You

The Secrets to Happiness (Distilled)

I went to this talk by a Buddhist monk about happiness. I’m not a Buddhist, but one thing I like about Buddhism is that it’s more of a philosophy than a religion (from what I’ve seen). There was absolutely no talk of a religious greater power. And no attempt to convert anyone.

The talk was pretty simple, logical, and grounded in reality. It was basically just useful life hacks.

After the talk, I told a classmate, “That all seemed pretty simple.” And he said, “Simple to understand, but really hard to do,” So happiness is like chess in that sense. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Anyways, here’s the quick guide to happiness, according to this class.


Happiness is about a peaceful internal state, i.e. a happy mind.

External rewards (like money, status, etc.) are fine, but they won’t give you lasting happiness. (I know this sounds self-righteous, but it is also self-evident. There’s nothing wrong with being rich, but we all know about rich people who are unhappy and poor people who are happy. 🙃)

To reach an internal peaceful state, act on things you can control and don’t worry about things you can’t control.

If you can do something about it, don’t worry about it.

If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about.

Example: Stuck in traffic on the way to a doctor’s appointment? Call your doc and say you’re running late. If they can work you in later, great. If not, reschedule. Then relax and don’t worry about it. And don’t get mad at your fellow drivers. They’re all in the same situation as you.

Also, a happy mind is a clear, uncluttered mind. This is why mediation is so helpful. It is a quick way to clear out the clutter of your mind and reset to a more relaxed and productive state. It’s like cleaning out a cluttered closet.


And that’s it! Simple and hard, just like life.

💁🏻‍♂️ As a side note, it’s funny that this guide to happiness comes from Buddhists, who say that life is suffering. There is something kind of perfect about the people who embrace suffering to be experts on happiness.

Photos

I’m stepping into 2020 with a fresh “beginners” mindset. This view reminds me of a song by M Ward: “When you’re absolute beginners
It’s a panoramic view
From her majesty Mount Zion
And the kingdom is for you
Uh huh, uh huh” – For Beginners

#music #lyrics #newyear #newyear2020 #mountbonnell #austin #texas #atx #river via Instagram https://ift.tt/37wgl6W

Photos

Here’s to 2019, a year which somehow ended very well despite everything. 🤷🏻‍♂️ It was a year of productive discomfort. I did some hard sprinting (pictured), improv, yoga with people half age, job hunting, casual dating, fending off Chinese hackers, playing bad versions of other people’s songs, recording some pretty good original songs, parenting a middle schooler, visiting undisclosed locations, waiting / not waiting, winning by losing (Alamo style), met some amazing and surprising people, and a few things you will never ever ever hear about. 😆. Thank you, my weird 2019! I will never forget you. #newyearseve #newyear #newyears2019 #yearinreview #2019 #running #sprint #austin #texas #atx BBC via Instagram https://ift.tt/2stlTjI
You

12 Qualities of Effortlessly Cool People

This article breaks down the characteristics of cool peeps. And thankfully it’s not the high school “popular” kind of cool, but more in a sense of being effortless and smooth.

👉 The 12 Coolest Human Traits: Do You Have Them?

I like this list because it’s all pretty easy stuff. It’s not about being crazy funny, talented, or rich. Just be cool. 🤷🏻‍♂️😆

[Cheat sheet: they’re adaptable, they like people, their clothes match their personality, they don’t take criticism too personally, they’re present, they self-regulate (food, alcohol, exercise, work, emotions), they’re curious, if you’re mean to them, they won’t make a fuss, they do interesting things, they won’t judge you, they find fun in small stuff, you wish you could see more of them.]

Photos

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… except for the three shady mice on top of the fridge. 🐭🙀🤶🏻 #christmas #silhouette #accidentallywesanderson #mouse #christmaseve #austin #texas #atx via Instagram https://ift.tt/35WT51c
The World

The Dyson Sphere Theory

Okay, I’m not huge on wild conspiracy theories. But I like that some scientists think it is at least plausible that highly advanced aliens are building  megastructures around stars to capture their energy like a battery. 🤯 The cool thing is there would actually be a good reason for aliens to do this if they were capable enough. 🌟🔋

I’m not saying I believe it, but I love that this is a theoretical possibility. And it’s influencing SETI.

👉 Missing stars could point to alien civilizations, scientists say

The idea here is that a very advanced alien civilization may be able to construct a hypothetical megastructure called a Dyson sphere that completely encompasses a star in order to capture a large portion of its energy. Think of it as converting a star into a gargantuan battery.

