Sharing a gelato flight is a great way to cap off the evening.

six scoops of gelato each in their own bowl with another bowl of pizelles with "ciao" printed on them

26 Pieces Of Advice To My Past Self

I recently turned 26. I’m no sage, but I’ve picked up a couple of lessons in my time. Below are 26 things I would tell a younger me if I could.

1 Read more material that endures. Posts and videos are ephemeral. They come and go. Seek out knowledge and stories that have survived years, decades, or centuries.

2 Write as much as you can. Write anything. Document your days. You’ll love flipping through old journal entries, and seeing what you were doing. Trap your anxious and messy thoughts on paper, so they don’t consume your mind. When confronted with something hard, think through it in writing. It will slow you down, and allow you to evaluate your thoughts more clearly.

3 You have an aversion to conflict. You can feel it in your bones. That’s okay. Stay in it, and realize there are many ways to work through conflict. Guide the conflict into a style that you do well with. Conflict can be important, so do not avoid it when it is necessary. Stay calm and explain yourself clearly, even if you need to tremble through it.

4 You have a guilty conscience. This is good because it means you have a sense of morality but beware of people who will try to use that against you. If someone or something is making you feel guilty, pay close attention to the motives.

5 Smile, make eye contact, and when you ask someone how they are, really ask them.

6 The world is lonely without a community that shares your values. As soon as you realize you do not have this, find it. Or make it.

7 You can become a good public speaker. Like conflict, you feel like you need to run from it, but the truth is you must do exactly the opposite. Seek out opportunities to speak in front of others. It will be uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the better you will get. And absolutely practice beforehand, winging it is a terrible idea.

8 Stay open. Much of the good in your life will come from opportunities you didn’t foresee at all and had no control over. You might miss them if you keep too tight a grip on what you think you need.

9 Related to the above, don’t forget how much you owe to God and luck. You think you know this, but you cannot comprehend its depth.

10 Remember that every lie you tell will be accompanied by a confession, or worse, an exposure. Think of this anytime you consider lying, and do not do it. Lying is like smoking, it builds up tar in your soul.

11 Remember that it’s temporary. In the midst of anxiety, it will feel all-consuming and never-ending. It isn’t so. It will end.

12 Everybody is fascinating if you ask. So ask, then listen.

13 Initiate connection in your marriage daily. It will not initiate itself.

14 Step up and lead. Getting everyone’s opinion and deciding by majority may feel inclusive, but it is not leading. You will need to make tough, uncomfortable, and even unpopular calls. Make them and then bear them.

15 You so desire to be better that you will have a tendency to believe all feedback you receive. Some feedback is neither valid nor helpful. Don’t get stirred up over it. Recognize it for what it is, and move on.

16 Say what you want. Especially to your managers at work. People don’t know what you want if you don’t tell them. Most people will try to help you get what you want if they know what it is.

17 Never disbelieve in what you are capable of. You will learn to love olives. And you will become a master diaper changer. If you can do those, you can do anything.

18 Nourish your curiosity. You do a good job of exploring new things and not caring so much if others think they’re weird. In fact, relish in the confused gaze you get when you tell people about your new abstract hobby or interest. Keep doing that.

19 You follow rules really well. Try breaking them more.

20 Just because everyone is doing it, does not mean it’s good for you. You are allowed to completely cut yourself off from things that are not good for you.

21 Don’t get too obsessed with being better or doing better. You’ll lose sight of now, which is bad because it’s always now. Be present. Accept what is.

22 Start developing habits to maintain your health. Your high metabolism will not last forever, and avoiding the doctor will only cause more problems later. Get a primary care physician, see a dermatologist, and keep up with the dentist.

23 Don’t be ashamed of your age. People use age as a proxy for competence and trustworthiness, so these assumptions will not be given to you easily. Be honest about who you are, and what you are, and lean into your strengths. Wherever you are, you are there for a reason, even if you feel out of place.

24 Please take yourself less seriously. Not everything needs to be about “finding signal” or doing better. Have fun and be goofy. Don’t forget how to take it easy, this seems to get a little harder for you each year.

25 Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. It’s amazing how much better life feels this way.

26 Be less selfish. Think of others more, and make a system to do so if it does not come naturally.

A Recommendation for Trying AI

The following is a message I shared with my organization today.

In light of NASA’s push to train up the workforce on AI, I wanted to share a tool that I’ve been using in my day-to-day. This is a simple tool that would be a good introduction for folks who haven’t been using AI much.

Perplexity AI is a conversational AI assistant and search engine that provides citations for sources it is using. You can also specify whether you want it to only search through academic journals, Reddit, or other sources.

I’ve been using this about as much as I’ve been searching for links with Google. I’ve been using it for research, learning new things, troubleshooting other tools I use at work, etc. The cited sources help me to see where the answer is coming from, to judge whether I should trust it or not. And it’s really easy to use. Just type in a question you want an answer to, and it will give you cited responses.

A lot of the other big LLMs are good too, and each have there own strengths and weaknesses. Perplexity would be happy to tell you what they are!

