Constant Curiosity | #12

COVID Cooking, Free Will, and VentureBeat


I’m getting settled into Austin and am loving the sunny weather. It’s been a treat to be able to work from my deck overlooking the Colorada River.

Let’s dive in!

🍖 COVID Cooking

The COVID lockdown has caused me to reevaluate the food I eat. One of the biggest discoveries has been that some of the food I used to purchase at stores and restaurants can be easily made at home in a healthier, tastier, and more cost-effective way.

Traeger Smoker

Frankin BBQ (the world-famous BBQ joint) was the first restaurant I tried when coming to Austin. Wow - it was good. Seasoned with only salt and pepper, the brisket was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. The only downside was the meal for two people cost over $100 due to the high cost (caused by high demand) and the minimum order quantity.

Feeling inspired, my girlfriend and I purchased a Trager Smoker to see if we could recreate the deliciousness at Franklin’s.

Much to our delight, the Traeger has proven to be a brain-dead way to cook drool-inspiring BBQ for a fraction of the price and from the comfort of our own home.

If you’ve been on the fence about purchasing a Traeger, let this photo below be the tipping point. It’s worth it.

Instant Pot Yogurt

Another one of my favorite snacks is Siggi’s yogurt. This Icelandic-style yogurt isn’t too sweet, is high in protein, and is incredibly creamy. It’s delicious.

However, buying the yogurt packs from Whole Foods isn’t cheap.

To my surprise, I stumbled onto a video showing how you can make yogurt at home using an Instant Pot.

All you need to do is add milk, a scoop of your favorite store-bought yogurt brand, and hit the “yogurt” button. 8-12 hours later, you have delicious homemade yogurt for a fraction of the price - with no sugar or yucky extras added. You can strain the yogurt to make it even thicker and creamier.

It tastes even better than Siggi’s and is healthier at a fraction of the cost.

Other Cooking Experients

Other things we’ve cooked during COVID include sourdough bread, kombucha, and dalgona coffee. These also turned out delicious but took a lot more effort and didn’t end up being worth incorporating into our regular cooking routine. For example, we decided we’d rather purchase kombucha at the store on occasion rather than go through the 7+ day process of making our own batch.

🍃 Free Will Filters

Does free will exist? I don't claim to have the answer to this question. What I offer instead are three useful filters to view free will in your daily life.

Filter #1: Behave as if you have free will

If you try and act as if free will doesn't exist, it is easy to move down a path of nihilism. ex. "I don't have a choice, so I'll just do whatever compels me because nothing matters." This mindset is not the path to a moral or meaningful life.

Instead, behave as if free will does exist. Behave like you have a choice in your actions, goals, relationships, and routines. Believe you can actively make your situation better by making better decisions.

Filter #2: Advise friends and loved ones as if they have free will

When friends or loved ones need advice, treat them as free-acting individuals capable of making decisions that can change their circumstances. Give input that inspires action instead of helplessness. Let them know that beneficial changes can lead to lasting improvements in their lives.

Filter #3: Treat strangers as if they don’t have free will

For strangers and acquaintances, treat them as if free will does not exist. Assume that they are a product of their circumstances and are not acting freely based on their own choices. If someone is rude, flippant, or dishonest, do not react with anger or surprise. Instead, empathize with them rather than judge them. Seek to understand their point of view, rather than to change it.


These filters are not objective truth but a helpful thought exercise for making decisions and for helping others.

📰 VentureBeat Interview

Dean Takahashi interviewed me in VentureBeat about how GrandPad makes communication easier for older people. Check out the article below.

Read the Interview

Well, that’s all for this week. I hope you have a fantastic weekend!