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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#58)

What happens to Google Maps when tectonic plates shift:

Things obviously get more interesting during earthquakes. “What the earthquake would do is the equivalent of what you do with a pair of scissors, if you cut diagonally across a map along a fault line and then slid one side of the map with respect to the other,” Hudnut said. For instance, in Google Earth, go to the following coordinates north of Palm Springs, near the epicenter of the 1992 Landers quake: 34.189838 degrees, –116.433842 degrees. Bring up the historical imagery, compare the July 1989 and May 1994 images, and you’ll see a lateral shift along the fault that runs from the top left to the bottom right of the frame. The alignment of Aberdeen Road, which crosses the fault, shifts noticeably. The quake displaced the land near the fault by several meters.

PS networks can even see earthquakes in real time. A dramatic video of the 2011 Tohoko quake, made by Ronni Grapenthin at the University of California, Berkeley based on data from the Japanese Geospatial Information Authority, shows the coastline near the quake site move horizontally by as much as 4 meters. The video also shows the waves that rippled outward over Japan (and indeed the world).

http://nautil.us/issue/81/maps/what-happens-to-google-maps-when-tectonic-plates-move


On having a personal website:

Personal websites are the backbone of the independent Web of creators. Even after all those years, they remain a vital part of what makes the web the most remarkable and open medium to date. We shouldn’t take this for granted, though. If we don’t pay enough attention and care about the open web enough, we might lose this valuable asset. So let us protect the Web as a source of inspiration, diversity, creativity, and community. Let us maintain what we have and work together to make this little part of the magic of the Web sparkle even brighter. Let us help new members of the community to start their journey. Let us build, prototype, publish, and connect.

This obviously hits close to home and a big reason why I’m happy about doing the work I’m doing now.

https://matthiasott.com/articles/into-the-personal-website-verse


Quote I was thinking about:

Success isn’t about being the best. It’s about always getting better.

Behance 99U

Book excerpt I like for its simplicity

“You always have three options. You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it.” (Naval Ravkant in Tools of Titans)


The history of Prince’s Super Bowl Halftime show:

https://www.theringer.com/music/2020/1/29/21112539/prince-halftime-show-oral-history-super-bowl-xli


I am trying to pay attention to signs of life in front of me:


Notes from a first trip to Amsterdam:


Percentages are reversible:

Maybe this shouldn’t of surprised me the way it did but ¯\(ツ)


The oh-so-useful immediacy filter:

One of the most useful bits of advice I ever got, came from the writer Anne Herbert who said that whenever she got an invitation to do something months away or even a week away, she asked herself whether she would accept the gig/meeting/task if it was tomorrow. The answer was often no. I use that immediacy trick all the time, and it has served me very well.

from Recomendo

Zooming in:

Both the message of this post and the image of stars that you can zoom in and out of is amazing.


Something I’m grateful for last week:

My time with my friend in a foreign city for two night, even though it was short and I was anxious to get home, it was better than good


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

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#55)

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

this far
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:


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.

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Misc

Favorite music of 2019

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:

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#53 and #54)

A programming note: I was literally under a rock the past week with the flu, so I am combining the last two weeks together as a single-not-quite-double-edition.

The origin of a family favorite: We still use a slow cooker (although the pressure cooker as taken over most of those duties). It’s been a mainstay in my kitchen, and I enjoyed reading A Brief History of the Crock Pot.

At Chicago’s 1971 National Housewares Show, Rival unveiled its newly rebranded version of the Naxon Beanery. Dubbed the Crock Pot, the appliance received a new name, refreshed appearance and a booklet of professionally-tested recipes. Home cooks eagerly brought their Crock Pots home, in distinctly ‘70s hues like Harvest Gold and Avocado. Advertising campaigns, along with word of mouth, drove sales from $2 million in 1971 to an astounding $93 million four years later.


There’s nothing like going to see live music: We went to see Snow Patrol in Edinburgh this month, the first push in an ongoing effort to get out and see more music. The sound was fantastic, but as I watched the activity at the side of the stage, I was thinking about the work the sound techs were doing and what it would be like to hear what it sounds like coming directly from them after reading this article on mixhalo.

Regardless, I don’t want perfect sound at a show. I want to go for the energy and, for lack of a better word, emotion.


I’m relating to all these late bloomers: I’m 40 and feel like I’ve yet to hit my prime. Maybe wishful thinking, maybe not. This is why the profiles of people who do great things late in life appeal to me so much. My ears perk up when I hear that Peter Drucker wrote 2/3’s of his 35 books after the age of 65. A recent Jessiwrites podcast with artist Lisa Congdon caught my attention for this same reason, her having only taken her first drawing class at age 30 and turning to art full time at nearly 40.

