Okay, this photo makes me want to wander around Vienna and do an updated version of Before Sunrise. 🤩
Writing a full-length novel turns out to be hard. 🤷🏻♂️
Even if you know the story you want to tell, there are myriad challenges such as finding your voice, getting into the creative mood, and consistently finding the time to focus.
My latest challenge is pretty basic – figuring out what level of detail to use in the story. I want to make the story is engaging and specific, rather than just sweeping over things with the wave of a hand. 👋
But too much detail quickly turns into sounding like Uncle Colm from Derry Girls.
So if I ever find myself adding unnecessary detail and de-emphasizing the main story line, then I need to watch Uncle Colm as a little kick in the butt.
Or soon enough, people will be saying, “Alright, Colm, let’s pack it up. You’re tied to the radiator…” 🤦🏻♂️
I didn’t read this book, but I came across this quote and found it oddly inspiring.
The only real escape from hell is to conquer it.Scott Hawkins, The Library at Mount Char
Sometimes you can’t run away from your troubles, but you can beat them. 💪
Maybe I should read the book. 🤔
Cool quote from this TED talk about almost dying and then living.
Meaning is not found in the material realm; it’s not in dinner, jazz, cocktails or conversation. Meaning is what’s left when everything else is stripped away.
There are lots of way to interpret that quote, of course.
One way I look at it is this: life is about who you are. If everything in your life suddenly disappeared and you were dropped into an empty field in an unknown country, what person would be standing there?
I’m not talking about some crazy Naked and Afraid survival scenario. Suppose you have some money and some clothes. But not much else. Who is that person standing in the field? What does he know? What does he want? How does he move forward? How will he impact the world around him? That’s who you are.
I’m not actually sure if that’s what that quote meant ☝️, but there’s my take. 😆
This goes with Aristotle’s idea that the meaning of life is what you do — how you impact the real world. As humans, we are uniquely gifted with smart brains and “rational faculty”. We are happiest when we use these minds for some purpose in the world.
A poet should write, a teacher teach, and a doctor heal. Not only should each person do their thing, but they should do it well.
I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty inspirational. 😊
One beautiful reason too get to Bavaria, Germany.
I love the idea that your brain makes its most interesting breakthroughs and connections when you’re not actively thinking. It is well stated in this article.
With really interesting problems, you usually don’t need to think harder. You need to relax and let you mind do its thing while you sleep or do errands. That is when genius strikes. ⚡️
Creativity is all about making interesting connections. Albert Einstein called it “combination play.”
In my experience, this unconscious combo play is important for figuring out what do to and not so much how to do it. Once the what is clear in your mind, it can be followed by all the conscious thinking and hard work to get it done. Unfortunately, that part does not happen in your sleep. 😉
As a side note, there is also a beautiful space when your mind is so immediate and present that is simply doesn’t have time to think. This is what I like about improv. And also baseball.
You can’t think and hit at the same time.Yogi Berra (maybe)
I’ve been saying for a few months that I really want to make the most of this awful pandemic. Stuck at home with time on your hands, it’s a great chance to focus and reinvent yourself. So I loved seeing this post touting the idea that we’re just getting ready for the next phase of our lives individually and collectively.
This post says that people will thrive in the coming years if they have the right attitude and beliefs, or dwindle if they let the changes in the world beat them down.
Many of us have spent the past year not just coping with the present moment, but getting better. When the conditions are back to normal, we’re already going to have momentum. The golden age is upon us.
Is this just wishful thinking? Maybe so, but your beliefs tend to become your reality, so this is a good starting point.
And as more people believe this, the more real it will be for everyone.
The world has been through much worse than the current situation and come out better on the other end. Make the most of it.
I just feel something in the air. I feel an awakening. I have this strong conviction that a large portion of society is just done with the pessimistic outrage culture nonsense. We’re ready to take control of not just the discourse, but our own lives.
