5 Pretty Terrible Paintings

I did not expect much. They delivered.

I don’t have an editor for this personal blog. Please send corrections and complaints to drew@scaleworks.com. - A

I’m painting this summer and it’s not going well.

A few weeks back I wrote about a small personal project that I’m working on, namely that I was going to “paint five paintings, and write five songs over the next few weeks.”

I have completed the first part of the effort.

In fairness to myself, I did not expect much from my attempt at painting. Investment was low. Liza and I went to the art store around the corner from where we live, and picked up a cheap easel, and a set of beginner paints and brushes that a kind salesperson helped us select.

Acrylics, not oils, she recommended. We complied. Toss in two canvases and a charcoal pencil chosen at random, and I was off home to paint without further guidance.

When was the last time you did something effectively for the first time? It’s surprisingly joyful to have no idea that what you are doing could be wrong, meaning you can dive in at good speed. The results, however, might be a bit thin.

What follows are the five paintings that I produced. They are not very good. But I did them, and that was the goal.

The “Art”

Painting Number One: Alien Shitscape

I painted this one on our back porch, at night, with some good music playing in my headphones. I wasn’t clear on how to mix paints together, how to mix paint with water to make it a bit more pliable, and I was far too scared to change brushes until the end.

Other than that it was good fun, even if my attempt at a landscape appears to have come from a very weak sci-fi novel:

Painting Number 2: Cartoon-style?

This is another landscape, but done from sight this time. The first painting was me making things up. Painting Number 2 is my personal butchering of a particularly pretty bit of Massachusetts.

Sorry, Patriots fans:

What’s ok about Painting Number 2 is that I learned how to mix paints a bit better, and also discovered that water is a good thing. The tree on the left did turn into some sort of graffiti and the rest of the shot looks too cartoony, but, hey, second tries and all that.

Painting Number 3: Don’t Improve Things

I got this weird idea of a ghost ship that was also in space, so I decided to paint it. But after sketching what I wanted it to look like and getting the boat looking mostly correct, I kept adding to it.

The result is annoying:

Liza felt that Painting Number 2 looked unfinished, so I felt compelled to “finish” this one, instead of just letting it breathe when it was actually done. That’s why there are bad flames and blue blobs all over the place.

It’s a mess.

Lesson: If you make a mistake, find some way to blame your spouse!

Painting Number 4: The Least Bad

What follows is the least-awful painting from the group.

I drew a lot when I was younger. Not well, mind, but with great gusto. I would doodle non-rep art all over school notes, assignments, anything. Aside from losing marks from boring teachers who found my art annoying, it was pretty good fun.

This painting fits that old drawing style, and uses color more sparingly. I like it:

There are about 100 errors I could point out, places where my lack of skill made my attempt at vision conversion to canvas a complete mess. But. It did come out looking a bit like what I had intended, and that felt like progress.

Painting Number 5: Rush, And Fail

Sadly that short burst of Not As Bad went to pot with the final painting, which is easily the worst of the bunch.

Liza and I are working on harmonizing our finances, getting a team budget in place, and other newlywed things that are important and not fun. Personal finance is my kryptonite, so when I escaped the planning session to do my final painting I was not in the best of spirits.

I wound up with this boring, rushed mess:

Oof.

But it’s all good! The second half of the project involves writing music. What could possibly go wrong?

A Few Wedding Photos

We have a bajillion. Here are some.

A month ago Liza and I meant to sit down and record wedding memories so that we wouldn’t forget what happened. But then I flew to San Francisco for a few weeks, Liza started a month of nights (boo), and by the time we got our hands on the photos it was late July.

Oh well! I have the images and am going to share a few here. If you were there, I’ll try to send pics with you in them soon (you looked tremendous). Also, Ken took a bunch of gifs (a good example is here) that I need to find a way to share as well. And Brian’s photos. You get the idea.

But let’s not allow that to stop us. Here are a bunch of low-res screenshots of the actual photos that I pasted into a post. I’m no good at cropping and the original quality was way better, but don’t worry about it!

What follows are a few pics from the Very Good Day. :)

June 22, 2019

Here’s us before we got Liza dressed at church and I finished putting on a suit:

Talking in a backroom before the ceremony, Liza still not dressed, parents en route:

Family time, (Liza’s dad and my parent’s pictured; Liza’s veil [via her mother Liz] in the foreground):

Birth dad and soon-to-be-adopted-dad working on my suit (Liza’s dress in the background):

My parents and I in the sanctuary while Liza got dressed:

Liza is perfect:

Getting Liza ready (Liza’s mom pictured, myself in the back):

Liza looked super amazing:

I mean just look at her:

My mom futzing with my flowers:

Nearly there:

More peeps:

We skipped having a flower child, and instead had a bunch of them form a flower-themed army:

Much fun:

I was terrified going in:

Let’s get married!

