☝️ Upwarding #22: The Real COVID Shortage, Fixing Bad Habits, Whale Oil, and How We Perceive Others.

Welcome to this week's Upwarding newsletter. My blog, with more in-depth content, can be found here.


Everyone has been talking about a ventilator shortage in the face of COVID-19. See here, here, and a prescient paper predicting it here.

But maybe the ventilator shortage isn’t that bad. California is actually donating some of theirs to other states.

The real shortage? These $0.20/each nasal swabs. Article by famous author Michael Lewis here.

Especially now, because everyone agrees we need widespread testing (like millions of tests) to get back to “normal”. The irony is that the two major areas these were produced were… northern Italy and central China, which were some of the hardest hit by crisis-related shutdowns.


I am enjoying this series of talks by Tara Brach called “Sheltering in Love”.


As I struggle with some bad quarantine-related habits, I enjoyed this simple advice on how to eliminate them.

1. Write down a list of reasons why you want to break the habit.
2. Create obstacles for yourself.
3. Come up with a personal mantra.

Here’s the full text.


My book is now available.

At the beginning of the year, I published an article showing what you could expect in interest in various short term liquid vehicles like high yield savings accounts and money market funds. It’s remarkable how things have changed.

Back then, everything from high yield savings to cash-like ETFs to Treasuries was yielding about 1.0%-1.5% after tax to an average investor.

Now, for an average investor, treasuries are down to 0.11%, and demand funds are still over 1.5%. What does this mean? These investments are clearly not passive. Check out maxmyinterest.com for a slightly more automated version. Or just invest in the ULP!

Random Thoughts

Getting energy to power humanity’s ambitions has always been a pretty dirty business. Even seemingly innocuous sources like wind and solar energy have significant drawbacks.

I recently read Leviathan, which talks about the rise and fall of the whaling industry. The parallels to other energy sources like fossil fuels was fascinating: increasingly difficult ventures as supplies dwindle (like arctic exploration), brilliant technology for “extraction”, global political struggles, and more.

It did seem a bit more noble/fair that the energy source could attack and kill the person pursuing it, though.


“Persons appear to us according to the light we throw upon them from our own minds.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder, novelist (1867-1957)

Stay well,