A lot of output from me lately. I’m sure I’ll slow down soon - I’ve just had a lot of things I want to write about lately.

Growth Requires Discomfort

I think there’s a direct relationship between how much success you find in life and how often you willingly make yourself uncomfortable.

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I say this as a guy who’s self-identified chronically addicted to comfort. It’s an unfortunate fact of life: if you’re comfortable all the time, you’ll slowly become uncomfortable all the time.

Here are some ways in which I’m gotten out of my comfort zone lately.

I’m Re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-rebuilding My Thing

I’ve written extensively about my Personal Data Warehouse project, which has been around so long it’s had more names than I have limbs. I’ve tweaked the codebase substantially 11 times over the past 9.8 years1. Each time I’ve learned a little bit. The 4 times I tore it all down and started from scratch corresponded with 4 dramatic leaps in learning - see the Top 5. Now, you could argue that doing a thing you’ve done 11 times before isn’t “stepping out of your comfort zone”, but it’s working with a new language, new framework, and an entirely different paradigm. That’s hard.

I’m (Finally) Keeping some Streaks

I’ve not probably given the Streaks App on iOS enough credit here. It was almost single-handedly responsible for me sort of learning to play guitar, getting in the best shape of my life, and teaching myself web development. It’s not a complicated app. The only thing it does is help you keep track of whatever habits you want.

Life is hectic. Life with a 2 year old and 4 year old is especially hectic. There is no such thing as “a strict routine you can rely on”. If you rely on strict habits to get you in the gym often enough, your gym habit is fragile. Having a habit tracker makes for a more flexible, more durable habit. Doesn’t matter when you do the thing, so long as you make some time to do it at all. Now, that doesn’t make it easy, it just makes it possible.


As promised in Column 430, I am going to write about FigJam. It was an uncomfortable experience switching my main “puzzle planning” app. When I posted that Column I thought I was going to write in THIS post about how I was too uncomfortable making the switch and decided to stick with GoodNotes 5. What actually happened was I stuck through the discomfort and really came to convince myself “no, this actually genuinely is better now that I’ve pushed through the transition jitters. Growth requires discomfort. How about that.

Artificial Intelligence

I’m late to the game on writing about artificial intelligence. Everyone is fascinated by OpenAI’s ChatGPT and DALL-E 2… and I’ll be honest for whatever reason it didn’t really interest me until it became so trivially easy to interact with. I realized this app on the app store can generate images based on text prompts from on my iPad - as many images as I want - at zero cost to me. My Notion account was recently granted access to their limited-release newly-introduced “AI Block” feature. Now I can generate images and text with essentially zero effort. AI has been around for years and years, but this is easily the coolest thing I’ve ever seen it do… and I haven’t even made an OpenAI account yet to play with the newsworthy ones. Although I have seen second hand some of the results that are possible from throwing more high-powered resources into the image generations AIs, and they put the previously linked app to absolute shame.

So, everything not italicized from here down to the Top 5 will be produced by AI, based on what I want to see.

Freddy the Frog and the Turtles

Freddy the Frog was a happy-go-lucky amphibian who loved to hop around in his pond, enjoying the warm summer days and chasing dragonflies. But he had one problem: he didn’t like turtles. Whenever he saw one of them slowly making its way across the pond, he would hop right up to it and croak out a rude comment.

One day, however, Freddy found himself in a sticky situation. He was hopping around, minding his own business, when he came across a huge pond turtle. The turtle was so big that Freddy couldn’t hop over it, and he was afraid to hop around it. He was stuck.

That’s when the turtle spoke. “What’s the matter, little frog?” it said in a deep, rumbling voice. “Why don’t you just hop around me?”

Freddy was taken aback. He had never heard a turtle speak before, let alone speak to him. He was so surprised that he couldn’t find the words to answer.

The turtle smiled and said, “I understand. It can be a bit intimidating when you’re smaller than someone else. But you know what? Turtles aren’t so bad. We can be nice, too.”

Freddy took a deep breath and slowly hopped around the turtle. He was surprised by how kind the turtle had been, and he decided to take the turtle’s advice. He realized that growth required stepping out of his comfort zone, and from then on, he didn’t let the turtles scare him away. Instead, he took the time to get to know them and even became good friends with some of them.

Editors note: I told it to write about “a frog that learns to be nice to turtles”. It chose to include the bit about getting out of your comfort zone - I have no idea if that was a massive coincidence or not.


Editors note: I told it to generate “a cartoon of a small frog talking to a large turtle’. It gave up on the turtle, I guess.

Get in to Win is excited to announce the launch of their newest product: The Cookie Jar. This innovative puzzle box is sure to challenge even the most seasoned puzzle enthusiast.

The Cookie Jar is handcrafted from solid wood, and features a unique mechanism that can only be unlocked with the correct combination. It’s a highly interactive puzzle that is both challenging and fun.

The Cookie Jar is designed to be used by both adults and children. It can be used as a game to engage the whole family or as a solo activity. It’s an excellent way to sharpen problem-solving skills, improve hand-eye coordination, and have some fun.

The Cookie Jar is the perfect gift for anyone who loves puzzles and is looking for a unique challenge. It’s sure to be a hit with individuals, families, and puzzle enthusiasts alike.

For more information about The Cookie Jar, please visit www.getinto.win

Editors note: I told it to write a press release about “The Cookie Jar”, a new puzzle box by “Get In To Win”. I had to correct the URL it guessed, but holy cow that’s cool.


Editors note: I told it to generate “locked cookie jar” - and it decided to make a jar-shaped cookie? Or a jar made out of a cookie? With something vaguely resembling a keyhole.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone To-Do List

  • Identify areas in your life that you want to challenge yourself in
  • Make a plan of action to get out of your comfort zone
  • Set small, achievable goals for yourself to build confidence
  • Find a supportive group of people or a mentor who can help you along your journey
  • Take time to reflect on your successes and failures
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things
  • Celebrate your successes and learn from your failures
  • Continue to challenge yourself and your comfort zone

Editors note: I told it to write a to-do list about ‘getting out of your comfort zone’.


Editors note: For this I just wrote “comfortable”… which is ironic because that image makes me very uncomfortable.

Top 5: PDW Overhauls & What I Learned Each Time

5. Pen & Paper + Excel ⇒ Google Sheets + Google Forms

I learned how Google Sheets worked, and how Google Forms worked.

4. Google Sheets + Google Forms ⇒ that + Google Apps Script

I learned JavaScript. I learned that I could learn coding.

3. Google Sheets/Forms/Apps Script ⇒ Glitch Site + MongoDB

I learned HTML and CSS. I learned how to work with non-relational databases. I learned how to make my own API.

2. Glitch Site + MongoDB ⇒ Firebase Site + Firestore

I learned TypeScript. I learned Git. I learned how to develop on my local machine and deploy to the cloud. I learned about authorization & authentication. I learned how to publish packages to NPM and why and how to use coding patterns.

1. Firebase Site + Firestore ⇒ What’s Next

I am learning SvelteKit. I am learning Tailwind. I am learning relational databases. I’m learning separation of concerns and modularization. I am learning about what I will be learning.


Good minimalism is about intention. It’s not about removing things.Ben Vernel

  1.  Yes the 10 year “Life Tracker” anniversary is coming up. Expect some massive blathering.