Sometimes the time isn’t right when you are young, and things need to simmer a bit more. But I think that another, even stronger force for getting after it as you get older is you are more you than ever and have learned to say and do what you want.


Apostrophe society shuts down: Because ignorance and laziness have won! I’ve been guilty of making “its” possessive once in a while, as in “The paper was not up to it’s predecessors standards.” Sorry, I try.


I love not living in my inbox: Since changing work, I spend 90% less time in email than I did, but I still have to write a decent bit of email on a regular basis. Now I’m much more conscious of how much time is wasted by not being specific with dates, what I need/will do/won’t do, and to whom I need it. With few exceptions, I’m trying to close loops in email, not open them. How to write better emails has some important points to note in this regard.


Books I read in 2019: I counted 21 for 2019, not bad considering I have a tendency to get stuck on books I don’t like (and am working hard on that).


Book excerpt from a book on that list:

Ultimately, though, the prime driver for my own exploration in this field has been creating the space to catalyze and access new, creative, and valuable thinking and direction. To a great extent, that’s actually not something you need to exert a lot of energy to achieve, if you have gotten this far in implementing this methodology. We are naturally creative beings, invested in our existence to live, grow, express, and expand. The challenge is not to be creative—it’s to eliminate the barriers to the natural flow of our creative energies. (Getting Things Done, David Allen)


A reminder it’s always better to go outside first:

Before you make a big decision, walk around the block.

If it’s raining out, take the dog for a run.

End the meeting a few minutes early and go for a stroll with the team.

Instead of an afternoon snack, consider some sunshine.

The less convenient, the more it pays.

A hard habit to create, but definitely worth it.

When in doubt, go outside. Especially when it’s inconvenient.

(If you want to see this as a metaphor, that’s good too.)

https://seths.blog/2019/12/what-is-it/


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

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#51)

Favorite quote:

Good stories always beat good spreadsheets.

Chris Sacca

A project that seems to be working pretty well: The (home) office door.


Reasons to be cheerful: reasonstobecheerful.world was a new find (for me) of interesting reads with an optimistic bent. Check out the The Necessity of Nuclear as one example.


Some rules to live by: The 12 ‘Other’ Rules for Life was put together over a couple of weeks of posts by Marcus Purvis. Here are a few favorites:

Rule 6. Read like your life depends on it because it does
Read fiction and nonfiction, one compliments the other. Fiction helps your creative mind and nonfiction gives you information which can become knowledge.
Rule 7. Know that love is a verb
There are many couples who fall out of love. There are countless people who no longer love the work they do. Don’t be like them. Play an active role in loving what you do and whom you spend time with.
Rule 10. Everyone gets 24 hours
You’ll never find time for anything, you have to create it. If you don’t create time for you, someone else will take it from you. You can’t spend time, then go earn more of it. You can’t buy it, rent it, or borrow it.


Avocados are more valuable that illegal drugs for Mexican cartels: Avocado Cartels: The Violent Reality Behind “Green Gold” is a great read for a recent history of both cartels as well as the avocado trade.

Mexico produces nine out of every 10 avocados eaten in the U.S. The lion’s share dangle from long lines of leafy green trees in Michoacán, home to nearly 5 million people. In 2017, the strife-torn southwestern coastal state sent an astounding 1.7 billion pounds of Haas avocados to the U.S.

And in the notoriously troubled state of Michoacán, which is plagued with corrupt police, failed governance, and plenty of guns, all those avocados have been a magnet for organized crime like flies on a giant vat of, well, guacamole.


New music I’ve been enjoying:

Two recommendations this week:

DJ Shadow – Our Pathetic Age is an ambitious double album released in our (pathetic?) age of 28 minute “albums”. Good write up here.

Motherless Brooklyn (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is great jazz album that I’ve been listening to in the mornings, and a movie I’d like to see.


New tool I’ve been using: Grammarly. Much more than a spell checker, it has great suggestions for rephrasing and even predicts how your tone will be percieved. The browser plugins are ace.


Favorite book excerpt:

“I felt the same gut empathy … that I used to feel, unwelcome and against my better judgement, for George Bush in those moments when even he seemed to dimly apprehend that he was in way over his head. One reason we rush so quickly to the vulgar satisfactions of judgement, and love to revel in our righteous outrage, is the it spares us from the impotent pain of empathy, and the harder, messier work of understanding.” (Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing)


Check out what we’re up to now.