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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#53 and #54)

A programming note: I was literally under a rock the past week with the flu, so I am combining the last two weeks together as a single-not-quite-double-edition.

The origin of a family favorite: We still use a slow cooker (although the pressure cooker as taken over most of those duties). It’s been a mainstay in my kitchen, and I enjoyed reading A Brief History of the Crock Pot.

At Chicago’s 1971 National Housewares Show, Rival unveiled its newly rebranded version of the Naxon Beanery. Dubbed the Crock Pot, the appliance received a new name, refreshed appearance and a booklet of professionally-tested recipes. Home cooks eagerly brought their Crock Pots home, in distinctly ‘70s hues like Harvest Gold and Avocado. Advertising campaigns, along with word of mouth, drove sales from $2 million in 1971 to an astounding $93 million four years later.


There’s nothing like going to see live music: We went to see Snow Patrol in Edinburgh this month, the first push in an ongoing effort to get out and see more music. The sound was fantastic, but as I watched the activity at the side of the stage, I was thinking about the work the sound techs were doing and what it would be like to hear what it sounds like coming directly from them after reading this article on mixhalo.

Regardless, I don’t want perfect sound at a show. I want to go for the energy and, for lack of a better word, emotion.


I’m relating to all these late bloomers: I’m 40 and feel like I’ve yet to hit my prime. Maybe wishful thinking, maybe not. This is why the profiles of people who do great things late in life appeal to me so much. My ears perk up when I hear that Peter Drucker wrote 2/3’s of his 35 books after the age of 65. A recent Jessiwrites podcast with artist Lisa Congdon caught my attention for this same reason, her having only taken her first drawing class at age 30 and turning to art full time at nearly 40.

Sometimes the time isn’t right when you are young, and things need to simmer a bit more. But I think that another, even stronger force for getting after it as you get older is you are more you than ever and have learned to say and do what you want.


Apostrophe society shuts down: Because ignorance and laziness have won! I’ve been guilty of making “its” possessive once in a while, as in “The paper was not up to it’s predecessors standards.” Sorry, I try.


I love not living in my inbox: Since changing work, I spend 90% less time in email than I did, but I still have to write a decent bit of email on a regular basis. Now I’m much more conscious of how much time is wasted by not being specific with dates, what I need/will do/won’t do, and to whom I need it. With few exceptions, I’m trying to close loops in email, not open them. How to write better emails has some important points to note in this regard.


Books I read in 2019: I counted 21 for 2019, not bad considering I have a tendency to get stuck on books I don’t like (and am working hard on that).


Book excerpt from a book on that list:

Ultimately, though, the prime driver for my own exploration in this field has been creating the space to catalyze and access new, creative, and valuable thinking and direction. To a great extent, that’s actually not something you need to exert a lot of energy to achieve, if you have gotten this far in implementing this methodology. We are naturally creative beings, invested in our existence to live, grow, express, and expand. The challenge is not to be creative—it’s to eliminate the barriers to the natural flow of our creative energies. (Getting Things Done, David Allen)


A reminder it’s always better to go outside first:

Before you make a big decision, walk around the block.

If it’s raining out, take the dog for a run.

End the meeting a few minutes early and go for a stroll with the team.

Instead of an afternoon snack, consider some sunshine.

The less convenient, the more it pays.

A hard habit to create, but definitely worth it.

When in doubt, go outside. Especially when it’s inconvenient.

(If you want to see this as a metaphor, that’s good too.)

https://seths.blog/2019/12/what-is-it/


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Misc

Books I read in 2019

Here’s my list of books for this year. I counted 21 for 2019, which definitely constitutes a great year of reading for me. I love reading and have been working hard on keeping my throughput high by putting aside books that I don’t enjoy without guilt, freely skipping through books if I feel like it, and not getting stuck on any one in particular. I’d like to keep increasing the number of books I read per year (or at least remain constant) and have plenty on the list to start off 2020.

Here is what I read in 2019 in roughly sequential order, descending from the most recent:

We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider

Great collection of stories and was surprised by the humor and impact of the writing.

Getting Things Done by David Allen

A legendary productivity system I had yet to understand until this year.

⭐️ What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murukami

One of my now all-time faves. Good for fans or running or just those who like a good memoir.

A Guide to the Good Life by William B Irvine

Deep Work by Cal Newport

What if instead we didn’t have to schedule deep thinking time, but instead had to schedule time to be distracted?

The Lessons of History by Will Durant

A short summary of world history. Really entertaining and educational read.

⭐️ Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

One of my now all-time faves. The journey and methods of an artist building their skills until they were the best in the world.

⭐️ So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

One of my now all-time faves. It’s all about deliberate practice.

Remote by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

The Year Without Pants by Scott Berkun

⭐️ The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

One of my now all-time faves. Cannot recommend enough.

⭐️ Levels of the Game by John McPhee

One of my now all-time faves. Impossible to put down once you start.

Draft No. 4 by John McPhee

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Ernest Hemingway on Writing by Larry W. Philips

Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

Will make you think about the tools and processes you use at work or for any project more intelligently.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman

Waking Up by Sam Harris

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

A book about writing that’s brimming with wisdom about life.