Categories
Misc

Previously boiled water

A couple years ago, I read on the side of a box of tea that you should “always use fresh water before boiling. Previously boiled water has lost oxygen…”. The implication being it won’t taste as good. Or it won’t steep the tea as well. Who knows, really, but I believed it. I casually accepted this as fact and felt a little better knowing that I knew a little secret to making my coffee and tea just a little bit better than before. Fresh water! Sounds true.

Months passed, and I dumped many a pot of previously boiled water down the drain. Mostly, this was water that had been sitting out overnight, but sometimes it was simply water from a few hours earlier, still warm. Something in the back of my mind made me wonder if it really mattered (I didn’t seem to be able to tell in the slightest), and it felt ridiculous at times, but I brushed those thoughts aside and kept pouring, wasting time and water over-and-over again.

But recently I decided this “not knowing” thing is pretty dumb, so I did some quick research and found it probably makes no difference whether you use fresh water or previously boiled for your coffee, and, most importantly, I can’t tell the difference. So I stopped dumping then and there.

Belief and habit thus changed.

This whole episode got me thinking, how many other unnecessary things might I be doing just because someone or something said I should?

There are many habits and decisions we make where it truly doesn’t make that much difference to research deeply and find things out for yourself. If you don’t spend that much time on something and/or it’s not important/interesting/life-threatening to you, then you probably should just dump the preboiled water and move on.

But I enjoy my brewed beverages, and I spend a fair amount of my life making them, so this counts as something I should pay attention to.

Yes, this previously boiled water belief might seem like a ridiculous thing to mention. A small bad habit to break in the grand scheme of things that isn’t going to amount to much in the long-term and has little impact on my day. At least, that’s one perspective.

Here’s another: if you can’t change these small beliefs that seemingly don’t matter, how will you ever hope to change the big ones that do?

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#51)

Favorite quote:

Good stories always beat good spreadsheets.

Chris Sacca

A project that seems to be working pretty well: The (home) office door.


Reasons to be cheerful: reasonstobecheerful.world was a new find (for me) of interesting reads with an optimistic bent. Check out the The Necessity of Nuclear as one example.


Some rules to live by: The 12 ‘Other’ Rules for Life was put together over a couple of weeks of posts by Marcus Purvis. Here are a few favorites:

Rule 6. Read like your life depends on it because it does
Read fiction and nonfiction, one compliments the other. Fiction helps your creative mind and nonfiction gives you information which can become knowledge.
Rule 7. Know that love is a verb
There are many couples who fall out of love. There are countless people who no longer love the work they do. Don’t be like them. Play an active role in loving what you do and whom you spend time with.
Rule 10. Everyone gets 24 hours
You’ll never find time for anything, you have to create it. If you don’t create time for you, someone else will take it from you. You can’t spend time, then go earn more of it. You can’t buy it, rent it, or borrow it.


Avocados are more valuable that illegal drugs for Mexican cartels: Avocado Cartels: The Violent Reality Behind “Green Gold” is a great read for a recent history of both cartels as well as the avocado trade.

Mexico produces nine out of every 10 avocados eaten in the U.S. The lion’s share dangle from long lines of leafy green trees in Michoacán, home to nearly 5 million people. In 2017, the strife-torn southwestern coastal state sent an astounding 1.7 billion pounds of Haas avocados to the U.S.

And in the notoriously troubled state of Michoacán, which is plagued with corrupt police, failed governance, and plenty of guns, all those avocados have been a magnet for organized crime like flies on a giant vat of, well, guacamole.


New music I’ve been enjoying:

Two recommendations this week:

DJ Shadow – Our Pathetic Age is an ambitious double album released in our (pathetic?) age of 28 minute “albums”. Good write up here.

Motherless Brooklyn (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is great jazz album that I’ve been listening to in the mornings, and a movie I’d like to see.


New tool I’ve been using: Grammarly. Much more than a spell checker, it has great suggestions for rephrasing and even predicts how your tone will be percieved. The browser plugins are ace.


Favorite book excerpt:

“I felt the same gut empathy … that I used to feel, unwelcome and against my better judgement, for George Bush in those moments when even he seemed to dimly apprehend that he was in way over his head. One reason we rush so quickly to the vulgar satisfactions of judgement, and love to revel in our righteous outrage, is the it spares us from the impotent pain of empathy, and the harder, messier work of understanding.” (Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing)


Check out what we’re up to now.

