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A Christmastime Story About Automating Your Appointments

With Heroku, and Twilio, and Hope for the New Year

I’d been trying without much success to get an appointment to put on winter tires at my local Costco. If you get up early enough, you can go wait in line and they’ll do it for you, but who wants to get up at 6am? For that, I’ll wait until I’m a more elderly Costco patron, with fewer demands upon my time. Fortunately, Costco uses an online scheduling webapp to book appointments, whose API calls I could examine!

Thus began an exhaustive foray into discovering just how many appointment openings I could get notifications about, using Chrome dev tools, Heroku Scheduler, and extremely simple Python scripts.

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Feet of Fury

A skate vid 15 years in the making

Meant to be the hottest skate vid of my adolescence. Filmed from 2002 to 2003. It was honestly my very first big, ambitious creative project. I learned (or tried to learn) Final Cut Pro to create it. I spent some time at the Regina Film Pool with their editing room, but never got much further than trying to find sound effects for the slo-mo tricks we aspired to make over sets of stairs that didn’t exist in our town.

What I think I didn’t have, back then, was the capacity to grasp what I had, and accept that as a freedom from my own overbearing expectations. I didn’t have enough content to make a feature length skate film. So I forced my friends to have laboriously long sessions at all our favourite skate spots, until it wasn’t really fun anymore. And then I forced myself to try to turn it into something it wasn’t, in aforementioned editing room.

After all that work, nothing really came of it. But on visiting home last year, I found the DV cam and tapes we’d filmed it on. And I realized, that after all my time making videos as a travel blogger, I might be able to actually create something my younger self would’ve been proud of. I finally had the sense of how to make something into what it should be.

It’s not the Feet of Fury that I thought I’d make. But 15 years later, it’s at least something. It’s a little bit absolution for all the frustration I made for myself with my teenage ambition. And it’s also a model of how to do work, now: by letting things slide.

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An Attempted Survey of All the Netflix Christmas Movies

I have been sick this whole week, so I watched all the Netflix Christmas movies. Just the Netflix Originals – meaning I didn’t get to watch Merry Kissmas, unfortunately. What follows are reviews of those movies, made while I was still sick.

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I used to think that confidence emerged from success. That if I pulled off enough, was rewarded and awarded enough, I would finally feel what I’d been missing in my life: a sense that I was enough. If I aimed high enough and got there, I’d find something up there that could give me the inner buoyancy that lets life seem easy, that could keep me afloat above all the things that dragged me down before.

In the course of pursuing that vision of confidence, I started a startup that failed, landed me in a tremendous amount of debt, and left me a little stumped. I had lots to show for it – shit, I did learn how to code after all – but I’d ultimately failed to do the biggest, scariest, hairiest thing I aspired to. After a couple years of tentatively pursuing more startup-shaped things, I decided to drop pretty much all of it. Something didn’t seem right about this path, or about the way I was trying to find my path.

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The view from the long tail

Part of the allure of blogs – for those who still write them – is that it’s a thing you work at over time, and gradually there’s this accretion of work and content and meaning that has a heft. It’s the accumulation that leads, for once, to something that feels more like an asset than debt, and it’s meant to lead somewhere really special and powerful and possibly to the best book deal a fashion blogger in Minnesota could hope for.

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