What I learned last week (#116): complain less, make more

Learned last week: Don’t confuse being helpful with actually being helpful, everything in nature is connected, Miles Davis sounds great with LCD Soundsystem, and more!

Quote I enjoyed:

Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

Teresa Amabile

That certainly holds true for garden work, knowledge work, painting, or really anything else that holds meaning for you.


Complain less, make more:

It is, of course, much easier to complain about how things are bad rather than do anything about it, which is why people prefer to complain. 1/100th the satisfaction, but 1/1000000000000th3 the effort. Plus, when someone eventually fixes the problem you can pat yourself on the back for having brought attention to it. You can even complain about multiple things in the time it would’ve taken to fix one thing.

It’s also easy to confuse being “helpful” with being helpful. A lot of people think they’re “adding value” by nitpicking, or supplying unsolicited takes, when they’re actually just draining energy and momentum.

Reminds me of Seth Godin’s mantra of being willing to “merely do the work” which is so helpful to keep in mind on a daily basis.

Read Commenting vs making on chiefofstuff.substack.com


Youtube duet: Miles Davis improvising on LCD Soundsystem:

This is just for fun. I’ve been listening to a lot of Miles Davis recently and LCD Soundsystem is never out of rotation.


Alan Watts on Love, the Meaning of Freedom, and the Only Real Antidote to Fear:

More than half a century before psychologists came to study how your present self is sabotaging your future happiness, Watts offers the personal counterpart to Albert Camus’s astute political observation that “real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present,” and writes:

I fall straight into contradiction when I try to act and decide in order to be happy, when I make “being pleased” my future goal. For the more my actions are directed towards future pleasures, the more I am incapable of enjoying any pleasures at all. For all pleasures are present, and nothing save complete awareness of the present can even begin to guarantee future happiness.
[…]
You can only live in one moment at a time, and you cannot think simultaneously about listening to the waves and whether you are enjoying listening to the waves. Contradictions of this kind are the only real types of action without freedom.

In other words, try to focus on making the next 5 minutes rock. 🤘

Read Alan Watts on Love, the Meaning of Freedom, and the Only Real Antidote to Fear on brainpickings.org


How do we define time?

Here’s the background — The first atomic clock began ticking in 1949. It was powered by an ammonia molecule, but a cesium isotope quickly became the standard only a few years after.

Since then, scientists have relied on these incredibly precise clocks, which are largely immune to earthly headaches like earthquakes, to help keep precise time. This measurement is used to not only define time itself, but to guide satellites in orbit via GPS as well.

Such a clock, called the “Master Clock,” resides at the U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO) in D.C. In addition to its role as a historic scientific institution, the USNO is also the residence for the vice president of the United States — meaning it’s where Vice President Kamala Harris will live once renovations are complete.

Read Physicists are on the brink of redefining time on inverse.com


A love letter, er video, to notetaking:

A little general on the details of Kendrick’s process, but the meta-point about taking and storing notes is something I would plus 100% and something I am regularly thinking about how to improve.


Why Bumblebees Love Cats and Other Beautiful Relationships:

I really enjoyed reading this, fun and informative throughout.

Darwin writes: what animals could you imagine to be more distant from one another than a cat and a bumblebee? Yet the ties that bind these two animals, though at first glance nonexistent, are on the contrary so strict that were they to be modified, the consequences would be so numerous and profound as to be unimaginable. Mice, argues Darwin, are among the principal enemies of bumblebees. They eat their larvae and destroy their nests. On the other hand, as everyone knows, mice are the favorite prey of cats. One consequence of this is that, in proximity to those villages with the most cats, one finds fewer mice and more bumblebees. So far so clear? Good, let’s go on.

Bumblebees are the primary pollinators of many vegetable species, and it is common knowledge that the greater the amount and the quality of pollination the greater the number of seeds produced by the plants. The number and the quality of seeds determines the greater or lesser presence of insects, which, as is well known, are the principal nutriment of numerous bird populations. We could go on like this, adding one group of living species to another, for hours on end: bacteria, fungi, cereals, reptiles, orchids, would succeed one another without pause, one by one, until we ran out of breath, like in those nursery rhymes that connect one event to another without interruption. The ecological relationships that Darwin brings to our attention tell us of a world of bonds much more complex and ungraspable than had ever previously been supposed. Relationships so complex as to connect everything to everything in a single network of the living.

Read Why Bumblebees Love Cats and Other Beautiful Relationships on longreads.com


Stuff I wrote and drew about this week:

Other things I was reminded of, or thankful for, last week:

  • We’re continuing to inch forward on a remodel project for our house, which has consumed a lot of evening hours and admin time. The garden work continues too, and is now just a constant ongoing project. Check out Kav’s recent inquiry about filling garden beds on my colleague Adam’s superb gardening-focused blog.
  • I did some work on the site this week, updating the homepage and researching a new theme to try soon as I’m feeling like the fonts need refreshing and the overall look needs updating. Looking at using Easy Google Fonts or Google Fonts Typography for the fonts and the Eksell theme in the coming weeks.
  • I worked almost every day last week and so in between shifts at work I had bouts with the Peloton or the running trail followed by moving wheelbarrows of aggregate from the front garden to the back. Good workouts for sure. 🙂

Last but not least, check out what I’m up to now.

Comments welcome!