Books · creativity · Music

“You’re only as good as your record collection.” 🎧

The little, square book Show Your Work has changed they way I think about blogging, processing my ideas, and has even helped me appreciate my music playlists.

One idea it introduces is to embrace collecting.

There’s not as big of a difference between collecting and creating as you might think.

Show Your Work

Great musicians, writers, and artists tend to collect and appreciate other people’s work. “The reading feeds the writing, which feeds the reading,” the book says. Hopefully this approach works for me as I dig into music creation.

Or to put it another way:

You’re only as good as your record collection.

DJ Spooky, via Show Your Work

To that end, here is my ever-growing list of new songs I like, built up gradually over the last few years, thanks to Shazam and a few coffee shops and beer gardens with their own great playlists. As of this writing, this playlist is over 49 hours long and could double as its own radio station.

Don’t hoard indeed. 😆

Beyond music, I can collect ideas much quicker than I can get them out to the world.

Just to keep track of things all these ideas, I started using the same system that NASA uses to manage large projects. 😆 Admittedly, this may be overkill, but I do have a reservoir of about 400 blog ideas filed away so far.

I think the challenge will be to identify the 5% of ideas that I can actually give my attention to and let the rest be. We’ll see if Show Your Work as any wisdom for that conundrum.

To many ideas, not enough time!
Me · Quotes

“It’s not National Geographic. Or The New York Times.”

In one of our regular before-school conversations at Mozart’s Coffee, my daughter and I were talking Instagram.

I told her I keep pretty high standards on what I post. “Each post has to be unique and interesting. Something nobody has seen before. And preferable well-composed.”

My daughter, who is 17 and posts anime edits regularly, caught onto a hint of perfectionism creeping in and encouraged me to post more and just archive what I don’t love.

“Dad, it’s not National Geographic,” she said. And then after a little pause, “Or The New York Times.”

My daughter speaks wisely, and she knows me better than I know myself.

In another life, I may be a jet-setting New York Times photographer or even a reporter tracking down warm criminals. But in this life, I’ll be happy with posting some cool and not always perfect photos around town.

I love it when people I know tell me wise and useful things.

The view of Lake Austin from Mozart’s on a foggy morning. Deemed not Instagram-worthy. 🤔
creativity · Quotes

A good blog is like this item of clothing 👗

The best quotes are both funny and true, and therefore memorable. At the end of this talk good on conversations, Celeste Headlee credits her sister with this quote.

A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.

It seems the sister may have borrowed the idea from Winston Churchill. 🤷🏻‍♂️

I think the idea generalizes to writing too, so I’m going to adapt the spirit of this quote for my own purposes.

A good conversation blog is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.

And it’s working. I already deleted three sentences from this post – and added this one. 🤔

Before I forget, here’s a salacious photo – as required – to catch your attention.

Via Pinterest (I don’t think miniskirts existed in Winston Churchill’s time 😆)

See also

Don’t Be Like Uncle Colm

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”


Sonic inspiration – Sad Moon Above

My friend and I have been working on a song called Sad Moon Above for a while now. It started with just some lyrics (hers), then a few guitar chords (mine), culminating in a very rough outdoors acoustic demo, recorded on my iPhone and featuring a metronome and a barking dog. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Yeah, it was that rough. But it was just a proof of concept.

The was three years ago.

We got a little stuck, so to move things along, I made a really basic “karaoke” version of the song. I even sang even though I’m not a singer.

That was two years ago.

Now I’m trying to get to a fairly “good” version of this song. Or maybe 2-3 good versions. 🤷🏻‍♂️ In my head, I hear a New Wave version, a grunge version, and a dream pop version of this song.

So I just bought a keyboard, even though I’m not a keyboard player.

Aspirations keep us moving forward. Here is a playlist of sounds that I want Sad Moon Above to feel like when it’s eventually done.

I just bought a keyboard. Wish me luck. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Super Summary: 10 ways to have a better conversation

Would you give 11 minutes of your life to learn how to have consistently better conversations forever after?

If so, here is a really useful talk by Celeste Headlee on the subject.

Okay, if you only have one minute, than here is the super-summary breakdown of the talk.

