Travel

Bondi Boards

Some more inspiration to get to Australia some day, and in particular Bondi Beach. They even have shared surf boards sitting around! 🤩

You

Introvert-Friendly Conversation Tips

As a bit of an introvert, I find happy hours 🙄, networking events 🥱, and other stand-around-talking situations frustrating. They tend to feel shallow, and they get boring fast.

But these events can be fun, even for us introverts!

I really like this Medium article because it’s just such a simple win-win: tips for having fun and being more likable when meeting random people. Plus it lets the people you are stuck talking with have a better time too!

👉 3 Habits of Super-Likable People

Basically, it says to go ahead and be the geek that you really are and curiously let other people geek out about themselves. Hmm, that feels like two tips. Anyways, it’s three somehow. 🤷🏻‍♂️

There is no right or wrong way to interact with people. There’s only the authentic way — being you; which means connecting with others in a way that feels right for you.

See also: 3 Ways To Improve A Conversation If You’re An Introvert (👉 Ask Open-Ended Questions, Don’t Make The Conversation About Yourself, Improve Your Body Language.

By the way, these tips overlap a lot with a previous post about easy conversation here as well.

Practical · You

Things and the 5 Second Rule

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. 😆

But I saw there was a short TED talk on the 5 Second Rule plus an even shorter YouTube video on the topic.

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

You

Maslow’s Pyramid

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.

👉 SELF CARE PART 2: CREATIVE HIERARCHY OF NEEDS

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. 😆

Picture

And the Creatively, LLC blog looks great overall beyond this post. I like their motto, “Create Your Best Life”. Via Fresh Ink Austin

The World

Why the Universe Contains Something Rather Than Nothing ✨🤷🏻‍♂️

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.

👉 Why the Big Bang Produced Something Rather Than Nothing (New York Times)

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. 🇺🇸


You

Improv Class and Uncharted Territory

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. 🤷🏻‍♂️

👉 Improv as a Crisis Management Tool: Tackling Uncharted Territory

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. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Music · The World

New York, New York 🎶

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.” 🤷🏻‍♂️

The World

How the Virus Got Out

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.

The World · You

Stuff to Do While Stuck at Home

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.

👉 100 things to do while stuck inside due to a 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.

👉 100 movies to watch for every cinematic yearning or Every Oscar best-picture winner, ever

Even my rock climbing gym has some movie and book recommendations. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Software Dev

“It’s time for me to build an app”

Here is a funny and relatable perspective on being an app developer wanting to just make your own goddamn app. Via iOS Dev Weekly.

👉 Going indie, step 5: Suffer from crippling imposter syndrome

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!

Reaching to place your app among the very best
You

The Artist’s Hierarchy of Needs

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!

👉 The Artist’s Hierarchy of Needs

(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.

Screenshot 2019-07-04 07.47.42.png
Photos

Our new song started out as a 60’s party song, then it sounded kind of like that “Woo hoo!” song by Blur, finally settling into a much slower and more satisfying rip on “Sweet Jane” (Cowboy Junkies versión). 🎸🥁 We need lyrics, but how can we match the beauty of “Sweet Jane”…? 😢 #music #drums #art #blue #austin #texas #atx #cowboyjunkies #portraitmode #shotoniphone via Instagram https://ift.tt/32wNX39
The World

Apollo 11 Source Code 🚀

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).

👉 Apollo-11 on GitHub

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! 🌎
You

Shi**y First Drafts

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. 🤷🏻‍♂️

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

Can you spot (1) the cowboy dancing with the woman in suspenders, (2) the mysterious bored girl with the mustachioed man, (3) the alt rocker playing a country version of her own song? Great show by @the.rated.exes 🎸
#music #livemusic #livemusiccapitaloftheworld #cowboy #suspenders #austin #texas #atx via Instagram https://ift.tt/2QSijHO
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.

Parenting · 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.

Duke Ellington: Black, Brown, and Beige.

Shostakovich: Jazz Suites Nos. 1 – 2 – The Bolt – Tahiti Trot

Also, just any classical waltz music seems to work.

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.

Software Dev

We All Hate Error Handling. Here Are Some Tips.

Error handling makes everything more complicated. Ugh! What do you do if a network call times out (pretty common)? Or you’re trying to save an image and there is no disk space (less common but can happen)? Or that thing that’s never supposed to happen happens (occasionally happens)?

I mean, you have to do something, right? Ugh. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Here are some tips. Thanks to Swift By Sundell for giving this topic some attention.

👉 Propagating user-facing errors in Swift

Via iOS Dev Weekly.

Software Dev

Uber’s Piranha Eats Your Stale Code

Feature flags are a great way to selectively introduce new features. it allows you to experiment and commit incrementally.

The only down-side to feature flags all the extra code, and in particular going back later together rid of all the crusty flag code flagging you feature on or off. This kind of tech debt can really pile up over time.

Apparently Uber uses feature flags in the thousands and without remorse. So they came up with this automatic way to wipe out your stale, disabled code. Perfect name, too!

👉 Introducing Piranha: An Open Source Tool to Automatically Delete Stale Code | on GitHub

Via iOS Dev Weekly. See also: The Mother of All Feature Flagging Systems for iOS