Links.net:
Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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I was On The Edge With Andrew Gold

Journalism is a means of discovering the world you want to see. Some people are more explicit about using the tools of journalism to explore themselves. I was contacted recently by Andrew Gold - a semi-public seeker in the United Kingdom (Twitter | LinkedIn). I think the fact that I was famous once on the internet drew his interest: since he's a storyteller, he's wondering, "how do I draw attention to myself?" and the stories he wants to tell. So he interviewed me to ask me about my journey through the molten center of networked public interest.

We agreed upon a moving picture interview with sound through flat glass. He sent me the results in mid-June and I couldn't bear to acknowledge it for two months. Then one afternoon in August I was finally able to run through this moving ponytail 18 buddha hand exercise sequence looking upon some trees and afterwards I said heck I should update my web site.

Interview for the podcast On The Edge With Andrew Gold
Spotify podcast
YouTube video

From the Kardashians and One Direction to Kelly Clarkson and Donald Trump, every influencer and reality star owes a debt to Justin Hall, the world's first ever blogger. If over-sharing online has become a disease, I like to think of Justin as Patient Zero of our Social Influenza.

Andrew emblazoned this forty-four minutes with "FIRST EVER BLOGGER: I put up the web's first dick pics & had a fight with Kurt Vonnegut" though I do not speak of myself that way. During the video you can hear me speak of being in a tradition of blogging-types, and seeing humanity's historical proclivity for dick picks!

This century I'll die and leave humanity to more fascinating problems. Until then I should occasionally feed this old hype machine, so seekers might still call me now and then to shake off the cobwebs and exclaim

2019 year in review

(on January 1,2020 I wrote this summary of my 2019 for a friendly mailing list I was on. I meant to edit it a bit; then a pandemic hit and upended much of the life I described herein. So let's timecapsule: after some August 2020 touchups and clarifications, this is here published & backdated:)

By the end of the year 2019 I feel like my world contracted, my vision contracted, and I am so grateful for this focus. We had a second child in August. He emerged healthy. His sister freaked out about losing the prime lap place, and then she started preschool.

We deliberately chose a co-op preschool, I pushed my wife a bit. I wanted to dare myself to commit to being in the classroom with my daughter amidst all the other appointments I'd be making & keeping. This mean asking my partner to also take time being in the classroom and so we share the 4 hour Wednesday morning co-op preschool shifts.

We were initially scheduled in the afternoon. After training during a summer preschool session where the adults outnumbered kids, I learned that the afternoon is about cleanup and napping. The morning instead was about cooking and riling kids up. That sounded much more like my kind of party, so we switched to the morning shift.

I make snack sometimes - we use a range of plug in appliances to make a protein, grain, vegetable, and fruit to serve each day. Or I've read a book at storytime, I've been the ticklemonster on the playground, I've been conned into helping preschoolers who are avoiding putting on their own shoes. These kids are so blunt - "will you be my friend?" "no - I don't want to play with you." - it's the type of social interaction that adults have just layered so much protocol on top of. It's fascinating to watch human dynamics play out amidst this group of tiny people whose every emotional experience explodes across their face in concentrated feeling.

<insert a photo here walking with my son on my front and holding my daughter's hand with a preschool group to the library down a street next a rainbow mural when I can take the time to blur out all the faces of people who appear who are not me>

The bud.com cannabis delivery business has grown. As a co-founder and last buck on customer service, catalog management, delivery logistics, eCommerce, and web hosting, I've been on a "bathroom break" in the back of the preschool discussing eighths and ounces, and it's just like any other parent taking a moment break from story circle time to conduct their affairs. There's even another parent in this small community working in cannabis. But the preschool fundraiser auction still won't accept any gift certificate donations from bud.com - too potentially sticky for finances, non-profit status.

There are huge exciting developments for the company plus evolving roles and learning to keep me highly engaged. I'm juggling so much and there's much happening.

We have had a hard time hiring. Well, we offer folks a chance to have a 3 month probationary hiring trial with us and most don't make it. I find my impulses to be permissive and inclusive and experimental have required me to get good at firing & laying people off. Hey come work for us, let's see how it goes, and then we can take it from there. We find fun, smart, motivated people. But quickly you learn about the communications involved, and the assumptions people are working with, and the ambient chaos of a semi-legal industry involving psychoactive substances, and it's too often soon time to part ways. Over the summer I was liquidating savings to make payroll deposits; that made me quite keen to get the best work out of every dollar.

Every few months another collaboration dream died. but it was a huge refocusing each time: seeing the kind of alignment we would need to grow and sustain. There's up to 34% taxes when you're selling cannabis in a legal state, so the illegal market thrives. But we have a great product, and we're in it for the long haul. And over the course of the last year, we've greatly increased the rate of repeat customers and 5/5 reviews.

We raised some more money this winter, thanks to my dynamite partner the CEO. I was pleased to see our initial group of bud.com seed investors had a gender split 2 male and 2 female.

