One of my favorite songs for years has been Nick Drake’s “One of these things first”. I first heard it on the soundtrack to movie The Garden State, as did many it seems, a film remembered for it’s music more than anything else.
Favorite quote from the week:
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”Mark Twain
We all get started by pretending:
Aside from the huge smiles that we all get and how much fun it is to play with Sam and his helmet, it’s gotten me thinking about the connection between the playing dress-up and pretending to be something versus actually being it. What’s the difference? We all start as pretenders and we all feel like fakes at first. What you wear (and how it fits) can make you feel invincible or invisible. You have to start somewhere.
More from An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth:
I loved this book. I read it awhile ago and think about it often, so seeing Chris Hadfield’s mental models in space come up last week again was a welcome site:
At NASA, we’re not just expected to respond positively to criticism, but to go one step further and draw attention to our own missteps and miscalculations. It’s not easy for hyper-competitive people to talk openly about screw-ups that make them look foolish or incompetent. Management has to create a climate where owning up to mistakes is permissible and colleagues have to agree, collectively, to cut each other some slack.” (friction and viscosity)
That is something I’ve been thinking about a lot as a way to be better at my work. The other is the following, which I feel like I’ve been doing a good job of:
The best way to contribute to a brand-new environment is not by trying to prove what a wonderful addition you are. It’s by trying to have a neutral impact, to observe and learn from those who are already there, and to pitch in with grunt work wherever possible.
Over the years, I’ve realized that in any new situation, whether it involves an elevator or a rocket ship, you will almost certainly be viewed in one of three ways. As a minus one: actively harmful, someone who creates problems. Or as a zero: your impact is neutral and doesn’t tip the balance one way or the other. Or you’ll be seen as a plus one: someone who actively adds value.”
Universities are adopting the subscription model:
Makes a lot of sense, sign me up!
In 2020, academic institutions will start to offer lifelong admittance, paid for on a subscription basis. Rather than simply provide students with an on-ramp to a career and the occasional professional pitstop, universities will find ways to build ongoing relationships with workers.
The Blue Bananna is:
The joys of sitting in a pub on your own:
100% agree. I love time alone in the pub and/or brewery.
The difference between Great Britain, the United Kingdom and England:
Short view and taught me a few things I hadn’t realized.
How the internet is changing chess:
“It’s OK if you make mistakes,” she said. “Just move on in and have some fun with it.” And that’s a feeling that isn’t confined to the new guard. Finegold said he’s looking forward to where streaming is going. “Chess could be fun, too,” Finegold said. “It doesn’t have to be super serious all the time.”
New music I’ve been listening to in the office:
Yppah – Sunset in the Deep End
Something I’m grateful for this week:
- The fact that Vivi is still into silly little toys, pretending to be a cheetah, and reading children’s books below her age and reading level
- Art projects. Sometimes it’s best to just make a mess.
Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.
Two book excerpts I’ve been thinking about:
“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets… it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” (Cal Newport, Deep Work)
Very apt for the holidays this week and next.
“I happen to be in a very tough business where there are no alibis. It is good or it is bad and the thousand reasons that interfere with a book being as good as possible are no excuses if it is not. You have to make it good and a man is a fool if he adds or takes hindrance after hindrance after hindrance to being a writer when that is what he cares about. Taking refuge in domestic successes, being good to your broke friends etc. is merely a form of quitting.” (Larry W. Phillips, Ernest Hemingway on Writing)
Those are some tough words and also got me thinking about this post on how Tyler Cowen practices to be better at his work. To extreme for me but I agree that you have to practice deliberately anything you want to be better at.
New music is such a great gift: The KEXP DJs top albums of the year, along with the listeners top 99.3 albums, offers an annual avalanche of good tunes that carries me into the next year on a high. Here are some new albums I have discovered already from these lists:
The Black Tones – Cobain & Cornbread – blues mixed with hard/grunge rock
Preservation Hall Jazz Band – A Tuba to Cuba – upbeat latin-inspired jazz
Nicola Cruz – Siku – instrumental album with a tribal, ancient feel
Rudy Willingham – Dunk Reactions – really fresh mix of instrumental beats and samples
My favorite music of 2019: This year was full of change, here is the music that kept me company throughout.
A beautiful poem and thoughts on marriage: From Margaret Atwood on Marriage, really liked this poem and lots more in the link.
HABITATION by Margaret Atwood
Marriage is not
a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
we are learning to make fire
Common sense that’s often ignored: The seven sins of meetings with remote participants
The crazy surveilled reality we now live in: One Nation Tracked is a fantastic exploration of the tracking devices we all carry with us each day.
Within America’s own representative democracy, citizens would surely rise up in outrage if the government attempted to mandate that every person above the age of 12 carry a tracking device that revealed their location 24 hours a day. Yet, in the decade since Apple’s App Store was created, Americans have, app by app, consented to just such a system run by private companies. Now, as the decade ends, tens of millions of Americans, including many children, find themselves carrying spies in their pockets during the day and leaving them beside their beds at night — even though the corporations that control their data are far less accountable than the government would be.
The dark world of online murder markets: Click Here to Kill. Woah, great read.
Quote for the new year:
No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step toward solution. Do something.George F. Nordenholt
Free tools for images and illustrations for your site, docs, presentations, and more:
- unDraw: https://undraw.co/
- humaaans: https://www.humaaans.com/
- Ouch!: https://icons8.com/ouch#
- manypixels: https://www.manypixels.co/gallery/
This is the last post of the year for me and I’m going to explore a new destination, read a bit, and play. See you next year!
In the meantime, check out what we’re up to now.
I find a lot of inspiration browsing top albums lists and seem to always find great new music this time of year. To that end, I offer the 20 albums I enjoyed listening to the most in 2019:
- Makaya McCraven – Universal Beings
- Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt 1 & Pt 2
- Madlib & Freddie Gibbs – Bandana
- Flying Lotus – Flamagra
- Chemical Brothers – No Geography
- The New Pornographers – In the Morse Code of the Brake Lights
- Little Brother – May the Lord Watch
- Modymann – Sinner
- Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady
- Lord Huron – Vide Noir
- Slow Machete – Ola Mala
- Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed
- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will the Circle Be Unbroken
- Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
- Blu – Ground & Water
- DJ Shadow – Our Pathetic Age
- Louis Armstrong – The Great Summit
- Rapsody – Eve
- fabric presents Bonobo (DJ Mix)
- Hot Chip – A Bathtub Full of Ecstasy