviews

Nerdy Teachers, PICO-8 tutorials

Kirby: $field->toStructure(), building pages from simple databases (text files)

  • Building a Kirby version of Mr. Sparano’s Technology This page is generated from a template I’ve designed + a text file (the database) + a folder of images. Pretty sweet!


Cozy Spaces: The Making of PICO-8

  • “Music is sound… that’s played slowly.”

  • “I wanted to make something that lets me work how I like to work rather than fighting against other tools.”

  • “[A cartridge is] a basic unit of expression that’s shareable”

  • “[The small cartridge size] forces you to think more about design than manufacturing a lot of content. And to focus on what’s important to you and to throw away things that are not important.”

  • One of the things that makes PICO-8 such a special idea for me is that the image of the game cartridge (a PNG file) is cartridge data, and that sharing the game is as easy as sending an image file — that’s so cool.

  • careful friction: “I need to put friction in the right places, so that people work on interesting problems and don’t have to think about things which are not interesting.”

  • This is a useful concept for teaching. Designing lessons where the friction is only in valuable places (and not in tedious places like: picking groups, logging into websites, sharing files, etc.) is hard. #teaching

  • “Once you have two projects, and you can see them next to each other — that gives you a frame of reference, and then you can [isolate what each of them is, relative to each other].”

  • freedom from boundaries: “It’s like being out in space. You’re looking at the stars in the distance and they’re interesting, complex things, but they just all appear as points of light. Whereas, if you find some boundaries it’s more like being down on the surface of a planet with a lush jungle and interesting life — but it’s just one planet.


Finally bought a bed frame: the Floyd Platform Bed.

  • For me, one of the main selling points for this bed is its modularity — which is a feature I look for in a lot of things. I like that I don’t have to commit to something long-term (in this case, King or Queen) that I might want to change later.

One frustrating thing about teaching technology is that — while usually, when students are confused, it’s because they don’t yet fully understand how the thing works — sometimes, they’re confused because the thing isn’t working like it’s supposed to. And, the only way to tell the difference is understanding how the thing is supposed to work in the first place. #teaching #technology

  • Thinking this now, helping the 8th graders with Photoshop, which is notorious for doing weird, unexplainable shit.

PICO-8: Clock #tweetcart


Learned a new technique (from Rob) for redirecting students who are off-topic: “I also like [thing they’re doing/talking-about instead]. You know what else I like? [whatever we’re supposed to be doing doing now].”

Sorry, y’all, ain’t got no haters. — Ice Cube

My next door neighbor and I confirmed that our living room walls are indeed soundproof (we both thought the other person was rarely home). One of my worst nightmares, averted (and I continue to love this apartment!)

Something I’ve noticed: the older, middle school siblings of the students I teach tend to be pretty cool towards me, despite not knowing each other, really at all. The most likely explanation (I hope, anyway) is that the younger kids are saying (at home) some version of, “Mr. Sparano is cool.” And I’m really proud of that. #teaching

Happy Anniversary Not Great™


PICO-8: Sunrise on The Grid #tweetcart


Lessons from the Screenplay: The Social Network — Sorkin, Structure, and Collaboration

  • Will there ever be a movie I love as much as this one?

Thomas Flight, culture video essayist

  • How Memes Capture Our Attention

  • The modes of a meme’s lifespan: 1. The first time you see [a meme], you find it funny because of the way someone modified it to make a joke, but also because the photo itself is funny. 2. A meme’s ability to be remixed is crucial. This is the mode where the meme gains the most traction. A good meme has a formula that makes the application of the core archetype to many different scenarios easy. In this mode, most of the humor is generated from seeing all the ways in which people can use the meme. 3. Humor and freshness are generated by the subversion of the established formula of the meme. Now that most of the possible applications are exhausted, people begin to modify the original nature of the meme and use it to express ideas that are similar or even the inverse of the original archetype.”

  • OK Soda and Postmodernism Advertising

  • “Coke did some market research and discovered… that Coca-Cola was the second most well known term in the world. The first was the term ‘OK’.”

  • OK Soda branding was one of the earliest examples in my life of graphic design that I resonated with (although at the time, I’m not sure I recognized that that’s why it appealed to me).


Mechanical Mario Platform Game

Storing Binary Numbers in Super Mario Maker

PICO-8 Mono, 3×5/3×4 pixel typeface

Lost in Translation Good™


When all media happened at specific times (TV, movies, radio), if you missed something, you missed it. That block of time was reserved for that thing, for everyone. On-demand media (streaming movies/TV, podcasts, etc.) solves the access problem, but there are some weird trade-offs. Now, there’s pressure to fill all free time with media. There’s no time that can’t/couldn’t be media time, and there’s no media that could be missed. #digitalanxiety

  • This is a problem with digital life generally. It’s all so flexible and available that all of our time could be filled: Are you working on something? Are you watching something? Are you organizing something? Are you communicating with someone? There’s anxiety in the possibility of filling in the gaps, and I think our culture is feeling it.

Gutenberg Printing Press

PICO-8: Man Takes a Photo of Himself Every Day for Eight Years


With the 4th graders, started a new unit called Addicting Game Design — specifically exploring: “How are games designed to be compelling or addicting?” 1. I showed them clips from How Free Games are Designed to Make Money, How Not to Make Mobile Games, and It’s Not You, Phones are Designed to be Addicting. Next, 2. they’ll choose two games to deconstruct (looking for addicting design choices), and 3. use those techniques to design quick prototypes of the most compelling/addicting game they can.

  • Major win. It’s about games (which, no surprise they’re into that). But kids also really enjoy talking about design. It’s a way of pulling back the curtain and revealing how the world works — which seems to be empowering for them. #design


I’ve said before that I feel most like myself when I’m teaching. But I haven’t reached that point at CWA yet. I’ve felt it most vividly in 210 at UW — I think, because I felt like the students accepted and appreciated my enthusiasm, seriousness, and sentimentality.

  • The closest I’ve gotten is with one of the 5th grade classes (one of the 5th grade classes) — kids I’ve been in class with for about 50 hours so far (including last year), which is (I think) a first for me. (210 is about 45 hours).

  • Anyway, I still feel a little uncomfortable teaching little kids, because of the stress of management, discipline, and being observed by other teachers. I seriously wonder if it’s possible for me to get to that level.

Firefox: Now blocks autoplaying videos

  • This is so ridiculously overdue. There seems to always be a new level of noise to combat, and it becomes our responsibility to re-gain the peace we had before. (See also: robo-calls.) #digitalanxiety

Teach Like A Champion blog

  • There’s really no substitute for learning how to teach than to watch other teachers teach.

  • Tracking Student Understanding with Real-Time Feedback

  • “Not only is she more aware of how they did but she uses the data to make the players more aware of the root causes of their struggle or success.”

  • How Joy and Order Go Together

  • ‘Show Calling’ Technique, showing student examples on screen (instead of students sharing verbally) to incentivize higher-quality work.

  • “all of this is fast, fast, fast.”

  • From these examples, I’m taking away how valuable fast-paced lessons are. I tend to be a pretty enthusiastic when I’m teaching, but I could increase the pace of my lessons for sure. #teaching

Bitsy: A Month to Look at the Moon, long distance love story

Prime(d): We wanted fast delivery. Amazon delivered.

Title Capitalization Tool


First LS Game Design. I’m hyped for this class. The limitations of the tools I’m planning to use (Bitsy & PICO-8) are the reason I love them (personally, technically, creatively) — and also why I think/hope they’ll make great tools to teach and learn with.

Kids getting inspired for Project 1 — designing their own Bitsy games.

Bought ilovehandles: Keep Track Shelf, Cantilever Cooking Utensils, Cantilever Chopsticks, and Cantilever Flatware.

The Million Dollar Homepage + info, pixels for sale


Two weeks ago, a 3rd grader (Ayla) walked up to me during recess to ask about a dilemma: the class field trip is happening on the same day that one of her favorite YouTubers JoJo Siwa is coming to town. She asked me what to do. (How she knew that I love thinking about life problems like this — I have no idea.) I asked if this person maybe has another show in a nearby city on a different day. She was stoked about the idea, hugged me, and ran off. During class today, she said the plan, in fact, worked, and she wanted me to know. How great is that?

Adaptation Good™

  • “I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility.” — Susan Orlean

  • “Your characters must change, and the change must come from them.” #teaching

Lessons from the Screenplay: Adaptation, Unconventionally Conveying the Conventional

  • “Zach: Why don’t you just make [the thing]? Michael: I don't have a clear picture in my head of the finished product or how it will be good. Zach: Well maybe just start see what happens.”

  • I used to be more like Michael. And now I’m absolutely more like Zach. Prototyping, iteration, feedback — I’m all about it. #design

  • “You can… convey exposition through dialog!”

  • This is what good teaching is. Straight-up exposition in a movie tends to be boring — just like standing and talking in front of class is boring. It’s better to integrate exposition naturally, in two directions. #teaching

“Only Outlaws are outlawed.” — Waylon Jennings

PICO-8: Newton’s Cradle #tweetcart

Bought 3 more Pebbles. Which means I have 6 extras (and 8 total). Is this craziness?


Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism

  • “In a world and an economy rent and ravaged by other people’s innovations, the lesson seems to be that you can, and must, creatively fend for yourself.… we… call it innovation and entrepreneurship.”

  • “These keywords share an affinity for hierarchy and competition, an often-uncritical acceptance of the benevolence of computing technologies, and a celebration of moral values thought to be indistinguishable from economic ones: decisive leadership, artistic passion, and self-realization. Wealth and professional success are consequences not of fortunate birth, dumb luck, or exploitation, but hard work, hustle, and grit.”

  • “digitization is an intensification of the commodification of all forms of culture” #digitalperson

  • “pre-2000 uses of the word content [defined it as] the material in a book or on a television network, not the book or television program itself.”

  • “Since there is broad affinity between one’s economic and imaginative activity in the [Richard Florida] regime of creativity, you ‘live, work, and play’… as an economic subject at all hours.”

  • This book is written in the kind of dense, academic style that I don’t have the patience to wade through (and so, I gave up).

  • FUAY dense, academic writing style

  • But generally, it solidifies a vague impression I’ve had — that words like brand, coach, content, design, entrepreneur, innovation, maker, etc. have become slimy somehow — because they mask hidden economic angles, where the goal is to: 1. sell something to someone or 2. leverage one person’s work for another’s gain.

  • Everything’s fucking marketing. Everything.

  • FUAY marketing

I’m getting dangerously close to buying a Samsung Frame TV.

  • I don’t want a TV as much as I’d like images on my wall — especially animated GIFs (like waneella and Kenze Wee). But I’m really (deeply) hesitant to add another major gadget to my life.

  • I haven’t owned a TV in 5 years, and I like that. But my apartment is also pretty empty, and it feels like I needs stuff for it to feel like a home.

Beautiful Dingbats: What’s the best date format?

  • “Sunday, 7 April 2019”


Ben Bruce (cephalopodunk), Bitsy game designer

PICO-8 API Cheat Sheet

Boss Fight Books, books about classic video games

Pop Culture Detective: Sexual Assault of Men Played for Laughs

  • “The idea behind the joke here is… that men who aren’t tough or manly enough to avoid being victimized are pathetic and therefore deserving of ridicule or worse.”

  • “emasculation jokes are supposed to be funny because, in a patriarchal culture like ours, we’re meant to think that there is no greater humiliation for a man than to be treated like a woman.”


Thinking more about how responding to a text/email often just creates another text/email. The visual metaphor I keep thinking of is Connect Four or Tetris Attack: things just keep piling up and filling in the empty spaces. #email

Controllers, gamepad-to-keyboard mapping

Choi Dambaek, LEGO builder (chunky characters)

CineFix: Top 10 Production Designs of All Time

CSS Hyphenation

Indepth Sound Design, movie sound design breakdowns

Course Computer Science: Binary

  • Khan Academy: Alternate Number Bases (Binary/Hex)

  • “The number system that most of us are familiar with is the base-ten number system, often called the decimal number system [‘dec-’ = ‘ten’]. And why 10? Well probably because… most of us have 10 fingers.”

  • I don’t think I truly understood until now what ‘carrying the 1’ actually means (it’s not 1, but a bundle of 1 × that column’s place value).

  • And just like that, I finally understand binary and hexadecimal. Sweet!


How to be an active listener

  • “Contrary to what you might think, demonstrating you care does not mean trying to solve the other person’s problems…. Do not provide unsolicited advice on what you would do.”

The Spriters Resource, video game sprite sheet database, private, ad-free email

  • Still considering nixing Gmail. Still thinking it seems like a lot of work!

  • Truth is: I don’t want an email account at all. Which isn’t feasible. But it’d be nice to move all personal communication to texting (or something like that) and reserve email for impersonal/necessary stuff. #email

  • I have a bunch of un-responded-to email in my inbox again, and I feel like shit about it.