Categories
Parenting Work

The (home) office door

Working from home full-time is fantastic, but having an office in a small house with two small children means that staying focused can be a challenge.

As any parent will tell you, a closed-door is not a universally recognised symbol by children to knock or come back later. It’s more like a general invitation to see what’s happening behind. A locked door generally leads to more knocking. You have to get a bit more creative if you want to minimize interruptions. So I had an idea.

As a project, the kids and I created a few things for the office door that now serve as an interface between us while Dad is working.

Categories
What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#50)

Book excerpt I loved:

As we make progress in our practice of Stoicism, we will become increasingly indifferent to other people’s opinions of us. We will not go through our life with the goal of gaining their approval or avoiding their disapproval, and because we are indifferent to their opinions, we will feel no sting when they insult us. Indeed, a Stoic sage, were one to exist, would probably take the insults of his fellow humans to be like the barking of a dog. When a dog barks, we might make a mental note that the dog in question appears to dislike us, but we would be utter fools to allow ourselves to become upset by this fact, to go through the rest of the day thinking, “Oh, dear! That dog doesn’t like me!” (William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life)


A grave reminder. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.


The importance of winters: As winters shrink, our discontent grows is a thought-provoking essay on the impact of climate change and how we rely on seasons to give structure and meaning to our lives. Hadn’t quite thought about it in this way before.

Whenever winter hits and however mild or severe it might be, we must remain cognizant of the fact that winter offers a change of pace, a reduction of the world around us. It can be a period of withdrawal, of reflection and regeneration. If we allow ourselves to embrace it, it can bring us back to a time when people were forced to be more flexible and responsive to the seasons. Maybe we, too, can become more receptive to the small pleasures and wonders that we otherwise perceive only peripherally, if at all?


Thoughts on how to think about your career: The Obvious Way to Improve Your Career (That Might Not Be So Obvious) has some good perspective worth a quick read. I’m of the mind that your career is a painting and not a ladder, but the same thinking here applies.

Often the kinds of efforts that will move forward your business are hard. They are uncomfortable. They require doing things that you (currently) have no idea how to do.

Many people pass on these to pick hobby projects instead. Projects that are fun, seem related to their career, yet, ultimately deliver underwhelming results. Improving their social media marketing, rather than creating compelling content. Installing a new development environment, rather than becoming an expert in their language. Designing business cards instead of drumming up business.


Werner Herzog doesn’t really watch movies: Why He Didn’t Need to See ‘Star Wars’ Films for ‘The Mandalorian’ Role.

You shouldn’t feel upset that I haven’t seen the “Star Wars” films; I hardly see any films. I read. I see two, three, maybe four films per year.

This made me think, but his comments about watching and understanding what the rest of the population is watching (which it sounds like he’s been saying way before it was trending) also stuck with me.


Tiger stripes are like fingerprints: While creating a book about tigers with my daughter (her idea), we came across the following fact from Wikipedia:

As with all tigers, the white Bengal tiger’s stripes are like fingerprints, with no two tigers having the same pattern. The stripes of the tiger are a pigmentation of the skin; if an individual were to be shaved, its distinctive coat pattern would still be visible


Finally, see what we’re up to now.

Categories
Misc

Not yet

Each time I go for a longer trail run, my typical turn around spot is a part of the trail with a clearning next to a cemetary. I never thought about it much initially, but after a few times I started to notice that the graves all had fresh flowers on them everyday without fail. Some had balloons, cards, and other items as well. Who was putting all of this out regularly? Certainly not every grave had a family member coming out everyday? Whomever it was, they never missed a day it seemed.

The fact that these graves were always being remembered seemed to peak my own remembrance of this place and what it symbolizes, and I’ve really started to enjoy the short time I get at the mid-point of my run, looking out at the well-attended graves.

“Not me,” I think to myself, “not yet.”

And then I head back, still running and still very much alive. Any trouble or anxiousness that was rattling around on the way there seems insignifigant after seeing the graves and being reminded that it could certainly be worse. Would I rather it just be all over? What would they give to trade places and take on my little worries?

No, best to enjoy it while it lasts because it will end soon enough.

But not yet.