I have begun to microdose more frequently throughout the work day. I typically use less pot on the weekends, when I'm focused on my kids. The interrupt-driven non-urgent urgency of commerce has me enjoying the mental balance that two sips from a vape pen offers. Practically it can lead me off into a new exploration for 20-40 minutes after I dose. But I rigorously use a task manager to ensure I come back to focus and prioritize my time properly. If I don't use weed I sob routinely - between family and work and the world I just feel so much without an occasional calming agent.

One highlight: working with comedian/activist Tommy Chong to make a video wherein he proclaims: "what stoner can forget bud.com?"

View this post on Instagram

We are honored: Tommy Chong is a fan of bud.com! We are a fan of Tommy's Chonger: a massive party joint, and a memorable pot present. Inspired by the pioneering cannabis humor of Cheech & Chong, the Chonger is a massive cone. You're not likely to see a larger preroll around. Get it delivered in time for Christmas, and tuck a Chonger into someone's stocking. Or take it out back with your favorite cousin(s) and take your mind off any holiday drama. The Chonger lasts longer! CC our Santas @heytommychong @chongschoice @dankcity #chonger #tommychong #cannabis #cannabisculture #SmokingLoud #THC #dankcity #chongschoice #cannabiscommunity #californiacannabis #420life #weedlife #prerolledjoints #prerolls #preroll #prerolledcones #prerolled

A post shared by bud.com (@budlovesyou) on

My life partner and I have learned to support & enjoy each other, I believe. I know the range of trials in life, something of, and we are still on training wheels together. The generation before us is beginning to stumble, and they may soon need to lean on our arms. Losing a child or becoming a single parent would totally change the balance of my life. I'm grateful that I look at my partner and get turned on, excited to hear what she has to say, eager to take up new projects with her, returning to difficult topics with an ability to hear her out. And from what I can tell I don't promote suffering on her part unduly.

A friend who is a public figure was caught up in a scandal that received widespread attention online. I was unsettled and felt myself climbing further into a social media turtle shell. I have experimented with oversharing like overshare.links.net and now I can barely utter outside myself. The life posing that has become commonplace makes my skin crawl, especially as the attention amplifiers have turned up, at the same time I have a wild fascination in front of me: this family I'm a part of.

There's now a second new roommate here. So far he responds mostly with a smile to my face. He's healthy and funny. He poops and suckles and burbles happily when you do lifts of his tiny wriggling body above your face. Watch out for fast-dripping drool strings.

I work from home, so I end up cooking breakfast, cleaning up from breakfast, running laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning up from dinner. My family fills a hole in my heart that I think I knew was there. I got halfway to 90 this year. I'm grateful for a chance to be present for these folks.

Now that a new numerical decade opens, I realize we'll probably move during the 2020s. We have a single stall shower in the same room as our sole toilet. I really want to provide a bath experience for my kids. I loved loved the bath growing up. I've researched tiny tubs that would fit in a shower stall, and I've researched feed bins you can adapt to be outdoor bathtubs. We're deepening ourselves into a place - neighbors with kids our ages attending the same school. Arranging childcare, pickups and dropoffs as close to home as possible. But I'm wary of expectations of permanence -

Ten years ago I was in my last year of a different marriage. My partner and I had just taken a belated honeymoon after getting married whilst trying to start a business together. Our company had just been wound down, and we were both seeking other jobs in the video game industry. We were recalibrating our relationship, fresh off some good vacation vibes. We would be divorced about seven months later.

February 2010 I had drinks with a couple who then had a kid. 2017 the father died of cancer at the age of 47. I think about him often, that in spite of all my best intentions I could leave my family on very short notice, with very little agency. Right now while I'm still standing I'm delighting in a chance to leave the trail cleaner than I found it, perhaps by replacing memories of alcohol-fueled conflict with strangers in public with cannabis-fueled play engagement at home. I realized this year I've probably already spent more time in the presence of my children than my father had spent in my presence by the time he died when I was 8. So if there's any shallow way of keeping score on the father to father front, I've already rocked more engaged hours with my kids and it's profoundly rewarding. I hope I can live to see them evolve themselves for decades to come.

Thanksgiving 2019

continuing a tradition wherein my Mom asks me to prepare a blessing for the Thanksgiving table, here is 2019's blessing from late November, Chicago:

life cycles
through us
around this table
all the way between
unborn and retired

we are practicing a human project
to eat and grow strong
to sustain and expand our family

any family might be both nice or mean
this conflict will not cease, it follows us

we are born of parochial warrior tribes
who break treaties when convenient
perhaps we are civilizing ourselves over time
through ritual
and creeping vegetarianism

let us dwell for a moment in peace
take a deep breath

and remember
amidst eternal struggle
there is occasionally a chance to gather
at a broader table
to bow our heads
to reflect on privilege
to recommit to community service
for as we are now warm in this coming winter
there are cold cousins beyond these walls

our very lives are thanksgiving
that we survived this long
that we have found each other
to share our time remaining
to be good to one another

Over the Edge of listenable radio

On 10 May 2019 I spent three hours co-making radio on KPFA's Over the Edge, hosted by the musician Wobbly, aka Jon Leidecker - a dedicated listener, sampler, participant, and historian of music & sound. He has been deep in software, forming formed his own opinions about the health and impacts of our technology-augmented bickering and self-sabotage. Wobbly saw the re-release of Home Page, and invited me to join him for Over The Edge, as he hosts a Negativland radio show on KPFA from midnight to 3am Thursday late/Friday early.