WebShot Pro, retina-resolution web screenshots


DSi Guide, custom DSi firmware (for playing ROMs)

  • This is so cool — playing games from every Nintendo system I grew up with on one handheld. This would’ve absolutely rocked my world as a kid.

  • Also interesting: one of the visual themes for this is based on the UI for the original DS — which felt advanced at the time (15 years ago), but now, feels like a beautifully-nostalgic throwback.

  • For years, I’ve been waiting for a time in my life when I can get back to playing some games.

Bought a GameCube-to-USB Controller Adapter.

  • As far as I’m concerned, the GameCube has the best-designed controller there ever was.

PICO-8: Dank Tomb, puzzle platformer Good™

  • It feels even less important for me finish games than ever (I didn’t this one, although I was close) or to solve puzzles without looking up the answers (I did a few times)., app/service alternatives

Bought a Shark Rocket Handheld Vacuum (HV292) + Shark Genius Steam Mop (S5003D).

  • Buying new gadgets tends to be pretty tricky for me. Not only in choosing which one to buy, but also in initiating a long-term commitment with a new thing (regular maintenance, inevitable troubleshooting), plus the eventual breakdown and the guilt of throwing more plastic in the garbage.

Picked up some new LEGO sets: Winter Village Fire Station + NINJAGO City + NINJAGO City Docks #treatjoeself

Bitsy: Visit, a trip to the art museum

The Guardian: The truth about modern food

  • “our culture is far too critical of the individuals who eat junk foods and not critical enough of the corporations who profit from selling them.”

  • “The marketing comes in, and boom! boom! boom! the snacks are not healthy any more.”



With a smartphone’s ability to capture/record any moment, there’s unlimited anxiety in just the opportunity (“Should I be getting this?”) — but also anxiety about the potential of a missed opportunity (“I should’ve gotten that!”). And even if you do capture the moment, you actually miss it by having-been capturing it. #digitalanxiety

The Royal Ocean Film Society: Richard Linklater On Patience

  • “What I strive for is to be excited about brushing [my] teeth… because that is… life.”

“When… someone really hears you without passing judgement on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!” — Carl Rogers

Sincerity > Irony March


Re-read The Late, Great Stephen Colbert

  • “You have to learn to love the bomb. It took me a long time to really understand what that meant. It wasn’t ‘Don't worry, you'll get it next time.’ It wasn't ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you’re failing.… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.”

  • “the only way to not be swallowed by sorrow, to in fact recognize that our sorrow is inseparable from our joy, is to always understand our suffering, ourselves, in the light of eternity. That might be why you don’t see me as someone angry and working out my demons onstage. It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.… It’s our choice, whether to hate something in our lives or to love every moment of them, even the parts that bring us pain.”

Stanford and the Ethical Dilemma of Silicon Valley’s Next Generation

  • “technology is not just something to be trusted. It’s not just something that’s objective and fair because it’s numerical, but it actually reflects a set of choices that people make.”

  • “The problem here is not that people are making decisions that are straight-up evil. The problem is that people are not foreseeing the outcomes of their actions.”

With Richelle, touring SF on a tiny go-kart.


In San Francisco, I’m struck by how much the city feels commoditized by/for social media. So many people are taking photos (I assume, for Instagram) that San Francisco is no longer the thing it appears to be inside those photos… because it’s filled with people trying to capture that image. Every interesting thing is just Instagram content.

  • A good example of this would’ve been Alamo Square (which I couldn’t bring myself to take a photo of). And which is no longer just a park, but a place to take a photo of yourself in front of the Painted Ladies.)

Spring Breakers Not Great™


San Francisco #treatjoeself

“If I had a dollar for every woman who wasn’t attracted to me, they would eventually be attracted to me.” — Guy at the airport restaurant

My Life at 47 Is Back to What It Was Like at 27

  • “This is not to be confused with my best life or even the life I’m still on some level programmed to believe I want. I’m talking about my situational set point, the version of myself that inevitably swings back into the foreground even if I’ve managed to pretend to be another kind of person for a period of time.”

  • “much if not all of the reason my life hasn’t changed is that I’m not a parent. Children are life’s great timekeepers”

  • “I may not always live in this apartment or even in this city. I may not always live by myself. I may grow tired of the [Taco Bell]. But on some cellular level, it will always be Friday evening, 8 p.m., alone [clicking on links].”


Another thing I miss about working with college kids is that no one asks me for professional advice. No one I’m working with wants the job I'm doing. But I also don’t miss this.

My book spine poem (books from the CWA library, where my office is, and which is a special thing about my job.)

Bayonne: Drastic Measures Good™

Betty Who: Betty Not Great™

Google Sheets: Pivot Tables, adding a third dimension to spreadsheets

Mike Caulfield: Network Heuristics, using the properties of the Internet to verify information

  • “We’re not looking at hair, or photos, or personal websites or LinkedIn pages or figuring out if a company name is plausible or a work gap explainable.… those are cheap signals…. Instead we figure out what traces we should find on the web if [this person] is really [who they say they are].”


I accepted the Specialist Cluster Chair position for next year. (Where I’ll represent the Lower School specialist teachers’ interests at the higher-level meetings, and vice versa.) I’m excited about this! It’s less of a management role and more of a facilitation one, and I feel comfortable with that. It’s a way to take on more responsibility and have more influence (which I’m ready for), without needing to be a manager (which I want to avoid).

  • Nick asked me to apply for this, and I was initially hesitant. I still feel like a kid — which is silly. I turn 40 fucking years old this year.

  • There were a few new things the school asked me to take on next year (including 1st/2nd Technology classes and the Robotics Team). I said that I wouldn’t be able to do all of them, communicated how interested I was in each, and then let the school choose. This decision is totally in line with my priorities, and I feel great about that.

A major bonus of teaching with digital tools is that cleanup is really easy. (Thinking this after our last LS Coding & Robotics club, where our final project was to build a game using any combination of Sphero Bolts, micro:​bits, LEGO, and paper/cardboard). Even with the kids’ help, it takes a good chunk of time to get all these physical things back where they belong.

Favorite final projects in MS Coding & Robotics. The goal was to design an “interactive animatronic robot”, with requirements for motors and sensors.


“What’s what the money’s for.” — Don Draper

  • I think about this a lot: with every job, the money is in exchange for something personal. It works in reverse, too: with teaching, the discounted paycheck is in exchange for a job that’s really flexible and satisfying for me.

Whenever I learn that two CWA kids I already know are siblings, I’m always like, “Whoa, really?! Cool!”. I think the kids think it’s weird that I think it’s so interesting. (This has happened twice [Ben and Sophia, Caty and Alex] in the last two weeks.)

  • Not having any siblings myself, it’s all pretty fascinating to me.

Met a person (potential new music teacher) who’s moving to Seattle because their spouse got a job at Facebook. I know people get jobs at Facebook every day, but why in the world would someone still want to work for Facebook (slash Instagram, or Twitter, Google/YouTube, or any company that’s currently destroying the fabric of humanity as we know it)?

Request a Lyft on desktop, without a smartphone

The Hottest Chat App for Teens Is Google Docs

The Guardian: The Aldi Effect

Added a new life goal: make a PICO-8 game.

  • Right now, I’m thinking it’d be some kind combination of pleasure-points: 1. tiny, enclosed, self-sufficient little world (a village, an apartment, a school, a train), 2. pixels, 3. low-tech/high-tech, 4. miniaturization, 5. randomness / procedural generation, 6. the process / change over time / intersection of past and future / growing up. Sounds dope!


“I don’t really have an idea. It’s more like: I’m having an idea.” — Student in MS Coding & Robotics (Andrew)


Thinking more about how my list-making might be contributing to my procrastinating, I cleaned up some lists: 1. straight-up deleted my movie list — it’s gone!, 2. set podcasts auto-delete after 30 days, 3. nixed everything on Links.txt older than a few weeks (I had a stuff on that list over a year old), and 4. did the same for my Spotify queue (mostly).

  • It’s unusual for people to keep lists as comprehensively as I do. So I’m going to try doing what most people do: either remember… or don’t remember and don’t give a shit. With all this, the goal is to eliminate the weight of lists on my life — and the feeling that I’ll never actually be caught up.

  • Although, I’m keeping: 1. my book list and Instapaper queue (because ultimately, I want to be reading more), and 2. my games list (because it’s relatively small).


Today is my 4th Journal-versary. Still at it! #journaling

PICO-8: Bounce the Ball Game #tweetcart, a demake of this

  • This code is too advanced for the kids in my upcoming LS Game Design club (it’s too advanced for me. But, I want to introduce them to PICO-8, and it’s pretty magical to start with a blank canvas and manipulate some code… that’s a playable game. Neat!

  • I loved the Game Boy Advance e-Reader (trading cards with barcodes that contained games and add-ons). I wonder if it’d be possible to recreate that experience with them somehow using QR codes or itty bitty. #lesson

PICO-8: Super Funky Ball!, reverse Breakout

CSSeffectsSnipets, copy-and-paste CSS effects

Us Not Great™

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj: Supreme + Amazon


I’ve been thinking about how my classroom management is affected by my connections with the kids. It’s been on my mind since the EdCamp unconference (two weeks ago) — where my main takeaway was that it’s only when teachers have genuine connections with students that management can happen.

  • I like to think I have solid relationships with the kids I teach. But the more I think about it, the less convinced I am that I actually do. I acknowledge them, I remember their work, their questions, and their contributions in my classes. But how much do I know about them personally? How many real questions am I asking and following-up on? In some cases, a lot. In most cases, not much at all.

  • And the students I know the best are the ones that make the effort to talk to me. (Ayden, Luca, Teo, Nolan)

  • Example: between the two 5th grade classes, I have significantly stronger connections overall in one class (like, significantly — connections [Luca, Ayden, Julianna, Saanvi, Kerr, Alyssa, Liv, Fisher, Camdyn, Maddie, etc.] that’ve carried over from 4th grade). And my lessons with that group tend to be way better: 1. management-wise (there’s a lot less pushing and pulling, the respect flows in both directions), 2. learning-wise (students are more engaged, productive, the discussions are better), and 3. fun-wise (for everyone). It’s a night-and-day difference, with same/similar content. #management

  • Granted, the better class is also my second class of the two, so I’ll always have iterated my lesson plan to a tighter version, too.

‘Trans-digital’ animated art, transforming a real-world 2D drawing/painting into an animated GIF

PICO-8: Arpongi, RPG + Pong

“There is no man… however wise, who has not at some period of his youth said things, or lived in a way the consciousness of which is so unpleasant to him in later life that he would gladly, if he could, expunge it from his memory. And yet he ought not entirely to regret it, because he cannot be certain that he has indeed become a wise man — so far as it is possible for any of us to be wise — unless he has passed through all the fatuous or unwholesome incarnations by which that ultimate stage must be preceded.… We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, an effort which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.” — Marcel Proust

Crash Course Computer Science: Boolean Logic + Vacuum Tubes & Transistors

  • “Anything mechanical that moves will wear over time. Some things break entirely and other things start getting sticky, slow, and just plain unreliable. And as the number of [components] increases, the probability of a failure increases too.”

  • This is a straightforward explanation for why digital technology is so infuriatingly unreliable. (In digital technology, the moving parts are metaphorical, though — affecting each other, programmatically.) #digitalanxiety

  • “These huge, dark and warm machines also attracted insects.… ‘When anything went wrong with a computer, we said it had bugs in it.’”

Sound Bible, Creative-Commons-licensed sound effects


Something I’ve learned this year in my ‘coaching’ role in the MS is that I really hate dropping into other teachers’ classrooms to do demos/lessons. (This week, Soundtrap in 8th grade.) Why? 1. I don’t really get to set the vibe for the room (or, at least, I don’t have the skills yet to correct it so quickly), and 2. I have nearly zero relationship with these kids, so classroom management isn’t (or at least doesn’t feel like) an option. Instead, I just have to roll with whatever the vibe is and however the kids choose to respond to me (sometimes it’s fun, often awkward). And then GTF outta there.

Realizing: although my job is super creative, (designing lessons and improvising/problem-solving on-the-fly, constantly) — and the creativity is one of the things I love about it — my success (or my perception of my success) relies on a whole system of factors. It’s too complex a network, too unreliable a measure, and too dependent on things I have no control over.

  • It’s, more or less, my only creative outlet right now. I need another thing in my life that I can control, exclusively — where my success is my success, definitively.

KeyCastr + Presentation Assistant, keypress and cursor highlighters (for presentations)


And then there are days where I leave school, and I wonder if what I’m doing makes much of a difference at all. It feels like an awful lot of hours-spent, sleep-lost, stress-felt, energy-expended, kids-managed… but very few moments in class that I could point to and say: that’s what it’s all for. Or where someone says: congratulations, thank you, you nailed it.

