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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#49)

Amazing “paintings” can be made in code on a web browser: Check out Pure CSS Lace. See how they’re made here.


Running in the rain is a good habit: I’m trying to apply this in other areas of my life.


This was so funny I was actually crying: Dear Guy Who Just Made My Burrito:. I guess this came out a long while ago but I must have missed it. So good.

Bonus laugh: Google Launches ‘The Google’ For Older Adults


Tips for reducing distraction: I was trying grayscale on my phone to see what it does for improving my attention but switched it back after half a day simply due to the fact that my phone is my only camera. However, I have removed all icons from my home screen and am a fan of using search for launching apps instead of the icon.

Here are some other helpful tips to take control from Humane Tech (be sure to check out the apps/services recommended at the bottom of the page).


Quote I loved:

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Reminds me of the Tim O’reilly and the mantra of creating more value than you capture. Good stuff.


A useful guide to understanding the impeachment saga. Even though I didn’t really need this it’s pretty great and I kind of want to be somewhat informed on the topic. Now where is the equivalent for Brexit?


An exercise for discovering the cause of stress and emotions: I had heard about the work of Byron Katie before, but was recently reacquainted and read more about the four questions practice:

Next time you are upset at something or someone, think about why and try asking these four questions:

Is it true?
How can I know it’s absolutely true?
How do I react when I believe that thought?
Who would I be without that thought?


Distilling many of my aspirations as a parent, and an attempt to be gentle with myself as I inevitably don’t live up to them much of the time.


Finally, a thoughtful tool if ever in doubt from Seth Godin: A year from now…

Will today’s emergency even be remembered? Will that thing you’re particularly anxious about have been hardly worth the time you put into it?

Better question: What could you do today that would matter a year from now?

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#42)

A week of release: A lot happened this week, as the kids and I battled sickness (Therazinc and tea tree oil to the rescue!), I finished my trial with Automattic (one of the hardest stretches of work I’ve done), we took a weekend jaunt to Linlithgow Palace, and had a Sunday day doing nothing but playing.


I felt a little like this over the past five weeks: During my trial I felt so tired at the end of each day. Reading the The grandmaster diet: How to lose weight while barely moving made me think about just how much energy I was expending:

In October 2018, Polar, a U.S.-based company that tracks heart rates, monitored chess players during a tournament and found that 21-year-old Russian grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had burned 560 calories in two hours of sitting and playing chess — or roughly what Roger Federer would burn in an hour of singles tennis.

Robert Sapolsky, who studies stress in primates at Stanford University, says a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament, three times what an average person consumes in a day. Based on breathing rates (which triple during competition), blood pressure (which elevates) and muscle contractions before, during and after major tournaments, Sapolsky suggests that grandmasters’ stress responses to chess are on par with what elite athletes experience.


I attended the Rangers v Feyenoord football match on Thursday. Before moving to Scotland I knew next-to-nothing about the club, but the history is epic, and the Wikipedia page for Rangers F.C. does not disappoint:

Rangers have won more league titles and domestic trebles than any other club in the world, winning the league title 54 times, the Scottish Cup 33 times and the Scottish League Cup 27 times, and achieving the treble of all three in the same season seven times. Rangers won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 after being losing finalists twice, in 1961 (the first British club to reach a UEFA tournament final) and 1967. A third runners-up finish in Europe came in the UEFA Cup in 2008. Rangers have a long-standing rivalry with Celtic, the two Glasgow clubs being collectively known as the Old Firm, which is considered one of the world’s biggest football derbies.

Note that they have to keep the stands next to and above the visiting team’s fans cleared (visitors are the few stands in the far corner). The multiple rings of police in yellow coats can give you an idea as to why.

All those yellow coats in the distance are the police…

Reading the Lessons of History and really enjoying the writing:

So the conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it – perhaps as much more valuable as roots are more vital than grafts. It is good that new ideas should be heard, for the sake of the few that can be used; but it is also good that new ideas should be compelled to go through the mill of objection, opposition, and contumely; this is the trial heat which innovations must survive before being allowed to enter the human race. It is good that the old should resist the young, and that the young should prod the old; out of tis tension, as out of the strife of the sexes and the classes, comes a creative tensile strength, a stimulated development, a secret and basic unity and movement of the whole.”


A good question to help cut through the clutter: From Katrín Tanja Davíðsdóttir on how she recovered from not qualifying for the 2014 Crossfit games (she won in 2015 and 2016):

I wasn’t a failure. I had just failed at a certain event. Past tense. What could I do in this exact moment to get better? It got me focusing on giving my absolute best in any given situation without the pressure of constantly stacking myself up to others.”

Timothy Ferriss, Tribe of Mentors

A useful definition of art from Seth Godin:

Art is a human activity. It is the creation of something new, something that might not work, something that causes a viewer to be influenced.

Art uses context and culture to send a message. Instead of only a contribution of beauty or craft, art adds intent. The artist works to create something generous, something that will change us.

Art isn’t painting or canvas or prettiness. Art is work that matters.

It’s entirely possible that you’re an artist.

Everyone can be, if we choose.

Thing I learned about Scotland: Fall walks are as brilliant as ever.

A little path through the woods by our house. Fall is starting to peek through.
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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#15)

  • The paradox that you can’t be happy without embracing unhappiness: Per prior posts, I’m very interested in exploring ideas of yin and yang, and Social Peacocking and the Shadow by Caterina Fake offers a great perspective and links to other good reads on the topic (case-in-point is The Shadow by Hans Christian Andersen)

The more a person acknowledges his shadow, and brings it into consciousness, the healthier and more whole the person will be. But if driven underground and sent into hiding, The Shadow will take on a life of its own, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

  • Two of the best interview questions I’ve heard: Graham Duncan approaches hiring by finding and matching people with opportunities. He’s not “finding talent” (because everyone has talents) but rather matching people with the right “positive feedback loops”, and he’s not trying to “catch” someone’s weakness, because we all have many.
    These two interview questions are from Tim Ferriss’s excellent interview of Graham Duncan (and there is a lot more).
    1. If you were to hire somebody for this position, what criteria would you use?
    2. If I were to hire a partner to work with you on this, what qualities would be good for them to have?
  • Wikipedia is pretty amazing: Wikipedia and the Wisdom of Polarized Crowds by Brian Gallagher reveals a bunch of important insights from research on Wikipedia: Bringing together polarizing viewpoints is essential to making better things. Bias is essential, not inherently evil as it’s been portrayed lately. It is possible to create a platform and a distributed culture of creators that have vastly different ideologies, yet work together and are able to reach consensus.
  • A serendipitous story of a modern day heist of Star Wars toys: The Great Star Wars Heist from the excellent longreads.com is a really fun read. One of my co-workers was telling me backstory on how the original Star Wars toys came out and the deal George Lucas struck to make it happen, and then this magically popped up on my feed. #serendipity  
  • What I was doing this week in 2016: I went back to my journal to see what I was up to at this time in 2016. Three years ago we had just bought our current home (that we’re now hoping to sell next month), I was pretty crazy with my weekly bullet journal-inspire spreads, and we were in the midst of doing Core Caregiver Training (CCT) to be foster parents.