Letters with Jarod: Week 3

This is the 2nd letter to Jarrod as part of this month's Letter Project. You can check out the previous one over at his site Heydinus.net.

Jarrod’s latest letter:

Hey Jose,

Happy Birthday!! Congrats on reaching your third decade. Better than the alternative, right?

I’m so interested to hear more about life in Puerto Rico. My sister has been there for a vacation, but I’ve never been further south than the Flordia Keys. How do you feel about living in a territory rather than a state? It seems like it would make sense for Puerto Rico to be a state, but I’m unfamiliar with the nuances. But we’re on the same page about living in a big city – I couldn’t do it either. I lived outside of Cleveland, Ohio for a few years and even that was too “big city-ish” for me.

You’re a Graphic Designer! We have so much in common! Not that I’m also a Graphic Designer, but I did initially want to pursue that in school. I signed up for all the classes and then found out how competitive it was. Seeing as I wasn’t very talented at art to begin with, I swapped over to my Outdoor Recreation major and never looked back. But I’ve always held that interest in design. And I always tell people that the hardest class I ever took in college was the Art History class I kept that freshman year. It was a class that solely tested your memorization of ancient paintings, statues, and architecture. But I still appreciate being able to point out Roman columns and Gothic design cues on buildings.

You mentioned that your wife is a Visual Merchandiser. That reminds me of the brief time that I worked in an Apple Store. The visual merchandising there is as fanatic as you imagine. Every space was planned down to the inch. But you’re right, the way that products are presented does have a huge impact on how the customer ultimately experiences them.

How long have you been working on your website and writing your blog? I’m intrigued that the blog idea came later. For me, the whole point of the website was the blog. It’s only recently that I’ve started to reconsider its purpose, and now I’m kind of wondering how I could restructure the site so that it’s more of a personal internet home that also happens to host a blog. I think what you’ve done with your site looks just right. I’ve been taking notes on how you’ve organized the various pages into grouped links in your footer. Well done! (I’ll also take the opportunity now to compliment you again about the little Charizard living his best life down there. So fun!)

The Outer Banks was a good time. My family-in-law is all a ton of fun. If it had been a little warmer I would have liked to try to get out into the ocean and try windsurfing again, but the time spent relaxing by the pool was very enjoyable, too. I’m actually about to head out on another quick trip. This time down to Tennessee (a 14-hour drive from here! 😱) to do some camping with my sister and brother-in-law, and their two kids (our niece and nephew). I’m pretty excited, even though it’ll be very different for me to be entertaining young kids while camping for a few days. I say that, but then again, I was a Cub Scout Camp Director – for some reason, it feels different when the kids are related to me and there are only two of them rather than two hundred.

You’ll have to tell me more about island life. I always imagine that folks who live near the beach must go there all the time, but that’s clearly not the case. Being a tourist destination, I have to assume that there are some cool outdoor activities that you could get into there. But it must also be a pretty place to go running.

I get what you mean about always wanting to visit a new place for each trip or vacation. The world is so expansive that it almost feels like you’re wasting an opportunity to not go explore something new. But revisiting does let you explore, too. Just more deeply, rather than widely. You’re able to get into the things you like faster and easier on each subsequent visit. I’m sure you’ve experienced that on your trips to Disney. I haven’t been there since I was a young kid, but I’d like to go check it out again as an adult. I’ve heard such great things about the rides, and I’m fascinated by the Imagineers’ work. I hope you guys have a fantastic trip to Anaheim, and I look forward to checking out the pictures you put online!

Thank you for your sympathy. I always feel a little self-conscious when posting about loved ones, but it’s how I reflect and get some feelings out. And, yeah, I like to think that’s my way to honor their memory.

So, what’d you think about the Ed Sheeran album? I’d love to see him play live, that must have been an incredible show. There’s live music at a local bar every Thursday night here in town – which is great – but I haven’t gone to a real concert in years.

As for the /HeyDingus/ origin story…I’ll try to keep it brief. (Famous last words.)