  • Do I care too much or not enough? Could easily be either.

  • I have a hard time letting go of bumpy classes — they weigh on my mind.

In 5th grade, I’ve been trying larger, more conceptual projects this year (vs. stand-alone 1–2 week lessons): What is Technology?, Memes, Design & Technology, and currently Screen Time. I’ve been incorporating more detailed research and more flexible lessons that are driven by the ideas and data they bring to class.

  • The goal of these lessons is to: 1. think deeply about technology how technology affects their lives, and 2. understand that they power and choices to make about technology. And generally, I think, that’s happening!

  • But: 1. the research steps are taking longer than I expect (I’m still calibrating to what little kids are actually capable of), so 2. half of my lessons this year have felt more academic than creative, 3. I don’t see them often enough to maintain momentum, and 4. when they run into trouble or have questions between classes, there’s really no way for them to contact me. I think these projects have potential, but not on my hour-a-week schedule.

  • On the upside, today, I asked them why they’re tracking screen time instead of just technology time. One student answered: “Well, then we’d have to add ‘5 minutes: pencil’ and ‘20 minutes: desk’ to our tracking sheet. [Because those are technologies, too.]” So some of this is landing.

Talking to (Riley) a MS teacher about Science Fair projects, I said that one thing I miss about working with college students is that they’re capable of so much, creatively. The creative work of the kids I teach now is still surprising, fun, and interesting for me. But not nearly as much as it once was.

This Resume Does Not Exist, randomly-generated resumes

  • “I have a positive helping executive with people new content and social businesses and increase scale aim to bring higher other technical experiences.”

  • “Assistance Assistant To Account Representative”

  • It’s interesting how neural networks do a pretty good job of surfacing BS. #bs, endlessly unique ambient music

FR Kraken Slab, chunky slab serif typeface

PuzzGrid, pattern-finding word game


One of the reasons I like spending the majority of my day in an elementary school is that little kids default to sincerity. Sincerity is important to me. It’s real, honest, and uncomplicated — it gives me hope. This, contrasted with irony, which is phony, dishonest, and layered with pretense and guessing-games — and wears me down. #realness

  • Also a reason why the LS is feeling like a better fit for me than the MS — middle schoolers default to irony.

  • “Observe a 4-year-old child going through her daily life. You will not find the slightest bit of irony in her behavior. She has not, so to speak, taken on the veil of irony. She likes what she likes and declares it without dissimulation. She is not particularly conscious of the scrutiny of others. She does not hide behind indirect language.” — How to Live Without Irony

  • It makes sense, developmentally, that we fully embrace irony at the same moment in our lives that we become tragically self-conscious. It’s a way of creating distance and masking our feelings. #growingup

  • Sincerity (realness) vs. irony (phoniness) is one of the major threads that run through my thinking. #pleasurepoint #sincerity>irony

macOS: Change the login wallpaper

  • No photo wallpapers. Black. All black.


The Guardian: The Sea Nomad Village Devastated By Fire (Moken)

How to clean a stainless steel sink

Pop Culture Detective: Stalking for Love

  • “Movies have taught us that never giving up is one of the most admirable traits of all, especially for men.”

  • “When the gender roles are reversed, and it’s a female character stalking a man, her actions are typically portrayed as manic or unbalanced, instead of endearing.”

  • “[These movies] serve to reinforce a variety of harmful myths about romance, [including] the idea that women don’t really know what they want”

  • “Contrary to what movies tell us, attraction is not the same thing as love.… Romantic love is mutual and reciprocal. It’s an exchange between people.”

The Modest Fantasy of the PICO-8

  • “Perhaps one reason [for its popularity] is that it’s easy to see at a glance what the boundaries of PICO-8 are, and to imagine what you might make with it.… Modern programming environments and even game making tools tend to be very flexible at the cost of offering an intimidating abundance of possibilities.”


CSS: Easing Functions Cheat Sheet

Pixel Vision 8, fantasy console (à la PICO-8 with adjustable limitations)


Woke up with an idea for the big reward that kids could earn if they reach their typing goals: Typing Tournament. Teachers and kids compete in front of an audience — live and on the big screen the LS Commons — to see who can type the fastest. Pitched it to the 4th graders today, and they were into it.

Bitsy: Snail Detective, whodunnit mystery


Email continues to feel like a burden. A thing about email is that I don’t ever want to write one. I procrastinate on most chore-like things, but at least there are times when I want to (for instance) clean the kitchen, do laundry, wash my car, vacuum, etc. But email is not fun, ever. It’s always hard and time-consuming. I hate it. #email

PICO-ATE, PICO-8 tutorials and resources

Markdown Guide, syntax reference

Blot, Markdown-to-website platform

“Voice recognition is amazing. Instead of texting my wife, I can use one simple voice command to compose a message; a second to choose a contact; a third to choose which "Erica" [sic]; a fourth to confirm mobile vs. work; a fifth to send; and a sixth–eighth to repeat myself.” — Josh #digitalanxiety


With the 5th graders, I did the Digital Footprint lesson again, and I saw it differently this year. The exercise is intended to illustrate how our posts on social media reveal aspects of our personality. But this year, I noticed how quickly the kids labeled the people liars and bad people (it happened last year, too — the exercise is shallowly-designed to provoke that reaction).

  • So I expanded the lesson to two days and we dissected it a little more. I asked follow-up questions that flipped the perspective on digital footprint back on the audience — based on things I heard during the kids’ discussions: 1. if someone comments on a post, calling it a lie, does that mean it is?, 2. how do we know that these posts (which are from similar usernames, but different websites) are actually from the people we’re talking about?, 3. if someone does something dishonest, does that make them a dishonest person? #digitalperson

macOS: ⌘ + F1 (brightness down) = toggle display mirroring for external displays

  • HOLY CRAP. Discovered this by accident, too.

IKEA ThisAbles, accessible IKEA modifications

I’m still all-in on Shark Tank. Love it. One of the things I appreciate about the show is its design — it’s a brilliant system: 1. it’s a flexible system (there’s no ceiling to the number of pitches it could support), and so, 2. it’s infinitely interesting to watch because every episode is entirely new, 3. when there’s a deal, the investors and entrepreneurs both benefit, 4. but if there isn’t a deal, the entrepreneurs still get a boost from being on the show at all, 5. ABC benefits because the whole thing is a TV show, but 6. since the investors are investing their own money, it’s relatively cheap to produce.

  • The design of Survivor (its system) is a reason I like that show, too.

  • All this, opposed to how I’m feeling about The Bachelor. I’m losing interest because it’s such an inflexible system — it produces the same output no matter the input.


Another thing I’m noticing about elementary school that I didn’t notice as a kid is that the teachers tend to talk with a certain kind of unaffected tone of voice. Mostly, it communicates seriousness, and clearly. But it’s also unemotional, and it sounds unnatural to me. It avoids communicating frustration (which can affect classroom management) and it’s also void of enthusiasm (which is just hard to maintain in the midst of the frustration).

  • I mention this because I’ve started to catch myself using this voice with kids, too. It’s not what I want — it’s not the voice of someone who sounds like they enjoy their job. I know it’s possible not to use it (and I can think of examples of teachers like Carie and Suzy who don’t).


Mad Lib Generator + Word Blanks, Mad Lib builders

  • Made a Celebrity Profile Mad Lib, based on this: Kristen Wiig Is a [Serious]() Actress.

  • Just realized/discovered that ‘Mad Lib’ comes from ‘ad lib’.

  • Used all of this for a teacher workshop on podcastsing/Soundtrap.

  • Teaching other teachers can be annoying as fuck. They think they can break the rules and be inconsiderate because… it’s all cool, right? But then you can’t use classroom management strategies on them because it feels condescending.


The closest thing I have to religion in my life is design. It helps me make decisions, it gives me purpose and direction, it’s the filter that I see everything through.

I want my computer and phone to do a lot less than they do. I want them to feel like less of a thing I have to manage and think about. But I also want them to continue to be infinitely flexible and customizable, and do exactly the things I want them to do. For me, computers are a never-ending source of anxiety and life admin. But also an outlet for incredible creativity and purposefulness. #digitalanxiety

Beautiful Dingbats, Unicode text tools

Queer Kids Stuff, LGBTQ+ and social justice lessons for kids

They Shall Not Grow Old Good™

  • “Let me have a bit of a think.” — Peter Jackson

Nature Soundmap, nature sounds from around the world

Another bonus of Feedbin: I can unsubscribe from Twitter and Instagram feeds guilt-free (because my follow was never counted in the first place).


PICO-8: The Ballz are Lava!

Castle, game dev environment/community (uses lua/LÖVE)

The First Emoji Set (SoftBank) + History


Officially posting the LS Game Design club for student sign-up. Really stoked for this.

  • The description: “Use game design tools to create your own, playable video games. Write a story, draw sprites and backgrounds, construct puzzles, compose music and sound effects. Plus (of course) play-test games and provide feedback to other game designers in the club!”

  • I’m only opening this to 4th & 5th graders (so, no 3rd), based on how difficult LS Coding & Robotics has been to manage. Which I’m feeling confident will transform this into the fun, creative experience I’d hoped for. This club has been fun, but it’s also been really hard. And even though they pay extra, these after-school clubs really need to be satisfying creatively and emotionally if they’re going to feel worth it for me.

As a teacher, it’s been hard for me to come to terms with the fact that every student won’t think I’m a particularly helpful, cool, creative person that they enjoy working with and learning from. But I’m not sure why I even expect that’s possible.

  • But I absolutely connect with lots of students in a way that is what I hope for, and that’s worth celebrating and being satisfied with.


Nerdy Teachers, PICO-8 tutorials/videos

  • Gearing up for a Game Design class in either/both LS and MS in April. It’ll definitely involve Bitsy and likely PICO-8. Really, really looking forward to it.

PixelArtM: 1-bit Cars & Roads

LEGO Technic gears explainers: Spur + Bevel + Conical + Specialty (Worm, Knob, Rack & Pinion, Differentials)

  • This is a major bonus of my job: getting to integrate things into my classes that I want to learn how to do myself. This year: more coding and electronics (micro:​bits), robotics (LEGO Technic, LEGO Mindstorms, Sphero), and game design (Bitsy, PICO-8).

  • Several times this year, I stared a project not knowing exactly how the class (including me) was going to get from point A to point B with that particular technology (e.g. “Design an arcade game with a micro:​bit” or “Design an animatronic robot using Mindstorms motors and gears”). But feeling confident that I could learn what I needed to learn in time to teach it — and usually in response to the students wanting to learn something specific. And in every case, it’s gone super well.


Thinking more about feeling annoyed while I’m teaching. Throughout my teaching career so far, there’s a pattern: in the classrooms where I’ve revealed that I’m feeling frustrated, 1. I also feel less invested personally, 2. I have fewer personal connections with students, 3. the classroom continues to be difficult to manage, and 4. the students tend to act more disrespectfully towards me over time (which is weighing most on my mind right now, and which I know is a reflection of the way they think I feel about them). In other words, my frustration maintains (and likely compounds) the problems that caused the frustration. This is obvious, and I’m subconsciously aware of it in the moment, but it’s worth writing down. #management

  • I’m struggling with this in both of my Coding & Robotics classes. Both of them end in three weeks, and I’ve been looking forward to that.

  • But this has happened at UW, too (in 265 and 308).

Custom Sphero robot program from (Ariel) a 3rd grader in LS Coding & Robotics. It says: “What do you think you’re doing, for I am Mr. Noob. You’re grounded. Good day!”

Weval: The Weight Not Great™

Bought an IKEA LINNMON Tabletop (oak + white).

  • Sometime over the last couple of years, I figured out where that magic, thin line exists between minimalist and plainness/boringness. In clothes, furniture, and as a graphic designer, too, the magic (and intentionality) is all in color, contrast, and/or texture. (This is replacing an all-white tabletop, which was fine, but not especially anything.)


Minimal Stainless Steel Flatware (David Mellor)


Gale-Shapley Algorithm, a system for optimizing the pairing between two groups of people, matching them with their most-preferred available partner from the other group. (Essentially, a metaphor for how heterosexual dating works.)

  • “The matching is optimal from the [initiator]’s perspective.”

  • “[the algorithm] results in each man getting the most desirable lady he has a hope of snagging, and each woman getting the ‘least bad’ of all the available men.” — The Guardian

  • The thing that stuck with me most from reading Modern Romance is that, in the US, it’s so widely accepted that men make the moves that initiate relationships that it wasn’t even worth discussion — in a book about relationships.

  • I mean, I know that’s how the system works (heterosexually, in my case), but it seems so ridiculous to me. The system: 1. puts all of the risk on the guy (why not share in the risk/responsibility?), 2. favors guys who approach the maximum number of women (which seems like a dumb behavior to reward), and 3. seems bizarrely conservative and reliant on gender roles to still be the trend. I really don’t get it.

  • Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this lately because it’s clear that, after not making any moves in 4 years (well, one move, last year) — and having not dated in 4 years — that this is still how the system works. I like being single, and most of this time I’ve wanted to be single (which is why I haven’t done any asking), but I haven’t been asked either.

Gaming Historian: Aladdin Deck Enhancer


Dating Around1 Good™

  • This was life-affirming. And the first time in long time that dating actually seemed like it might be fun. I’m getting there…

PICO-8: Micro-8, fantasy console inside a fantasy console, i.e. “Console-ception”

Here’s Why So Many Americans Feel Cheated By Their Student Loans

  • “The cost of education shifted from a societal investment — spread across the tax-paying public, in the name of a thriving society and economy — to an individual one.… This attitude toward student borrowers is a far cry from the original conception of education as a worthwhile investment in America’s future. It conceives of the borrower not as the bearer of the future of the country, but a customer”


How Local TV News Stations Play an Enthusiastic Role in Spreading Internet Hoaxes

vlogbrothers: Robocalls

  • “Sometime in 2019, the FTC is predicting that there will be more mobile phone calls attempting to defraud people than there will be mobile phone calls not attempting to defraud people.”

  • “For a lot of people, the majority of the times that the world reaches out to them… are people trying to steal their money. And that’s a pretty big societal cost — one more way in which a lot of people have just lost faith in the world around them.”

The “Bad” Design of City Flags

  • This does a classic graphic design industry thing, where subjective and shallow critique of how something looks (in this case, calling it “bad” and laughing at it) is treated as a critique of its entire design. These flags might’ve been the ideal solution to whatever goals and constraints they were designed around. Who gives a shit if it’s “bad ass” enough for you? Or if you could redesign it in a vacuum?

  • Also, people are responsible for these flags. It’s not OK to introduce something as a “trainwreck” and then pause while the audience (naturally) laughs at it. Especially not having participated in the process of how that thing came to be.

  • Is it fun to talk trash on other’s people’s work so you can feel better about yours? Sure, but that doesn’t make it right. It’s condescending, exclusive, self-inflating, surface-level — and really (really) common in the graphic design industry. It’s one of the big reasons why it wasn’t the career for me.

  • FUAY graphic design elitism

Video games are system design. February


I’m having a really hard time managing talkouts in MS Coding & Robotics. Generally, they start talking about whatever’s on their mind, the moment it occurs to them, no matter what I’m doing. The class is (intentionally) more loosely structured than a normal class (it’s more of a workshop, where I’m teaching ⅓–½ of the time, and they’re working on their projects the rest). I’ve asked them to choose to help and communicated my expectations (to what feels like a stupidly-obvious degree), but it hasn’t been effective.

  • I know it’s something I’m doing (or not doing). There’s no way these students are this disruptive in the rest of their classes. But I also feel like I’ve been fair, clear, and measured.

  • At the end of class, I feel deflated and trivialized. I haven’t been looking forward to class, and I’ve started to get cynical about it. I know that’s probably coming through, and it’s probably making things worse. I just hate it, though. I dread teaching moments because (cynically) I know exactly how it’s going to go.

  • This is a hard thing about managing classes. As a teacher, I can’t ever give in to cynicism or frustration. I can’t ever act angry or annoyed. I can’t reveal that I’m feeling the feelings that are totally natural in those situations. Because an ounce of negative emotion — just one reaction, one moment in time — has long-lasting effects on the dynamic of that classroom.

  • That’s not to say I don’t have good relationships with most of the kids in class, individually (I do). Or that I’m not teaching interesting things in an interesting way (I am). Or that the kids aren’t excited about what they’re learning (they are — and some of the kids who interrupt most often are the ones who are most excited to be in this class). This is exclusively about my ability to manage a room of kids (I think), which continues to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. #management


In MS Coding & Robotics, we finished our HTML/CSS unit. The kids got into this, which I’d hoped they would. Pretty regularly, I’d have to ask students to leave after the bell (because they wanted to keep coding).

  • I really believe in the power of making your own website — learning to publish your words to the world, on your own terms, in your own space. Especially while understanding and controlling the code behind it. I think these students felt that.

Didn’t get the iD Tech job. Which is OK, actually. I’d mostly lost interest — the hours and pay are kinda silly (40–50 hours @ $525/week). But still — it’s crazy how hard it is to get a job around here!

  • Which means I’ll have the summer off (11 weeks, June–August). I won’t be teaching at UW (which I’m disappointed about), but my CWA after-school clubs (Coding & Robotics, Game Design) are covering extra cash I would’ve made there, so I’ll be good financially for the year.

  • Started a Summer of Joe list. #summerofjoe

  • I think employers should have to call people to let them know they didn’t get the job. There needs to be some resistance in the process for employers. I wasn’t really even invested in this one, and it still stings to be rejected generically.

Ella Vos: Watch & Wait Good™


In the 8th grade TI-BASIC class, in response to the tepid energy from the first few classes, I scrapped the sub plan and tried something else. Instead of following the worksheet together, I flipped the workload onto the students as a series of “challenges”: 1. at the beginning of class, I quickly demoed the new functions they’d need to know, and then 2. just posted a challenge on the screen for them to solve.

  • Solving the challenges lead them to understanding what would’ve been on the worksheet and it required them to apply (more thoroughly) what they learned previously. But it was so much (so much!) more engaging. I think they enjoyed it!

  • Plus, it was more fun, less planning, and less management for me too.

TI-BASIC challenges.

A strange thing about teaching in the MS is that most kids won’t acknowledge me in the hallway (not just me, they seem to ignore most adults). The little kids rarely do this. Everyone in the LS smiles at each other and acknowledges that they exist — another reason the LS is feeling like a better fit for me.

  • I know it’s not personal (probably). Early adolescence is the point in our lives when we — out of self-consciousness and insecurity — start to pretend like we don’t notice other people. It’s depressing. #hello?

  • If this happens with the current 5th graders next year (a class that I know really well and love), it’s going to break my heart.

My LIFX lightbulbs are the only smarthome gadgets I use (I bought another one this week). And they’ve been a helpful gateway into thinking about the weird mix of helpfulness and anxiety of smart stuff. A few things: 1. When I interact with a smart bulb, I have to think about the whole system and whatever ‘smart’ things it will do later. (If I flip the switch on a smartbulb to turn it off, it won’t turn on in the morning. And I can’t ever not be thinking about that.) Also, 2. I have to use another totally separate interface (my phone) to turn the light on or off at all. I can’t interact directly with the thing, and that feels disempowering. And 3. my lights are now beholden to other totally separate systems (the WiFi in my apartment, the Internet generally) which compounds the likelihood that my smartbulb system won’t work either. #digitalanxiety

  • It feels like a lot of shit to worry about. But 1. turning my bedroom light on in the morning has been incredibly helpful for waking up in the PNW winters, and 2. I like having more subtle control over the lighting in my living room during all hours of the day.

Ask Polly: Is My Absence From Social Media a Red Flag?

  • “Is your absence from social media helpful for your anxiety or is it a product of your anxiety? Why can’t it be both?… So you’re too strong and independent for social media, but you’re also too fearful and weak for it.”

  • “So the next time someone [criticizes you for not being on social media], I hope you’ll be ready to say a few words… like: ‘What are you afraid of…? A world where your career and your brand aren’t everything? A world where you’re forced to stand exactly where you are and live with yourself, free of distractions?’”

The watches on the Rolex product pages sync to local time.


A responsibility of my job is to teach the basics of copyright as it applies to technology tools. It’s been really fun, during the introduction, to say, “This is copyright,” while holding up something (anything) made by a student (any student).

  • One of the students (Rowan) asked if the Wikipedia entry on copyright (which I showed for the list of things that can be copyrighted) is itself copyrighted. Awesome!

I’m noticing that, of the kids whose names are mentioned a lot by teachers as having a hard time managing their emotions — I have pretty good relationships with several of them (Ellie, Ashlyn, Sammy).

“Research is me-search.” #journaling


I have a couch! It took almost two months, and the only reason I managed not to drag it out any further is that a friend (Aubree) was selling hers. Buying second-hand saves me some cash, but it also relieves the anxiety of even having to choose a couch. These kinds of decisions (expensive, long-term, stuff-acquisition) are really hard for me.

The 8th grade TI-BASIC class I’m subbing in (for two more days) has felt like more trouble than it’s worth. It’s required quite a bit of preparation, but without much excitement or interest from the students during the lesson. (Their excitement and interest is my responsibility, but I haven’t figured it out yet.) And it doesn’t help that it’s a middle school classroom at 8:00a, with students I barely know.

  • Teaching/prepping-for 3 different classes in a day is 1 too many.

Bought Food Huggers Reusable Silicone Can Toppers.

  • I’ve been looking for something like this for years.

Also got a Tomons Wood Tripod Bedside Lamp.

AudioKit Synth One, free/open-source iOS synth

Bought more Chris McVeigh sets: Modular Arcade Air Hockey (Lime) + Modular Arcade Pinball (Orange).


Fighting with My Family Good™

  • “That’s not advice, that’s a tweet.”

Draw How To Make Toast, a problem solving tool


Interesting to think about: if I’d gotten the Lakeside job, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to work with kids younger than 5th grade (Lakeside is 5–12) — which has been a really pleasant surprise. At CWA, I have the most fun teaching 3rd and 4th. #teaching

Vox by Design: Safe vs. Adventure (Risky) Playgrounds

  • “The idea behind [riskier playgrounds] is that kids respond well to being treated seriously: if they’re presented with risky items with a serious functional purpose, they’ll respond cautiously and conduct more experimentation. But if presented with an overly safe, static space, they often wind up seeking dangerous thrills that the built environment fails to provide”


Prepping for my TI-BASIC classes this week is a helpful reminder that actually building something — making it work and struggling through it in real time (instead of just listening-to or reading-over the steps of the process) is the truest way to understand — to connect all the dots.

  • Helpful because: 1. when I’m preparing to teach an existing lesson — until I’ve actually done whatever I’m asking students to do (used the tool, built with the materials, etc.), I don’t really understand what I’m asking them to do and can’t fully anticipate the questions they’ll have, and 2. when I’m figuring out how to teach a lesson — making/building/designing a thing is the best way to learn… absolutely, that’s it, the best. #teaching

We’re hiring for a new Innovation and Design Labs Director at our school, and one of the people applying is named Joe Rom— [with a rhyming last name]. He’s really well qualified, and I’m expecting he’ll get the job. And I’m selfishly thinking about how that’s going to affect me. I’ll be annoyed if I have to deal with the inevitable confusion and (potentially) intentional joking about our names. I don’t want to lose my individual identity at CWA. Is this a dumb worry?

  • I’m afraid of being meme-ified. I’m sensitive to situations where people are reduced to memes — where they just become a hook to an idea or reduced to a simple understanding of who they are.

3rd grade teacher Matt illustrating the idea of a tangent to his class (who are very tangent-prone). They were so into this, and it continues to surprise me how interested kids are in analyzing and improving their own behavior.

This is Not a Conspiracy Theory Podcast #3


How do Christians believe in ghosts and astrology?

Orientation, stencil typeface

Aspect Ratio Calculator


Still need to figure out how to make more time for reading. (I’m reading a lot, just not many books or Instapaper.) It’s possible I could cut out TV completely — no Bachelor, Survivor, or Shark Tank. Shows I really enjoy, but (in the end) are more a way to chill out than they are creatively or intellectually fulfilling.

Did some IKEA shopping (and I love IKEA so much), but in outfitting my apartment, I’m finding that shopping (especially for furniture) has become a really fraught exercise for me. I think about — the whole time — that all this stuff will end up in the trash some day. After my minimizing last year, buying big stuff feels like a more serious commitment than ever. I’m aiming to only buy stuff that I intend keep for a really long time. Which is maybe unnecessary anxiety, but it also feels the right thing to do.

This week and next, I’m subbing in 8th grade Honors Geometry, introducing TI-BASIC programming on the TI-83/84.

  • Which, man, is bringing back some memories. My first coding experience was on the TI-85 (in high school). I coded a few small programs, but maybe more significantly, it was my introduction to the world of creating/hacking/customizing with technology.

  • And, of course, I loved the grayscale pixels.

  •, TI programming resources

  • I’m pretty sure this is the same site I was using 20 years ago!

  • Calcutron Plus_SE, TI-BASIC tutorials

Unicons, free monoweight icon set

IRL: Online Shopping and Surveillance Capitalism

  • “John Wanamaker said 100 years ago, ‘I know that 50% of my advertising works, I just don’t know which 50%.’ The whole goal of the 20th century, and now in the 21st century, is to figure that out.”


