Moontower #117

Well hello friends.

It’s been 2 months. Last you heard from me, I was hanging out in the DFW area. We continued on to the Dominican Republic and then NYC/NJ before getting back to the Bay Area for the start of school. Thanks for the patience. We are all awash in “content” so I figure nobody missed me that much especially since I was still tweeting promiscuously.

After 10 weeks on the road, I was craving the warm embrace of a routine. Before I could ease back into a schedule I needed to indulge my organizational OCD otherwise known as “procrastination”. So to transition back into a weekly cadence I’ll briefly talk about this housekeeping before talking about what will change about the Moontower letter and what will stay the same.


I aggressively shed the few extra pounds I put on this summer. Mostly through diet but I got back to lifting 2x/week and walking more (taking kids to and from school by foot helps there). I also got a physical/bloodwork. I was told to lower my blood pressure and blood sugar. Luckily, the Rx for both is the same — treat your body like you only get one. Feed it actual food, move it, and rest it.

Intellectual Inputs

You’d think that I did a lot of reading on my travels. You’d be wrong. I did what I couldn’t the prior summer — I hung out with family, old friends, and new friends I’ve met because electrons are amazing. But I want to get back to reading more. I don’t even mean books necessarily. Articles and blog posts are a step up from where I’ve been. I seriously starved myself of intellectual stimulation this summer. I opened my laptop maybe once a week and mostly used the Notion app on my phone to queue my reading list. I started working through it this week. Here’s a look at my queue system in case you are a serial killer too.

Filing system for reading

For better or worse, filing posts I want to read makes me feel less overwhelmed. Posts that are long or technical require different energy than the “<8 min read” and my Notion dashboard is a useful triage. And it’s fine to discard something you thought you might want to read and later lost the will or need. To get reading times I use the ReadingTime Chrome extension (link).

The “Week of 9/7/2021” is a dropdown where I file the articles I read this week. At the start of the next week, I’ll move that file to the “Weekly Reading Archive”. Sometimes, I’ll read something and want to refer back to it but I didn’t anticipate ever wanting to refer back to it but I might remember roughly when I read it (ie “during Thanksgiving last year”, or “when I was in LA”). This gives me a chance of recovering it even if I can’t remember distinguishing features of the post to feed a search engine.

Other sources of media

I just have a simple list by media type (ie movie, YouTube clip, etc). For audio sources, I use PlayerFM to queue podcasts and Spotify to explore music. My public Spotify lists are indexed for you here.


Separately, a college bud recently needed to re-arrange an equation for a financial model he was working on. He put it on our group chat that has several electrical engineers and physics folks with advanced degrees. Crickets. I stuck it into an online math solver after taking a crack at it and failing. The solver reminded me that there’s a general formula for a quadratic equation that starts with:

-b ± √ stuff

Oh, the cobwebs. Use it or lose it.

Anyway, that feeling prompted this tweet that led to a treasure trove.

Twitter avatar for @KrisAbdelmessihKris @KrisAbdelmessih

Please reply with your favorite free online algebra, calculus, stats courses please. 🧮

I rummaged through the responses and came up with this shortlist if interested:

And of course, Khan Academy was a frequent recommendation.

The Future Of Moontower Weekly Musings

  • You may have noticed Moontower has migrated from Mailchimp to Substack. Mailchimp’s free tier caps at 2k subs and there are now over 2,100 of you. Meanwhile, Substack is always free. And so easy a caveman can do it, lucky for me.
  • I moved the archive (in a painful copy/paste process) to my WordPress site MoontowerMeta.

After >2 years of following a steady format, I’m modifying the letter. How will Moontower be different?

  • It will be much shorter
  • It will be more focused on sharing links I found interesting
  • It will only have 2 sections. The main section is where you will find recommendations and Money Angle is where you will find more finance-focused links.

What will not change?

  • Sunday is the day. Every week.
  • It will remain personal. A lot of reader outreach came from the philosophical and productivity-geared posts. The From My Actual Life section also created an easy relationship with you. So even though the Money Angle drives the subs, this outlet where we try to figure out life together I think becomes the familiar friend. It means a lot to me but removing the weekly prompts reduces the mental overhead of the letter.

This brings me to the reason for modifying the letter — to reduce the hours I spend on it. I want to tackle a list of writing projects and posts that require more effort. I’m just re-allocating time from the letter to the longer posts (which I will of course share in the letter as they get published). When I started Moontower, it was intended to be just links, but your encouragement let me wade into writing. Both the finance and life writing found appreciative audiences once I hit “send” on Sunday. I’m just leaning into that, so 117 letters later, Moontower is coming full circle and going back to mostly links.

Ok, this is already much too long so we will punt on Money Angle this week and just share a few recs/tweets from the past couple of months.


  • Motivational books…I compiled the results here.

  • Investing in future productivity

    The 8-year-old has been using to speed up. He noticed I peck like a chicken and shamed me into practicing. Jeff introduced me to an even slicker software — Painful but it will be worthwhile. (Yinh, meanwhile, is a ringer and organized a wpm contest at her old firm on her last day and torched everyone. She’s close to 100 wpm. Annualize that.)

  • Fun
    • I saw Ford vs Ferrari for the first time this summer and it immediately became one of my favorite movies. I watched it 4x in a week which reminded me of my early 20s when I first got a DVD player and watched LebowskiZoolanderBoiler Room and Any Given Sunday until I just about wore the discs out.
    • I went to Bottlerock for the first time ever. It was like a food and wine festival with music. It was well-done and comfortable. Nicest port-o-potties I’ve ever seen. And no lines! We went general admission and used car service to go back and forth each of the 3 days (even Best Westerns were about $1500/n for double occupancy). I’d go back to Bottlerock but maybe book accommodations a year in advance.

      Favorite new-to-me discoveries: The Black PumasJoywave, and Cage The Elephant (who are on binge repeat mode in the house now. I made a playlist of the set they played if you wanna partake).

    • I was looking for literal moontowers when I was in Texas this summer so let it be clear that I’m totally biased when I say you need to listen to the audiobook for Greenlights.

    Thanks for reading!

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