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!

The World

Roadmap to Alpha Centauri

With the Voyager space sailing beyond out solar system, this article looks at some ways we could send people to Alpha Centauri.

👉 Roadmap to Alpha Centauri

This article is a complete mindmelt 🤯: ion drives, solar sails, nuclear rockets,  foraging for dark matter.

I don’t really understand this stuff, but I do like the idea that people could potentially fly around the universe and find a new home. Especially considering the black holes out there.

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.

Travel

Angels Flight Railway

This #AccidentallyWesAnderson Instagram post caught my eye.

Next time I’m in LA, I’m going to check out this super-short and super-cute railway. It looks like it covers about one block in downtown LA. It’s been around over 100 years, minus a hiatus in the 1970’s and 1980’s due to some “urban renewal”.

https://angelsflight.org

View this post on Instagram

________________________ Hey Adventurers! 👋 We have landed and are officially dipping our toes into the expansive, diverse & amazing city of Los Angeles ☀️ For the next three days we will be exploring different neighborhoods and sights thanks to your amazing suggestions ❤️ Today we are discovering Downtown LA – take a peek at our story and see where we are heading (and if you see us wandering, come say hi 🤗) ______________________________________________________ Angels Flight | Los Angeles, California | c. 1901 • Angels Flight is a landmark narrow gauge funicular railway in the Bunker Hill district of Downtown Los Angeles, California. It has two funicular cars, Sinai and Olivet, running in opposite directions on a shared cable on the 298 feet (91 m) long inclined railway • Built in 1901 with financing from Colonel J.W. Eddy, as the "Los Angeles Incline Railway", Angels Flight began at the west corner of Hill Street at Third and ran for two blocks uphill (northwestward) to its Olive Street terminus. During operation in its original location, the railroad was owned and operated by six additional companies following Colonel Eddy • The railway was closed on May 18, 1969 when the Bunker Hill area underwent a controversial total redevelopment. The landmark was dismantled during the “urban renewal” of the area and it was not until the early 1990s that the Railway was refurbished and relocated a half-block south from its original location, reopening adjacent to California Plaza in 1996 • After a few re-openings and closings, along with an accident and derailment, safety upgrades were made to the doors of the cars, and an evacuation walkway was added adjacent to the track. Angels Flight reopened for public service on August 31, 2017 • 📷: @decafbutter ✍: @wikipedia + @AngelsFlightRailway • #AccidentallyWesAnderson #WesAnderson #VscoArchitecture #Vsco #AccidentalWesAnderson #AngelsFlight #LosAngeles #California #DiscoverLA #AccidentallyLA

A post shared by @ accidentallywesanderson on

Quotes

Comparison is the thief of joy

I find it annoying when someone says “This BBQ isn’t very good” just because it’s not Franlkin’s. Hey, Rudy’s is still good BBQ, and I was so happy to find it when I moved back to Texas! Yum!

Or “This beach isn’t nearly as nice as Hawaii.” Hey, Galveston is still a beach! Sand, waves, wind. Heaven.

Just because there might exist some other version somewhere that is (arguably) better doesn’t mean this one isn’t good/fun/yummy. You’re only hurting yourself, people! So I like this Teddy Roosevelt quote.

Comparison is the thief of joy

Teddy Roosevelt via Soup Peddler
You

Optimism is not always > pessimism

👉 https://blog.liberationist.org/the-bright-and-dark-sides-of-optimism-and-pessimism-95c6092f560c

I’d consider myself to be an optimist, even against overwhelming evidence at times. It’s a sort of faith. It’s fun to be optimistic and see what happens. I like to give the middle finger to negativity.

While this article acknowledges the positive powers of optimism, it also details the surprising advantages of some healthy pessimism. I may need to work on leveraging some pessimism more, especially while estimating projects and budgets!

Pessimism can help us prepare and do our best work, increase desire and enthusiasm to improve things, and even reduce anxiety by motivating focus over avoidance. 🤯

Highlights…

The down side of optimism

Multiple research has shown that optimism has a dark side too. Not only it can lead to poor outcomes, but it makes us underestimate risks or take less action. 

Optimists pay less attention to detail and fail to seek new information to challenge their rosy views leading to poor decisions.

The Optimism Bias is one of the two key factors why we inaccurately calculate big projects — we tend to underestimate both time and cost.

Defensive pessimism

Defensive Pessimist is a particular type of pessimist that takes negative thinking to a whole new level. It’s a strategy that helps people reduce their anxiety — it drives focus rather than avoidance.

The defensive pessimist focuses on the worst-case scenario — s/he identifies and takes care of things that optimists miss. This approach can help us better prepare for events that are out of our full control such as a job interview.

Meliorism

In philosophy, Meliorism is a concept which drives our ability to improve the world through alteration — we can produce outcomes that are considered better than the original phenomenon.

