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.

Categories
Misc

Irruptions

I’ve been really enjoying this book: What It’s Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley, after discovering recently and noticing birds more often on the farm. I love how it’s structured, with a summary of interesting facts by topic (i.e. Plumage, Nesting, Migration, etc) at the beginning, with everything linked (by page number) to various bird profiles that overlap and also interlink to each other as well. You start at some interesting facts on nesting and end up falling down the rabbit hole (never ending bird nest?) into another bird and how they can see at four focal points.

As a short illustration of one of the bird profiles I ended up on, here are a few tidbits on the secret lives of Goldfinches. Enjoy!

Categories
Misc Moving to Scotland

Noticing birds

I spent a fair bit of time outside today with the kids, and while they were occupied on the newly-discovered trampoline of our neighbors, I wandered into the nearbye field for a look around.

The scenery was seemingly very tranquil and quiet at first, but as I walked a little bit I started to notice a chorus of bird calls all around, one in particular with a really unique ring to it.

What kind of bird was it? Had I hear it before around the farm? It seemed new, like the bird had just arrived.

Categories
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.

Categories
Art

The side of the mountain

Here is some inspiration for a little morning brush pen drawing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this metaphor of the side of the mountain versus the top over the past week.

“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.” (Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

This book was not the easiest read, but it keeps coming back to mind for me. I think I could re-read it another two or three times and still find new things within.

Another excerpt in the same categorey and from the same book that gets to the point more succinctly:

“The past cannot remember the past. The future can’t generate the future. The cutting edge of this instant right here and now is always nothing less than the totality of everything there is.” (Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

Finally, the only recording I’ve re-listened a number of times on the subject of recognizing that the most important thing is right now: