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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#67)

Quote I loved:

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.

Theodore Isaac Rubin

Tools and gear for the distributed:

Lots of good stuff (published by the company I work for) from folks that have been working in a fully-distributed fashion for years.

Also very-related and useful is this summary for headsets and advice for online meetings.

One heterodox recommendation I have for audio and video calls when you’re working in a distributed fashion is not to mute, if you can help it. When you’re speaking to a muted room, it’s eerie and unnatural — you feel alone even if you can see other people’s faces.


Approaching your computer time (or phone time) intentionally:

A good reminder, because this topic always needs reminding.

Ultimately this is about you. You need to approach your computer, and other devices, as a tool for accomplishing a specific job, then be intentional about using it for that job. It’s a skill, and learning it takes time.

https://zapier.com/blog/use-your-computer-like-a-tool


Still enjoying making mini-zines:

What if aliens visited in the midst of coronavirus?


A book excerpt i enjoyed:

“Work hard, work passionately, but apply your most precious asset-time-to what is most meaningful to you. What are you willing to do for the rest of your life? does not mean, literally, what will you do for the rest of your life? That question would be absurd, given the inevitability of change. No, what the question really asks is, if your life were to end suddenly and unexpectedly tomorrow, would you be able to say you’ve been doing what you truly care about today? What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life? What would it take to do it right now?” (Randy Komisar, The Monk and the Riddle)


Some words of wisdom to ponder:

From a recent Recomendo newsletter, these have stuck with me.

  • “If all you did was just looked for things to appreciate, you would live a joyously spectacular life.” ― Esther Abraham Hicks
  • “Let go or be dragged.” — Zen Proverb
  • “Be messy and complicated and afraid and show up anyways.” — Glennon Doyle Melton
  • “”No.” is a complete sentence.“ — Unknown

https://www.getrevue.co/profile/Recomendo


What I’m grateful for:

  • Sam’s updates on the last hours’ activities when I come out of the office to grab a coffee or snack. “Daddy, we just saw a poisonous caterpillar outside!”
  • The early spring weather. Still cold but the long days and warm sun are a godsend at this point.
  • My afternoon walks and adventures with the kids. We literally spent an hour playing on hills of rocks in the back of the farm where we live. It was our favorite activity last week.

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

Categories
Misc Work

How to stop taking things personally

I’ve had this little list next to my desk and stuck in my notebook for the last week and it has really come in handy. I’m susceptible to getting upset at things people say (or in my work, type), eagerly taking someone’s innocuous ping and blowing it up to a personal affront to myself and my family’s security or wellbeing. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens more often than it should.

Of course this is ridiculous and I’m not nearly as important as I think I am. Someone else’s irritation, rudeness or strange behavior is not likely to be about me. To use a shiny new word I recently learned, I am not the omphalos of the world, or even my own house.

Anyway, this is a handy tool for putting things in perspective in any work or personal dealings that start to get under your skin. Credit to Recomendo where I first found it.

How to stop taking things personally

  1. Realise that other people’s rudeness is not about you. It’s a reflection of their own issues.
  2. Ask yourself what else the comment might mean. For example, if someone doesn’t smile or say hello, they might just be shy.
  3. Take comments or criticism in a constructive way. Ask yourself if there’s any truth to it? What could you learn?
  4. Take a different perspective. Ask yourself how an unbiased outsider would see the situation.
  5. Realise that you cannot please everyone.
  6. Know that you are not defined by your mistakes or criticism.
  7. Realise that your self-worth depends on you, not what others say about you.
Categories
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.

Categories
What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#56)

Book excerpt I loved:

“The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself.” (Steven Pressfield, The War of Art)


Some thoughts about what being the best means.


The 2019 reading re-cap from Tim Ferriss: I am a subscriber and still missed a lot of these. I enjoyed the discussion of his process (of course) at the outset.


I need to try Copic markers: I’ve seen these on the shelf and have never tried them. This illustraion looks amazing though, and made me put them on my wish list.


Some modern inspiration from a well-executed idea about un-modern tech: Primitive technology is a YouTube + WordPress site about primitive technology. From the About page:

Primitive technology is a hobby where you make things in the wild completely from scratch using no modern tools or materials. This is the strict rule. If you want a fire- use fire sticks, an axe- pick up a stone and shape it, a hut- build one from trees, mud, rocks etc. The challenge is seeing how far you can go without modern technology. If this hobby interests you then this blog might be what you are looking for.

He has millions of views on YouTube and, ironically, a really low-tech simple site.

https://primitivetechnology.wordpress.com/


Two great places to find free images: There are so many great resources for art in the public domain. Here are two more that I could peruse for hours:

  1. Art Institute of Chicago: https://www.artic.edu/collection?is_public_domain=1
  2. Paris Museums: http://parismuseescollections.paris.fr/en

We’re nearing the end of the open internet:

​At some point in the next decade, the Chinese government, with the support of Russia and other authoritarian regimes, will move forward with plans to establish a separate root system for their share of the internet. When the split happens, we will mark it as the end of the global internet era. When the history of that event is written, we will identify a series of seminal events in 2019 that were harbingers of what was to come.​

-from News Items.

https://www.cfr.org/blog/2019-beginning-end-open-internet-era


New tool for calendar scheduling: Calendly is great for not only scheduling meetings, but if you run a business that requires your customers to make appointments, you can embed it on your site, take payments for meetings via PayPal and automatically create online meeting links.

https://calendly.com/


Having the right materials at the right time is important: Rainy days are no match against the well-prepared art project.


What Will Happen In The 2020s: A short but sweet set of predications about the next decade.


What I was grateful for last week:

  • The feeling at end of the day after a good days work. The good type of empty.
  • The brief bit of sunshine makes all the difference on a afternoon run. It changes everything.
  • The sunrise on a weekend morning.

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

Categories
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.