You

4 Questions To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Damn, this is a great article! I love the way it breaks down complex and emotional decisions into an approach that considers “just the facts” while respecting your emotions.

👉 4 Questions that Will Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Each of us is the protagonist in the story of our life. But we’re also the narrator. And the author.

Summary:

  1. What are the facts? (When did I first start feeling upset? Where was I when I noticed by mood changing? Who was I interacting with right before and during my mood shift? What was going on that lead up to the way I felt?)
  2. What’s my emotional dashboard telling me? (Learn to see your emotions like lights on your car’s dashboard. Validate your emotions instead of trying to fix them. Welcome your emotions instead of running away from them. Be curious about your emotions instead of interrogating them.)
  3. What’s my story? (What are the thoughts running through my mind? How well does my story fit the facts? Is my theory based on genuine evidence? Is there another story or theory that fits the facts better?)
  4. What do I really want? (What excites me and lights my fire? What are my guiding principles, my North Star? What are my dreams?)

When you constantly pick fights with your emotions, they tend to fight back.

You

Reasons Not to Monitor Your Kids' Screen Time

do not limit screen time for teen

Parents can be so obsessed with worrying about the dangers of screens that they fail to notice the massive, overwhelming, obvious benefits of the internet.

I’m not a fan of limiting my kids’ screen time for the following reasons:

  • Screen time is not inherently “bad”. So much of screen time is deeply creative and engaging. Lumping all screen time together as all the same just doesn’t logically make sense. Winning Monument Valley or posting an original edit on Instagram help the brain practice solving problems and build social skills; they are not the same as passively watching South Park for the 40th time.
  • Limiting screen time is impractical, and it undermines real rules. Do you really want to have a timer on hand and keep track of exactly how ling you kid has been on screens all day? Can you even really do that consistently? It’s pretty likely that your kid goes over time on their screen time regularly and is learning that rules aren’t enforced and aren’t important.
  • It shows a lack of trust. Just like offline life, at the end of the day you need to show and develop trust with your kid. Spying on them and imposing arbitrary rules only undermines those ideas.

Instead of monitoring screen time, I prefer to just make sure my kids meet all their responsibilities (homework, eating dinner with the family, get outside at least a little) and then use as much screen time as they want.

So I was happy to come across this post to remind me that I’m not crazy.

👉 Here’s Why I Don’t Limit Screen Time or Monitor My Child’s Phone

There’s no surer way of telling your children you don’t trust them and don’t respect their personal boundaries than stalking them online.

Music · You

The Best Music for Working

According to research on the effect of music listening on work performance, music can indeed help your brain work better. But it depends what you are listening to.

👉 5 Types of Music That Increase Your Productivity, According to Science

Official Recommendations

Classical music, especially baroque, can increased mood and concentration – see Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel 👉example

Not really music, but nature sounds can increase cognitive function and concentration – rain, water, etc. 👉 example

Epic music can inspire you if you’re feeling unmotivated 👉 example

Video Game Music – this music is designed to help your brain feel better! 👉 Sim City, Bastion, or pick a game! (Zelda?)

Ambient music can reduce stress (I’m not a huge fan, so no example 🤷🏻‍♂️😂)

My Own Favs

I personally love classical adaptations of rock and pop, such as Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin or the Vitamin String Quartet.

I also like some of the Apple Music concentration playlists such as Swift Concentration.

And even though it breaks some of the rules above, I just find KUTX relaxing.

Also, Miles Davis. And the Isle of Dogs soundtrack.

What Doesn’t Work

Not surprisingly, complex musical structure and lyrics don’t help. In fact, they make it harder for you brain to focus. (*Still, I can work to Johny Cash music, probably because it’s so familiar.)

Also, any music may hinder the especially difficult tasks.

And you have to be in the habit of listening to music to make it helpful. If you only do it sometimes, it doesn’t help.

You

How Getting Older Makes You Tougher and Wiser

Getting older is good! Well, not in every way — I’m getting near-sighted and having trouble bending my legs. 🤷🏻‍♂️ But in more significant ways, aging makes you better.

I don’t love the name of this article, but I do like the observations it contains.

👉 The Incredibly Harsh Lessons You Learn with Age

These are some great lessons learned from aging, and I agree with them all.

  • Nothing is ever “done”
  • Success increases with your ability to be vulnerable
  • There is always another struggle coming next
  • You always have more to learn
  • Being uncomfortable feels the best

I especially like the last one.

As you age and you understand the struggle never ends, you learn to move closer to uncomfortable situations because that’s where progress is unlocked and fulfillment can be found.

