Photo by Steven Wei on Unsplash

Making Sense of Modern Life

What happens when programmers explore their feelings with a weekly check-in.

In the fall of 2015, I joined a batch at the Recurse Center (RC) in New York City. For those unfamiliar, it’s a bit like an artist’s residency or writer’s workshop, only for programmers. In each batch, you’ll find some combination of: experienced members of the software industry, recent grads, academics, old school hacker types, and creatives. Some have masters degrees and PhDs, some didn’t finish high school. Some folks work on famous projects, others are just starting out. There’s about a ten-percent acceptance rate, and everyone is exceptionally good at something. A universal trait among the participants is that…


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Making Sense of Modern Life

Thoughts from coping with trauma, C-PTSD, and Corona

We’ve got a lot of stuff going off right now. Never before have this many people faced a global catastrophe together. During the Spanish flu in 1918, the global population was a quarter what we have now. COVID-19 is a global pandemic with states ordering their citizens to shelter in place. There is a nonstop live feed and unprecedented statistical tools that allow us to see success and failure play out real time.

As a result, we’re having functional and ideological flaws (and features) pointed out in our governments, healthcare systems, and our global economic systems all at once. Senators


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Making Sense of Modern Life

Leveraging social media engagement algorithms to improve my quality of life.

There’s no shortage of evidence these days regarding the power of a daily gratitude practice. Medical studies demonstrate that it’s good for your heart. Psychologists recommend it for improving relationships, and combating depression. Employees even work better when they feel appreciated. It’s hard to find a domain of social life that’s not improved by regular expressions of gratitude. The only question is, “how do we do it?” A lot of that is dependent on where you want the effects to manifest.

A few years ago, I undertook a daily practice of sharing a short post on Facebook each day about…


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Making Sense of Modern Life

Not all men

Not all white

Not all straight

Not all cis

Not all able

Not all parents

Not all coaches

Not all teachers

Not all preachers

Not all cops

Not all agents

Not all bosses

Not all owners

Not all politicians

Not all celebrities

Not all parties

Not all companies

Not all industries

Not all rich

Not all strong

Not all powerful

Not all

Not all

Not all

Not-

All.

Most didn’t…

Most don’t…

Most wouldn’t…

Most won’t…

Not me!

Not here!

Not my friend!

Not my partner!

Not my kid!

Not my family!

Not my community!

Not my…


Battling a stigma of shame with celebration

Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

June specifically is the month most typically associated with celebrating Pride, although you can find Pride events all over the world, every month of the year. Certainly it coincides with World Pride events and the anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

Each year, a panoply of marches and events both large and small explode worldwide in exultant celebration. It becomes the annual opening of the rainbow “Pride” lotus upon the surface of our consciousness. Each celebration is marked by members of the hodgepodge QUILTBAG community decking themselves in rainbows and paying various degrees of homage to our struggle for basic human…


Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash

Making Sense of Modern Life

The unequivocal statement of a confederate flag

As far as legal rights go, the first amendment fully protects being able to display the confederate, or any other flag, on your property. Full stop. It’s allowed. Five states; Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana go further and legally protect against desecrating the confederate flag. Though the supreme court has ruled that we have the right to burn or destroy all flags, including the confederate and American flag as a form a freedom of speech.

There is absolutely a healthy argument that allowing states to continue to fly these symbols of division was ill advised. Letting a conquered…


The Appalachian Trail near McAfee Knob

I took a break from my work to go hiking on my old friend the A-T. As I walked, I realized how much of my daily practices have been influenced by a lifetime of travel, camping, and exploration. These lessons fit with the mundane daily needs of a hike, but they also have implications that go far beyond. Some stick quickly. Some I practice continually. Others directly contradict each other, but they are all useful.

  1. If you don’t set out on the journey, you will not encounter hardship, but you will also never discover anything.
  2. Do your best to prepare…


Not long ago, I ended up in a social media argument (I know, the best...) with someone regarding moderate attitudes in the political sphere. They took exception to the idea that I no longer believe in compromise attitudes surrounding issues like climate change and civil rights. Over the nearly forty years of my life, I’ve watched the spirit of compromise, paired with extremist views on the right, pull our social discourse further and further from the possibility of positive action. As MLK expressed, I’ve become comfortable with the idea of tension. …


The best description I’ve heard of Malört is that that it tastes of pencil shavings and gasoline, with a strong aftertaste of regret. Though invented and now brewed in Chicago (production took an extended trip to Florida), it’s considered a member of the Swedish bäsk brännvins liquor family. This collection of seventy-to-eighty proof botanical spirits are brewed from potatoes, grains, and (surprise) wood cellulose. Like gin, it’s instilled with various herbs, but it also includes wormwood, the same psychoactive ingredient as absinthe. …


A field near Ahmednagar, MS (circa 1999)

I grew up with a sort of composite personal faith heavily influenced by the teachings of Meher Baba and his remaining living disciples, who came from every major religion. As a result, from a very early age I experienced all faiths as sort of aspects of the same worship. When I was about twenty, on one of my extended wanders around North India, I visited Nizam-ud-din’s samadhi in Delhi and ended up at Fatehpur Sikri and the tomb of Salim Chishti, right before Eid al-Fitr. …

Thia Griffin-Elliott

Transfemme/nonbinary polymath with professional experience in the arts, chemistry, oceanography, nonprofits, and web development. Pronouns: They/Them/She/Her

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