My 2019 began with waking up in LA and will end falling asleep in Tokyo. In between, so much happened that it doesn’t feel like it’s only been a year.

I took weekend trips to Houston, Memphis, Nashville, Boulder, West Virginia, Miami, and Mexico City to celebrate and catch up with friends. My sister and I rented a car and drove through northern Spain and saw where Dali lived. My best friend had a daughter. I left IDEO and joined Bungalow, and got back to building mobile products and tackling really interesting human problems with an awesome team.

I took a couple trips each to LA, New York, Toronto, and Chicago. Life360 went public. I flew to an island off Kenya and later to Mallorca and then drove through the south of France and went to one of my favorite places I’ve ever been; a vineyard with great wine, food, and atmosphere, and a who’s who of modern artists’ works scattered throughout. …


One of the most personally significant axioms I’ve taken to heart over the last few years is the value in creating things outside of a work context. As we get older and life inevitably fills up with obligations (both real and perceived), hobbies and creative pursuits — both continuing old ones and pursuing new ones — are usually the first to fall by the wayside.

There’s a social premium placed on busyness, as if being busy correlates to being in-demand and important — if we’re busy, we’re needed. There’s an unspoken badge of honor that accompanies the recounting of late nights and it’s the reason why people extrapolate that one day they worked 16 hours to then become their default answer when they’re asked how much they’re working. …


Any time I start thinking through the year that passed, I look back at previous favorites —I’ve made favorite album lists since 2006 and posted a list of top songs the last couple years (2015, 2016, 2017), and each is a time capsule reminder to me of all these little slices of life from each year.

I was all over the place in 2018. Literally — from June through September, I didn’t spend back to back weeks in SF — Mexico City a few times, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Western Germany, rural Mexico, London, Manchester, Paris, Boston, Chicago, and the New York back and forth that, without fail, always makes me wonder if I’ll live there again. …


The secret to understanding a city’s energy and essence lies in exploring it via sneakers on the ground

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If you want to know a city’s essence, there’s no better way to do it than on foot: run (or walk) through a city as soon as you get there to note what piques your interest. When you move through a city on foot, nearly all of it is open to you: you can wander into a park, towards a landmark, into a gallery. …


2017 was a pretty interesting year for music — after long waits, we got new albums from Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, and Eminem, with mixed critical receptions: no major publication listed any of those records at the top of year-end lists, though each album was pretty good.

It was the first year that hip-hop/R&B overtook Rock as the most popular genre, and Atlanta solidified itself as the current capital of hip-hop with Future, Migos, and Young Thug all reaching new heights of mainstream success. …


I was reviewing my list of favorite 25 songs from last year, and in my notes had a bit about how “2016 was a really rough year for a lot of things, but great for music.” 2016 looks pretty good, comparatively, a year removed. Would be curious to see a longitudinal study of how safe/happy/secure people felt in the US a year ago and what kind of hit that probably took this past year.

Despite the state of the world in 2017, music didn’t seem to directly reflect a lot of what was happening on a macro level in the world. It could be that there’s always some delay between popular sentiment/world events and their reflection in music, but I think it’s more likely that music served as an escape for people, even more than usual (at least popular music). …


Since I was a kid, I’ve been kind of fascinated by dates and nontraditional anniversaries. Not like astrological signs or anything like that — I don’t think dates really mean anything more than the meaning we ascribe them — but in a very nerdy way, I did think it was fun to calculate the day of the week I was born (Thursday) or when I’d turn 5,000 days old (March 6, 1999). …


I usually feel pretty in touch with the product decisions I see in my favorite apps, but I’m at a loss on this one. Specifically, live video broadcasting has popped up in Facebook and Instagram in the last year, with push notifications being sent any time anyone you know goes live, and at the risk of coming off as a hater: I don’t really understand.

As an academic exercise, sure, I get it: tons of people have smartphones with video cameras, mobile networks are finally robust enough to handle broadcasting and streaming video, so if you can do it, why not push everyone to go Instagram or Facebook Live? …


This year may not have been great for many things, but despite all the terrible, horrible, no-good badness of 2016, music was a silver lining in an otherwise dismal year on many other fronts (/”2016 was a terrible year” rant over).

Some really, really good music came out this year. Some of it was expected/semi-expected — Drake, Kanye, Beyonce, and Radiohead were all on a number of “2016 most anticipated” lists, and each delivered. Other artists came out of the woodwork or at least entered mainstream consciousness in a major way this year.

Okay, enough with the broad strokes overview of my experience listening to music in 2016— here are my top 15 albums of the…


Since 2005, I’ve spent the last few days of each year cataloguing all the music I listened to, written out the list of albums, and then stack-ranked them to create a top 10 album list for the year.

The practice of ordering albums feels more natural — as a complete artistic work, there’s a lot more to grasp onto, and typically an album I really liked earlier in the year will still hold prominence for me when I look back on the year. …

About

charlie kubal

build things+stay curious. product @livebungalow prvs: cofounder @getchronos (acq by @life360 ) @ideo @stanfordbiz @google . wait what: made the notorious xx

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