Happy roaring 2020’s.
Dax Shepard, cool guy that he is, has some great advice on raising kids. My favorite, besides no butt pads (“Your butt is a pad”), is that kids are good at figuring, uh, stuff out.
I watch them navigate situations over and over again that they would not do if I was present or my wife was present. By God, they work shit out.
Here’s a great aspirational post if you want to be a strong and kind person.
It takes 12 (kind of) simple things such as taking responsibility for your own happiness, living for the struggle, manage your emotions, showing patience and restraint, being indepdendent and vulnerable and expecting the same from others. You know, easy stuff like that. 😉
There’s just something about a hotel pool. 🤩 Here are some wet and sunny spots to enjoy around Austin. This picture is of the Austin Motel pool, but many more are listed in the post.
If I ever get to Switzerland, I’m staying here. 🤩
I’m pretty sure this hotel is part of the Society Of The Crossed Keys. 🗝😉
Ethan Hawke gives an inspiring talk on creativity and how it forces you know yourself, lets you empathize with others, and gives you room to be a happy fool.
In singing our song, in telling our story, in inviting you to say, “Hey, listen to me, and I’ll listen to you,” we’re starting a dialogue. And when you do that, this healing happens, and we come out of our corners, and we start to witness each other’s common humanity. We start to assert it. And when we do that, really good things happen.
If you want to help your community, if you want to help your family, if you want to help your friends, you have to express yourself. And to express yourself, you have to know yourself.
Next time I’m in Portugal, I’m going to ride the little yellow tram. What a stylish way to get around! I don’t even care where I’m going. 😆
Well said by the Savvy Psychologist.
Opportunity doesn’t just favor the well-prepared. It favors those who know on a grander scale what they’re looking for.Savvy Phychologist #296 – How To Live a Meaningful Life (6:46)
We developers spend so much time focusing on the details of our work that we sometimes forget about the big picture. The presentation below from try! Swift Tokyo has some really helpful perspective. 🤯
Think about building the right thing before building it right.
Why are you making software? Know your motivations. It affects how you do your job.
Who do you write code for? Think about how you relate to your company and the end user.
What happens when your tech stack changes? Be resilient in your career. Try new things while also shipping apps.
Be less precious about code.
Realistically, how long will this code last? How robust is robust enough? Be pragmatic. Almost all the code I’ve written in the last few years is gone by now, either retired or completely rewritten.
Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t hold back out out fear.
Real artists ship.Steve Jobs
How often do you test? Unit tests are a means to an end. Passing unit tests alone does not mean it’s a good app.
Via iOS Dev Weekly.
From The New Yorker.
Having now read enough (too many) self-help books, I was starting to think that they all overlap and are just saying different variations of the same thing. I feel like I have unofficially graduated from self-help school. 👨🏻🎓
So I was happy to see this post that basically captures all of the self help out there in one concise list. It’s a really good summary of how to take charge of your life and your own happiness. It has “chapters” on goals, limiting beliefs, growth mindset, thinking too much, self-care, gratitude, and all the other top hits.
My favorite quote is from The Mortality Chapter.
You have to go about every day like you might live forever, but also like you might die tomorrow afternoon.
That pretty well describes one of the key tensions in life. Well said, Jessica Wildfire (is that a pen name or what?).
Some more inspiration to get to Australia some day, and in particular Bondi Beach. They even have shared surf boards sitting around! 🤩
I recently came across this book on Audible called The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. I didn’t end up buying the book since I don’t want to send 7 hrs and 35 mins listening to a book about a 5-second strategy. The math just didn’t add up for me. 😆
The basic idea is that as you go through your day, you have things constantly popping into your head. These are fleeting things that you should do, would like to do, useful ideas, and so forth. Mel says you have 5 seconds to act on that idea or it’s gone, or at least you won’t do anything about it. And acting on those ideas is the difference between making the life you want and not. 🤯
I like that idea. But what can you actually do in 5 seconds? I mean, you’re probably driving or out for a jog or playing Wii. You can’t necessarily write down a note or call up your cousin right then and there and invite him to lunch. You can’t go adopt a dog in 5 seconds. And you sure as hell can’t write a book in 5 seconds.