Laurent Durieux, movie poster illustrator

  • Back to the Future streetscape posters: I, II, III

George Bletsis: Back to the Future II poster

The Guardian: The Life and Death of John Chau, missionary to the Sentinelese

  • I rarely talk about my feelings on religion (even on this site) because it’s so difficult to be honest without alienating people I know and appreciate (mostly Nebraskans). But freedom from religion (mostly Christianity) is one of the reasons I moved the PNW. And it’s been such an incredible relief — to be mostly done with the worry that I might accidentally reveal how I really feel. #religion

  • For the record, I tend to be pretty skeptical of diehard Christians, and I see Christianity in the same way as any folklore or mythology: it’s a story — fiction. It just happens to be a fiction with current critical mass. But it’ll eventually seem (to some future group of people) in the same way we see the beliefs of Ancient Romans.

  • If you believe in heaven and hell then what he did was the most loving thing anyone could do.

  • This only reads as a reasonable justification because lots of people happen to believe in heaven and hell right now. But to me, this reads the same as replacing “heaven and hell” with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Eye of Sauron, or the Big Bad Wolf. It’s magical thinking.

You1 Not Great™

I now have four extra Pebble watches in storage (bought two more today). I love the thing, and they aren’t producing any more of them, and it’s hard to imagine a watch that I’d ever like as much.


For me, one of the most pervasive, anxiety-inducing aspects of digital technology is the leap-frogging of software updates. Bugs are found and vulnerabilities are exploited, so bugs are squashed and vulnerabilities are patched with new features and technologies — which opens the door to new bugs and vulnerabilities. There’s no end. So there’s no end for me either: to continue using these things, I have to participate. I have to spend my time updating and reconfiguring — just to get back to the way it was yesterday. All that work, and I’m just catching up. #digitalperson #digitalanxiety

  • This occurred to me updating Firefox on all of the LS lab computers — 80 of them (an update which has to be done manually). The app was “critically out of date” after just five months.

  • FUAY software update

jQuery: .prepend /.append, add code before/after elements

  • Using this to add visual category tags after posts on this page. (I was already adding a category CSS class to each post on the FoldingText side, so this was super easy to do.)

  • This site has more Javascript than is necessary (currently 8 .js files). I’m doing things with scripts that I could do manually (fetching my current top song and latest movie) or without (tweaking line breaks and typography). But it’s so fun to figure out — to build that system. I don’t even care!

PICO-8: Dungeon Generator

IRL: The Surveillance Economy

  • “in our globalized economy, where prices have been driven down to the lowest common denominator,… everyone… is chasing margins. We’ve had relatively low inflation, and so now this data surplus, this behavioral surplus, which we can sell into these new markets that trade explicitly in bets on the future of human behavior”

  • I’ve been thinking about how the global economy (facilitated by the Internet) affects competitions (economies) of all kinds, not just commercially. Because very few things are local anymore, everyone must compete with the biggest-fastest-strongest-loudest-nastiest-sexiest-shiniest other thing — period. This is why dating is so difficult, getting a job is a humiliating obstacle course, why every movie has a climactic battle scene, and why Instagram is an unreal fantasyland. #digitalanxiety #digitalperson


St. Lucia: Hyperion Not Great™

CineFix: 3 Most Important Tech Innovations in Film History

Use & Modify, open source typeface database

Deconstructed: Juvenile’s “Back That Ass Up”


It’s sounding more likely that I’ll also be teaching 1st and 2nd grade Technology next year. Which, I still think could be a fun move for me.

  • Although, I’m recognizing that it’ll be important for me to continue splitting my time between the LS and MS (if not also, some day, the US). The little kids are so optimistic, curious, and full of life — which is important for me emotionally. The older kids are significantly more capable and their work is more complex and meaningful — which is important for me creatively and intellectually. I want both! #teaching

  • No doubt, these are intricately-connected trade-offs. As we grow up and gain awareness of how life works — that’s exactly the thing that tempers our optimism and enthusiasm for it. #growingup

  • Also, I need to keep in mind that, starting next year (when students I know really well are in the middle school), it likely won’t feel like such an odd place for me anymore.

Trying a new incentive to encourage kids to practice Typing Club more often: a competition/leaderboard.

  • Helping kids learn to type is part of my job (and I think it’s a super important skill), but I haven’t been spending class time on it this year because it feels like a major waste of the hour I have with them (using an app they can use from home that’s intended to be done solo anyway). But many of the kids haven’t been practicing enough, and if they don’t learn to type faster, I’m gonna be held responsible (rightfully).

  • In the past, CWA 4th/5th graders have been able to see how they rank, individually, in the midst of the class. That feels weird to me, so I disabled that feature (which probably also influenced the practice time problem). My new strategy reframes the competition as class vs. class instead, which feels healthier — sharing the responsibility and the glory.

  • This spreadsheet, as usual, was super fun to make. I love spreadsheets. #pleasurepoint

Google Sheets: Sparklines, miniature charts


macOS: ⌥ + F1/F2 (brightness keys) = open Display Preferences + ⌥ + F9–F10 (volume keys) = open Audio Preferences

  • WHAT. Discovered this by accident.

Catastrophe4 Good™

PICO-8: Elias Grey, existential story of unfinished goals


Thieves of Experience: How Google and Facebook Corrupted Capitalism

  • “Without permission, without compensation, and with little in the way of resistance, [Google] seized and declared ownership over everyone’s information. It turned the details of the lives of millions and then billions of people into its own property.”

  • “The bullying style of TOS agreements also characterizes the practice… of threatening users with a loss of ‘functionality’ should they try to opt out of data sharing protocols or otherwise attempt to escape surveillance.”

  • “In the choices we make as consumers and private citizens, we have always traded some of our autonomy to gain other rewards. Many people, it seems clear, experience surveillance capitalism less as a prison, where their agency is restricted in a noxious way, than as an all-inclusive resort, where their agency is restricted in a pleasing way.”

Low←Tech Magazine: Building a Solar-powered Website


Cult of Pedagogy: Lessons in Personhood, Teaching by example

  • “Lead with imperfection. Try things you’re not good at, right in front of them. Demonstrate a spirit of experimentation. Speak of your mistakes without judgment.”

  • “Lead with humility. When you don’t know something, say so. Allow for the possibility that you might occasionally be wrong. Check your ego. Apologize.”

  • I do both of these, pretty often, I think. It feels unusual, though, and I think students are thrown off by it, but I think it’s the right way to teach.

  • This is a reason why teaching feels like such a meaningful thing to be doing. Ultimately, learning to teach (being in a classroom with kids) is about working, really hard, to be a better person myself.

Bitsy: Mystery Dungeon, exquisite corpse adventure (34 rooms, each designed by a different person)

Bitsy FAQ

The Final Girls Good™

  • Taissa Farmiga, forever.

Why Data, Not Privacy, Is The Real Danger

  • “[Facebook] can predict your interests and intentions before you even know them. And this is what gives rise to the illusion that our phones are recording our words and feeding us ads for cars just as we’ve finished a conversation about cars…. ‘I get that it’s creepy to imagine they listen to your conversations. But isn’t it more creepy that they can predict what you’re talking about without listening in?… You are super predictable to these platforms. It’s about persuasion and prediction, not privacy.’”

  • “Once upon a time advertisers paid a ‘CPM’ — cost per thousand views — for a marketing campaign. That was just the chance to get in front of people. Now Facebook offers a rate based on ‘CPA,’ or ‘cost per action,’ a once-unimaginable metric offered because the company is so confident in its understanding of people and their preferences that Facebook can essentially guarantee a certain number of people will do certain things.”

The Pudding: The Sexualized Messages Dress Codes are Sending to Students

  • “Some suggest that dress codes that use words like [‘distract’ or ‘disrupt’] send a complex message to all students: girls are responsible for the way that others see them… and it relays to boys that… others’ bodies are theirs to judge.”

  • Oregon NOW Model Student Dress Code

Turing Tumble, marble-powered mechanical computers

macOS: Set wallpaper and disable screensaver from Terminal

  • This is an irritating thing about kids and computers. They want to change settings just because they want to change settings. (I get it, I even respect it, but it’s annoying.)

“We’re gonna lose games, but if we don’t have no attitude, we don’t have no toughness, we ain’t having fun… you know, it’s gonna be a long season.” — Marcus Morris #basketballquotes


Got my first issue of The Guardian Weekly, which is legit.

  • I subscribed for a few reasons: 1. I want to support some kind of journalism, 2. I’m not following enough substantial/global news, 3. I miss print layout and typography.

life admin: “the office work of life [healthcare/insurance/lease paperwork, booking appointments, responding to texts/emails, online banking, charging/updating/fixing gadgets].”

  • shadow work: “unpaid labour that benefits someone else [commuting to work, self-checkout, self-service gas, travel planning, posting to social media].”

  • “It’s ironic… that technology should bear so much blame for this. Automation was always supposed to take care of the tedious jobs, so we could enjoy more leisure time. In reality, it’s taken paid work away from humans, while also… transferring tasks from employees to consumers.” #digitalanxiety

  • Related to subsystems.

Hebitsukai, illustrator (isometric, colorful cluttered spaces)

Jogaq, pixel illustrator (isometric rooms)

Kowloon Walled City infographic

Brandon James Greer, pixel illustrator

Kenze Wee, pixel illustrator (animated cityscapes), shape-drawing music sequencer

PICO-8: Cheat Sheet, code reference


Bitsy: WELCOME_OWNER, smart home story

Bitsy: M.E.C.K. 415, mech preparation story

macOS: Brightness Slider

  • For no reason at all, I now can’t control my Thunderbolt display brightness from the keyboard — a thing that should be one of the most fundamentally-unbreakable features of a computer. #digitalanxiety

vlogbrothers: Deepfake, A Brief History of Unreliable Images

  • “Hi,… it’s real me.… Or is it?”

  • “Instead, reality has come to seem more and more like what we are shown by cameras. It is common now for people to insist about their experience of a violent event in which they were caught up — a plane crash, a shoot-out, a terrorist bombing — that ‘it seemed like a movie.’ This is said, other descriptions seeming insufficient, in order to explain how real it was.” — Susan Sontag

Dmitry Petyakin, pixel illustrator

Gaming Historian: Sega 32X

Game Maker’s Tookit: Telling Stories with Systems + The Rise of the Systemic Game

  • I’m spending so much time right now reading and thinking about video games, but spending very little time playing them (yet). I’m realizing that a reason I’m so interested is that video games are system design. More than anything, the thing I love about video games is the system.

  • It’s the same reason I’m drawn to coding, magazine design, and concept-driven horror and sci-fi movies: I like the challenge of building a self-sufficient little world, throwing something at it, and (based on the design fo the system) watching what happens. #pleasurepoint

  • “that’s what makes systemic games fun. Instead of finding the single, authored solution to a puzzle, you can use the inherent behaviors of the game’s systems to find your own way to overcome the problem at hand.”

  • And teaching is system design! Projects/exercises are more fun and interesting for kids if no one (not even me) knows what’s going to happen — but I’ve engineered rules (the system) that keep students moving towards a specific learning goal, no matter what they create. #teaching

  • “Making levels for systemic games is more about giving the player a goal, and not caring how they achieve it.”

Here’s A Thing, inside baseball stories from the video game industry

  • How Dwarf Fortress’ System Kills Cats

  • I like this as a coding analogy. One of the things I’m discovering about teaching coding is that, when a student’s code doesn’t work, they often want to blame the the tool (the code editor) for being broken, instead of considering how they (with the code they’ve written) might be responsible for the problem — which is way more likely.

  • Although, sometimes the tool is broken, which is a frustrating thing about teaching with technology. #digitalanxiety

  • Did Nintendo download the Super Mario Bros. ROM and sell it back to us?

PeerTube, decentralized, not advertising-supported video hosting (YouTube replacement)

Crash Course Media Literacy: Propaganda, Disinformation, and Misinformation

  • propaganda vs. advertising: “Both are a form of one-directional, one-to-many communication that has a targeted audience, a content that resonates with them and a call-to-action.… Propaganda… promotes a point of view or a political cause. Advertising… promotes commercial goods and services and tries to convert existing general needs into specific wants.” — Quora


Austin Kleon: Love what you do in front of the kids in your life

  • “when you share your learning and doing, you don’t make them also love (whatever); you DO show them how great it is to do meaningful work”

  • “Your kids… They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” — Jim Henson

“Find out who you are and then be that on purpose.” — Dolly Parton

NYT Retro Report: Woman Burned by McDonald’s Hot Coffee

Firefox: AdNauseam, automatically click ads to pollute tracking data

Getting the Best Picture from Game Boy, GBC, and GBA Games

The Book of Life: Whether or not to have Children

  • “For those of us contemplating whether or not to have children, the message is dark but consoling in its bleakness: you will be at points very unhappy whatever you choose. With either option, you will feel that you have ruined your life – and you will be correct. We do not need to add to our misery by insisting that there would have been another, better way.”

