Out of the corner of my eye, just past the cars lined up in the turning lane, I could see that something was coming towards me quickly. Way too quickly. I tried to swerve, but knew that the inevitable was coming.
I heard crunching metal, the screeching of tires sliding sideways against the pavement, and smashed glass. A driver ran a red light at full speed and t-boned me.
Once the car stopped, I hesitated for a fraction of a second before looking over at my fiancée. The car had driven straight into her door, which she was leaning on. She was okay. Good.
I got out of the car, now facing traffic in the oncoming traffic lane and walked towards the other guy's car. His airbags had deployed and the front of his car totally smashed. He looked at me with a blank stare. I opened my palms towards him as if to say, "what was that all about?"
My main goal as a writer is to write pieces that will spark a permanent positive change for someone. I assume that most posts won't do that for anyone, but if I write enough and have enough people read my posts, it will happen from time to time. I read a lot of blog posts and it rarely happens to me, but when it does, the effect is powerful and makes it worth reading all the posts that have no effect.
Around five years ago I read an excellent piece by Sebastian Marshall about Consolidation (http://www.sebastianmarshall.com/on-brilliance-and-consolidation) that had such an effect on me. Before reading it, any consolidation I did was random. Sometimes it happened, other times it didn't.
Consolidation, at least as I think about it, is taking time after progress to both cement the process and reset so that you're ready for the next piece of work. Some examples:
1. I built CruiseSheet to be a great cruise search engine, but it required a lot of my own intervention to keep it running. Things would break and I'd have to go fix them. So I spent a bunch of time automating maintenance, building failsafes, and building alerts to to let me know when stuff stopped working. This didn't increase revenue and certainly wasn't exciting, but it allowed me to keep the gains I'd made and free up my time and focus for the next project.
I remember hearing about the Teforia a long time ago. The story around it was that it was this comically overpriced tea brewer, often compared with the Juicero, that symbolized what was wrong with Silicon Valley.
So, of course, I took very little interest in it. I like brewing tea and, having brewed it at least a few thousand times, I'm pretty good at it. What's the point of a machine that's not going to do it as well as I can?
I can't remember why, but a few weeks ago, the Teforia came back on my radar. I searched and found that they had gone out of business and that the machines which were once $1000-15000 were now being sold as cheaply as $200 on eBay.
At the same time, I had been noticing something troubling about my productivity. I realized that because I made tea at my desk every day, and because it required a fair amount of manual intervention, I would avoid any tasks which required serious concentration for the first couple hours.
It cost me about $100 to go to my friend's Christmas party. I had to buy a cheap flight from Vegas to San Francisco, and then a couple uber rides to and from the party.
On the surface, that doesn't make all that much sense to do. But I made a deal with myself—any time one of my good friends in SF invites me to something in SF, I will go, even if it's not quite worth it on paper.
My friends in SF are some of my closest friends. I love living in Las Vegas and have saved a ton of money in doing so, but if moving meant that I'd never spend time with my SF friends, the move wouldn't be worth it for me.
Sometimes the only way to unlock something valuable is to overpay for something else. The only way I can live in Vegas and still maintain important friendships is by overpaying most of the times I hang out with them. So overall it's a net benefit.
In one of my (many) posts about optimizing, someone made a comment to the effect of, "What's the point of optimizing everything? Eventually you'll optimize your entire life away and have nothing left to do." That reminded me of what people say when they hear that I'm being cryogenically frozen when I die. Very often they say that they wouldn't want to live forever.
It is very peculiar to me that people would ever want to die, but that's another topic. Even stranger to me is that people somehow believe that the exact right time to die is when they are going to die anyway. Good genes and healthy living, dying at age 95? Perfect. Cancer at 65? Also perfect.
If you would not end your life earlier, and would likely get medical treatment to extend it to a "normal" life expectancy, why would you not also live forever, or at least until you voluntarily died at age 500?
(I should say here that I believe there is only a 5% chance I will actually be preserved and resurrected in the future, so you can save the comments about why it won't work)