Mel has other suggestions on how to handle this 5-second period, but I’ve been dumping things like this into the appropriately named Things app on my iPhone. It goes like this:
Hey Siri, using Things, remind me to invite my cousin to lunch
That’s it. Now it’s in your inbox. You can figure out the details later, but at least now you have a placeholder / reminder. My Things inbox has grown way too long to be useful in the past (way into the hundreds), but I eventually fought it down, gradually turning this list into projects or reference notes or calendar reminders. I’ve also turned more than 400 fleeting thoughts into a database of book ideas (thanks to Evernote).
The only way I keep my Things inbox under control is to clean out the inbox once a week on Sundays. Usually I have about 40 things for the week to act on, organize, file, or discard. It takes about an hour a week.
And by the way, both this very blog and this specific post came out of a 5-second thought. 🤓
Hey Siri, using Things, remind me to check out Mel Robbins and The 5 Second Rule
A while back, I posted a link to the Artist’s Hierarchy of Needs. The idea seemed useful, although it was not a hierarchy per se, but more of just a list. 🤷🏻♂️
I think the idea of the artist’s hierarchy was inspired Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is more of a real hierarchy. So it’s kind of cool to see this post.
Basically it says that you need take good care of yourself before you can aspire to your “ultimate self-actualization”. I guess that’s super obvious, but still it makes for a cool idea and a good visual. 😆
I hadn’t really considered traveling to Japan until recently, when one of my kids said she wanted to go there some day. She loves anime. 🤷🏻♂️🇯🇵
So I am bookmarking this list for if we can ever make that happen.
Experiencing Japan isn’t about the main touristic spots.
Who would have thought that answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything lies in giant tank of water 3000 feet under Japan? And the answer is not 42.
Scientists on Wednesday announced that they were perhaps one step closer to understanding why the universe contains something rather than nothing.
This story is not just about speculation or a cool idea. This story is about scientists working at an underground laboratory in Japan, trying to catch neutrinos, sent from 180 miles away. This experiment helps them understand why matter won over anti-matter at the beginning of time, and thus why the universe is full of, well, stuff (this was apparently not a foregone conclusion 🤷🏻♂️).
As a result, a universe that started out with a clean balance sheet — equal amounts of matter and antimatter — wound up with an excess of matter: stars, black holes, oceans and us.
This article is full of mind-blowing quotes.
These ghostly subatomic particles stream from the Big Bang, the sun, exploding stars and other cosmic catastrophes, flooding the universe and slipping through walls and our bodies by the billions every second, like moonlight through a screen door.
I love the balanced excitement / skepticism of the scientists, calling this news “undeniably exciting.”
There are further plans to send neutrinos from a lab in Illinois 800 miles underground to a giant underground detector at an old gold mine in South Dakota. 🇺🇸
So much water! And travel! One day!
A few months ago, I took an improv class. You might think I did it to learn to be funnier. I mean, it did help a little. But mostly it helped my attitude, just being open and ridiculous. I do still have a stockpile of ready-made dad jokes, though.
Improv is not only about laughs. It’s about facing uncharted territory with curiosity, enthusiasm, and fearlessness.
The post below perfectly captures the real reason that I took improv, which is mainly dealing with fears and ambiguity when you can’t sit and think about it for more than, say, two seconds. I’m naturally a sit-and-think-about-it kind of person, so I needed some help on that. 🤷🏻♂️
Cheat sheet from the article… Improv helps with:
- Helping people build out their ideas even if you don’t agree with or understand them
- Learning how to make decisions on a shoestring
- Fearlessness, bravery and getting comfortable with mistakes
By the way, Merlin Works, the same place where I took my improv class, is now offering online Zoom improv classes for the pandemic. If this thing drags on long enough, I might do improv 201 online. 🤷🏻♂️
Looking for a real-time county-by-county map of where people are sick in the US, with trends? Here you go. 👍
The data comes from internet-enabled thermometers. Direct from your mouth to this map. I love seeing technology do something truly useful!