Success!

Time for a march, here’s the band (What Cheer):

Let’s have a dang parade through Providence:

It was fun:

We didn’t mess up traffic too badly:

Made it to the venue without mishap:

Saying hi:

A few shots of friends and family as everyone gathered:

Time for Liza’s parents’ to give some speeches (our band, The Free Downloads, are in the background; they are so so so so so so good):

All four parents’ speeches were well-received, it seemed:

We missed dinner to take more shots with Garrett, our excellent photographer whom we adore:

We cut some cake, and the party kicked off:

Team SF was present and accounted for:

Not every photo came out perfectly, but how can you not love Owen, Drew, and Brian?

Even my brother danced:

Conclusion, get married, bring your friends, have fun:

And one more of Liza, the most perfect person I know:

:)

Why Is TweetDeck So Bad?

An execrable experience at the heart of what makes Twitter work.

I don’t have an editor for this personal blog. Please email typos to yourself, and then read them backwards. - A

Think back to the early days of Twitter. What was the first client you really used? Mine was Twhirl. It was 2008, give or take, and I had joined Twitter the year before but found little use for it.

Twhirl changed the game as far as I was concerned. It made Twitter feel both more real-time, and more conversational. I was instantly hooked. Around 200,000 tweets later (most deleted in a purge) I’m still in love with the social broadcast service.

It’s where I live. It’s the first thing I check in the day, the last thing I scan at night. Twitter is the app I use most on my phone. And aside from Chrome and Slack, it’s the thing I use the most on both OS X and Windows 10.

I’m not alone in my obsession (addiction?). There are a lot of us out there. And we, the Power Tweeters, often use TweetDeck, a tool that Twitter bought in 2011. As a bit of history, Twitter bought TweetDeck when it was building its own apps and cutting down on third-party clients (more here). Twitter wanted to control its ad experience, I presume, and thus culled the projects that built the clients that drove its early adoption.

Twitter degrading and deprioritizing its third-party client ecosystem wouldn’t have been that bad if the company had taken it upon itself to build first-rate apps. But as we’ve seen from public reaction to the recently launched New Twitter Web experience, for example, the company is still fumbling the ball.

However, I’d vote that New Web Twitter’s issues are nothing compared to problems that TweetDeck harbors. Here are a few things in TweetDeck that could be fixed:

  • Poor memory usage: TweetDeck is a huge memory hog on PCs and Macs alike. How that is possible is unclear. It’s mostly text! In small boxes! Running on my Core i7 Macbook Pro (with 16 gigs of RAM), how does it begin to gasp and stutter after use, forcing a reboot?

  • Terrible DM support: Some DMs don’t load in TweetDeck at all. Good luck finding those! And when you click on a DM, or group DM, the UI will often lag. Sometimes it will jam altogether! If you can open a DM and type out a reply, TweetDeck often won’t update the UI for some time to reflect what you’ve sent, so you might think that your DM didn’t go through, and resend it. Now you have sent two DMs in a row, and you feel bad.

  • Terrible Gif/Video support: In-stream, videos fail more often than they work. Gifs feel hit or miss lately. Why?

  • Bad mouse-selector-pointer-cursor-location control: Type part of a tweet, tab away, tab back, and now your text is unselected. So when you start typing, presuming, of course, that the software won’t fail you, you wind up calling up all sorts of keyboard shortcuts instead of writing your actual tweet!

  • Terrible username lookup: I was about to tag Rick Wilson in a tweet. In TweetDeck, I tried “@rickwilson” but he didn’t come up in the suggestions. As it turns out, his handle is @therickwilson and as such TweetDeck was utterly stumped. Never mind that he’s a bestselling author, active Twitter user, and has a lot of followers. It’s 2019, and a very standard bit of Twitter username faff made him impossible to find without leaving TweetDeck, going to Chrome, Googling his name + Twitter, and then going back into the app to paste it in. At which point I’d lost interest in my tweet and deleted the draft.

Twitter is worth tens of billions of dollars. Twitter has $6.69 billion in cash and equivalents on-hand (EoQ2’19, details here). It spent $159.2 million on R&D last quarter.

Why not spend some from each bucket on TweetDeck?

Please!

I Went To A Neat Providence Tech Event

Tech is cool and growing tech markets rock.