  1. Be present – focus 100% on the conversation
  2. Don’t pontificate – set yourself aside
  3. Use open-ended questions – let them pick their own words
  4. Go with the flow
  5. If you don’t know, so say
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs
  7. Don’t repeat yourself – don’t repeat yourself 😉
  8. Stay out of too many details and facts
  9. Listen to understand the other person
  10. Be brief but cover the subject – like a miniskirt 😆

Yes, she says not to pontificate in a conversation – if you want to pontificate, then write a blog instead. So here I am. 🤷🏻‍♂️

The World · You

The Sun is green, but we see what we think we see.

When we look at the sun, we see yellow or maybe white. But the thing is, we’re not actually looking at the sun, which is technically green.

Apparently we see tis green star as white because our eyes and brains are simply overwhelmed. To me, this misperception is an extreme example of this idea:

👉 The way you perceive something says as much about you as it does about the thing you’re observing.

I think this idea applies to people too. Whether you think someone is a jerk or super cool, it may say as much about your own experiences, aspirations, and assumptions as it does about that person.

On the one hand, this phenomenon can help you make lasting friendships and fall in love, while on the other hand it can feed dumb-ass biases like racism, sexism, and all the others.

This idea kind of reminds me of a Jesse Jackson joke from an old Saturday Night Live skit.

I do not deny the allegation, I deny the allegator.

Jessie Jackson on SNL

When I start to suspect my perceptions may be playing a trick on me, I try to back up, gather more information, and make sure it’s not me. Because sometimes it is. ☀️


“I know the love that I deserve.”

Lucas Nelson has an amazing way of writing a song about one thing and then sneaking in a little mini-anthem about something else right in the middle. The mini-anthem hammers home the original point with an underlying truth.

It’s his jab-jab-jab-uppercut of songwriting. 🥊

On Find Yourself, Lucas rambles for a while about an unsatisfying relationship. Then the tone of the song briefly changes, and the mini-anthem bursts in.

I know the love that I deserve.

That’s the underlying truth to the rest of the song. It’s so beautiful and simple, it almost brings me to tears every time.

This song has some special meaning to me since I first heard it with a small but enthusiastic crowd at Lucy’s Friend Chicken in South Austin. Lucas Nelson sang it from the top of a picnic table as part of an unofficial SXSW performance. It sounded great, even without Lady Gaga. 😉

👉 Bonus: can you find the mini-anthem in Turn Off The News (Build A Garden)?

Photos · Travel

In the shadow of Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France

Andrew Jackson enters New Orleans in the shadow of Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France to snatch the city from France in 1815. ⚔️

Oh wait, he was actually defending the city from a British invasion. 😆🤷🏻‍♂️

Damn, I love history (and New Orleans).

Side note: this church had officially leveled up to cathedral rank 23 years prior.

#neworleans #nola #jacksonsquare #frenchquarter #history #louisiana #warof1812 #cathedral via Instagram


Stuck in a moment (remake)

I haven’t been a huge fan of modern-day U2. I miss the more inspiring, mysterious, and just classic stuff from the 80’s and 90’s.

Still, some of their later-day songs creep up and get you — especially if someone else performs them. 🤷🏻‍♂️

For instance, Transient has done some really fresh remakes of U2 songs. They finally helped me appreciate the following song from 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, which I originally thought was, uh, pretty boring, but now see the beauty in it.

Thank you, Transient. 🙏

And the lyrics are perfect for someone who needs a little kick in the butt.

I never thought you were a fool
But darling, look at you
You gotta stand up straight, carry your own weight
These tears are going nowhere baby

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

The World

ChatGPT, ChatGPT write me a post

As noted previously, ChatGPT is a pretty amazing AI chat bot with some very human limitations (basically, it’s kind of a bore and a blowhard).

For fun, I decided to have ChatGPT write me a blog post for my quotes section. I mean, maybe the bot can just take over here. 🤷🏻‍♂️

> write a brief, inspiring blog post with a famous quote

After spitting out several posts about Steve Jobs quotes, I had to clarify… while Steve Jobs had some great things to say, let’s try something new.