It's a 3 hour tour; we start talking around 14.20:
https://kpfa.org/episode/over-the-edge-presents-may-10-2019/
or
http://negativland.com/ote_files/OTE20190510.ModernHall.mp3

I took advantage of the airtime to plug bud.com, even playing hints of our voicemail greeting. Jon left the mic open while I explained my experience moving from the wild unregulated early days of the web to the highly regulated and inhibited online commerce of cannabis with bud.com.

It reminded me of two things -

I love layering sound & music. It was like being on the electric eclectic again - my last regular radio show. Here I was with a deep music hacker, with my own computer adding layers; playing sound from a movie file, from my iTunes library, and from my Spotify subscription, all at once. So fun to be able to dribble in media. I regret that I didn't identify this video I played RUN MAN RUN sung by Kevin Blechdom:

Two, I still love talking, telling stories, bantering for an audience. The Justin Hall Show is on hiatus, or rather it's been absorbed into multi-collaborator weekly staff meetings working to increase worldwide availability of cannabis. If someone offers me a warm mic, I'll often come jaw at length. So far I believe I haven't completely buried myself under bad ideas, publicly-stated. More to come.

Thanks Jon!

his servant's voice

These days I don't take time to reach my fingers into your eyes with my stories. But sometimes people present me with a microphone. So I can post links that might resemble my voice:

home page

A 1999 documentary I appear in, entitled "Home Page" has just been re-released in DVD format just in time for 2019 viewing. The film explores the phenomenon of people oversharing about their lives on the early World Wide Web. If this sounds like a good time to you, purchase a plastic disc on Amazon or a download contract with Apple iTunes, or I think it will also be distributed online soon, through video streaming services the likes of which we could only feverishly prognosticate about some mere decades ago.

The filmmaker Doug Block has a page about Home Page - we still get along so that link should work. He convinced a publication Fast Company to write an article: Home Page is being rereleased like a time capsule from the internet's early days.

Even more fun, humans have gathered in darkened rooms in several cities to watch the 102 minutes.

I attended 3/4 of those: San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles (sorry Sebastopol!). Flying may be a chief sin, and it's even more acute mixed with vanity. I enjoy the talking. In every screening I wore the same outfit. Heavy, thick, no colors except my daily purple undershirt. I thought of it as my armor as I prepared to sit down and open my mouth in public. Each time I answer live questions, I can't help but feel an urge to challenge myself to be more present with the audience and my mind. I wonder how these footages will attest to my mental continuity 20 years henceward from the Home Page footages.

Here's some video parts from Spring 2019:

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

17 February 2019, San Francisco: Panel discussion after watching Home Page including journalist Matt Honan, Doug Block, Justin Hall

International Documentary Association screening

They recorded Marjan Safinia moderating a panel with Doug Block, Justin Hall, and surprise guest Jamie Levy - will the web see it??!

Afterwards I spoke with a Sheran James from KX 93.5 FM in Southern California, and she posted this hour long conversation between us in audio format The Sharin' Hour 4/1/19: Justin Hall

Cannabis Business

While I revel in decades-old misbehavior, my work on the bud.com team continues. Jonathan Davis from a local progressive public radio-station KPFA put a mic in front of me at the February 2019 International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco. He posted a shorter "Cannabis Business Conference in SF - a year into legalization (KPFA News)" radio piece. I join the conversation about four minutes twenty seconds in.

Jonathan also posted a longer edit of that piece that's more descriptive, I appear at six minutes twenty-six seconds.

backchannel research

Finally, a mentor & collaborator from my graduate studies days Scott Fisher dug up some research we did on the use of live chat and data jockeys during classes and presentations is now posted online on a few academic paper hosting sites:

"Experiments in Backchannel: Collaborative Presentations Using Social Software, Google Jockeys, and Immersive Environments" Academia.edu and ResearchGate.net. I presented it at ACM SIGCGI 2006, Montreal - the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI - Computer-Human Interactions.

my chief sin

aside from too frequent pastrami sandwiches, air travel is my chief sin. It is the guilty thing I cannot help and cannot countenance. If you roll down your windows driving into an airport, you know what I mean. You can't breathe it but you're about it. I talk to jetsetting friends about our trips past and upcoming and I think we're all filthy sinners.

So I think, I should practice better carbon offsets - make my air transit reflect the cost to the collective air/water/earth resources spreadsheet. Expecting to be somewhere far away in less than a day feels like a wild luxury in appropriate to the gravity of suffering already due to our collective resource prioritization, and the upheaval pending as the seas rise and forests dry. And how can I say I enjoy it so; the friends and family anchored to their lives in another place, the chance to taste some other air, to imagine myself as a person inscribing memories with distant nodes.

Sometimes traveling I look up and notce I'm in a room, with other people, seeking food or drink, sex, love or stimulation. I think, why did I need to leave my local rooms to practice want-fulfillment somewhere else?