Me · You

The 50/50 Rule and Why I Blog

My blog’s current tag line is “This is not a blog.”

Originally, this site was intended as a way to keep track of links to interesting or useful things, like glorified bookmarks. But since then, it has evolved to serve another purpose: to make me think and communicate about stuff.

See, as I was bookmarking stuff, I found myself adding little bits about why I liked the link or context about how I found it. Over time, I found that when I would link to an article, I would sometimes want to add a summary about the article to help me process it and remember it better.

A better way to learn, process, retain and remember information is to learn half the time, and share half the time.

If I take two seconds to effortlessly save a bookmark, then the information is saved and soon forgotten. If I add even a quick post about it, giving it a title and some context or a summary, then that post is now a part of me. And as a bonus, I get to share it with other people.

So I was happy to see this article, which makes me think I am not wasting my time.

👉 The 50/50 Rule (How to Retain And Remember 90% of Everything You Learn)

It basically says that if you make yourself talk about something, then you come to understand it or appreciate it better. Spend half you time learning and half your time explaining what you learned.

According to the article, I would be serving myself better by writing out my notes by hand. It seems people type too fast for their brain to absorb what they’re doing. And simply by writing that, I now remember that fact. But I’m typing this anyways because you can’t tag, search, and share your paper notebook. 🤷🏻‍♂️

And yes, this article is so meta.

Photos

50 years ago today, the first human stepped onto the surface of the moon. 🚀🌝🚶‍♂️🇺🇸 This was an insanely difficult and dangerous mission, and is IMHO the crowing achievement of humankind to date.

If you’re not impressed, read “Failure is Not an Option” for just one perspective of the Mercury and Apollo programs.

Okay, let’s hashtag this 😆 #moon #apollo #apollo11 #apollo11anniversary #nasa #space #usa #houston #sky #shotoniphone via Instagram https://ift.tt/2xZpncU

Travel

The Metropolitan Opera

Next time you’re in NYC, why not go see an opera? The tickets are surprisingly affordable (from $30). And even if you’re not an opera fan, this is a unique and interesting experience.

👉 The Metropolitan Opera (NYC)

Funnily enough, this tip came as a recommendation from Andy Ihnatko on a tech podcast. Listen in at this spot for more inspiration about the opera. 🤷🏻‍♂️

👉 MacBreak Weekly (MP3) 565: 10 Years After (via Overcast)

Lobby of The Metropolitan Opera before a performance.

Austin · Music

Hello Again, KUTX

For the last couple of years, I’ve been relying on Apple Music for all my of musical needs. It’s great. It has absolutely every song I ever want to hear, instantly available in my car, while out for a walk, at home, on my laptop. Anything anywhere any time! And I have dozens of my own purpose-built playlists (Springsteen Covers, Dance Party, Garage Rock, more). Plus they provide a ton of their own playlists. (Same for Spotify, I’m sure.)

So online music streaming is perfect, right? Well, yes, but also no. 🤷🏻‍♂️

My playlists had became too safe and predictable. And it’s weird that I never ever ever listen to the local radio. So today I suddenly had the urge to listen to my favorite local Austin radio station: KUTX. So I streamed it (seriously, I don’t have a radio). And it was great!

KUTX

KUTX will constantly surprise and delight you with music that you don’t control. I have unwittingly discovered some of very favorite bands here (The XX and Tinariwen for example). And btw, KUTX is a public radio station. No ads or BS. It’s basically a community service by music fans.

If you’re not in the mood straight-up KUTX , which is geared towards indie rock, they have other streams like Old School Dance Party, Eklektikos, a soul and R&B station, a jazz station, and even a kid-friendly indie music station.

This doesn’t mean I’m dropping Apple Music, which is still great when I want music to help me concentrate, or to listen to my favorite album. But I’m glad to remember my old friend KUTX as a way to mix things up a bit.

Software Dev

Retro Rampage

Yaaas! Code a Wolfenstein 3D knock-off and learn Swift 3D programming as you go! This is a hands-on Swift 3D programming tutorial with source code. I don’t see a down side here (except finding the time). 🤷🏻‍♂️

Retro Rampage is a tutorial series in which you will learn how to build a Wolfenstein-like game from scratch, in Swift.

👉 Retro Rampage (GitHub)

Even the tutorial topics sounds cool: Separation of Concerns, Mazes and Motion, Ray Casting, Texture Mapping, Sprites. 🤩

Via iOS Dev Weekly.

Screenshot
Travel

The 17-Story Dragon

If I ever get to Thailand, this temple is on the top of my list. I had never heard of the Wat Samphran Temple until it showed up on my Instagram feed with this amazon drone pic.

