Coming to you straight from a winter wonderland
I love winter. Fight me.
I’m sure this love has something to do with the fact that I spent my younger days in California and Arizona, where there’s not a real winter. Sure it gets cold once a year, but I never had blizzards growing up. I never had a snow day from school.
Freshman year of college, my first year on the East Coast and away from home, we had a huge snow storm. My mom was really worried that I wouldn’t be warm enough. I had a friend take a picture of me standing ankle-deep in snow wearing just a bathing suit. I’m not sure her concerns were eased.
But I love snow. And until this winter, it has been five years since NYC had a decent snow storm. Sure, we’ve had light snowfall that melted the next day. But this year we had a blizzard blizzard (arguably two?) that left snow on the ground for weeks. It feels more like when I first moved to the East Cost in 2004. Given NYC’s re-classification to subtropical, I didn’t think that’d happen anymore.
I’m trying not to think about how it would have been great, this year in particular *cough*covid*cough*, to have a warm winter. Instead I’m just trying to focus on how much I like the snow. Because we got a lot of it.
Now, when do we think it’ll be warm enough to comfortably sit in the park with friends again?
🚜 The world’s best video game just got a huge update. Stardew Valley version 1.5 is now available for both PC and consoles, and brings an insane amount of updates (link contains spoilers). For long-time players, it’s like a brand new version of the game. For new players, it’s an even wider world to explore.
In case you haven’t been sucked in yet, Stardew Valley is an indie riff on the old Harvest Moon games. The insane part is that it’s created by a single person, who calls himself Concerned Ape, and he has made 100% of the game. From art to music to programming to dialogue, he did everything. When you play the game, and see just how deep it goes, it’ll blow your mind.
💸 You probably heard about the Gamestop stock drama recently. One of the major pieces of the puzzle was the popular trading app Robinhood temporarily halting buys (but allowing sells) for Gamestop stock during peak mania.
I personally don’t really have skin in the game, but I did have a few hundred dollars of “play money” in Robinhood that I’d move around for fun. But all this GME drama made me look at some of Robinhood’s competitors that I’d previously been too unmotivated to research.
That lead to the decision to move away from Robinhood and to the new app Public (referral link, which gives free stocks to both of us). There are a few things I like better, and a few tradeoffs. It’s more of a social app than Robinhood, which I really like. It’s better at following individual investors and researching companies. But there is no options trading (fine by me) and oddly no ability to schedule recurring deposits yet.
If you decide to join, friend me. And, no matter where you trade, be careful with those dank meme stonks📈.
A sense of community
✍️ I’m the type of weirdo that has a Google Alert set for any mention of my neighborhood (Downtown Brooklyn) because I like to stay in-the-know. I’ve started funneling that energy into a small neighborhood blog called Oh No DoBro. I first launched it several years ago, but only just recently felt inspired to start posting regularly again.
One of the coolest things I recently posted about is an old cafeteria sign that’s now visible on Fulton Street Mall. Pairing new photos of that sign with historical tax photos from the NYC archive is *chefs kiss*.
🏆 In December’s newsletter, I shared a monologue from Dave Chappelle about his challenges getting paid for the streaming of old Chappelle Show episodes. I wanted to close that loop since it has a happy ending: the actor has been paid and Netflix is now streaming episodes again.
Just like last time, Chapelle posted the full story on his Instagram. It’s another long video (this one clocks in at 10 minutes), but he’s such a good storyteller that I had to share.
The next few years
🌡 I’m sorry. I’m going to end this month’s newsletter on a less-fun topic: the coronavirus. Mostly because the next year or two aren’t quite looking as rosy as they once were. And the result of this new information may be a re-calculating of one’s own personal risk tolerance.
If we look at the Spanish Flu of 1918 as a guide, we’re more than half-way done. But the important factor in the Spanish Flu was that mutations made the virus less deadly. With the UK, South African, and Brazilian variants, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Astral Codex Ten predicts (among other things) a 75% chance of an upcoming fourth wave:
A fourth wave may hit in March, when the more contagious B117 strain from the UK takes over. Expect more shelter-in-place orders, school shutdowns, and a spike in cases at least the size of July's, maybe December's. That will last until May-ish, when the usual control system...moves back into the "less virus" stage.
There may also be a fifth wave, perhaps even overlapping the fourth wave, with the South African and Brazilian variants taking over. Those lovely variants may have “immune escape” — the ability to infect people with anti-bodies (including from vaccination).
The good news is that the vaccines are probably still good against severe disease and death.
Which brings me back to my reason for touching on this un-fun topic: personal risk calculation. If you knew there was going to be another shelter-in-place order in March, how would you change your behavior today? What about if you knew that ebbing-and-flowing pattern of the disease is going to last the next five+ years?
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