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Misc

One of these things first

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.

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#66)

Favorite quote:

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children . . . to leave the world a bit better . . . to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can still succeed now, maybe more so.


Cool videos to share with your kids:

I mean, just look at some of these:

Tilly the golden eagle flies above the Scottish highlands: https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/tilly-the-golden-eagle-soars-above-the-scottish-highlands

Hummingbird frenzy: https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/hummingbird-frenzy

Science experiments to do with kids: https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/ten-easy-home-science-experiments-kids

Using YouTube as a platform for serving video but collecting it in a way that’s fun and better than using YouTube.


My favorite new for me sites/resources on the pandemic:

The Corona Virus explained:

Our World in Data, a brilliant site for interesting facts:

https://ourworldindata.org

(the Coronavirus page I find particularly good: https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus)


A blast from the past:

The origin of the name SEGA and other surprises in this strange-but-cool commemoration to 60 years of SEGA. I was such a huge fan of the Sega Genesis and SEGA ruled the arcades as well (another thing I was a huge fan of).

https://60th.sega.com/en


Music to revisit:

Lots of good new music out now (hi Caribou, Jay Electronica) but the Radiohead Public Library made me go back and revisit their discography.

https://www.radiohead.com/library


Writing process that I was thinking about:

This is what I do for everything I post:

Write all of my thoughts on a subject.

Argue against those ideas.

Explore different angles until I’m sick of it.

Leave it for a few days or years, then repeat those steps.

Hate how messy these thoughts have become.

Reduce them to a tiny outline of the key points.

Post the outline. Trash the rest.

From Derek Sivers: https://sivers.org/7

(also be sure to check out How to ask your mentors for help: https://sivers.org/ment)


Everything is going to be ok:

Is it? That depends.


Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#62)

Visited another new place in Scotland and spent much of the week there:

Islay and Jura are two isles (islands) off the west coast of Scotland known for being remote, sparsely populated, wild, beautiful and full of some of the best whisky in the world. My Dad and I ventured out to find all of this to be very true indeed.


Favorite new music: The latest from Makaya McCraven, We’re New Again: A Reimagining has been a great companion to lunches and sketching.

The Chicago drummer and producer transforms Gil-Scott Heron’s final album into a masterpiece of dirty blues, spiritual jazz, and deep yearning.

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/gil-scott-heron-makaya-mccraven-were-new-again-a-reimagining-by-makaya-mccraven/


Quote that made me think:

Don’t allow your rituals to become ruts.

Todd Henry

George Leonard and The Power of the Mind: this reference came up from a previous book note, and I read the Esquire article that provided the seed for his later book, Mastery.

This frontier thinking has venerable roots, especially in the Eastern martial arts, all of which share a common faith in an energy source called ki in Japanese, ch’i in Chinese, pneuma in Greek, and prana in Sanskrit. In the ancient tradition, ki is the fundamental energy of the universe that connects and relates all things. By controlling the flow of this energy in one’s own body or projecting it toward external objects, the martial artist can supposedly achieve extraordinary powers. Legends abound of masters who can stop an opponent in his tracks from halfway across the room or even throw him head over heels. Karate practitioners generally claim that ki, even more than muscular strength, makes it possible for them to break bbards or concrete blocks.

Thus far, ki has proved difficult to measure, and skeptics tend to attribute its powers to suggestion, a sort of dynamic placebo effect. To the pragmatist, this distinction is unimportant. As a practitioner of aikido, an art in which ki plays an especially important role, I’ve generally found a strong correlation between my perception of personal ki and the power of my techniques. The idea of ki can offer the untrained person an effective way of gaining a sensation of increased energy along with relaxation, especially during times of fatigue and stress. Here’s an exercise designed to demonstrate the power that can come from visualizing ki.

https://classic.esquire.com/article/1988/5/1/the-power-of-the-mind

I didn’t know much about George Leonard and his book prior, but based on a brief scan of notes from James Clear’s blog, I plan to pick it up.


Sir William Osler and the power of work: Osler was one of the most important figures in the founding of modern medicine, and said the following in one of his books:

Let each hour of the day have its allotted duty, and cultivate that power of concentration which grows with its exercise, so that the attention neither flags nor wavers, but settles with bull-dog tenacity on the subject before you. Constant repetition makes a good habit fit easily in your mind, and by the end of the session you may have gained that most precious of all knowledge—the power of work.