The whole building is a temple with a dragon wrapped around it. You can get to the roof in an elevator (when it’s working) or climb your way up inside the dragon. It kinds of looks like a Vegas tourist trap, but it’s a legit Buddhist temple.

More on Atlas Obscura:

👉 Wat Samphran Temple

Photos

Happy 4th! I found this little flag on a neighborhood bridge.

We’re lucky to have such an amazing, energetic, diverse country. Let’s avoid the “us vs. them” stuff. We should be lifting everyone up.

#4thofjuly #independenceday #usa #🇺🇸 #shotoniphone #flag #austin #texas #atx #america via Instagram https://ift.tt/2G59mXl

Travel

Ditch Your Itinerary and Explore

This is a great quick guide on exploring a city in a more spontaneous and fun way than just rushing between pre-planned sites. Explore and have fun!

👉 How to ditch an itinerary and discover a city

  • Research, ask around — ask your Uber driver, check local Instagram accounts
  • Be present — look around, pay attention to signs
  • Map a Google map — Yes! I always do this on a big trip. It’s fun and helpful. (NYC example)
  • Avoid making reservations — give yourself some flexibility
  • Walk different routes — go one way, come back the other way

I also liked that the cover art and some of the story mentions Austin as an example, mentioning legit local places like the Hope Outdoor Gallery and Caffe Medici. 😀

You

Ahhh, Sleep

I hate setting aside 8 hours to sleep as much as anyone. If you need some inspiration, consider these benefits of getting 7-8 hours of sleep instead of 6. I’m adding this as a note to myself… Don’t skim on sleep! It’s not a waste of time!

  • Unclogs your arteries
  • Clears out brain clutter
  • Improves brain performance

👉 Why Lack of Sleep is So Bad For You

I remember reading that good sleep habits also help maintain a better body weight. I believe that; I know I get the munchies pretty bad when I’m tired. 😪


Follow up… An article on staying up late being tied to health issues including cancer and depression. 😵

Quotes · You

“Happiness isn’t a choice… it’s a habit.”

Happiness isn’t a choice, or meaningfulness or something that you arrive at once you achieve something; it’s a habit.

10 Habits of Consistently Happy People

Okay, here’s another one of these lists of things that happy/confident/successful people do. I’ve been generally skipping over these since they’re getting repetitive. But I saw this one and liked that it was emphasizing that these are not big, grand things, but little things to do consistently every day. (In that sense, it’s similar to being physically fit and eating right.)

👉 10 Habits of Consistently Happy People

Summary: be optimistic, don’t compare, be grateful, be kind, maintain friendships, cope, forgive, pursue goals, be physically active, cultivate your sense of self.

But remember, pessimism has its place. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Travel

Vertical Forest (Milan)

These high-rises in Milan are covered by 3 hectares of forest. What the?

Sure, the trees look cool. But they also moderate temperature, filter dust, and reduce noise pollution. Gotta check it out next time I’m in Italy.

👉 Lonely Planet

You

256 ways to be a Better Human

A fundamentally insane idea, here is a directory of 256 ways to be a better human.

👉 A Directory of Advice That Works

This list covers productivity, health, mindfulness, business, and more. I think the list is too big to be helpful, but I like the inspired attempt to compile all this stuff. We could all certainly benefit from this info.

Personally, I feel like I have basically earned a degree on self-help over the last couple of years, and I’m at my limit. One of the things I’ve learned is to stop reading and thinking quite so much and instead get out there and do stuff. Nonetheless, here is the list. 😂

You

“Run like you’re 5-years-old”

I really love this article on sprinting vs. jogging for exercise.

👉 This Is How to Grow Strong by Sprinting

This guy literally kicks a ball as far as he can, then he chases after it as fast as he can. He does this for 7 minutes every other day. That’s his workout. 🤩

This workout is as effective or more so than jogging 40 minutes every day.

And it’s fun. It’s all about youthful chasing. He does this workout in parks across the world as he travels. No special clothes or workout gear are needed. Just a ball and basically whatever you’re wearing.

I felt I had flicked a switch. I discovered that I was more aware of my body — aligned with it. I carried my body with deeper confidence. For me, I am never looking for a beach-bod. I simply want to be strong, free from disease. It was amazing. In just a few minutes, my mind was signaling me — you’re stronger.

I’ve been into interval training, but this article is convincing me to drop the stopwatch for a soccer ball.

Me sprinting 😊

Me · You

Focus On Your Craft

Okay, at first this seems like another one of those articles that says “get off social media” or “back in the days before the internet…”. But it’s better than just that.