Basically, I spent most of my life reading sites like /MacRumors/, /Daring Fireball/, /Six Colors/, and /MacStories/, and listening to tech podcasts. And I had opinions on the same things they were writing about. Eventually, amid the pandemic when I had extra time on my hands and was spending it all on the computer anyway, I decided to make a place where I could share my thoughts and be a small part of the conversation online. I always enjoyed building shortcuts, and thought that would be a major part of what I shared (and it has, to some extent), so I brainstormed some names for the site related to Shortcuts. Then the perfect idea hit me while listening to one of the various tech podcasts in my queue. Someone said “Hey dingus” as a fill-in phrase for “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google” so that they wouldn’t set off everyone’s smart assistants. ‘Hey Dingus’ was distinctive, had the automation angle, and is just funny enough to make me smile every time I read or say it. Plus, I /always/ start my emails with “Hey [name]”.

I smushed the words together to create ‘HeyDingus’ because I had ambitions of it becoming a /thing/ like ‘MacStories’. Those ambitions have cooled somewhat, and I’m actually considering converting the title to ‘Hey Dingus’ to be a little more approachable and personal…as if the “dingus” is me, and the site would serve as the conversation between me and my readers. But…I haven’t determined whether or not I’ll go down that route. It’s nice to flesh it out by writing all this down, though, so thank you!

The rest of the site has been adapting ideas from other people. The Now and Gear pages, for example. The design takes cues from /Daring Fireball/, but I did a fair amount of custom work to get it just right. Even ‘7 Things’ is based loosely on the ‘Quick Links’ of /Kotkke.org/. Everything is a remix, right? I do have an idea for a more original project though that I’d like to get off the ground soon. So stay tuned.

My typical day…this question is easier to answer now than it ever has been in my life, I think. The job I have now – part gear shop retail, part mountain guide – has given me the most consistency. It’s a 9am-5pm sort of job, at least on the days that I’m working in the shop. So, it typically looks like this:

  • 7:30am - Wake up and get ready. Sometimes do a quick workout (yoga, strength, or running), but usually not. Shower, dash together a breakfast and packed lunch, then rush out the door by 8:30am to drive to work.
  • 9am-5pm - Work in the shop. I manage our Guide Service, so I answer calls, schedule trips, and follow up with clients about their trip plans and collect payments. But I also do most of the inventory management for the products we get in our shop, and office organization stuff. All of that is around helping customers with their questions and purchases.
  • 5pm-7/8pm - Play outside. Most days I try to do something outside if the weather allows. Sometimes it’s a trail run with a local run club. Sometimes it’s rock climbing. Sometimes it’s biking. Sometimes I go straight home and zone out on the couch. But usually I do something active.
  • 8pm - Dinner and TV at home. My wife loves to cook, which is fortunate because I really don’t. Eating is mostly a necessary evil to me. When left to my own devices, I usually just make pasta or forget to eat because I get caught up in something else. But when my wife is home, she’s great at whipping up something tasty. We eat together, usually watching an episode or two of whatever show we’re into. Lately, it’s /Ted Lasso/ and /It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia/.
  • 10pm - Computer time. If we don’t get sucked into binging TV, the late evening is typically when I do computery projects, like writing for my blog or catching up on my read-later queue.
  • 12am - Bed and reading time. I’m a night owl. I’m rarely in bed before midnight, and even when then I’m usually reading or watching videos or something for an hour-ish more. When I’m finally ready to sleep, I pop in an earbud and usually fall asleep listening to a podcast. I could have a more healthy bedtime routine, but I don’t.

And then it all starts over again the next day! When I’m guiding or on off days, I’m usually up a little earlier to maximize the fun time and am outside hiking or climbing until late afternoon. You’ve got me curious about your daily routine. What do your days look like?

A couple more questions for next time:

  • Do you have a favorite board game? If so, why do you like it so much?
  • What kind of non-tech hobbies do you have?

This has been fun so far! Very easy (too easy?) to keep just writing. I’ll try to be more brief next time around. Looking forward to your next letter.

Take care,


P.S. I hope you don’t mind if I use the graphic you made on my posts – with attribution, of course. It looks fantastic!

My response

Hey Jarod!

Sorry for the delay in the response. I had no time to write during my trip, which means it was good, haha. I'm working on the pics and post and will probably post it in June!

Thank you! Ohh, it's definitely strange living in a territory, but I've gotten used to it. At least we get almost all the same benefits as other states. The big one, tho, is we can't vote for US President. Also, shipping is a nightmare! Even tho shipping to PR costs the same as in other states, many stores flag PR as international by default, so it can be a pain. First-world problems.

Oh, it's good to learn you're also a Graphic Designer! Although one can tell by looking at your site, you have a good eye for data! Ugh, I dreaded those classes, too; so many things to remember, and it was even more challenging with more abstract art periods.

