2020-04-27 5 min read


Notes, 2020-04-27.

Since NYC's shutdown began, I've taken one evening a week to do what looks like a normal midweek routine that's been reflected through a funhouse mirror. After the kids are in bed I bike the ~2 mile ride to The Prepared's workshop alone to water the plants, grab a few tools for whatever home project I'm planning, and wipe the doorbell off with rubbing alcohol. It's an odd, almost meditative routine, made slightly more normal by the fact that the emptiness in the streets could almost be explained by the late hour at which I'm riding them.

There are a hundred other things I'd like to be filling my time with: Home improvement projects, old essay ideas I never got to, long term personal and business planning that, despite the uncertainty around us, would at least be an interesting exercise. But most days it's enough to just maintain a sense of normalcy + not get too underwater on email - tasks that I debate the importance and/or feasibility of, but which now more than ever maintain a monopolizing grip on my attention.

I'll be off the next few weeks, with a great slate of guest editors filling in. In the meantime, I look forward to chatting with paid subscribers on Slack + on Wednesdays for our virtual lunch <3

The most clicked link from last week's issue (~16% of opens) was a rather dismaying first-hand account of how FBI and DHS are seizing shipments of PPE bound for hospitals.

Relief efforts, etc.

Planning & Strategy.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.


  • I’m looking for toddler-friendly iPad apps that roughly approximate the level of stimulation I recall getting from playing with LEGOs; send any recommendations here.
  • A good video history (12 minutes long) on the Mao-era Four Pests Campaign, a Great Leap Forward effort to eliminate rats, flies, mosquitoes, and (most notably) sparrows across China. Estimates range up to a billion sparrows killed in 1958-1959, on the theory that sparrows ate grain and that fewer sparrows in China meant more grain for the human population. The fallout was tragic: Sparrows mostly eat bugs, and locust populations soared without a natural predator, helping to decimate crops. The ensuing Great Chinese Famine killed somewhere between 15 and 45 million people. See also: These beautiful and harrowing posters promoting the sparrow eradication effort.

Overhead photos of the German steel industry.

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