What I learned last week (#163): the scout rule, watersheds, leopard fights, and more!

Painting of a field with sheep

A weekly selection of what I was reading, drawing, writing, and doing.

The long winter has my mind wandering to places more exotic and the story of Explorer Carl Akeley who Kills A Leopard With His Bare Hands is perfect. Damn.

The Big Here Quiz, which challenges you to know more about the ecology and make up of your local area, is pretty cool to think about and kind of got me going down a rabbit hole about moon cycles and watersheds:

A watershed is an area of land that drains or “sheds” water into a specific waterbody. Every body of water has a watershed.

Scotland has a pretty simple watershed (a drop of water is either going to the Atlantic or the North Sea. It’s also an insane route to hike. See what I’m talking about at Scotland’s Watershed Is So Wild That Only 6 People Have Managed To Complete The Whole Route.

The power of rituals that create (positive) consistency is overlooked (via the Tiny Thought in the latest issue of Brainfood):

Once started, rituals are hard to stop. Think of rituals as anything structured that creates inertia. Not all inertia is positive. Your rituals can work for you or against you. And their mechanical neutrality is key to using them to your advantage.

Instead of relying on motivation to do homework, we started a ritual after school. Come home, shower, get a snack, and start your homework. As the days turn to weeks the structure takes hold and becomes the path of least resistance. Now, he consistently does homework every day, even when he doesn’t feel like it. The ritual took over.

What looks like skill is often just consistency. While you can’t snap your fingers and become more talented, you can create your own talent. Consistency creates talent. And you won’t be consistent if you only do things when you feel like it.

Finally, here is a great collection of hacker laws that apply in real life.

Two that jumped out as cynical but true:

Putt’s Law: Technology is dominated by two types of people, those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand.

Cunningham’s Law: The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.

Two that jumped out as essential:

Gall’s Law: A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.

The Scout Rule: Always leave the code better than you found it.

See you next week!

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

One response

  1. That ritual idea is great, a bit like creating a good habit. I still haven’t managed to program my head to do that yet!

Comments welcome!

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