  • “There is, curiously, relief to be found in the knowledge of the inevitability of suffering. It is, in the end, never darkness that dooms us, but the wrong sort of hope in that most cruel of fantasies: ‘the right choice’.”

It’s the end of news as we know it (and Facebook is feeling fine)

  • “Facebook is simply not incentivized to make [quality journalism] its top priority. It’s a publicly traded company required to create value for shareholders — not the public — and the business incentives are to continue doing what it’s been doing: optimizing for engagement.”


With the 4th graders, I improvised a lesson where the kids got to design DIY recording booths. The goal (for me) was to kill time before our new recording booths (IKEA fabric boxes) are delivered next week. But it was a wonderful opportunity: 1. for us to discuss/plan/evaluate what an ideal recording environment even is, 2. for them to reflect/iterate on their experience recording audiobooks as 3rd graders), and 3. for me to see/remember how much kids like creating/building stuff. They were so into it!

FUAY GIF (or sticker or embedded video clip)

  • How did we get to the point where communication now need to be sprinkled with irony and pop culture references? Where we feel the need to entertain each other in the middle of normal conversations?

Gaming Historian: The Super Mario Land Series

  • The Game Boy only had four colors?! Amazing.


I wonder if I could teach a graphic design class or club in the CWA high school next year? I miss working with the UW students. #project

Creative Commons Search

DeLorean Ipsum, random lines from the Back to the Future script (for sample text)

Retronator, pixel art and gaming news blog


For our first project in LS Coding & Robotics, I’m trying a new format: 1. we started by watching a video of a finished project that I’d selected ahead of time (without showing them the steps for actually building it), 2. I asked students what skills they’d need to learn to make that project, 3. I made a list of those skills on screen, and then 4. I’ve used that list as the template for our weekly lessons, checking off the skills as we go. It’s working really well!

Norton74, LEGO builder (Americana)

Virtual Punch Card: Keypunch + Reader


First snow day as a full-time teacher, and damn, I got so much done! (I was already at school when the day was cancelled, and I worked all day.) Mainly, two big projects that I’ve been procrastinating on for months (the LS bike rack design and cleaning/updating the last laptop cart). Awesome.

  • It says a lot, though (about my ability to procrastinate, my productivity, and/or my workload), that it took a surprise workday landing in my lap to get these checked off the list.

One of those projects was designing the new LS bike rack. The challenge here was to take students’ top choices for symbols (the ideas that represent what CWA means to them) and integrate them. I’m pretty stoked at how this came together!

Students’ mockups, made from found symbols and compiled in Google Drawings. These are the top vote-getters that I combined into the final.

The rack has three rings, which build a scene when viewed from the side. The leading symbols were: 1. the martlet (representing a love for learning), 2. trees (the CWA campus), 3. a campground (outdoor education), 4. the lower school bell (the CWA community), and 5. a bicycle (which, to me, represents the tireless journey of the student Max who helped make this bike rack a reality).


I tend to stack stuff up on my table and desk (things I need to put away, do, or otherwise deal with). I tend not to do these things right away, and it’s stressful to watch them pile up. But… I also tend to procrastinate on other, totally unrelated tasks, because I have this constant reminder of already being behind.

  • This is part of a bigger issue for me. I have so many to-dos and lists — all of them, things I want/need to do (including journaling, which feels as much like a burden as it does an essential part of my day) — that I have trouble keeping up. I really don’t know how people manage it all.

  • This is interesting to think about: that my list-making, might itself discourage me from accomplishing things on those lists.

GameShell, modular (repairable, upgradable) portable gaming console for PICO-8/emulation + video reviews: 1/2

  • Just ordered one. I’ve been looking for a way to PICO-8 games and (for even longer) a way to play Game Boy games. Stoked. #treatjoeself

  • This is money I might’ve spent on a Switch, but it doesn’t feel like the right time to open that door. I’m clearly in a video game mood right now, but I’d rather go back and play the games I’ve had on my list for ages.

  • I started using Simple Expenses recently, and I’m buying this out of my savings bucket for games, toys, gadgets, and books. Every month, I’m adding specific chunks of money into buckets (clothes, food/fun, home improvement, subscriptions, gifts, donations, etc.). It’s really working for me — simultaneously adding limitations to my spending, while also freeing me up to buy things guilt-free (since the money’s already saved).

More PICO-8/emulation options:

Pixilart, pixel art editor

Firefox: YouTube Ad Auto-skipper

DIY Classroom recording booth, organizer cube + foam

iOS: Triggering IFTTT with iOS Shorcuts

  • Using this to dictate notes into Tasks.txt, Journal.txt, Buy.txt, and CWA.txt. How encryption works exercise (Unit 5, Lesson 6)

Lessons from the Screenplay: Groundhog Day, An Inescapable Premise

  • “Phil is designed to be a character that seems like he could never change.… The brilliance of Groundhog Day is that once all these elements are setup, the protagonist’s change is the inevitable result of the premise.… There’s literally nothing left for Phil to do but change.”

  • “Groundhog Day is a great example of what it looks like to fully commit to a premise.… the film fully explores every avenue within its simple premise, mining the idea for every funny, moving, and heartwarming scenario Phil could find himself in”

  • I’ve loved this movie since the first time I saw it (sometime in my early teens). And it’s interesting to recognize how — years before I understood my connection to design or problem-solving — I loved this movie for exactly those reasons.


BrickLink AFOL Designer Program, crowdfunded LEGO projects

  • Backed Eight Studs, a LEGO brick-shaped modular tiny house

  • That’s a 3-pleasure-point combo: LEGO, modularity, and tiny, self-contained spaces #pleasurepoint

Lunark, pixelated cinematic platformer

Bought Kenneth Cole Suede-ish Chukka Boots (brown).

Validation/Hope vs. Toxic Positivity


In 4th grade, I’ve been having consistent problems with kids talking without raising their hands (aka “talkouts, blurts”). This morning, tried a new strategy: turning it around. I said, “I need your help. I have a really bad habit of responding to talkouts. If you catch me responding to a student who hasn’t raised their hand, let me know.” It was really effective! The kids were pretty intrigued by the challenge.

  • Was it a trick? Not really. This strategy occurred to me because it’s legitimately difficult not to respond in those moments. And responding just encourages more of it. #management

Here’s an idea I struggle with: it’s important to me that other people, at least sometimes, recognize that I’m doing my job well. (Which, honestly, hasn’t been happening much lately.) Is that self-involved? And if I really believe I’m good at what I do, shouldn’t that be enough?

At CWA today, I met a woman (Melanie) who was visiting from a private school in Salt Lake City. She was working in the library, and I walked over to introduce myself, and we talked for a few minutes about our jobs. I mention this because she is extremely my type: really open, curious, and friendly, not at all pretentious, lots of eye contact — just really genuine and kind. And it’s interesting to recognize that the things I’m attracted to are the opposite of the things that really piss me off: phoniness, artificiality, bullshit.

  • I’d like to follow-up on this, but how would I even do that?

StoryCorps: Great interview questions

vlogbrothers: YouTube & Copyright

  • “The current state of copyright is… only peripherally related to the law. It’s much more related to the policies of the platforms on which we operate our businesses and our lives. Which is a strange situation to be in, as we realize that we are kind of citizens of corporations.”

Shipping Container (Expandable) Tiny Home

Programming Fonts, monospace typeface tester

Lazy Devs: Making a Rougelike in PICO-8

Bitsy: Midnight Dungeon, dungeon crawler + PICO-8 version

Arduboy, credit-card-sized, 8-bit game system (i.e. Arduino + Game Boy)

Littlewood, pixelated, town-building RPG

Loving the frustration January


Recognizing how important it’ll be for me to continue making space in my schedule for teaching some kind of creative elective (like Coding & Robotics) — no matter how/if my job evolves. The meat of my job (3rd–5th technology) is going well, generally. But at the end of the day, those classes aren’t (and could never be) as fun or meaningful as working with a group of kids who are all stoked to be creating and learning for themselves.

  • It’s been a fun few days with the new MS class (learning HTML with and building sites on Glitch). It warms my heart when kids are working on their projects outside of class (voluntarily) and getting hyped about something like <​a​> tags (which they learned today).

  • Neither C&R has been a walk in the park, management-wise. But these kids really want to be here, doing what we’re doing. As a teacher, there’s nothing better. #teaching

  • It’s been easy for me to overlook this because almost all of my undergrad teaching was to students who elected (in some way) to be there. And although I do legitimately enjoy all of my CWA classes, there’s some magic lost when butts are required to be in seats (unfortunate example: 308 at UW).

ClipGrab, download YouTube videos

  • It’s irritating how difficult this process can be. The browser extensions that work always inevitably stop working.

  • I save a lot of stuff from the Internet locally (for my reference and for class) — videos and images that are inspiring/useful enough that I might want to get to again. Why? Because I know, for sure, that whatever I’m seeing on my screen right now (thanks to the Internet) will absolutely change. It’s all editable and erasable — and likely to be. It’s exciting, but also anxiety-inducing, and if I want to see this thing again, I have to save this version of the thing for myself. #digitalanxiety


Man, it’s been a rough couple of days for classroom management. 3rd yesterday, then 5th and both Coding & Robotics classes today. Mostly, it’s constant talking, with resets that last just a few seconds before the talking resumes — as soon as I say/ask anything at all, turn around momentarily, or change anything on screen. Seconds. In those moments, I’m staying cooler than ever, and I’m able to appreciate the frustration about half the time. But deep down, it’s still frustrating as hell.

  • I’m spending so much energy, and the net result is… what? A lot of spent energy and very little forward progress. I feel foolish, ineffective, disrespected, exhausted. I feel bad, professionally and personally.

  • I’m even doing the things I’m supposed to be doing: 1. clearly communicating my expectations, 2. practicing/demonstrating those expectations with students, 3. calling out students who are doing those things well (instead of dwelling on misbehavior), 4. handling misbehaving student issues privately.

  • I’m recognizing that (as a specialist teacher) I don’t have leverage. What can I do, really, when students don’t do what I ask? I actually don’t know. I need repercussions, and this is the next thing I need to figure out. #management

Kids playing Else Walker in LS Coding & Robotics. This is one of those special moments for me, where things I love doing personally have a clear and meaningful place at work. I learned about this game on a Friday Night Taco Joe Time, watching Game Maker’s Toolkit., force the login page when using public WiFi networks

What a Brandless Brand is Selling You

  • social factory: “When branding appeared at the apex of industrial capitalism, the means of production were still largely confined to literal factories…. These days, however, that distinction isn’t so clear.… In consumer culture, brands are a primary source of meaning, and it’s (in part) up to us to make them meaningful [by doing the work of promoting and embodying the brand], creating value for capital in the process.… We’re used to thinking of production and consuming as separate activities, but in modern branding, they are one and the same.”

  • “Brandless™ is itself a brand, just like normcore is itself a style.”


I told the 3rd graders a story about how the (current) 4th graders (who are a real joy to work with now) were (a year ago) also a talkative, distracted (hard to manage) group. I said this: “You learn how to be 4th graders in 3rd grade.” Which feels real deep.

Talking to (Nick) the lower school principal, I mentioned that I’m open to the idea of picking up 1st and 2nd grade Technology next year. I said this because: 1. these classes are currently taught by the science teacher (on top of K–5th science), which doesn’t seem fair, and 2. I’m jiving with the 2nd graders way more than I ever expected to, and I think it’d be a fun age to work with, too.

  • Although, that switch might mean less time in the middle school for me, which I’d probably regret. Overall, I like MS Coding & Robotics a lot, and it’s only going to get better as the middle school fills with the younger kids I’m already teaching.

The paradox of the software update: you need the latest update to fix the things that the last update broke. #digitalanxiety

Post-it Room, drawing


At-home, doorway-mounted boxing equipment:

Refurbished Game Boys: Pocket + Advance SP

Notable, Markdown note-taking app

PICO-8: Upward, puzzle platformer


Bought a PICO-8 license for testing (potentially, for the middle school game design class).

Applied to teach at iD Tech Summer Camps this summer, which looks pretty legit.

  • I was hoping to teach Intro to VCD at UW again, but I learned last week that there aren’t any adjunct hours available. Which is a real bummer. Last year, the class felt like a real win (the students were great, and the curriculum came together in the way I’d hoped). And the extra money helps.

I have $5,000 set aside from 2018 for retirement savings, which I’d intended to invest before tax day. But I’ve been thinking that it might be smarter to use that money for dating — an investment towards the life I’d like to live. And which could, actually (as Uncle Al pointed out) also be a smart investment financially.

