Hello, this is the (optional.is) quarterly newsletter. Mostly the thoughts of Brian Suda.

02021Q4 REYKJAVIK: Since we last spoke, Intuit has bought Mailchimp. We send our newsletters via MailChimp, but this will be the last. Intuit makes a popular US tax filing software and aggressively lobbies to prevent free, simple tax filing for citizens.

Nothing will change for you, our dear readers. In 3 months' time, our next newsletter will be tracking-free and self-hosted. But you won't notice a difference.

Architecture and Film

There is a whole website devoted to lists of films focusing on architecture: https://architectureandfilm.com

The website links to a documentary about Alvaro Alto (the designer of Iceland’s Nordic House, the venue for the Material Conference) called: ALVAR AALTO: TECHNOLOGY AND NATURE (1987)


One night, while we were browsing Netflix, we stumbled upon a show called The World's Most Extraordinary Homes. There was one episode about houses in Japan and one caught our attention! 

Optical Glass House

©Koji Fujii / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

This building is located in Hiroshima right on a main street. Behind it’s glass front is a garden flowing right into the house!


☠️ Saxophone

The saxophone is eponymously named after Adolphe Sax. As a boy, Adolphe was very accident-prone. He was struck on the head by a brick, swallowed a needle, fell down a flight of stairs, toppled onto a burning stove, and accidentally drank some sulfuric acid. It almost seemed like some higher power was really trying to keep him from inventing the Saxophone!

In the zeitgeist in the 01990s, the saxophone was either associated with Kenny G or Homer Simpson’s reference to Lisa’s saxamaphone (s09e03)!

More recently, Shabaka Hutchings has crossed our radar! He’s an amazing saxophone player fronting several bands including The Comet is Coming, a London-based jazz-rock band that incorporates elements of jazz, electronica, funk, and psychedelic rock.

If you enjoyed that, check him out as Sons of Kesmet!


02022 Wall Calendar

There are three months until the end of 02021, start prepping! We’ve updated our annual A0 wall calendar. Feel free to download the PDF and print it yourself. (A1 is a reasonable size!)

You can get it printed on a poster at any local print shop for cheap.

Stay organized, stay analog.

Writing, Rinse, Repeat

Besides our weeknotes, we’re trying to find the time to get more articles written. In the last quarter, we’ve managed to write two:

You can read the full archives at https://optional.is/required/ or subscribe to the RSS feed so you never miss a post.

Letterpressed Island Notebooks

We now have limited stocks in the USA to ease the cost of shipping to USA customers. If you are looking for an interesting gift for friends and family, now’s the time to get these while supplies last.

🕰 Office Hours

Over the last year, we’ve made use of the gracious open office hours. We’ve booked sessions and had amazing chats. 

Our open office hours are:

  • Monday evenings: 21-22:00 UTC for the Americas
  • Friday mornings: 9-11:00 UTC for Europe

Hopefully, we’ll be able to reconnect with more old friends, meet new folks, and have more interesting and engaging conversations.

Book a time to chat


Beautiful, Letterpressed, Island Notebooks. A series of 6 interesting islands and stories from around the world. 3 pack for $15. Remember, the future is analog.

Print-ready A0 02022 PDF. An open-source project you can download and print yourself at any fine, local printer. Get organized, start planning.

Triagemail: Get unread emails under control. A new iOS email app to check any of your accounts. With only 4 options, get through all your unread email fast so you never miss anything important. $1.99 on the App store.

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