> write a brief, inspiring blog post with a famous quote not from Steve Jobs

The result is definitely Michael Scott certified.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." - Wayne Gretzky

This quote from legendary hockey player Wayne Gretzky reminds us that in order to succeed, we have to take risks and be willing to step out of our comfort zone. It's easy to play it safe and stick with what we know, but it's only by taking chances that we can truly grow and reach our full potential.

It's okay to be afraid of failure, but we have to remember that failure is a natural part of the journey towards success. Every missed shot is an opportunity to learn and improve. And even if we do fail, we can take comfort in knowing that we tried our best and that we have the chance to try again.

So don't be afraid to take that shot, whatever it may be. Whether it's pursuing a new career, starting a business, or trying something new, have the courage to step out and take a chance. You never know what amazing things you'll accomplish when you embrace the unknown.

So, mission accomplished: it is brief and inspiring and it does have a quote.

I don’t remember asking it to be comically generic and cliched. I guess it took its own initiative on that. 😆


“Every noble work is at first impossible.”

Pretty much any interesting/useful/beautiful human achievement you can think of was at first impossible. Mass-printing books? You’re crazy. Sailing ships across the oceans? No way. Putting a man on the surface of the freaking moon? That one still gets me.

While John F. Kennedy gets my award for the best speech about doing the impossible (and within the decade no less!), the Scotsman Thomas Carlyle had summed this idea up nicely a hundred years before.

Every noble work is at first impossible.

Thomas Carlyle

This quote is so clear and to-the-point: it is perfect from a writing perspective.

But can you picture JFK getting up on stage at Rice University in 1962, saying, “Every noble work is at first impossible… let’s go to the moon.” and then just leaving? 😆 I guess politics requires a little more bombast.

Thomas Carlyle, looking a lot like The Most Interesting Man in the World.

“…not to nurse memories, especially not of evils, but to overlook them.”

To me, Aristotle always seemed like just another stuffy ancient Greek dude in a robe. I always confused him with Socrates. I related to Bill & Ted when they met Socrates, swapping generic, abstract ideas with classic rock lyrics. 😆

But Aristotle was not lost in the abstract. Like other ancient philosophers, he had some cool things to say about being a good person, For example, he espoused being forgiving, consciously “overlooking” the past to avoid the self-imposed ill of resentment.

It is proper to a magnanimous person not to nurse memories, especially not of evils, but to overlook them.


👉 You’ve got to love the word “magnanimous” – it’s a new favorite word of mine.

Dude was also into being helpful and generous…

Of all those who are called virtuous the liberal are probably the best liked, because they are helpful; and their help consists in giving.

So “The Philosopher” was just saying be kind, generous, and forgiving. 🤷🏻‍♂️


Fun things to do in Austin when it’s cold and wet ☔️

Austin is geared towards the outdoors. Even in the blazing hot summer, the mornings and nights are consistently outdoor-friendly. You may want to duck inside during the heat of the day, but you can reliably enjoy your favorite trail in the morning and your favorite coffee shop + beer garden at night.

But today, it is 37℉, the November rain is here — and my brother is visiting town expecting nice weather. 😆

Here’s the quick list of things I put together for him to do while stuck in “sunny” Austin during a bout of winter. It’s kind of specific to him, but you might like it too.

👉 See also: Places to play around Austin

Crux Climbing Center – bouldering, etc.  I even learned yoga at the original south one.

Punch Bowl Social – an entertainment “complex” in the middle of downtown; it’s a chain, but it’s cool what they’ve done in this historic building.

The Contemporary Austin – a small but amazing modern art museum downtown – very close to Punch Bowl Social. ^

The Blanton Museum of Art – another modern art museum downtown, this one featuring Ellsworth Kelly’s Temple for Light called “Austin”.

The Texas State Capital – leave politics aside for a bit and just enjoy this amazing 1882 building and surrounding park with panoramic views down Congress Avenue.

Violet Crown Cinema – a great artsy movie theater with good food and a stylish bar. Dare I say it’s even better than the Alamo Drafthouse?

Toy Joy – a fun little toy store across the street from Violet Crown. ^

Whole Foods flagship store – lots of good food, a nice rooftop patio in sunnier weather, but there’s also a bar in the back by the meat.

The Mean Eyed Cat, yeah, there are lots of bars around town, but this is the the Johnny Cash bar. 🙂

Cidercade – games & wings by the lake. I’ve never been, but I’ve hear it’s fun.

Pinballz – a classic arcade (they have a couple of locations).

Playland Skate Center – a retro rollerskating rink near Pinballz. ^

A cloudy, drizzly Austin.



Here’s a new addition to the European swimming pool agenda. And this one is not some fancy Parisian resort pool. In fact, it has to be the most remote (and cold) pool I’ve see so far.

Here’s how to find Seljavallalaug pool: From Reykjavík, Iceland, drive two-and-a-half-hours along the coast. Then park and hike 20 minutes past some glaciers, volcanoes, and a waterfall. 😮 Now jump in!

Once you get there, it’s free. In the summer, it might be “dyed a beautiful shade of green” due to algae, not unlike our own Barton Springs Pool here in Austin.

If I ever make it to Iceland, I’ll remember to bring my swim suit (and a really warm towel)!

Quotes · You

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life…”

I’ve been sitting with this theory for a while that what matters most is who you are when all your stuff is stripped away – your house, your car, your bank account. Who are then then?

I think Sophia Loren is right by focusing in on your skills and your positive impact – and tying that to eternal youth. 🤩 Have you noticed that great musicians like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and Paul McCartney just keep going and going?

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.

Sophia Loren

(The other fountain of youth IMHO is swimming. 🏊😉)

from Vogue
The World

Fellow Americans: remember to vote 🇺🇸 (and make it count)

I was out for walk last night when a neighbor called out from his yard, “Hey, are you gonna vote tomorrow?” “Yep,” I said. “Okay, cool. Just don’t screw it up,” he said. 😆

He didn’t tell me who to vote for, and I won’t tell you. But I will ask some pretty pointed questions.

Do you think we should do something real about the global climate crisis, or do you think we should sit on our hands and just hope things get better while the world burns?

Do you think we should make our own life-altering decisions or do you think the government should make these decisions for us?

Do you think we should take steps to keep our kids from getting murdered in their schools, or do you think that is just the price of freedom?

Do you respect our elections or do you support officially overturning a free and fair election using made-up claims?

Do you believe in civil discourse or do you believe in undermining political foes in their most tragic moments?

I could go on about how Republican policies are damaging lives. 😩. They also seem oddly scared of you voting and aim to keep that from happening.

If you believe in personal rights, respect for democracy, and solving problems in America, it looks like you may be down to one real option*.

*Libertarians seem consistent and ethical but don’t have a great answer to “things that affect everyone” like climate change and gun violence.

If you disagree, then vote your conscience and let’s get through this together. ✌️

From Ken Burns Tells America’s History Through Six Photographs

Quotes · You

“How can a guy think and hit at the same time?”

In honor of last night’s World Series no-hitter (this first since 1956) here’s a quote from Yogi Berra, the guy who never said most of the things he said. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Apparently he was frustrated with his coach, who told him to think his way out of a batting slump. 🤷🏻‍♂️

How can a guy think and hit at the same time?

Yogi Berra

If you’ve tried to hit a 90 mph pitch (which I did once or twice at a batting cage), you know exactly what he’s talking about. You can’t even see the ball at that speed much less think about hitting it.

What are some other things you can’t think and do at the same time? Offhand I’m thinking of skateboarding, singing, dancing, playing guitar, shuffling a deck of cards, telling a joke…

Via The New Yorker.

Books · Quotes · You

“If you work on something a little bit every day, you end up with something that is massive.”

I like this idea…

If you work on something a little bit every day, you end up with something that is massive.

Kenneth Goldsmith

The book Show Your Work references this quote and really brings it home with an image that illustrates how a good picture can outshine even the best words.

👉 By the way, Show Your Work inspires this blog and will most definitely be getting its own super summary (or series) here (eventually).


“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”

I can’t resist a good Einstein quote. The quintessential scientist knew that it takes a lot more than numbers to solve big, break-through problems.

He also had a knack for communicating powerful human ideas simply.

Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.

Albert Einstein

If you want to be like Einstein, don’t chase success. Just stay curious and bring value.

creativity · entertainment

Missed Fortune 🗻

What does it take to pull you into a new podcast? Or a book? Or really anything?

