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Misc

Previously boiled water

A couple years ago, I read on the side of a box of tea that you should “always use fresh water before boiling. Previously boiled water has lost oxygen…”. The implication being it won’t taste as good. Or it won’t steep the tea as well. Who knows, really, but I believed it. I casually accepted this as fact and felt a little better knowing that I knew a little secret to making my coffee and tea just a little bit better than before. Fresh water! Sounds true.

Months passed, and I dumped many a pot of previously boiled water down the drain. Mostly, this was water that had been sitting out overnight, but sometimes it was simply water from a few hours earlier, still warm. Something in the back of my mind made me wonder if it really mattered (I didn’t seem to be able to tell in the slightest), and it felt ridiculous at times, but I brushed those thoughts aside and kept pouring, wasting time and water over-and-over again.

But recently I decided this “not knowing” thing is pretty dumb, so I did some quick research and found it probably makes no difference whether you use fresh water or previously boiled for your coffee, and, most importantly, I can’t tell the difference. So I stopped dumping then and there.

Belief and habit thus changed.

This whole episode got me thinking, how many other unnecessary things might I be doing just because someone or something said I should?

There are many habits and decisions we make where it truly doesn’t make that much difference to research deeply and find things out for yourself. If you don’t spend that much time on something and/or it’s not important/interesting/life-threatening to you, then you probably should just dump the preboiled water and move on.

But I enjoy my brewed beverages, and I spend a fair amount of my life making them, so this counts as something I should pay attention to.

Yes, this previously boiled water belief might seem like a ridiculous thing to mention. A small bad habit to break in the grand scheme of things that isn’t going to amount to much in the long-term and has little impact on my day. At least, that’s one perspective.

Here’s another: if you can’t change these small beliefs that seemingly don’t matter, how will you ever hope to change the big ones that do?

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#37 & #38)

Week of Aug 12 – Aug 18 and Aug 19 – 25
Note: So much has been going on and I took too long to post so here is a special edition covering the last two weeks instead of the usual one.


I thought things were slowing down (obviously I am easy to fool): Big things happening over the past couple weeks: my daughter started school in Scotland, my son started peeing in Scotland (clarification: he is using the potty now and did his first pee in the woods, yes!), and I started a (trial) for a new job. Who said anything about “getting settled”? My reading and listening time have suffered a bit as I focus on building some career capital skills, but nonetheless there is no end of interesting things to share and learn about. Onward!


Book excerpts I enjoyed:

“The good news is that every mistake you make can teach you something, so there’s no end to learning. You’ll soon realize that excuses like “that’s not easy” or “it doesn’t seem fair” or even “I can’t do that” are of no value and that it pays to push through.” (Ray Dalio, Principles)

“The goal of personal growth should be to gain that deathbed clarity while your life is still happening so you can actually do something about it.” (Tim Urban, Wait but Why Year One)


The secret behind Major League Baseball’s mud: What? I had no idea that mud was such a big deal: Mud Maker: The Man Behind MLB’s Essential Secret Sauce


Some new “tools” I am exploring: MUD\WTR caught my attention and I’m giving it a try. Also need to get my Four Sigmatic mushrooms back in the cupboard again. I’m not interested in stopping my coffee habit, but always looking for other boosts.

Also, I started playing with TextExpander and it is is so helpful. I’m only scratching the surface.


There’s more to know about Frank Abagnale: Turns out the subject of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is a pretty good speaker and his past has given him a unique, sharp perspective. This is worth a watch. His answer towards the end about not using debit cards and setting his kids up with credit was surprising but genius.


A great TED talk: The comedian behind the Nanette Netflix special did a great TED talk on why she made it.


On taking breaks and having downtime: Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too is a great longread and I found the stories really good. It’s also linked with my recent reading of Deep Work.


More new music, this time old but new: The music of Franz Liszt, specifically this album of his compositions, has been a great accompaniment to work sessions.


Quote I’ve been thinking about:

“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Ian Maclaren
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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#19)

Drawing kids is hard: We were traveling all last week and I tried making some time to draw the kids at the breakfast table (in ink as is my norm right now). It was a (fun) disaster.

A book excerpt that made me think: In Draft No 4 by John McPhee lies the following quote from Cary Grant: “A thousand details add up to one impression.” The implication is that the small things really are the big things. Focus on doing the next thing the best you can, and the next, and the next. Create as many of these chains as you can. That is the definition of quality.

All about the robocall crisis: I get a few of these calls every week and my wife gets way more than I do. This gave me some backstory (and lots of interesting reading) on the cat-and-mouse game of robcalls: The robocall crisis will never be totally fixed.

A new coffee preparation: Found on the board of a coffee shop in Tofino, a cortado is a coffee preparation originating from Spain, consisting of half espresso, half milk. It’s similar to a flat white, but without the “textured” milk that is typical of Italian preparations. I still prefer my coffee black, but when I’m in the mood for something different, this is my new go-to.

My new goes-in-anything sauce: I’m super late to this party but Franks hot sauce is going in my pantry. It’s not really hot, and it’s got a acidic bite that can help balance any dish. When I was at a cooking class not long ago, they added it to anything that needed more acid (French cooking, Italian cooking, you name it).