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On Chintatown. Sea of Tranquility. Range. Dune: Part Two.

Luna // 13 Months // On Chinatown

Today the family went on an outing to Chinatown. We've been there many times before, but just for short little jaunts — out of the car and into a restaurant, into a coffee shop or library. Today, we came with no agenda but to explore, unloading Luna’s wagon and meandering through the center plaza.

As we turned down a narrow alley with a ceiling full of lanterns, a flood of memories suddenly washed over me. "Luna, you've been here before!" I exclaimed with a smile. I pulled out my phone and scrolled back through my photos until I landed on it: An image of Kristine almost two years ago, standing in this very same alley, her pregnant belly beginning to fully show beneath her dress. A band-aid marked her arm from a doctor's appointment earlier that day, where an ultrasound and blood test had revealed our baby girl was in good health. It was at that appointment that we allowed cautious hope to take root where worry had lurked. In the photo, Kristine is smiling.

Now, I held up the phone, telescoping past and present and feeling them merge into one. The same red lanterns still hung above, but now that hoped-for future was manifest in the 13-month old in Kristine’s arms. Luna’s presence completed a picture that had only been half-drawn in that earlier photograph.

Parenthood is an exercise in presence and memory, each moment an opportunity to be taken back into the past. The lanterns transported me, throwing the passage of time into sharp relief. We trace and retrace the paths of our past, adding layers of meaning with each visit. The red lacquered shop windows and festive ceiling become a palimpsest, the faded-but-still-legible versions of our past selves mingling with the fresh ink of today. Perhaps we’ll take another photo here, in two years, or five years, or ten, of fifty. Maybe, decades from now, the hallway will ignite some spark in Luna’s mind, awakening a memory of her childhood.

I opened my camera to snap a new picture, capturing Kristine and Luna in front of the lanterns. In doing so I created yet another portal for my future self to step through, back to this perfect ordinary day, when the gift of an unhurried afternoon allowed us to amble and remember and imagine.

One day I will use this talisman to transport me back again, but for now, I put away the phone and return to the only moment that matters: The present.

What I Read

Sea of Tranquility is one of the best works of fiction I’ve read in a long while, and I think it helped tremendously that I went in completely blind. I was recommended it by a friend, downloaded it, and started reading, knowing absolutely nothing. I just now read the book synopsis, and I think I would have been worse off for knowing it before I picked the book up. So, I’ll tell you no details. I’ll just pass the recommendation along to you, and hope that you experience it in the same way that I did. PS: This makes for a great audiobook.

I've always been drawn to a diversity of fields and interests rather than diving deep into one area of specialization, but this approach can often feel at odds with the prevailing wisdom that becoming an expert in a single domain is the key to success. Range validated my own meandering path, arguing persuasively that in a complex and unpredictable world, generalists are uniquely positioned to thrive. Drawing on examples from sports, art, music, science, and business, the author shows how cultivating range (both in knowledge and experience) powers innovation and creative breakthroughs.

I first read Range a few years ago, and at the time was struck at the power of drawing connections between disparate fields and ideas, cross-pollinating insights to solve thorny problems. This is one of my favorite things to do, and I had recently discovered tools-for-thought which were directly able to link disparate ideas together, on the screen. I decided to re-read it this year in a new phase of my life, as I’m deeply immersed in the task of building an onchain future. This time I was struck by how the book champions experimentation, positing that people who are able to make connections between unconsidered areas makes them good disruptors. Consider the story of Claude Shannon who developed the concept of Boolean gates:

Claude Shannon, who launched the Information Age thanks to a philosophy course he took to fulfill a requirement at the University of Michigan. In it, he was exposed to the work of self-taught nineteenth-century English logician George Boole, who assigned a value of 1 to true statements and 0 to false statements and showed that logic problems could be solved like math equations. It resulted in absolutely nothing of practical importance until seventy years after Boole passed away, when Shannon did a summer internship at AT&T’s Bell Labs research facility. There he recognized that he could combine telephone call-routing technology with Boole’s logic system to encode and transmit any type of information electronically. It was the fundamental insight on which computers rely. “It just happened that no one else was familiar with both those fields at the same time.”

The book suggests that following your curiosity and collecting diverse experiences is not indulgent dilettantism but in fact an astute strategy in an uncertain world. Breadth is not the enemy of depth, it is a compliment. If you've ever felt anxious about not specializing fast enough or guilty for being a "jack of all trades," this book offers a compelling counterpoint.

What I Watched

After catching Monkey Man in theaters last week, I ventured back out to experience Dune: Part Two in IMAX before it left the big screen. This was my first trip to CityWalk, which boasts one of the largest screens in the city, and it was there that I found myself transported once more to the sands of Arrakis. What a journey it was.

At its core, Dune is a story about prophecy, and I find myself captivated by the way it invites us to question Paul's role as the Lisan al-Gaib. Is he truly the savior, a messiah destined to lead the Fremen to glory? Or is he merely a pawn, a tool wielded by those in power to further their own agendas through the insidious machinations of galactic propaganda? Perhaps, in a twist of fate, both could be true—the prophecy genuine, and the propaganda simply the galaxy's way of ensuring its fulfillment. Each character grapples with this conundrum in their own way, and as a viewer, I find myself drawn into their internal struggles, pondering the same questions that haunt them.

Part One of Dune moved at a relentless pace, propelling Paul from the comforts of his ancestral home to the unforgiving deserts of Arrakis, transforming him into the leader of a guerrilla house, running and hunted. In Part Two, we are granted a brief reprieve, a chance to luxuriate in the story ever so slightly more and witness Fremen society. Yet, even as I reveled in these moments of exploration and discovery, a part of me couldn't help but yearn for more. I found myself wishing that this adaptation had been conceived as a trilogy, allowing us even more time to fully immerse ourselves in the world.

Like its predecessor, Dune: Part Two traverses its dense source material with remarkable efficiency, its plot moving at a breakneck pace, delivering a visual feast with every frame. When a Fremen warrior rode atop a sandworm, the banner of House Atreides fluttering in the wind behind them…I felt that.

With the film fresh in my mind, it’s time to crack open the pages of Dune Messiah and continue the story.

That’s all for now,

From the present moment,

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