From Cal Newport:

We don’t teach this any more.

Modern educational institutions care a lot about content: what theories we teach, what ideas students are exposed to, what skills they come away knowing. But we rarely address the more general question of how one transforms their mind into a tool well-honed for elite-level cognitive work.


Book excerpt that I loved:

Although the strategy of gaining happiness by working to get whatever it is we find ourselves wanting is obvious and has been used by most people throughout recorded history and across cultures, it has an important defect, as thoughtful people throughout recorded history and across cultures have realized: For each desire we fulfill in accordance with this strategy, a new desire will pop into our head to take its place. This means that no matter how hard we work to satisfy our desires, we will be no closer to satisfaction than if we had fulfilled none of them. We will, in other words, remain dissatisfied.” (William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life)


How to be perfect: A poem by Ron Padgett that’s got some brilliant advice and a subtle power. I’m adding it to my regular re-read list. Here’s just a small sampling (it’s much longer):

Look at that bird over there.

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Visit foreign countries, except those whose inhabitants have expressed a desire to kill you.

Don’t expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want to.

Meditate on the spiritual. Then go a little further, if you feel like it.

What is out (in) there?

HT to Austin Kleon

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57243/how-to-be-perfect


What made me grateful last week:

  • Re-discovering cribbage and playing cards. Can’t think of a better way to end a day.
  • Working from home meant more time with my Dad during his visit.
  • Doing blind self-portraits with Vivian:

Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#61)

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.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/university-lifelong-learning


The Blue Bananna is:

WHAT!?!?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Banana


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.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/video-games/fast-loose-culture-esports-upending-once-staid-world-chess-n1137111


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.

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#59)

I’ve been listening to a lot of country music this week: Here are some new ones I’ve been enjoying, courtesy of Greg Vandy’s 2019 best albums list:

Daniel Norgren – Wooh Dang

Jake Xerxes Fussell – Out of Sight


No one can explain why airplanes stay in the air:

I had no idea that there were competing theories that attempt to explain how flying works. Even Einstein has had a go at it to no avail:

In 1917, on the basis of his theory, Einstein designed an airfoil that later came to be known as a cat’s-back wing because of its resemblance to the humped back of a stretching cat. He brought the design to aircraft manufacturer LVG (Luftverkehrsgesellschaft) in Berlin, which built a new flying machine around it. A test pilot reported that the craft waddled around in the air like “a pregnant duck.” Much later, in 1954, Einstein himself called his excursion into aeronautics a “youthful folly.” The individual who gave us radically new theories that penetrated both the smallest and the largest components of the universe nonetheless failed to make a positive contribution to the understanding of lift or to come up with a practical airfoil design.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/no-one-can-explain-why-planes-stay-in-the-air/


Favorite book excerpts this week:

Related to the article about flight above:

“…what exists within the area of “not knowing” is so much greater and more exciting than anything any one of us knows.” (Ray Dalio, Principles)

Potential explantation for why I don’t have a lot of close friendships at the moment 😉:

“You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you.” (Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People)


How to not take things personally:


Cal Newport on the differentiation of YouTube as a platform for creatives:

YouTube, unlike its peers in the pantheon of social media giants, really can act like a platform. Though it still offers a purposefully addictive and creepily-surveilled user experience at YouTube.com (few rabbit holes run deeper than those excavated by their algorithmically-enhanced autoplay suggestions), the service also allows its videos to be embedded in third-party websites, enabling it to behave like an actual platform that can support a wide array of non-affiliated communities.

I was thinking about this the other day when visiting Tested.com, a technology-oriented web site, primarily built around original videos hosted on YouTube.

Tested.com is a cool site and an example of how smaller websites (even personal ones like this) can make a big impact by leveraging other platforms.


A reminder that we should treat our elders, and anyone else for that matter, well:


Five of the world’s weirdest auroras:

I had no idea that there were so many different types of nothing lights.


Handy list of icebreaker questions: From Rob Walker’s Art of Noticing newsletter.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1j4rj883slFvh1zZLGedqQFM0wqCrHlIEPE62K0LkKak/mobilebasic


Something I’m grateful for:

The way Kav always includes the kids in decision making. She’s always seemingly able to use deft judgement on how and when to include the kids in decisions large and small that we have to make that effect them. They learn by example.


Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.