Bitsy: Palettsy, palette generator

Seattle Smol Games, tiny games meetup (e.g. Bitsy)

Scott Martin (Burnt Toast): Social Media series — Day & Night

Thanks to the new apartment, on days when I can work from home, I actually prefer working from home (instead of coffee shops or going into work). I don’t remember that ever really being true.

  • I’m really happy with the unit I picked: 1. since there are two walls with windows, there’s a ton of light, 2. since I’m on the corner of the building, it’s really quiet, 3. since I’m on the bottom floor, I can stomp around all I want without ruining anyone’s day (a constant worry in both Seattle apartments), and 4. since the 1st floor is the cheapest, I’m saving money vs. the top floor (which I considered).

  • A couple of drawbacks: 1. since I’m on the corner and above the parking garage, it can get pretty cold in here, and 2. since I have upstairs neighbors, I have to deal with their stomping around (but I’m learning to be OK with it, and they’ve been pretty considerate, actually — and even mentioned that they could hear their upstairs neighbor stomping around — which pays-off a theory I had about avoiding apartments where my upstairs neighbors don’t have upstairs neighbors).

  • I’m investing that difference in rent ($210) in my retirement account every month, which gives that decision a nice extra layer of meaning.

  • Construction left the empty apartment next door unlocked, so I checked it out. It’s the same size as my apartment, but the longest wall doesn’t have any windows, and there’s a lot less light.

Profile of an Everyday Instagrammer

  • Instagram Stories reveal how people actually are rather than how they’d like to be seen, or that’s the idea.

  • I’ve noticed that several of my friends post more Stories than regular photos/videos now. Which seems like a response to what regular Instagram feels like: a burden — of constructed, performative, curated, anxiety-inducing bullshit.

  • But the idea that Stories are more ‘real’ — that they’re not also constructions — that they release you from the burden of performance and curation — is hilariously wrong.


“An idea for birthday celebrations: Celebrate nice numbers of days since the year you were born; 1,000 days, 11,111, 123,456 days old etc.” — Daniel Eatock

  • I’ve been alive 14,331 days (2,047 weeks). And I’ll be 15,000 days old on November 24, 2020.

Compagnon, historic typewriter typeface

PICO-8: Feed the Ducks, surreal duck-feeding puzzle game

“I’d rather be here, now.” — Ram Dass

IRL: The Human Cost of Content Moderation


The Enduring Legacy of ‘Half-Life,’ 20 Years After Its Release


Over the last few days, my classroom management has been sharper. I’m: 1. intentionally planning for it, 2. breaking lessons into smaller chunks, 3. being as. clear. as. possible., 4. communicating my expectations more often. It’s clicking again! Next level, actually.

  • The switch in my mindset after the break — of recognizing that I love the frustration (or at least, that it’s an inseparable part of the job that I love — is helping me see that my management has to come from the same place. The strategies I employ have to come from a place of sincerity, empathy, kindness, and respect. Strategies that feel mechanical, patronizing, or authoritative don’t feel comfortable when I use them. I want to maintain my connections with the kids at the same time that I’m managing the room. I don’t want to draw a line between me and them.

  • I want both (the connection and the well-managed class), and I think it’s possible. #realness #teaching

  • For example, I told the MS Coding & Robotics kids yesterday (the first day of the new quarter): “I know it’s common in (CWA) middle school classes for students to talk a lot. But as a teacher, it’s hard to have to reset every few minutes. I could really use your help with that.” I said it smiling and sincerely, and they listened (collectively) more in that moment than they had for the 40 minutes before.

  • Then, today, reminding them of that conversation, I said: “The students have the power in a classroom. I can ask for your attention and focus, but you actually get to decide whether or not to give it.”

L.M. Sacasas: Privacy Is Not Dying, We’re Killing It

  • “We want to live in public but also control what happens to the slices of life we publicize. Or we recoil at the thought of our foibles being turned into one day’s entertainment on Twitter, but we nonchalantly consume such entertainment when someone else is the victim.”

  • “Privacy flourishes in the attention economy to the same degree that contentment flourishes in the consumer economy, which is to say not at all.”

  • “all of this is just an extension of what used to be the case with celebrities in the age of electronic media and print tabloids. Digital media simply democratizes both the publicity and its consequences.”

  • Connects to thoughts on shame and social media.


Had a Great™ class in 5th grade (Carie’s class) — I was on my own (no homeroom teacher support, which I usually have), and things went so smoothly. The kids seemed to enjoy that it was just me. It felt like a different kind of class than usual — we were all more light-hearted, more friendly, less uptight. Not that the kids were ideally-behaved, but we were all in sync: 1. behaviorally, I called them out and acknowledged their successes, 2. emotionally, they wanted to be there, they were having fun, and I was, too. I felt respected. #management

  • The crux of how well this went was my attitude. On purpose, I loved the frustration. The kids felt it and responded in kind.

  • I’m recognizing that it’s an important/essential dimension of my job to help them build awareness of their impulses, build self-control, and improve their decision-making. I actually am interested in this!

Another bonus of the Digital Design Lab is that the kids who’ve been showing up lately have been mostly 1st and 2nd graders — kids I don’t teach. So I’m getting to know them, too.

  • There’s a chance that I’ll pick up teaching those grades next year (and move away from middle school), which… might be good, actually. Considering it.

  • As fun as my middle school class has been, it can also be pretty irritating for me. It’s just like: could you stop talking about death, stop making everything single thing about gayness, stop writing on the board, allow for a single moment of silence, stop rolling around on the floor…?, stop making everything about how you feel (or don’t feel) right now, and what you want (or don’t want) right now? Could you, like, get excited about school?

Fourth-wall-breaking Nancy comic + more fourth-wall comics

Guidies: Distortion

NYTimes: The Insect Apocalypse Is Here

  • “Amateurs have long provided much of the patchy knowledge we have about nature.… The Latin root of the word ‘amateur’ is, after all, the word ‘lover.’”

  • “It is estimated that, since 1970, Earth’s various populations of wild land animals have lost, on average, 60 percent of their members. Zeroing in on the category we most relate to, mammals, scientists believe that for every six wild creatures that once ate and burrowed and raised young, only one remains. What we have instead is ourselves.”


Working on progress reports (grading) for the first half of the year. Even though I’m responsible for more students now (100+ little kids vs. 15–60 undergrads) I don’t dread grading as much as I did. It’s less frequent and more personal, but now that I’m working with the same students for much longer, I’m getting to see them mature and change. I really feel protective and proud of these little people — I know these kids pretty well. And grading (as a reflection of that long-term relationship) feels newly significant and worth the energy.

Thinking of taking a solo vacation to Vancouver for my 40th birthday. The city has a special place in my heart, and it was the inspiration for moving to the PNW, and so, seems like the appropriate place to celebrate having arrived at this next phase. And I want to take the train. #thenextphase

  • 40? WTF

Game Maker’s Toolkit: The Design of Super Mario Odyssey

  • “[Nintendo’s approach to difficulty is] to make the main game pretty easy and accessible — and then add additional challenges… for more dedicated players to tackle.”

  • This is what I’m trying with my new LS Coding & Robotics class, where I have beginners and advanced kids in the same room. My plan is to use the same projects for everyone, but include multiple, increasingly-difficult challenges for each project. That way, everyone is working towards a specific goal, but each student is at a level of difficulty they’ve self-selected. #goals

  • “Nintendo games might be weird and unpredictable, but they’re not just a messy hodgepodge of random ideas and mechanics.… the unique gameplay is often reflected in the game’s presentation. Take Splatoon’s punky aesthetic, which came from the graffiti-style ink mechanic. Or Mario Sunshine’s tropical [style], which was inspired by the Super Soaker gameplay. There’s certainly some of that in Mario Odyssey, with a race of hat-like creatures, living in a hat-based kingdom, flying hat-shaped crafts around the world. And everyone in the game is wearing hats”

  • This kind of meta-presentation is a dimension of juiciness (Odyssey is doubling-down on hat-ness).

Floyd furniture

Library Genesis, pirated ebook database

Sutori, timeline creation tool

Cloudflare Registrar, cheaper domain registration

Focus + 1Focus, block apps/websites on a schedule

  • Using this to block browsers any app but FoldingText after 7:00p 8:00p (Sunday–Thursday), trying to make more space for reading, journaling, and meditating — away time.

  • I don’t like that I’m tying my own hands, but I’m spending too much time online, and this’ll be more effective than willpower.

He Won Powerball’s $314 Million Jackpot. It Ruined His Life.


I envy kids now, who’ll be able to see video of themselves at any age. I’m so, so curious to see (for myself) what I was like as a kid.

MakeCode Arcade, web-based game coding (using the same interface we’ve been using for micro:​bits)

  • MakeCode for Minecraft, and for Minecraft

  • Again, seriously, I would’ve been a perfect pick for working on MakeCode at Microsoft Research. But, also again, I’d rather be teaching and working with kids in classrooms every day than sitting at a computer, designing interfaces and lessons for teachers and kids to use.

  • Still bugs me. Why, though, if I really believe I ended up with the better job for me? I think, because when I was applying for that job (plus other design industry jobs: SMART, Microsoft Education, LEGO), I failed to present myself in a way that really captured what I’m capable of. Which led to a lot of stress and disappointment in the year afterward. And existential questions about whether or not I’d ever find my place professionally, or even understood myself in the way I thought I did. (And the money would’ve been nice.)

  • Part of that failure is in my portfolio, which was more focused on research than interfaces. But also in having not-selected UX projects in grad school. That said, even then, I didn’t want a UX job. But it was naive to think I could bypass that step.

  • And, at that point, I didn’t know that technology teacher at a private school was even a job that existed. So, all that to say, even though I ended up with a job that really works for me, I didn’t have a clear plan for work after grad school. And I think my portfolio accurately reflected that ambiguity. #jobs

grift capitalism: business models engineered around the trickery of the people they’re profiting from. (Related to surveillance capitalism).

“a book is also a collection of things you pick up in the process of writing it.” — Kyle Chayka’s editor #theprocess


Bitsy: I Can’t Find My Glasses!, one-room puzzle game

  • At the end of MS Coding & Robotics yesterday, one of the students who’s not returning next quarter (Elliott) asked if I’ll be teaching this class in the spring. I said that it wouldn’t be the same class. Instead, I’m thinking it’ll be a game design class (using Bitsy), and he was pretty stoked about that idea.

  • We could break it into multiple units: story, sprites, puzzles, custom music, scripting. And all framed by design process: goals, inspiration (dissecting existing games), limitations (pixels), prototyping and feedback (play-testing). Oh man!

  • And eventually, an advanced class for PICO-8 games.

Bitsy: Spook Tower, spoopy (funny + spooky) castle game

Bitsy: The Fever, educational game about coral reefs

Mike Caulfield: Another example of the news fact-checking strategy, this time, for the “Trump resignation”

macOS: Schedule startup, wake, sleep, restart, or shutdown

Split Not Great™


I believe it’s OK to be loose and improvisational with planning. I don’t have a year-long calendar of lessons. Instead: 1. I prefer to introduce units as they feel appropriate during the year, 2. outline lesson topics just a week or two in advance, and 3. save the detailed lesson planning for day-of/day-before). As a teacher, this works for me because I get to reflect and iterate, constantly. Planning too far in advance wouldn’t allow for as much change, which I’m making often, even between two lessons in the same day. #iter8ordie

  • Reflection is feedback for yourself.

Favorite final projects in MS Coding & Robotics. The goal was to “design a robot that solves a problem in your life”. These robots: 1. ask people to go away, and 2. provide you with reassurance and a hug.… So very middle school!

Typewrite Something, typewriter simulator

Vox: The future of work and automation

Vox: How smart is today’s artificial intelligence?

  • machine learning: “Every algorithm has an input and an output: the data goes into the computer, the algorithm does what it will with it, and out comes the result. Machine learning turns this around: in goes the data and the desired result and out comes the algorithm that turns one into the other.”

  • “[Today’s machine learning is] pattern recognition masquerading as understanding.”

Paradiddle, VR drumming

  • This is cool, for sure. But like virtual anything, it wouldn’t feel real. Hitting a drum set is the most satisfying part of the experience.

Kurzgesagt: Organic vs. conventional vegetables

Gaming Historian, retro video game video essays

  • Super Mario Bros. 2

  • Punch-Out!!

  • Virtual Boy

  • I remember the day I got a Virtual Boy (I would’ve been 15 in 1995). When mom picked it up from Toys R Us (the same store I started working at a year later), the cashier told her that I was the only person who’d pre-ordered one.


The LIKE Movie

  • Watched this at CWA tonight. A parent in the audience suggested that there’s light at the end of this (dark, dark) tunnel: when kids now (kids who are growing up online) are parents themselves, they’ll be more able to help their kids navigate the bullshit. Parents today (she said) have no idea what’s happening to us, so aren’t capable of helping their kids. This is so encouraging!