Yes, I'm massive fan of the Apple Stores displays. I've always wanted to either work at an Apple store or be an Apple genius, but there are no Apple Stores in PR, only retailers (another downside of living in a territory haha)

I started working on my "portfolio website" in 2021. Still, I abandoned it after I got promoted and stopped looking for jobs. Still, for the current website, I started work, I think, last October. But I was collecting personal websites I loved for a while, and yours was a great inspiration! You have nailed the perfect balance between a blog and a personal website. I feel honored that you are taking some inspo on my site, btw anything you think could be improved, let me know! Ohh, and the Charizard idea came from Dennis Cortes's website; he has a Gengar, super adorable!

Your upcoming trip sounds fun, camping with family is always interesting, I get what you mean about the kids haha. Oh, I can't imagine a 14-hour drive; in PR, the longest trip we can make is 2.5 hours. I might rent a car on my next trip to the states and do a long roadtrip.

Loved your story about how your website came to be! If you haven't done a post about it, you should! I like your idea for separating the words. When I first saw your site, I had the feeling you mentioned, that "Dingus" referred to you, and the Hey part alluded to the conversations on your site. And now, knowing about the connection with tech, voice assistants, and shortcuts makes even more sense, and it's super clever! Btw seems like we have the same reading interests, too, because those sites are where I spent the most time reading, besides personal blogs! Also, looking forward to the new Project idea!

Your days sound amazing; I admire how you find time to do outdoor activities and work on your projects at night, that is something I'm currently working on. I alsolaughed when you mentioned Dinner because it's the same here; I can only cook the bare necessities and don't enjoy it, but my wife does! Also, I loved how you structured the list, so I will follow the same layout. Here is what my days look like. I work remotely, and most of my team is on SF time, 3-4 hours behind, so I structured my days to accommodate for more overlap time:

  • 6:00 am - Wake up and have breakfast: My wife wakes up around this time to get ready for work, so I wake up with her so our sleep schedules and in sync. We'll have coffee, catch up with RSS, have breakfast, tidy up a few things and get ready to work.
  • 8am-10am Design work: Right after breakfast is the time Im the most productive, so I try to use this time to focus on things like designing or prototyping for my job or doing presentations. Now, folks on the west coast have not started their day yet, so it's almost distraction-free.
  • 10am-12pm - Workout/Errands/Lunch: I try to do a workout every weekday if possible. I've tried doing this in the afternoons s, but my willpower is depleted by then.
  • 12pm-6pm - Meetings & Work: At this time is where most of my meetings and calls are scheduled. Syncs, planning, and design reviews. In between calls, I usually catch up with admin tasks or chat with colleagues via Slack.
  • 6pm - Relax/Windows: I step outside of the office and take our dog to the rooftop to play for a while, then sometimes play video games until my wife is home.
  • 7pm - Dinner and TV: We have Dinner together on the sofa while catching up with TV shows. Ted Lasso fan here as well!
  • 10pm-11pm - Bedtime: Because we have to get up so early, we have been going to bed earlier - too early, maybe. In bed we either finish a show or watch YouTube videos until we fall asleep mid-video and decide it is time to sleep.

Seeing one's routine written down like this is interesting, and now I'm tempted to make some tweaks! I don't like how my work block is split in half, so I might consider something different! Like you, I also want to allocate time in the afternoon to work on projects like my website.

So for board games, I'd say I'm more mainstream; I've only played your typical commercial games and not the super cool indy ones. My favorite to play was either Risk or Monopoly. I think Risk because there was a bit more strategy. How about you? Are you a big Board Games fan? What is your favorite?

As for hobbies outside tech, I love to collect and build Lego, mostly star wars. I have a huge collection of Lego Star Wars minifigs. For outdoor hobbies, I often played tennis in competitive leagues. Still, it has been a while since I've played, mostly because of all the time the leagues consumed between practices and road games. I'm considering playing again but more for fun. I don't know if this is considered a hobby, but as I mentioned in the daily routine, I also like a workout at the gym, primarily weights. What would you say is your favorite recent hobby?

This has been super fun! Again, I'm sorry that it is almost the end of May and we don't have as many letters as we should. Oh, I'm happy you liked the graphic! Of course, feel free to use it and to keep using the format for your future letters if you like 🙌

Talk soon

- Jose