👉 Make Peace With One Thing to Get More Out of Life

The core idea here is basically focus on your craft.

Creating authentic work that feeds your soul is all you need to do. It will fulfill you into old age, long after the Internet celebrities of the moment have moved on to late night TV commercials.

This article asks great questions, like:

  • Why do I want more followers? To what end?
  • What happens if I get them?
  • What would I do if I didn’t have an audience?

Get comfortable with digital irrelevancy. Get off the social media treadmill and figure out what you really love doing. Then set about learning your craft.

Reminder to Self

In my own case, I have a measly 120 followers on my Instagram account. Yeah, sometimes I wish I had 500 or 800 followers. But how would that change my life? It wound’t. What if I could make a living on Instagram? Well damn, that would ruin it. The pressure of having to post interesting stuff on a regular basis would make it no fun at all.

I like Instagram because it’s a place to share photos with cool filters. And I like seeing other people’s cool photos. And occasionally connecting with people. And finding good places to eat and stuff to do.

As for this blog… my About page says that I have an intended audience of one (me). I find writing these posts useful because it makes me really read articles and focus on what they’re saying. And it makes me keep writing at least a little bit on a regular basis to help keep my brain engaged. I also like sharing good content that I come across on the interwebs

If I tried to make this a popular blog that makes me money, I would quickly drive myself insane. I have a day job for that. 😂

Much to my surprise, I have collected a few subscribers along the way. Hi, friends! Thanks for subscribing, and sorry for all the random posts!

You

How a Genius Solves Problems (by putting details second)

Amazing article on solving problems by first understanding essentials of the problem (not the solution). Simplify and focus on the big picture or “core” of the problem before jumping into details.

👉 Claude Shannon: How a Genius Solves Problems

Finding the true form of the problem is almost as important as the answer that comes after.

I practically want to copy and past the whole article in here, but here are a few select highlights.

Finding the core problem

…it is to get the bigger picture right before you go chasing after the details. Otherwise, you start by pointing yourself in the wrong direction.

Shannon’s reasoning… was that it isn’t until you eliminate the inessential from the problem you are working on that you can see the core that will guide you to an answer.

Looking at the problem in different ways

One of Shannon’s go-to tricks was to restructure and contrast the problem in as many different ways as possible. This could mean exaggerating it, minimizing it, changing the words of how it is stated, reframing the angle from where it is looked at, and inverting it.

In every day life

Much of life — whether it’s in your work, or in your relationships, or as it relates to your well-being — comes down to identifying and attacking a problem so that you can move past it.

Software Dev

Clean code is not a goal

I want to thank this article for having the guts to say that basic working code is okay.

👉 Goodbye, Clean Code

As software developers, we all aim to write amazing, beautiful code. It’s part of what motivates us. But remember, the real goal is to ship something that people can use. And writing beautiful code isn’t necessarily what makes that happen (example).

Don’t be a clean code zealot. Clean code is not a goal.

This hit home for me after years working with an incredibly tedious and impractical code review process at a previous company. The team was unproductive, and we shipped plenty bugs.

Sure, aim for great code. But there is a practical point where you need to let go and ship something that works.

Let clean code guide you. Then let it go.

As an engineer, yes, be elegant. But more than that, be practical. Voltaire put it elegantly 😆 way back in the day.

Perfect is the enemy of good.

Voltaire

Via iOS Dev Weekly.

Software Dev

Duct Taped Software

I love this article on the ugliness of complicated (or not so complicated) software in the real world. A games goes open source, and developers are horrified by the code they see. 😱😆

Beautiful. Disgusting.

I’m not surprised at all. Almost every successfully shipped system I’ve seen is full of really ugly code. At some point, you just have to ship that mother. 🤷🏻‍♂️

👉 The truth is that many games are held together by duct tape

Via iOS Dev Weekly.

Me

Three Millions Steps

My Sweatcoin app, which I had reluctantly decided to allow tracking all my steps, reported to me that in 2019, I had walked over 3 millions steps, or the distance from Lubbock (Texas) to Rochester (New York).

This was cool to know, helped inspire me, and turned out to be a surprisingly delightful experience. 😀 It’s much better than the usual “medal” or fireworks for doing my regular workouts. Granted, there was a full-year buildup for the one.

My only complaint is that the distance shows up in kilometers. I know this is America-centric of me, but srsly, kilometers? 🙄😆 I had to convert them to miles on Google to get any real meaning out of it. 🤷🏻‍♂️ (It’s 1472 miles.)