Yesterday after we got Equity done Liza and I drove across the Providence River to a neat tech event. It was the first such happening that I’ve actually been in town for, so we went over in good spirits to check out what the local tech crew had cooked up.

Providence isn’t a major technology hub. But it does sit in between two key tech markets (Boston and New York), has a raft of great universities, lovely quality of life, an affordability factor off the charts compared to San Francisco and a lot of local folks determined to see its technology community grow.

That’s a good recipe.

Enter the shindig. Held at the District Hall, a newly-opened public space inside the also-new CIC Providence (part of the larger CIC network), Venture Cafe hosted a gathering that brought together local startups, a speaker, drinks, and what appeared to be a few hundred individuals from the Providence tech scene.

It was good fun. Liza and I listened to Rich Miner (Android, GV) talk about building startup communities, we got to see Ryan, fist-bump Adam (whose app Crunchbase News has written about ), and also meet some of the Splitwise team. (Splitwise is an app that helps friends split expenses intelligently. It has raised a little over $10 million and is proof that you can build successful tech startups in Rhode Island.)

I wanted to mention the event because it was good and fun and encouraging. I grew up in small-yet-growing tech hubs. My first real jobs in tech were in Portland, Oregon, and I became an adult in Chicago’s own tech market. I was in The Big Cold when Uber first showed up (I met Leena at that launch dinner, which put me on the course to work at TechCrunch later and thus my current job), when Groupon was blowing up, and was lucky enough to watch Sprout Social go from brand-new project to something with dozens and dozens of employees (Liza and I went to a Sprout get together back in the day, I now recall; we got to drink with Justyn in the sun. Good times.)

Providence is a city that has surprised me. I thought that I wasn’t going to like it. Not the weather, not the people, not the tech scene. In every category I’ve been wrong. Providence is a delight.

And lucky for me I seem to have shown up when the local tech community is doing perhaps its best yet:

What luck!

(And if you are a tech or venture person in PVD, hit me up on Twitter or via email. Hi!)

Metallica, Crying, Hamilton, And Brunch

I had a really good Friday night.

I don’t have a copy editor for this personal blog. Please send all typos and corrections to aaron.burr@state.gov. Thanks! - A

The first time I saw Metallica play I cried through the opening songs. I had spent more hours than I want to admit listening to their music, especially through my teenage years. By the time I got a chance to see the ‘tallica boys their records were part of my being and hearing them live was too much for me to hold in all at once.

So I cried more than I knew was possible, in public, while singing along as loudly as I could. It’s still one of the best nights of my life.

Tonight was nearly a repeat. Liza and I just got back from seeing Hamilton, a piece of art that I’ve loved since I first saw the clip of Lin Manuel Miranda performing one of its songs at the White House. (Michelle Obama reprises this a bit in her book Becoming, which you should read.)

What a badass, I thought, to get in front of such an august crowd and do that.

I’m no theater historian, but I think at that point the musical wasn’t done, the songs weren’t hits, and Miranda himself wasn’t a beloved national figure. Yet. But it was good, and when the rest of the music came into my life I put it on repeat. It hasn’t left regular rotation since.

And, a bit like Metallica, when Hamilton kicked off tonight with a bang I nearly cried. I kept tearing up throughout the show, especially at the end during the orphanage song. It wasn’t the full-face deluge from that night in Chicago during Metallica’s World Magnetic tour, but it was crying or something close.

I really don’t cry much. I nearly cried when I got married, tearing up during our vows. And that was just a few weeks ago. I’ve got two almost-cries in in under two months!

It’s lovely to be moved by something so much, to be grabbed by the collar by a piece of art, say, that you can’t contain your response. That’s the good stuff.

When we got home I called my parents, raving about the show, promising to send them to see it when it plays a bit closer to where they live. They were excited about how excited we were, and for some other reasons too. My mom was jazzed because she’s an art fanatic and gallery curator (more on some of her recent work here, she’s amazing), and my dad because he and I are reading The Federalist Papers at the moment as part of our father-son bookclub. Getting to tell him that the book we’re reading got a shoutout in the show was icing on an already slathered cake.

I’m nearly forgetting the brunch connection. Let me rewind a few days. Liza and I met a bundle of friends for food this Sunday (at Plant City, vegans rejoice) where we spent part of the time talking about crying. About how it is good, and can be a pretty healthy thing to do.

I don’t cry much, I said truthfully. Just the wedding in the last few years, I thought. Little did I know that just a few days later, a musical about a historical figure would do the trick yet again.

What a good night. Hell yeah, music.

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