Some others I’ve tried are:

“Children need to be used under adult supervision”

This made me laugh.

A while back I posted about Fed Meetup, the app I built that won an internal NASA challenge. Today I received my prize, a NASA@WORK sticker that flew on a SpaceX Dragon capsule that splashed down back in April! I have now committed myself to using this water bottle for life… 😅

A NASA@WORK sticker that was flown on a SpaceX Dragon, laying above an envelope addressed to Jacob Weidokal from NASA Jake holding his water bottle with the sticker displaying on the front of it

Do you ever say something and then the gravity of what you just said hits you hard? I was chatting with a coworker preparing for retirement and casually mentioned that I have 30+ years left. 30+ years! What!? That’s a lot of time to make meaningful and good things. That’s the goal.

How to Write a Kickass Article

I would like to note that as I write this, I am not following the advice contained within whatsoever.

I want to write better articles. I want to use them to reason and think. I would like to do some research and link to sources, so that my articles have some ground to stand on and they provide real value.

To this end, I’ve been doing some research on writing a good article and I made the cheat sheet below for myself. I don’t plan to follow this dogmatically, but it will help me remember what to focus on in different stages of my writing. The following is primarily a reframing of the essay app’s writing guide, because its advice resonated with me the most of what I found online.

How to Write a Kickass Article

  1. Read to get ideas.
    • Books
    • Articles
  2. Give yourself plenty of time to write.
  3. Make an outline to start.
    • Shoot for 10ish bullets. Any bigger and it is hard to see the flow of the argument.
  4. Write a bad draft - remember producing and editing are different activities.
    • Produce, produce, produce.
  5. Write more than you think you need, then chop it down.
  6. Edit it.
    1. Rewrite every sentence.
    2. Reorder until it makes sense.
    3. Reread the whole thing.
    4. Refine, refine, refine.
  7. Create a new outline - Try reconstructing your argument from memory. What you remember is the good stuff. The rest might be crap. Ponder that.
  8. Cut and paste from your old outline into the new one.
  9. Make sure you have hyperlinks in the text for citations.

Added a colophon page. I wrote it in a who, what, when, where, and how format, and I like how it turned out. I haven’t seen others doing it this way. I considered adding a “why” section but decided against it. I’m not sure if the colophon is the right spot for that, but if not, then where?

Added a changelog to my blog. For now, it is very small and very meta.…

I added a /chipotle page to my blog. I know this started as satire, but this might actually come in handy for me.

scritch scratch swoop and slash
furious scribbles relent
taut hush, reflection

Experimentation Is Where the Fun Is At!

My new shipment from The Goulet Pen Company makes it feel like Christmas!

Six pocket notebooks and sixteen different colorful ink swatches arranged on a light wooden desk

I ordered their notebook sampler and got a random ink sample set for free.

Read More →

An Analog Blog Post

A journal and Lamy Safari fountain pen on a dark stained wood table

The following was transcribed from the pictured journal entry. I used Google Lens and a LOT of editing.

It has been easy to not make time to write recently. “Busyness” is the main culprit, but I’ve also been spending time with its less boisterous sibling, distraction. And so here I find myself, back at the roots of my writing practice. The journal. I’ve missed the empty page. The empty screen is nice too, in my writing software of choice, but I can’t help feeling the weight of the myriad windows/apps/messages vying for my attention. So I’ve returned to my empty page. It welcomes my attention and thought, but does not compete for them. It is an escape in plain sight.

Read More →

There’s some nice footage of Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser at the Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio at the 2:00 minute timestamp of this week’s TW@N video 😁 We have neat facilities out here in The Land!…

I just used the Google Assistant to make a reservation this morning and it was pretty nice. It waited until the restaurant was open to call and then sent me a text confirming the reservation.

I replaced our mulch with gravel and started our first garden! We will have cucumbers and three varieties of bell pepper. 🪨🥒🫑

A blue house with a red door and a gravel flower bed with juniper bushes.A 4x8 raised bed garden with grass and a pond in the background.

Ever wondered what the heck that fancy ChatGPT Large Language Model AI is actually doing? This animated 3D visualization is an awesome step-by-step guide!

Felt good to be back on the grill yesterday!

A pit Boss pellet grill with smoke coming out.

Can you tell which is the original…? 😅

I asked GPT-4o to describe an image of me, and then fed the generated text into Microsoft Designer to see how well it could generate a copy of me. Microsoft Designer turned the handsome-dial a little too high, but this is impressive!

Here’s the description that was generated from the original:

The image shows a young man with short, neatly trimmed hair and a light beard. He is smiling warmly, showing his teeth. He is wearing a gray zip-up sweater. The background is an outdoor setting with blurred trees and foliage, suggesting it might be a park or a natural area. The overall mood of the image is friendly and relaxed.

Headshot photo of JakeAI-generated copy of a headshot photo of Jake

Is 1285 a good score on Google’s dino game? What are your high scores?

Google's no internet page with the dinosaur game showing a score of 1285