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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#68)

Book excerpt that seems to ring differently:

“Around the world and throughout the millennia, those who have thought carefully about the workings of desire have recognized this—that the easiest way for us to gain happiness is to learn how to want the things we already have.” (William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life)


A great sci-fi short story:

Her tree was growing in a lab near Toronto. It was technically a ginkgo, but it didn’t look like a ginkgo; its genome had been altered, so its leaves were larger and darker than a regular ginkgo’s, with barely the ghost of a cleft. More importantly, the structure of this new tree’s trunk and limbs had been modified to make room for a mind. Those long skeins of cells weren’t human neurons, exactly; but they weren’t NOT human neurons, either. Their weave was dense, and correspondingly expensive.

Ever since I read Ted Chiang’s Exhalation I’ve had a renewed appreciation for fiction and science fiction as well. I love it when stories leave it to you to fill in the gaps. When you sense there is a whole universe imagined that is surrounding a story.

https://desert.glass/archive/my-father-the-druid-my-mother-the-tree/#text


Tool for reducing background noise on calls:

Krisp adds an additional layer between your physical microphone/speaker and conferencing apps, which doesn’t let any noise pass through.

I’ve been doing a lot of Zoom calls over the past week (this would have been unchanged even if Corona wasn’t happening) and am really liking this little app: Krisp.ai.

Here is a link that will get you a month of their “pro” service (free is capped at 120 mins a week):


Some drawing about prioritizing:

I’m not sure how this became a longer thing than it is. Maybe that’s because prioritization, the subject of this piece, is a longer, harder thing to do than it seems at a distance. Anyway, this illustration started as a little morning drawing of an idea that I revisited from a book excerpt and grew into the series of illustrations


Why we listen to new music:

I’ve thought about this a lot for some reason. I love listening to new music. There is always the risk that you won’t like something, that it will be “meh”, but those times when new music grabs you, those can be unmatched.

Listening to new music is hard. Not hard compared to going to space or war, but hard compared to listening to music we already know. I assume most Americans—especially those who have settled into the groove of life after 30—simply don’t listen to new music because it’s easy to forgo the act of discovery when work, rent, children, and broadly speaking “life” comes into play. Eventually, we bow our heads and cross a threshold where most music becomes something to remember rather than something to experience. And now, on top of everything else, here we all are, crawling through this tar pit of panic and dread, trying to heft some new music through historic gravity into our lives. It feels like lifting a couch.

https://pitchfork.com/features/article/listen-to-music


How to expand subjective time during lockdown:

I thought this was really interesting and useful. I’ve noticed the effects of moving to different rooms for different activities makes a big difference.

We’ve seen how our experience of time is rooted in our apprehension of space, and how this is reflected in memory. So when we stop moving around over the course of the day, we shouldn’t be surprised that it messes with our experience. And this is why a day spent all in one spot will tend to feel like it’s passed quicker: as we experience the sequence of activities in our day, each is a little bit less distinctive and differentiated than it would be under normal conditions because it lacks spatial context, and the different portions of the day then bleed into each other.


Some really cool art:

Reminded me of the electric-theme series of images I’ve been doing as of late.

http://www.justinmaller.com/ and http://www.facets.la/


What I’m grateful for this week:

  • Bikes. Freedom by physical exertion. It’s been great to get both the kids into biking and I really want to get one again my self now.
  • That I have work, and lots of it. I get to learn something new everyday and help people create as my job.

Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#67)

Quote I loved:

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.

Theodore Isaac Rubin

Tools and gear for the distributed:

Lots of good stuff (published by the company I work for) from folks that have been working in a fully-distributed fashion for years.

Also very-related and useful is this summary for headsets and advice for online meetings.

One heterodox recommendation I have for audio and video calls when you’re working in a distributed fashion is not to mute, if you can help it. When you’re speaking to a muted room, it’s eerie and unnatural — you feel alone even if you can see other people’s faces.


Approaching your computer time (or phone time) intentionally:

A good reminder, because this topic always needs reminding.

Ultimately this is about you. You need to approach your computer, and other devices, as a tool for accomplishing a specific job, then be intentional about using it for that job. It’s a skill, and learning it takes time.

https://zapier.com/blog/use-your-computer-like-a-tool


Still enjoying making mini-zines:

What if aliens visited in the midst of coronavirus?


A book excerpt i enjoyed:

“Work hard, work passionately, but apply your most precious asset-time-to what is most meaningful to you. What are you willing to do for the rest of your life? does not mean, literally, what will you do for the rest of your life? That question would be absurd, given the inevitability of change. No, what the question really asks is, if your life were to end suddenly and unexpectedly tomorrow, would you be able to say you’ve been doing what you truly care about today? What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life? What would it take to do it right now?” (Randy Komisar, The Monk and the Riddle)


Some words of wisdom to ponder:

From a recent Recomendo newsletter, these have stuck with me.

  • “If all you did was just looked for things to appreciate, you would live a joyously spectacular life.” ― Esther Abraham Hicks
  • “Let go or be dragged.” — Zen Proverb
  • “Be messy and complicated and afraid and show up anyways.” — Glennon Doyle Melton
  • “”No.” is a complete sentence.“ — Unknown

https://www.getrevue.co/profile/Recomendo


What I’m grateful for:

  • Sam’s updates on the last hours’ activities when I come out of the office to grab a coffee or snack. “Daddy, we just saw a poisonous caterpillar outside!”
  • The early spring weather. Still cold but the long days and warm sun are a godsend at this point.
  • My afternoon walks and adventures with the kids. We literally spent an hour playing on hills of rocks in the back of the farm where we live. It was our favorite activity last week.

Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#66)

Favorite quote:

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children . . . to leave the world a bit better . . . to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can still succeed now, maybe more so.