Firefox: Page Info window: Media, the easiest way to save the source images, SVGs, etc. from a page


Got a new nickname, this time from (mostly, Iyla) 3rd graders: “Joe Froyo”.

  • This is in addition to “Stringbean” (which started on the 4th grade trip last year), and “Mr. Spara-n-n-no Pota-t-t-to” (from last year’s 5th graders).

  • Several of the kids call me by a nickname or use my first name in some way, which is pretty unusual for CWA kids to do with teachers (I’m the only one I know of). Not really sure why, or whether it’s a sign of respect, or comfort, or what.

People in meetings are weird, including me.

  • I really feel like I’ve reached the pinnacle of my career arc, for me. I don’t ever want to be an administrator or a manager. I don’t want to move any further up the ladder. Fuck meetings, emails, sitting in an office, management, interviews, slimy maneuvering and bureaucratic bullshit. I want my work to be teaching — working with kids, in classrooms, every day. There’s no better version of my job than the thing I’m already doing.

Kemerling: A Social Rebellion

  • “I don’t want you to know where I am at all times, to know what I love, or know how I’m feeling. I’m a human. Thus, complicated and multi-layered like all other humans.”


Had another bumpy-ish lesson in 5th grade (introducing the Design & Technology project). But my perspective has changed since the last (much bumpier) lesson. The reason in both cases is that I spent less time planning than the lesson deserved. Having spent most of the fall feeling stressed and overworked, I’ve decided that I’m giving this job as much time as I’m willing to (and more than I even should, considering my salary), so if I have a hastily-planned lesson here and there (which tend not to go very smoothly), I think I’m OK with that.

  • Stoked about this project, though. The plan is for the kids to choose an important technology in their life and eventually answer: 1. how has your technology affected history? (through interviews and research), 2. what is your technology designed to do? (by investigating how it works), and 3. how could you redesign your technology? (deciding how it could be improved and building a prototype, based on the current technology’s effects and the intentions behind it).

First LS Coding & Robotics class (once/week after-school elective). It’s my first class in the LS that’s truly mine, and… it was harder to manage than I anticipated. Not surprising at all (in retrospect). One of the students even asked, “Do you wish you had two teachers?” Which suggests it was worse than it was. I don’t wish that, though — I want to figure this out. #management

  • One reason I signed up for this is that I thought it’d be fun to work with the kids who really want to code and build robots. But it didn’t occur to me until now that maybe it won’t be fun or worth the energy I’ll be investing in it.

  • Another reason I signed up for this is the extra cash. But I’m a little frustrated by the idea that I’m working more at the same job to compensate for that job’s already-not-great paycheck.

A thing I need to get over: the way kids (usually boys) are compelled by apps/tools not working: “glitching out” (usually just everyday tech quirkiness) and “hacking” (usually just features they think are bugs). I think they like the idea that they’ve mastered the system — which I can respect. But I’m irritated by it because they usually haven’t done that, and (at times) they’re more excited to have broken it than in using it the way it was intended.

  • This is what kids are engineered to do, though. And it just happens to align perfectly with the complexity and unreliability of digital tech.

Here’s something I keep returning to: I think I’m a pretty innovative teacher. I’m using digital stuff in fun and interesting ways. I’m trying lots of new things this year, and way more often than not, they work (I’m upgrading this shit!). And it’s all relevant to the things kids are into outside of school (I know what’s up!). But I don’t feel like that’s been recognized or appreciated much by other teachers. That bugs me. Should it?

Got to buy some LEGO to supplement the Mindstorms kits in my Coding & Robotics classes. I wanted the kids to be able to be more expressive with their builds, and I’m stoked at the doors this might open creatively. Having a job where I get to use LEGO — and one where it’s an essential and meaningful part of what I do — it’s a dream come true.


Learned that the dad of one of the CWA kids is a current NBA player (DeMarcus Cousins) — a multiple-time (4×) All-Star, even. What!

Security Checklist, online privacy and security resources

A bonus of the new apartment: when you’re the only person who uses a washer and dryer, there’s no need to use a hamper — the washer is the hamper.


Shopping for a ‘low’-style bed: GLB + Natural Bed Company +

  • And I think I have a reasonable solution for my anxiety around owning a mattress: I already have one Milliard Tri-fold Foam Mattress (which I’m happy with), and two of those is the size of king. The modularity feels more manageable to me: it splits in half (so I could detach it and move it to another room as a guest bed), and they fold (which makes them easy to move around generally).

Vox: Magic Eye, The optical illusion, explained

  • It occurred to me, watching this, that I might be doing them wrong sometimes. And it’s true!

  • r/MagicEye: Inverted images?: “Q: so you mean to tell me that crossing my eyes has been the wrong way to approach these images? I’m not suppose to see the image indented? It's supposed to be embossed? A: Most likely it’s because instead of ‘relaxing your eyes’ you're crossing them.… try focusing on something far away from you and then looking at your screen while still holding the previous focus.”

  • r/CrossView, stereograms intended to be viewed cross-eyed.

  • Joss Fong, forever.

MeArm Robot, micro:​bit-controlled robotic arm

PewPew, little game console for teaching game development


Lazy Devs: Playing the Games of My Students

  • “[one] of the things that… newcomer [game designers, but this also applies to any kind of design based on appearance] don’t really understand is that consistency is a lot more important than quality.”

  • This guy is one of my new heroes.

jQuery: .load, import content from another page + :first, find the first instance of an element

  • Wrote (copy-and-pasted and trialed-and-errored together) a script that fetches the latest movie I watched (from this page) and displays it on About.

  • This is in addition to the script that already pulls my current favorite song from

mui, wood panel digital display

Escape Room Not Great™


“It… feels to me like for something to be true, there ought to be an element of feeling and intuition.” — Christoper Nolan

PuzzleScript + DungeonScript, puzzle game engines

The Take: Eternal Sunshine, the symbolism of Clementine’s hair

  • “the hair color’s progression signals to us the symbolic seasons of Joel’s and Clementine’s relationship: [spring = green, summer = red, fall = orange, winter = blue].”

  • “This is perhaps the most profound truth in the movie: that acceptance sets us free.”

  • Kate Winslet, forever.

TED Talk: How Language Shapes the Way We Think

  • “And if I ask an English speaker to organize time, they might lay it out… from left to right.… very egocentric of me to have the direction of time chase me around every time I turn my body.”

  • “Why do I think the way that I do? How could I think differently?… What thoughts do I wish to create?”


Over the break, telling friends and family how much I enjoy my job, plus having some distance from it, is bringing me a new ability to recognize — and appreciate — in real time, that the frustration is the job. In those tricky classroom management moments, I haven’t been working to keep a smile on my face, I’m actually smiling. I love the job. I love the frustration … ? #management

  • This maybe sounds cheesy and dramatic, but the way I feel has actually changed, and this is why.

In MS Coding & Robotics, did an all-class, post-project reflection on micro:​bit games (Project 2). It’s been so cool that one of my favorite things from my UW classes works with the younger kids, too. Reflections are never not worthwhile.

  • One question I asked was, “What do you wish Mr. Sparano had done differently?”, and the kids agreed that they wished I’d known more about micro:​bit coding before the project started. Which: 1. totally, me too, 2. I appreciate that they feel comfortable enough to tell me, 3. I learned a ton during this project, and I’m ready for the next class now, 4. I’m happy with what I did teach them, actually, 5. part of what they’re responding to is that it’s pretty difficult to look at students’ code and immediately know why it’s not working (and that ambiguity is an unusual classroom feeling), 6. I don’t even mind that they knew I was learning along with them — because I was, 7. which gave me a chance to model the more valuable skills (patience, flexibility, problem-solving strategies), 8. teaching digital-whatever means I’ll always be in the midst of learning/teaching new stuff (which I appreciate about my job), and 9. they all made cool little games, and they learned a lot in that process. #teaching #jobs

Internet Privacy: How the “nothing to hide” argument is flawed, made-to-order generative art

Bitsy: minimalist, reflections on minimizing game

Maya Kaimal Indian Sauces


In 5th grade, did an exercise/discussion on whether or not a pencil is a technology, using the definition they created at the beginning of the year. In the midst of that, one of the kids (Ayden) mentioned that his favorite pencil had “Round & Round” printed on it — which is cool because Justin had sent that to me, and I’d dropped that into their classroom. #worldscolliding

B.M. Pixel, 3×4 pixel typeface


In MS Coding & Robotics, we finished our game design unit with a micro:​bit Arcade (which I’d planned with one of the 4th grade teachers). This was wonderful, and everybody loved it. 1. The 4th graders were (hopefully) inspired by seeing a more advanced, bad-ass creative technology project in action, 2. the middle schoolers get to share the games they made, 3. and everyone brought their best selves to this experience — the middle schoolers, especially, who had a natural incentive to want to design a fun, actually playable game. #growingup

(photo: 01.08_b.jpg)

It’s going to be tough for me not to eat a lot more grocery store Chinese food (living next to a grocery store — actually, two). I love this neighborhood!

Teleport Bot (@bot_teleport), randomly generated scenarios


“My brother told me, ‘I’m going to get a Lamborghini.’ I said, ‘In your dreams’. He said, ‘My dreams come true.’ I said, ‘Your dreams come true in your dreams.’” — 3rd grader (Emilia)

Alterego, bitmap/pixelated typeface



  • Four years in, and my closest friends are still in Omaha. Not sure what to make of that.


As much as I’ve said in the past that I’m so glad I didn’t get married in my 20s, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the best women I know of aren’t single… and haven’t been for years — that settling down early may have been the best way to be in a relationship with a great lady now.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Good™

  • An example of a juicy movie (doubling-down on animated comic-bookness)

More Bitsy resources:

White Russian, vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream


I have a lot of good, long convos on these trips back home. The theme of this trip has been parenthood (specifically, being a dad). How do you manage it all? Is it what you imagined? What are the hardest parts? What are the rewarding parts? In the hardest parts, what are you thinking about? What’s your schedule like? What do you sacrifice? Do you have time to yourself?

  • I wouldn’t ask: is it worth it? Because of course it is. But it sure looks about as hard as something could be (to do well, anyway).

  • I’m asking these questions because I want to be a dad. But I also worry (a lot) that maybe I’m not cut out for it — that I’d have a problem losing the isolated Joe time that I seem to require. And I’m not all that interested in doing the work it’ll take to find a lady to build a family with anyway.

  • Life is pretty good as it is. And it’s possible that teaching is already the ideal balance for me of mentoring in a dad-like way while maintaining a relatively large amount of personal independence.

1UP Arcade cabinets + Galaga version

Bought a DKNY 3-in-1 System Winter Coat.

  • This is the first winter coat I’ve owned in my adult life. Which is absurd! (I’m just picky about coats and jackets.)



  • Watched Rockets vs. Warriors, which was pretty sweet.


Without a doubt, the main reason I haven’t yet posted a dating profile is that I don’t have photos to use. When I tell people this, they’ll inevitably offer to take a photo of me, right now. But that’s not how it works. You get these photos by just living your life and taking photos along the way. Which — for whatever reason — I haven’t done, for years. And it’s become a serious barrier to moving forward.

I’ve said several times on this trip that my job at CWA feels like the ideal job for me. It’s hard to imagine a better fit — it matters, I think I’m good at it, and it’s fun (the criteria for A Good Day).

Strong Songs, breakdowns of popular songs

  • Stevie Wonder, “I Wish”

  • Paul Simon, “You Can Call Me Al”

  • A friend (Jeremiah) recommended this show to me. Several people in my life (along with mom, Travis, Jesse) have a really sharp sense of the things that I’ll be interested in, and I just really appreciate having people around who understand me so well.


This is it. The year I turn 40. How?

The Myth of Invisible Design #design

  • readiness-at-hand: “using a tool to accomplish something and you’re not aware of it (e.g. writing with a pen).” vs. presence-at-hand: “when you’re aware of the tool as a tool (e.g. imagine the pen running out of ink. You become cognizant of it as an object in your hand.)” — Heidegger

  • There are three great themes in design: making something beautiful, making something easier, and making something possible. The best designs accomplish all three at once.

  • This is a classic design industry assumption: that design = product design. That a designer is always designing a beautiful tool for a person to use, by choice, to accomplish a task delightfully — that a designer is always trying to incentivize a person to use the thing.

  • But sometimes a design isn’t good for the person using it — not all design is intended to be beautiful or make things easier (I’ve said this, too). A design can be abrasive (barbed wire), distracting (billboards), cumbersome (privacy policies), disorienting (buying a car), fear-inducing (local news), etc.

  • A friend (Matt) and I talked this through. This essay interprets design invisibility as a visual feature, but invisibility can be intellectual, too (which is how I’m using it in the quote).

Weval: Half Age Good™

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