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!
“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.
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:
My notes: It’s all about working out your confusion. What does good look like, get in sync. What’s your experience? Describe it. Find out more about the other persons experience. Then if there’s a gap, figure it out and look at it together. No blame.
Worth a listen
Concierge car buying:
Then a guy called wanting a car. Carroll said he didn’t work at the dealership anymore. And the buyer said he didn’t care. Carroll decided then he would go solo. Not as the usual car “broker,” who tends to charge a direct fee to shoppers, but as a car “concierge” who planned to charge customers $0. He would work on commission.
Side note: I had no idea that USA Today has a trimmed down, super fast site special for the European Union which is intentionally bland and simple and fresh air compared to the usual bloat and ads on most news sites:
1. Persuade the client to let you do great work. 2. Get better clients.
They dance together every day. You get better clients as soon as you act like the creator who deserves better clients.
The intelligence coup of the century:
For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret. The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II.
But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.
Americans are worse at The Price Is Right than they used to be. On the game show, which has been running since 1972, four contestants are asked to guess the price of consumer products, like washing machines, microwaves, or jumbo packs of paper towels. The person who gets closest to the actual price, without going over, gets to keep playing and the chance to win prizes like a new car. In the 1970s, the typical guess was about 8% below the actual price. People underestimate the price by more than 20% in the 2010s.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you start to think, Man this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand any more is up to the runner himself. This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running.” (Haruki Murakami and Philip Gabriel, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running)
Running = life in this context I think.
“Many people think they’ve determined the next action when they get it down to “set meeting.” But that’s not the next action, because it’s not descriptive of physical behavior. How do you set a meeting? Well, it could be with a phone call or an e-mail, but to whom? Decide. If you don’t decide now, you’ll still have to decide at some other point, and what this process is designed to do is actually get you to finish the thinking exercise about this item. If you haven’t identified the next physical action required to kick-start it, there will be a psychological gap every time you think about it even vaguely. You’ll tend to resist noticing it, which leads to procrastination.” (David Allen, Getting Things Done)
Boiling things down to the physical behavior is annoying and hard but makes such a difference. I’m trying to get better at it.
What I’m thankful for this week:
Almost every time Sam sits down to go to the toilet he tells me: “Daddy, boys have willies, girls don’t have willies.”
Playing cribbage with my Dad in the evening, hadn’t done that in a long time and had forgotten the simple pleasure of playing cards.