With so many great podcasts out there and already not enough time for them all, the bar can be pretty high for anything new. But the first few lines of the Missed Fortune podcast pulled me in right away.

Did you ever find yourself in one of those situations where if it goes well, there’s a huge reward? But if it goes bad, you look just unforgivably stupid? Like what were you possibly thinking?

I’m in a car with some guys I don’t know on the way to somewhere we’re not supposed to be. And this is one of those situations.

They go on to explain that this is the story of a real-life treasure hunt in the Rocky Mountains with the only clues being a short poem.

I’m already hooked. 😲 Well played, new podcast.

Apps · Practical · Software Dev

UX teardown: make your own guides in  Maps

I always found the “favorites” feature in Apple Maps to be too general and dissatisfying. I quit using that feature once I had 48 places saved all across the world. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Before that, I saved specific lists of places in Google Maps, but found their mobile app to be cluttered and confusing. 😖 So I gave up and started using Trello.

Trello is cool for some things like trip planning and small projects, but it did not scale well and didn’t handle lists of places well. So I gave up on that. 😢

 Maps guides

I’m happy to have just discovered that you can save your favorite places as “guides” in Apple Maps. Finally, this is genuinely useful!

I just set up my own guide for coffee places open early for when I’m looking to get our early. Quick and easy and right to the point! 🤩. I can immediately see all the places I saved and their hours. Check it out for yourself! (This is my own personal guide, so it’s focused on Austin, TX.)

Of course this guide automatically syncs to my iPad and Mac as well. ✅

Rechecking Goole Maps

Forgive me if I sound like an  fanboy, but out of genuine curiosity I went back and I did the same thing in the latest Google maps. It was a bit painful. 😢

Notice how the “main” screen is oddly not a map but more of a picture of a cup of coffee and therefore not useful to me.

And even when I drilled into an actual map view, the places I care about are unlabeled in favor of (1) a notification that HEB has an offer and (2) the Texas Capitol and Congress Ave. Bridge exist. Again, not useful.

I just want to know where a coffee shop is open at 7am! Now that would be useful. 👆

entertainment · Quotes

“When I choose to see the good side of things…It is strategic and necessary.”

Packed inside the breakneck crazy multiverse film Everything Everywhere All at Once is some real wisdom.

My favorite character is the unfailingly nice Waymond, the husband of the main character. One minute he seems a bit out of touch, and the next minute he is the man with the plan.

He embodies the idea that optimism is courageous and powerful. Being cynical and guarded might seem smart, but it will never land you on the moon or win a big battle. Did you ever hear a great general say, “I’m not sure we can do this, guys.” Being optimistic is strategic and necessary.

When I choose to see the good side of things, I’m not being naive. It is strategic and necessary. It’s how I learned to survive through everything.

Waymond from Everything Everywhere All at Once

Thank you, Waymond. 🙏

Side note: Ke Huy Quan, who played Waymond, was also the little kid in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies. 🤯


It’s time for book snippets ✄

I’ve been doing super summaries on this blog for a while now. The idea is to condense a great book into a super distilled version that covers the core concepts as quickly as possible. Hopefully the super summary is useful, and if your curiosity is teased enough, then you can read the actual book.

I think it’s a win-win, and these continue to be some of my most popular posts.

But some books simply can’t be super-summarized.

The book Show Your Work has has been sitting on my coffee table taunting me for months. I pick it up and read a bit, absorb whatever nuggets of inspiration I get out of it, and then put it away for a while.

I keep thinking I’ll write up a super-summary on this little 184-page book. I mean, how hard could that be?

Ironically enough, this tiny, square, innocent-looking book is so densely packed with good material that a super summary is nearly impossible. I think I could but the book in half, maybe? But who wants a 92-page summary of a book? 🤔

So I’m starting a new thing here: a book snippet. I’ll take one little concept at a time from a book and post it. And then post a series of excerpts over time for any give book.

This approach fits (so to speak) with my goal of keeping things short. So with that, stay tuned for the first snippet.

👉 First snippet: “You’re only as good as your record collection.” 🎧

This little book defies the super summary.