An interior view of a modern city library

In Defense of Books: A Case for Depth in an Age of Impatience

There are few tools as foundational to our identity, relationships, and understanding of the world and our place within it as those we use for communication and self-expression. Oration to the written word, the printing press to moving pictures, television to the internet: each technology shapes our self-understanding. But in today’s frenetic competition for eyeballs, clicks, and time, focused attention is a muscle under accelerated atrophy. Plugged in access and flitting among bits of online information are increasingly non-negotiable for work, education, and finding housing (or even love).

All grid view of book covers

My Year in Books: 2023

I have a sensitivity for any ritualized ending that begs retrospection and renewal. Together with major milestone birthdays, there are few better moments than the end of the year. Looking back through the books I read is the lens I find to be the most useful for reflecting on what I’ve learned, the struggles I’ve weathered, and the emotions I experienced. The following is a rather jumbled accounting of the stories I consumed: part review, part list, part personal reflection. As there is no obligation to read this linearly (or even in its entirety) I’ve organized these by topic. The sequencing or length may not make sense, but I do this for me more than anyone else.

a baby zebra nuzzles shyly against its mother in a herd of wildebeest

5 Days on the Serengeti

One of the most famous protected habitats in the world, Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park spans an ecosystem nearly untouched since the Pleistocene. From the central Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Conservation borderlands, these grasslands sustain grand wildlife migrations: ecological rhythms tracked since humankind’s origins in East Africa. While befitting UNESCO status for its biodiversity, shifts in climate, poaching, and encroaching settlements risk this fragile environment.

a young male lion rests on a grassy plain

Safari Adventures in Northern Tanzania

Blanketing nearly 25% of Tanzania’s landmass is an expansive network of protected reserves and national parks. During my two-week safari Makoye and our incredible guides, carrying honorably and outwardly their love for this country, shepherded us through cloud forests flourishing with exotic birds to the base of a caldera’s sprawling grasslands roamed by endangered animals.

Looking out over the san juan islands from the wing of a seaplane

The San Juan Islands by Seaplane

The flight marked another spontaneous trip, this time to the Pacific Northwest. After a quick culinary detour to Bainbridge Island and pop culture deep dive in Paul Allen’s Seattle passion project I prepared for a last-minute visit to the home of mutual friends — facing a choice between a 3 hour long car + ferry combination or a 45 minute seaplane.

a close-up of skyscrapers reveal different colors and geometric shapes

Meditations on Megacities

As my driver skillfully navigated the on-the-ground chaos of screeching motorcycle horns and hellish gridlock, I turned my head to the passing still lifes. Tent encampments, sidewalks overflowing with garbage, decaying buildings, commuters with backpacks clutched protectively to their fronts. Each as characteristic a scene of a city as familiar to me as my hometown in San Francisco. From these blurred impressions, a question crystallized. Is urbanization — as closely related to human development and progress as environmental damage, vulnerability to disease, and inequality — a net good for people and the planet?