♖ Max Holzheu's Newsletter - Issue #12

Hello my friends! It is finally out, newsletter número 12. When this pandemic started, I took it as an opportunity to introspect and learn more about myself. Even I didn’t know what I was getting into: 5 months of almost complete isolation, with minimal contact from other humans besides what’s available over the Internet, and no work to distract myself. I can’t say it’s been easy, but these times have definitely forced me to really look within to find out what’s true for me.

Quote(s) of the Day 🔑

“Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”

- David Foster Wallace, This is Water (highly recommended read!)

What I'm reading 📖

I have spent the last month and a half reading A LOT of books and articles. A small recap:

Loving What Is by Byron Katie.

I need some context to be able to explain why I was drawn to this book. Byron Katie is the mastermind behind the method known as The Work. It’s a set of 4 questions, an algorithm of thought, that allows you to question your thoughts to see if they are true. This book is about The Work, and how to apply it to understand reality as it is. This book has been instrumental for me to let go of a lot of self inflicted pain, and has allowed me to see that no one can hurt me but myself. Katie is a straight shooter. Highly recommended. A+

Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World's Worst Nuclear Disaster by Andrew Leatherbarrow.

We know the name. Chernobyl, the greatest nuclear disaster in history. But what exactly happened? The answer is surprisingly complicated because it involves politics in the USSR. Manipulated narratives, silenced witnesses…the story has it all. This book was published in 2016 by an amateur historian who got obsessed with the topic, and did all the digging and head-scratching for us to enjoy a more or less cohesive story. A.

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Hehe. This book is about Soviet concentration camps, and all the countless atrocities committed within them. And here I am, in the middle of a global pandemic, and THIS is the book I decided to read. Why am I like this? And then it hit me: It’s the same reason I read Endurance: Shackleton’s Voyage: Shadenfreude. Yes, the pandemic is maddening, I am also pulling my hair out of desperation, but at least I’m not freezing to death (Shackleton) or live in constant fear of being kidnapped for no reason in the Soviet Union.

I don’t recommend this one. It was illuminating, but not worth your time. C-

Fall, or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

The first half was amazing. The second half was horrendous. Normally I wouldn't care, but the book is the size of Atlas Shrugged (900 pages, or 32h of audio). It stings a bit to have wasted so many hours. I would have left it unfinished, but I kept thinking it'd improve. Still, the first half was a riveting exploration of what would happen if we were to conquer death and simulate a world for the diseased. First half A+. Second half D-.

Currently, I’m reading The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer. I’ll have a lot to say about this once I’m done with it.

What I'm working on ❤️

In the last issue, I talked about creating a Digital Garden, a place to incubate ideas over time. I’m happy to announce it’s a reality, and you can check it out here: https://digitalgarden.maxholzheu.com

The garden has been up for about two months, and I couldn’t be more happy with it. Developing ideas and changing my mind in public has taught me a lot about vulnerability and “sharing before ready”, and I hope to continue to do it.

I also finished and updated a little script that I did to automate my personal finances. As you all know, I use YNAB for managing my finances, but they didn’t integrate directly with my Mexican bank. After unsuccessfully trying to use some of the existing solutions for “online banking”, I got fed up and built what I needed myself. It’s just a tiny thingy that imports my transactions automatically, and I run it every week.

This month, I’ve come to the realization that video is a very important medium that’s probably going to dominate in the upcoming decades. It’s personal, it’s engaging, and there’s way more people that watch videos than people who read. So I decided to give it a try. I’ll be honest: I’m very scared. I’m scared of the inevitable bad quality of the first few videos, I’m scared of talking to a camera, and I’m scared to put myself out there. However, the benefits seem to outweigh the cons, so I’ll at least give it a try. My first attempt will be recording a few tutorial videos in Spanish on my favorite programming framework: Ruby on Rails.

breathes deeply… Here’s the link if you want to subscribe and put pressure on me to get the first video out.

That's a wrap!

I feel honored to have you here, reading this. Thank you for your time. What do you think I should read next? I’m always open to book and article recommendations. See you next time!