Zach's PEN #27: Six Months Straight!

2021 Week 4: A thank you note to all of you.

Hey PENpals,

I believe that this is officially the 26th weekend in a row that I have sent this Personal Email Newsletter.

I would just like to thank you so much for being on this email list, coming along with me on this experiment, even if on its face it may seem to have no "point." So far, this little insignificant thing has:

  1. Kept me connected to people I care about in a way that I can control. I've loved reading your responses (totally not expected or requested but I've loved them) and hearing from you in conversations in real life that you've read this PEN.

  2. Reconnected me with many people I haven't spoken with in years.

  3. Got me into a regular publishing habit that feels more and more effortless. I'm now publishing an average of 500+ words a day and even adding some videos/more soon.

  4. Given me a low-pressure way to reconnect with the simple creative act of making something and sharing it. I cannot express just how valuable this is, not just for my personal artistic aspirations, but for my business aspirations as well.

  5. Allowed me to live more in line with my values. I tell people (customers and others) all the time about the importance of putting their thoughts, ideas, and expertise out there. Now I can begin to actually stand behind those recommendations with personal experience.

  6. Created the beginning of a library of my thoughts, ideas, and expertise that every third day I am now pulling from to add to conversations, help someone out, or start something new.

  7. Made me trust myself, that I can actually do the things I've committed to myself to do, not just those things I've committed to others to do.

  8. Made pretty much everything else in my life easier. I'm no longer feeling frustrated to the point where I am mentally absent from this very magical period of my life, when our kids are little and everything is nascent and growing. I'm even working out every day and doing my jobby-jobs better. It's very NOT intuitive how this is all happening.

  9. Turned the Dread knob at least 5 clicks to the left and the Hope knob at least 5 clicks to the right.

  10. Made me regularly happier than I've felt in some time.

This is only the beginning, and I mean it when I say that just knowing 100+ of you have voluntarily signed up to hear from me once a week has truly represented a critical mass of encouragement.

PENpals (and particularly family), if you know anyone who might like to be signed up for this, please send them to

Share Zach's PEN

Thank you.

Threads From the Week

This first one is my first thread that originated in the PEN (it can go both ways, I suppose, why not?). This was my PEN so far that received the most positive feedback. Didn't do as well on Twitter, but 🤷‍♂️.

I wrote about learning the Dvorak keyboard layout and what it taught me about learning in general.

I wrote about how all the Hustle Porn in this culture is complete bullshit because not only is it a sick way to think, but it actually produces the opposite effect. It causes you to do less.

I wrote about why I quite being a software developer:

I wrote about my coach Michael Ashcroft.

I wrote about the best way for United States leadership to help small business:

And lastly, I wrote about how I list items successfully on eBay and what I think it says about selling successfully in general:

The Coolest Thing I’m Thinking About

This tweet from Loren Brichter (one of the greatest living software developers) is interesting for too many reasons:

Consider that even COMPUTERS can’t realize their most powerful abilities without play... I wrote a related blog post over the summer:

If you need some context for how Machine Learning/“Artificial Intelligence” works, CGP Grey did a great job in this explainer:

Baby Pictures

Right now, I’m kind of obsessed with panoramic portraits... This is NOT a panoramic portrait, but it is one half of a panoramic portrait (scanning in panoramic shots is kind of a pain and my office is still not really set up for it). So we’ll treat this as a preview (before and after) of the full panoramic portrait of Louisa, coming next week (I’m committing).

Many thanks, PENpals,