Via New York Times.
Here’s a great tribute to New York City as it suffers through the coronavirus.
We are tough but we are tender, and we fucking love our city though it feels impossible sometimes.
Also, as a musician, it was encouraging to hear her say “This took me a whole day to learn.” 🤷🏻♂️
Here’s a pretty amazing visual story from the New York Times showing how the coronavirus started in a market in Wuhan and then spread around the world.
What I love about this article is the highly visual storytelling. It helps you understand how the virus spread around the world so much better than just a bunch of words.
Amazing work as always from the Times.
Isn’t it unbelievable that the whole world is staying home?
Here are 100 ways to entertain yourself while stuck at home due to the current (or any) pandemic.
My favorite? “Try moving in super-slow motion. It’s OK to laugh at regular speed.” Or a better yet, a slow-motion sword fight if you have a friend around. Sound effects are required. Cha cha cha cha. Cha cha cha cha.
Currently, my living room is cleared out for yoga and Wii.
I’d also recommend writing, making an app, playing card/board games, hanging some pictures, changing your guitar strings, doing your taxes, and getting out if possible to safely support your local taco truck or coffee shop. 😊
Or I guess just watch some movies.
Even my rock climbing gym has some movie and book recommendations. 🤷🏻♂️
Here is a funny and relatable perspective on being an app developer wanting to just make your own goddamn app. Via iOS Dev Weekly.
You want to build something that belongs to you, you want to pour your heart into it, and frankly, you’d like to find some success doing it. “It’s time,” you proclaim boldly, “for me to build an app.”
The post does spend a lot of time talking about social media stress and imposter syndrome, which doesn’t bother me too much. Personally, I have long let go of any dream of having a big, important Twitter or Instagram account. Or even making any money off of an app. I just want to make my own apps.
A big part of you still feels that, as someone who can competently design and build software, you are uniquely positioned to create your own life’s work… Wouldn’t it be a shame not to try? You’re tired of deferring your dreams to your future self; it’s time to act!
My own situation is further complicated by my additional dreams of writing a book and making some songs. I’ve actually made some progress on those dreams already. Can I really fit another dream into the rotation?
Stay tuned and see. Give me like a year. Baby, I want everything!
Some basic helpful advice to keep the coronavirus (or any virus!) away from your face. 🦠
I’ve been taking on some creative projects lately (music and writing) and found this idea of an artist’s needs really helpful. I makes me want to create!
(I’m not sure this is technically a “hierarchy”, but still it’s a good list.)
Cheat sheet: creative physical space, creative imaginative space, creative peers / community, creative fuel (filling the well), being active / taking care of your body, creative edge / challenge, faith and belief in yourself and your work, having your work responded to, certainty (confidence?), and time.
Here’s just one of the ten artist’s needs that I really liked: The need for your creative edge:
Solving problems, pushing boundaries, developing something new is at the heart of the creative process. Rather than despair about how difficult it is, embrace the challenge of your craft.
In the coolest news ever, the source code for the freakin’ Apollo 11 space modules was recently revealed on GitHub. 🤩
Specifically, this is the source code for the guidance systems of the Lunar module (the thingy that landed on the surface of the moon) and the Command Module (the can that orbited the moon during the mission).
A few cool points:
- The code submission date is March 28, 1969.
- The programmer is one Margaret H. Hamilton, Colossus Programming Leader Apollo Guidance and Navigation. If anyone is still saying “girls” can’t code, then you can seriously stop now.