Meliorism doesn’t mean ignoring the world’s evils. But to accept life’s setbacks as challenges to overcome. This joie de vivre energizes us — it boosts our desire and enthusiasm

Quotes

There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

I’ve been thinking lately how many “good” things have a bad side, and many “bad” things have a good side. A crisis is an opportunity. A loss is a rebirth. A failure renews focus. Sadness motivates appreciation. And on the flip side, getting what you want can be a letdown or even a disappointment.

I think Shakespeare’s quote is mostly about attitude and perception, and that’s a big part of this equation.

There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

William Shakespeare

See also: The Bright and Dark Sides of Optimism and Pessimism

Me · Quotes

They can buy anything, but they can’t buy backbone.

This speech by Bill Murray as Herman Blume is one of my favorite parts of one of my favorite movies, Rushmore. I was reminded of this speech by the college admissions scandal.

I love that Herman is actually delivering this speech to a bunch of rich boys. And only Max Fischer applauds. 😆

Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember: they can buy anything, but they can’t buy backbone. Don’t let them forget that. Thank you.

Music · The World

Yaaas! GarageBand turns 15

I can’t even describe how amazing Garageband is. It’s lets you record almost anything. And it sounds good! And it’s free! And easy to use! And it has basically all the guitar amps and pedals in the world. And real professional musicians use it to record real music. And it works on the iPhone and iPad.

I just recored a punk-inspired version of Bruce Springsteen’s No Surrender with it. I sang (yikes!) and played two guitar tracks, Drums were compliments of Garageband. It took like half an hour. I mean, what the hell?!?!

Here is Steve Jobs introducing GarageBand in 2004. “Garageband is a major new pro music tool. But it’s for everyone.”


Via https://512pixels.net/2019/01/garageband-turns-15/

And here’s an interesting list of milestones for Garageband.

https://www.macrumors.com/2019/01/04/garageband-turning-15/

You

Why You Procrastinate — And What You Can Do About It

HIghlights

Procrastination is emotional

We put something off when there is a negative mood about it. By putting it off, we (1) get some momentary relief and (2) increase negativity about the task. This makes us want to put it off more. So it becomes an “especially vicious” cycle. We momentarily feel better by putting off an unwanted task, and we learn to dislike the task more the more we put it off. 😑

This only compounds the negative associations we have with the task, and those feelings will still be there whenever we come back to it, along with increased stress and anxiety, feelings of low self-esteem and self-blame.

Procrastination is irrational

When we procrastinate, we’re not only aware that we’re avoiding the task in question, but also that doing so is probably a bad idea. And yet, we do it anyway.

With procrastination, we are overly focused on the present and tend to look at our futures self (who has to do the task) as a different person, and the thing we’re putting off as “somebody else’s problem”. 🤷🏻‍♂️😳

Dealing with procrastination

Aka “The Bigger Better Offer”. Make it easier and feel better to not procrastinate than to procrastinate.

Procrastination is about emotions, not productivity. The solution doesn’t involve downloading a time management app or learning new strategies for self-control. It has to do with managing our emotions in a new way.

Do it!

  • Consider only the next action
  • Make your temptations more inconvenient
  • Make the things we want to do as easy as possible
  • Forgive yourself for procrastinating. This can actually break the cycle!
  • Practice self-compassion. (Side note, this also “boosts motivation, enhances feelings of self-worth and fosters positive emotions like optimism, wisdom, curiosity and personal initiative.”)
  • Be curious about your own feelings on the procrastination
The World

Does It Actually Matter Where You Go To College?

👉 Does It Actually Matter Where You Go to College?

I was curious about this article because, when hiring for my kind of job at least, a fancy college doesn’t make any real difference for a candidate. It just matters how competent you are at the skill. And many of the smartest people I have ever known went to “middle tier” public schools.

This article says that public and community colleges tend to lift people up financially more than fancy colleges.

The colleges that most excel in promoting social mobility… aren’t the Ivies — they are excellent, open-access public institutions and community colleges with large numbers of working-class students, like the City University of New York.

And fancy schools don’t make you happier or more fulfilled.

For a broader view, a 2014 survey of tens of thousands of graduates by Gallup found that college selectivity correlated not at all with later satisfaction in work or fulfillment in life

You

Why It’s Better to Find Success Later in Life

👉 Why It’s Better to Find Success Later in Life

Nothing super groundbreaking in this article, but it’s a good refresher. Basically, you earn a certain amount of success, happiness, and confidence by failing and bouncing back over time.

This is a lot of how I look at parenting (hopefully) resilient kids…

…the best way to gain strength is by falling and continually bouncing back, practicing, working around obstacles. But this flexibility is critical to long-term success.

Fortunately, it’s easy to struggle. 😉 This makes me think of George Washington, who failed a lot. Like, he was pretty bad for quite a while before he became amazing.

You don’t need to go out of your way to struggle and stumble, because it will happen naturally to most of us. And many a great has failed before they bloomed.

The World

Don’t Panic! The Universe Expanding Faster Than Expected.

When things seem a little “off”, you might be right. Not only is the universe expanding, but it is expanding faster than we (i.e. astrophysicists) thought. But don’t worry, we’re only off by about 9%.

