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Misc

Fake it and make it

We’re dressing up here for Halloween, regardless of whether we can actually go trick-or-treating. Even though we aren’t going to be able to be on display for the neighborhood this year, it’s funny to think about what the act of dressing up does: it gives you permission. All of the sudden you can act in a different way and it’s ok.

I previously mentioned that you should get a helmet. Using props, dressing up, pretending for a moment to be something else, all of these are good tools you can use to trick your brain into forgetting the fear of failure and ridicule just enough so that you can act.

Categories
Misc

Opposites attract

I just finished reading Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee. Enjoyed it more that I thought I would. The premise isn’t all that exciting, like most McPhee books (his compendium about the geological history of North America won the Pulitzer prize!), but it was hard to put down. The portraits of the main characters and the portraits of the wilderness locations were superb and endlessly interesting.

Encounters with the Archdruid tells the story of David Brower, a giant figure in the environmental conservation movement in the last century, and three trips he takes to different wilderness areas in the US with the the author and three of his bitterest rivals: a miner, a developer, and a dam builder. The book is divided into three sections, one of each of the trips they take, and weaves between background stories about each of the four figures and the locations and experiences they have along the way.

Here are some of my favorite passages from the book.

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Misc

The altruists survive

“There are these two explorers in the jungle and they suddenly hear a lion roar. And one of them starts looking for a place where both of them can hide. And the other one starts putting on his running shoes. And the first person says to the second person, “You’re crazy. You can’t run faster than a lion.” And the second one turns to the first one and says, “I don’t need to run faster than the lion. All I need to do is run faster than you.”

Without my daily forced commute, I’m not finding that I’m listening to a lot of podcasts at the moment. Instead of multiple a week, I typically only listen to 20-30 minutes of a show while shaving my head (this being my haircut of choice now, it takes a little while). Last week’s choice was a Tim Ferriss conversation with the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (never heard of him until now), and it contained some gems, especially the following portion.

Categories
Misc

Fall music rotation

I have always listed to a lot of music, and always have music playing while I work, cook and generally anytime I can put something on I will. Here is a selection of some of the music keeping me company during my favorite time of year.

Categories
Misc

Functionally illiterate

We all know someone who seems to know way more than us. I can think of a whole universe of people who I admire and stand in awe of the things they (seem to) know. Sometimes I even catch myself thinking they must be way smarter than me.

Of course, the smart thing is not true, and it’s a poor use of time to compare yourself with others. But the knowing more thing? Yes, that’s always true. Someone always will know more. But even they didn’t know at one point. They learned from those before them.

General James Mattis pointed out in his autobiography that “Reading is an honor and a gift,” he explains, “from a warrior or a historian who—a decade or a thousand decades ago—set aside time to write.” Yet many people spurn this gift and still consider themselves educated. “If you haven’t read hundreds of books,” Mattis says, “you’re functionally illiterate.”