Cool videos to share with your kids:

I mean, just look at some of these:

Tilly the golden eagle flies above the Scottish highlands: https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/tilly-the-golden-eagle-soars-above-the-scottish-highlands

Hummingbird frenzy: https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/hummingbird-frenzy

Science experiments to do with kids: https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/ten-easy-home-science-experiments-kids

Using YouTube as a platform for serving video but collecting it in a way that’s fun and better than using YouTube.


My favorite new for me sites/resources on the pandemic:

The Corona Virus explained:

Our World in Data, a brilliant site for interesting facts:

https://ourworldindata.org

(the Coronavirus page I find particularly good: https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus)


A blast from the past:

The origin of the name SEGA and other surprises in this strange-but-cool commemoration to 60 years of SEGA. I was such a huge fan of the Sega Genesis and SEGA ruled the arcades as well (another thing I was a huge fan of).

https://60th.sega.com/en


Music to revisit:

Lots of good new music out now (hi Caribou, Jay Electronica) but the Radiohead Public Library made me go back and revisit their discography.

https://www.radiohead.com/library


Writing process that I was thinking about:

This is what I do for everything I post:

Write all of my thoughts on a subject.

Argue against those ideas.

Explore different angles until I’m sick of it.

Leave it for a few days or years, then repeat those steps.

Hate how messy these thoughts have become.

Reduce them to a tiny outline of the key points.

Post the outline. Trash the rest.

From Derek Sivers: https://sivers.org/7

(also be sure to check out How to ask your mentors for help: https://sivers.org/ment)


Everything is going to be ok:

Is it? That depends.


Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#65)

Quote that I loved:

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker

Ten stories you need right now:

https://www.sciencealert.com/here-are-10-good-news-stories-you-need-to-read-right-now


50 things to do:

Just some ideas between friends.


A great talk on self-renewal:

Hard not to just copy the entire talk here, it’s really good.

We have to face the fact that most men and women out there in the world of work are more stale than they know, more bored than they would care to admit. Boredom is the secret ailment of large-scale organizations. Someone said to me the other day “How can I be so bored when I’m so busy?” And I said “Let me count the ways.” Logan Pearsall Smith said that boredom can rise to the level of a mystical experience, and if that’s true I know some very busy middle level executives who are among the great mystics of all time.

Learn all your life. Learn from your failures. Learn from your successes, When you hit a spell of trouble, ask “What is it trying to teach me?” The lessons aren’t always happy ones, but they keep coming. It isn’t a bad idea to pause occasionally for an inward look. By midlife, most of us are accomplished fugitives from ourselves.

We learn from our jobs, from our friends and families. We learn by accepting the commitments of life, by playing the roles that life hands us (not necessarily the roles we would have chosen). We learn by growing older, by suffering, by loving, by bearing with the things we can’t change, by taking risks.

There will inevitably many who will find the current disruption a reason to venture out and do something new and scary. At least there is something good there to think about.


It’s normal to feel weird about this:

And so the drunken carousel of wildly-spinning emotions goes on, staffed by octopods, ridden by monkeys, narrated by a short-circuiting robot.

These are weird days, friends. It’d be weird if you weren’t weird about that.

I love Chuck Wendig.


Favorite book excerpt:

“What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here—and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.” (Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird)

Writing, drawing, making, doing…the same rules apply. Go make a mess and leave it for awhile. It’s ok.


A gripping story to keep you occupied:

Forty five years ago, eight Soviet women climbers were pinned on top of a high mountain in the USSR in the worst storm in 25 years.

The presentation on this is super cool.

https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2020/01/sport/russian-climbers-peak-lenin-spt-intl


Art projects keep us sane:

Here’s what we did this week. Lots more to come.


Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#64)

Book excerpt I enjoyed:

“Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life—and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree.” (Haruki Murakami and Philip Gabriel, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running)

We gotta keep running.


The story you tell yourself can change everything:

A person who is managing a customer-support team can tell herself that she’s overseeing people who answer customer questions. That’s one story.

Another story is that she manages people who genuinely love helping others; a group that exudes empathy and enjoys solving problems like detectives. This narrative drives her intentions and behaviors. When this is the story she believes about her work, it speaks to her identity and sharpens her work.

While there are environmental forces—such as leadership and workplace culture—that influence what we believe about ourselves, ultimately we are the stewards of our own stories.


This may be silver lining for (non-remote) workers:

More companies might fully embrace remote work after this current coronapocolypse. That’s a good thing.

“We’ll never probably be the same. People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way. Managers who didn’t think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective. I do think we won’t go back.” Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s head of human resources, in BuzzFeed News


How should we think about the end:

We may not have arrived at the end, but we have certainly arrived at the thought of it. Medical, environmental, political, economic and military problems seem to have joined forces to remind us that the story of humanity is, at some point, going to draw to a close. That’s a very painful thought to have. It also raises a serious philosophical problem.


Beware the hand dryer:

This is validating what my Dad has been saying for years.

A 2012 analysis of 12 studies over four decades published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings concluded that “[f]rom a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers” and that they should be used in “locations in which hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals and clinics.” Though it could be argued that hygiene should be paramount in the restroom of, say, your neighborhood Panera Bread, too.

https://www.wired.com/story/wash-your-hands-but-beware-the-electric-hand-dryer


Learning more about shoelaces is a powerful distraction:

First, check out this very short TED talk on how to tie your shoes:

The strong form of the shoe knot. Sometimes a small advantage somewhere in life can yield tremendous advantage elsewhere. Brilliant.

Also related is Iann’s shoelace site:

https://www.fieggen.com/shoelace

And finally, here’s what the extra lace hole on your gym shoes is for:


Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.