brute update

An irregular newsletter of what Juan-Carlos is doing, thinking, and appreciating. 

Social distancing on Crab Cove in Alameda, CA.

Hi fam,

Scroll down for COVID-19 related links.

There is so much going on in the world at present. Now more than ever, I think it is necessary to slow down. Personally, I'm taking advantage of this cloudy weekend to reconnect with my body and with all of you. Lucky for me, cannabis is considered an "essential" business in California and the internet is still working, so I'm covered.

I've had the intention of updating you all for the past several months, but I've been waiting for circumstances to stabilize. This global pandemic reminded me that nothing is stable for very long. As Heraclitus said, "all things are flowing." The occasional interruption or crisis, such as the one we are in now, is the cost of having, in general, a thriving, dynamic society. My hope is, going forward, we will do more to prepare for these inevitable crises and be better at avoiding those of our own making. Maybe we will learn something from this one.

I think it's important we all find a bit of humor in our current situation. For instance, we might all die, but at least we have time to finish or even rewatch our favorite tv show before that happens. While this pandemic is complicated and anxiety-ridden, it could be so much worse. Dengue fever, ebola, and the black plague could all kill you within 24 hours of infection. You literally could not start and finish Game of Thrones within that time frame.

My job is similarly a crisis in slow motion (PS, I got a job). I started at Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) about 8 months ago. Things aren't COVID-19 bad, but there was a CEO "transition" a few weeks after I joined, and things haven't slowed down much since then. But, I am not complaining. I am grateful for the people I work with, the opportunity to learn, and the vision we all share of optimizing the global transition to clean energy. I get to work on breakthrough technologies like AI-assisted energy trading and battery-enabled virtual power plants every day even in this midst of a pandemic. And for that, I'm extremely grateful. Millions of people in this country just lost their jobs.

In all of this, Heather and I are doing fine. We moved into a cottage on Alameda around the same time I started my new gig. That gives us access to many parks and natural spaces to clear our heads (while practicing social distancing of at least 6 ft). Heather's non-profit stopped offering services about two weeks ago, but she is still actively engaged, collecting supplies to distribute to non-profits that continue to operate (e.g. Harm Reduction Center, Hospitality House, Mother Brown’s and UCHS in the Bayview, and St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County which supply information, restrooms, shelter, tents, blankets, and food to those who are unhoused and most in need).

A disease like the plague, “can only threaten your life,” Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations, but selfishness, pride, hypocrisy, and fear—these things “attack our humanity.” While we might not have the leadership at present to bring us together, we can look to the past for guidance on how to handle the present moment with grace and keep our humanity intact.

Sending love to all of you,


PS: This newsletter is mostly an excuse to stay in touch with friends. If we haven't chatted in a while, I always appreciate a quick reply. A beer together after work on Zoom/Skype is also way more fun than it sounds.
🚨 COVID-19

Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine: Integrative Approaches to Risk Reduction for COVID-19. Link

"The most important number to remember." A recent Facebook post of mine. Link

The Essential Guide to Nutraceuticals for Antiviral Defense by Andre Waton. Link

CDC: What To Do if You Are Sick. Link

CDC: Testing for COVID-19 & When to Seek Medical Attention. Link

🎵 Music

Spotify: Calm & Uplifting by Juan-Carlos Foust. Link

Spotify: For the Earth by Heather Dickison. Link

Spotify: My Top Songs 2019. Link

Above the Mother Earth by Mary Youngblood. Link

📹 Videos

"Sitting with the Dying: Rituals and Resources" at the San Francisco Public Library. Link

Makers and Slaves by Alexandros Pagidas - BIL 2018 LA. If you're curious what would happen if Wolverine and Plato had a baby, look no further than my friend, Alexandros. This video offers just a taste of his unique genius and intellectual ferocity. I also highly recommend his book of aphorisms. Link

🎧 Podcasts

Another Way, by Lawrence Lessig: Democracy Town Hall With Bernie Sanders. Link

On Being with Krista Tippett: Ezra Klein — How We Walked Into This and How We Can Walk Out. Link

The Kevin Rose Show: Kelly McGonigal - Author of The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage. Link

Planet Money: The Invention Of ‘The Economy.‘ Link

Planet Money: Where Do We Get $2,000,000,000,000? Link

Making Sense with Sam Harris: Life & Mind. Link

Making Sense with Sam Harris: Knowledge & Redemption. Link

The Interchange: Climate Risk, Part 2: California’s Crisis. Link

My Climate Journey: Jonathan Foley, Executive Director at Project Drawdown. Link

Direct Current - An Podcast: Tribal Energy – Powering Self-Determination. Link 

Commonwealth Club of California Podcast: Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State. Link

Commonwealth Club of California Podcast: Ash Carter, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense. Link

The Ezra Klein Show: How to solve climate change and make life more awesome. Link

📃 Writing

5 Keys to Inner Strength from 5 Years in Prison by Ross Ulbricht. Link

Starlink is a very big deal by Casey Handmer. Link

‘Transhumanist’ eternal life? No thanks, I’d rather learn not to fear death by Arthur C. Brooks. Link

Crooked Timber: Redemption Arc. Link

Different Kinds of Stupid by Morgan Housel. Link

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. Link

Meditations On Moloch by Scott Alexander. Link

Book Summary: Things Hidden Since the Foundations of the World — Rene Girard. Link

The Grumpy Economist: Single Payer Sympathy. Link

When the System Breaks Down, Leaders Stand Up by Ryan Holiday. Link

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