It’s been a tough year.

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[From a talk delivered at UX New Zealand]

A few months ago, my teenage son told me that their class was recently exploring climate change, and it caused anxiety to spike amongst him and his friends. One of his classmates actually stopped coming to school for a few days because of existential angst, and Elliott started to have trouble sleeping.

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I’m a designer, so I looked at this like a creative brief. Imagine your kid is having trouble sleeping, what do you do? I know a few things not to do. I know not to deny his feelings: “You’re fine. Toughen up.” But also I know not to despair: “Oh no! I’m a horrible father! …

There’s a great scene in The Farewell where a Chinese hotel worker asks the visiting Chinese-American main character which is better: China or America? But she can’t really come up with a satisfying answer.

“Uh… they’re different.”
“What do you mean different? It must be nicer over there.”
“It’s just … I don’t know, different.”

And that’s how I feel about New Zealand compared to America.

But I don’t mean to damn with faint praise. I am so enthusiastic about New Zealand that I sometimes confuse and alarm my kiwi friends. Every few days, I tell my wife “Did you know we actually live in New Zealand?” and it delights us every time. The realisation that we moved here never gets old, even after three years. We love this country, and we are thriving as people and as a family. …

What’s all this about, then?

My family moved from Seattle to Wellington in the last months of 2017. I recorded the experience in a blog/book format over here on this website.

I wanted to write chronologically at first, so you could follow along like a book. I wanted people to understand all the steps we went through, in order, as a way to help others who might be considering a similar move.

But I haven’t written on that page since March 2019, because now we’re settled in! And that means that reading our story chronologically isn’t as important anymore. So this publication will focus on slice-of-life stories from our new home in New Zealand.

Thanks for following along! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!


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My first day with a new MacBook Pro

Today I tested my new MacBook Pro’s battery life. I took a bus, then a train over an hour out of town, and hung out in a library all day doing my standard work while tethered to my phone. Then I got lunch and made the same trip back. It’s now 7:30pm and I’ve been presented with this message:

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Today I’ve used the battery for about 11 and a half hours, and it thinks I have another hour to go. It’s not 20 hours, but it’s still a lot of battery life.

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Today I made a point to use my computer exactly the way I would if I were plugged in. Same screen brightness, same apps, same behaviours. Like a lot of designers, I spend most of my day in Slack, Figma, and Chrome, which are all big battery and processor hogs. I also used my computer to charge my phone and AirPods, like I normally do. …

There’s not much to say

I took it out of the box and the old Mac startup chime greeted me. It booted up quickly and asked if I wanted to migrate data from my other laptop. I did.

It took about 2 or 3 hours for everything to transfer over. When it was done, I had the same desktop, same settings, same apps, everything just worked. One exception was my Google email passwords, and it’s possible other passwords are still transferring.

I did some work, like I always do. Things felt snappy. Now I’m sitting here with a computer that looks and feels the same as the other one. There’s nothing more to tinker with or geek out about. …

Election Day is over. Now what?

I love writing about politics. I love explaining complex dynamics to people who are curious. I love finding the nuance in big conversations. I love getting compliments on my insights, and I love feeling like I’m helping people navigate the confusing and oftentimes scary world of politics. I love knowing what’s going on, I love bonding with other people over a common discussion.

But I’m also addicted to it, and I know it’s unhealthy. I spend too much time and effort following every last little twist and turn in the political soap opera. …

Hour by hour

FiveThirtyEight has a great page called When Do Polls Close where you can learn more about the details of each state, when their polls close, when they’re report totals, and if we expect the numbers to shift over time. But it’s in alphabetical order, and I thought it might be nice to see how things will come in, hour-by-hour.

Note: I’m basing these on the times the polls close, not when results are announced. Some states will announce immediately, others will start showing data after 10 minutes, others will take longer still. But this will give us a good baseline.

Drop #1: 7pm EST/4pm PST/1pm NZST/1am GMT

Polls close in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia. …

The 2020 US Presidential Election

This is it! By next weekend, the election will have taken place. We’ll have transitioned from the election itself to the post-election transition. We know Trump won’t concede under any circumstances. We know Biden has a very good chance to win or even get a landslide. We also know Trump could still win. His chances might be low, but they’re not zero.

So let’s look at some final details as we round the corner.

FiveThirtyEight’s super helpful snake chart looks like this:

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The 8 closest states look like this as of this writing:

Michigan: 54/45 (+9 Biden)
Wisconsin: 54/46 (+7 Biden)
Minnesota: 53/45 (+8 Biden)
Nevada: 53/46 (+7 Biden)
Pennsylvania: 52/47 (+5 Biden)
—— This is where Biden wins ——
Arizona: 51/48 (+3 Biden)
Florida: 51/49 (+2 Biden)
North Carolina: 51/49 (+2…

A common misconception

Some things become accepted conventional wisdom even if they’re not strictly true. I think liberals like me are quick to find the holes in right-wing talking points about the things that Trump clings to like the “Deep State” but we’re slow to find the holes in our own stories. Here’s one: the myth that the DNC screwed Bernie in 2016.

You can read this 2016 article from the Washington Post titled Here Are the Most Damaging Things in the DNC’s Leaked Emails, so you don’t need to take my word for it. …

Something we’re about to see a lot of

I recently noticed this tweet from Owen Williams talking about how Apple Watches on kids feels creepy. A lot of people feel this way, but I think we’re missing out on some nuance.

Scrolling through the comments, I saw scary words like “surveillance” and pointed questions like “Why do you feel it’s necessary to monitor your child constantly?” And when you put it that way, I totally agree. A parent constantly monitoring should relax. But I’m not sure that’s the use case we, as parents, are excited about in a product like this.

When you’re a parent, schedule coordination becomes a big part of your life. Little Parker was invited to Jack’s house? Today? Can we make tomorrow work? Ok, today’s fine then. I’ll just need to pick her up a little earlier because we’re headed to the store later. Oh, true. She can stay home herself for an hour, which helps anyway because I really didn’t want to push that meeting. …


Jon Bell

I love building things.

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