Look for the word “megaparsec” in this article. It means 3.26 million light years. 🚗💫🤯

An existential nightmare

Scary stuff…

If dark energy remains constant, everything outside our galaxy eventually will be moving away from us faster than the speed of light, and will no longer be visible. The universe will become lifeless and utterly dark.

As the universe expands, the push from phantom energy would grow without bounds, eventually overcoming gravity and tearing apart first Earth, then atoms.

But just a theory so far

Let’s science the sh*t out of this…

Two space missions — the European Space Agency’s Euclid and NASA’s Wfirst — have been designed to study dark energy and hopefully deliver definitive answers in the coming decade. The fate of the universe is at stake.

Software Dev · The World · You

The fastest-growing well-paid job: app developer

Takeaway: App developers are not the fastest growing job. But they are the fastest growing well-paid job.

There is one six-figure salary job that is seeing more openings than any other over the next few years: app developer. The U.S. will add over 255,000 app developer positions to the job market between 2016 and 2026, more than any other high-paying job

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/news/the-fastest-growing-well-paid-job-3911825/


You

Should You Take That Promotion? Well, Maybe.

Summary

Consider…

  • Do you know what the new role is clearly defined, you know what the expectations are and why the position is open?
  • Do you have (or want to develop) the skills to do the job?
  • Do you want to do that kind of work?

What does success in this role look like?

Health and lifestyle

The new gig might negatively impact your health if it’s not a good fit. Chronic work-related stress can cause high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.

Goals

If you don’t have specific objectives in mind — identifiable skills you want to sharpen, an idea of the direction you want your career to go — you’re not going to know if this promotion is going to get you to closer to those goals

Use self-assessment tools such as Strengthsfinder to figure out if the promotion plays to your talents.

“Think of what you’re doing now, what you’re good at, what you want to do more of, and see if the promotion will allow you to continue to do that,” she said. “If the promotion is not going to let you do that, it might not be a good fit.”

Priorities

Try ranking the top three things you’re looking for in any position you take. Everyone’s priorities are different. For some, it could be proximity to home, the ability to engage in challenging work and maintaining a certain salary bracket. For others, flexible work hours, being on a cohesive team and access to mentors are priorities

New opportunities

It’s important to keep an open mind and think about the doors that might open if you take the job. You could contribute to an exciting project, break into an emerging industry or learn a new skill set

Take control

focus on the things you can control when it comes to your professional development. Instead of fretting over when opportunities for advancement will present themselves, hone your expertise and strengthen your network so you’ll be a competitive hire no matter what

You

How to Actually, Truly Focus on What You’re Doing

Summary

The goal is deep work. Avoid “persistent attention residue” by avoiding “quick checks” of your phone, websites, etc.

Seems like this basically boils down to clearing out the time and space to focus on deep work.

Concentration is like a super power in most knowledge work pursuits

  • Actively include “deep work” blocks of time in your day and protect them. Use your calendar if you need to. Make deep work a habit rather than rely on willpower.
  • Embrace boredom. Frequently expose yourself to boredom. If you whip out your phone every time you get bored, your brain will build a Pavlovian connection between boredom and stimuli. So when it comes time to think deeply (which is boring in the sense of lacking constant stimuli), your brain won’t tolerate it.
  • Quit (reduce?) social media. Be intentional and selective about what digital channels you allow into your life. Helps protect your ability to focus.
  • “Drain the shallows”. Shallow work does not require extended concentration (check email, schedule meetings). If your day becomes dominated by shallow work, you won’t get to the deep work that really moves the needle. Aggressively minimize shallow work and be organized and productive about what remains.

Book – Deep Work

You

Walking: Crazy Good For You

This article digs into studies on the health benefits walking and other moderate exercise.

( Totally anecdotal, but my gramdmother-in-law lived past 100 years old, and she walked every day.)

👉 The Case for Walking

Most interesting takeaways:

  • People who describe themselves as “brisk walkers” tend to live 15-20 years longer than slow walkers.
  • Moderate exercise improves brain power. It takes 10-20 years off of your mental age.
  • 10,000 steps a day is not a magic number. Actually, it looks like 7,500 is ideal. But even less is still significantly helpful.
  • Excessive exercise can be “damaging for the heart and course long term damage”

“The people who exercised were testing as if they were about 10 years younger at age 40 and about 20 years younger at age 60,”

Even though this article at first seems the opposite of a recent one on sprinting, I think they’re both related. They both basically say to do a moderate amount of exercise for a short amount of time to get maximum physical and mental benefits.

Software Dev

Best WWDC Videos of All Time (?)

There are so many amazing WWDC sessions. I probably have 50 favorited on my  TV 🤩.

Here is one persons’ brave attempt to collate the best 15 ever, found on iOS Dev Weekly.

👉 The 15 Best WWDC Videos of All Time

I genuinely appreciate the attempt, but I am perplexed that Protocol and Value Oriented Programming in UIKit Apps or Designing Fluid Interfaces didn’t make the list. 🤷🏻‍♂️