- There are two literal modules in the project: Comanche055 (Colossus 2A, the Command Module), Luminary099 (Luminary 1A, the Lunar Module). So much for thinking of “modules” as just a programming concept. These were two physical components literally flying around the moon.
- These nerds were funny too. The master ignition routine is called BURN_BABY_BURN. 😂
- The code seems to be written in some sort of assembler language, as in 1969 basically no modern languages were yet invented.
- The code comments are currently being translated to other spoken languages as part of this open source project. For all mankind, mothers! 🌎
In a creative writing class I’m taking, our teacher pointed us to this great piece called “Shitty First Drafts”. It basically says what we all know but tend to forget: nobody ever just sits down and writes a great story on the first try.
👉 Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott
This approach frees you up to have fun with it (another topic from the class).
The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later.Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird
As a side note, this “shitty first draft” approach applies just as well to other creative endeavors such as making music or software. The key is to not actually ship the shitty first draft (although the occasional great album seems to be an exception to this rule).
Disclaimer: this blog consists entirely of shitty first drafts. 🤷🏻♂️
This is an interesting tool from someone who has Grapheme-color synesthesia and “sees” letters and numbers as colors.
Just type your name and see its colors. I’m not sure what this is really useful for, but it’s fun and gives an interesting perspective.
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
Okay, I don’t take the Charkas too literally, but I do think they’re on to something. Here’s a quick guide. They’re great for guiding meditation.
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.
Each of us is the protagonist in the story of our life. But we’re also the narrator. And the author.
- 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?)
- 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.)
- 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?)
- 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.
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.
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.
I may need to visit Switzerland 🇨🇭 just for the train ride. 🤩
I may need to visit Singapore 🇸🇬 just for the airport. 🤩
We Earthlings have a history of fearing Martians invading our planet 👽, so it’s always amusing to watch a video of us invading them. 🧑🏻🚀
I used to be obsessed with 7 Minutes of Terror: Curiosity Rover’s Risky Mars Landing, which shows how NASA gets a rover from hurtling 10,000 mph through space to softly kissing the surface of Mars — all within a few short minutes. It’s still an amazing video if you haven’t seen it and are interested in, well… anything cool.
My favorite part is the skycrane maneuver, which is hard to explain but looks insane. And it seems to work quite well.
“If you’re landing a rover on Mars, there’s no doubt this is the right way.”
In fact, this skycrane show-off maneuver works so well that NASA keeps doing it. Check out a video of the latest invasion — I mean landing — in the name of Perseverance.
John Cleese gave this speech back in the 1990’s about creativity. Apparently he was a bit of a student of the topic. 🤷🏻♂️
His main point was that creativity is not something that you have or don’t have. And it is not related to traditional intelligence.
Creativity is a mood – an open, curious, and playful way of operating. He calls this playful, creative state “open mode”, whereas we normally go through life in “closed mode”, basically trying to get stuff done.
To be fully effective, a creative person needs to juggle both modes well. After all, you’ve got to find the creative flow and keep your projects on track to actually get sh*t done.
This creative “open mode” is subconscious and requires de-focusing in a way. In other words, you can’t force creative breakthroughs. It is in this relaxed open mode where the creative magic happens. You just need to allow yourself the time and other factors to let yourself be creative.
This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.
One reason I liked improv class was that it forces you into this open, playful mode (even when you are terrified).
Hopefully, when creativity is applied consistently over time, then great things can happen. 🤓
Some people love Valentine’s Day, and some people hate it. And it might change from year to year.
Personally, I like Valentine’s Day. It’s sweet. Even if you don’t have a serious partner, you can tell your kids, parents, or even your pet that you love them. 🐶
Regardless of how you feel about today, and especially if you are bundled up at home avoiding the cold weather, here are some movies celebrating the joy and/or pain of love. 💗
And this isn’t just a list of current movies. This list is full of classics going all the way back to Pillow Talk from 1959.