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The serendipity of discovery

“I can’t begin to tell you the things I discovered while I was looking for something else.” –Shelby Foote Same here. This describes most careers, most love stories and deep friendships, and probably the bulk of the greatest ideas and discoveries. Looking for something else, but found this wonder instead. It’s such a delight to […]

Expanding frontier of ignorance

It’s just up ahead. So close. My destination. Finally. I’m there. But… turns out… There is no there there. Only more questions, more unknowns that I didn’t know I didn’t know. It will always be such. I’ll never get there. If I keep at it, the depths of my ignorance will only keep growing. Questions […]

How lucky we are to be alive right now

Look around… In spite of a steady stream of bad news and foreboding events, there’s not a better time to be alive in human history than right now. On the whole we are safer, healthier, more educated, more knowledgeable, more prosperous, and more secure than any generation of humans before us. “But,” you say, “look […]

The story of Nike: Phil Knight’s epiphany

I just finished reading Nike CEO Phil Knight’s memoir, Shoe Dog, which tells the story of the creation of his now iconic company. Knight’s story is compelling and candid and gratifyingly straightforward. He makes himself vulnerable and doesn’t pretend to be a sage or saint. I was hooked in the foreword by his telling of an […]

Humans are the worst, and the best

Often, when I hear some terrible story about what someone has done to someone else, I exclaim to my wife, “Humans are the worst!” And because we are supposed to be a rational, conscious being with a conscience, we really ought to expect better behavior from our fellow homo sapiens. In the big scheme of things, […]


“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” –Jonathan Safran Foer via Scott McKain One defines the other. The duality is essential for either to exist. Hot defines cold. Light needs dark. Don’t resist what you find bubbling up in your emotions. Let it be. Observe, acknowledge, be fascinated. Everything is temporary. Change is the […]

Michael Pollan and Netflix aim to inspire you to cook more often

Netflix recently released their newest documentary, Cooked. It’s a gorgeously filmed exploration of the impact cooking had on making us human and the perils of abandoning cooking and relying mostly on the packaged food-like substance industry. The documentary is based on Pollan’s book of the same name. The film is a delight to the eyes. […]

Take more time to do better work

The author of Deep Work, Cal Newport, has upped his activity on his blog in the wake of his new book. Today he shared this quote from a book published by an academic in 1912: “To save time, take time in large pieces. Do not cut time up into bits…The mind is like a locomotive. […]

Showing my work: Boston

I’m giving the keynote speech at a conference for college students Friday night in Boston.  It’s easy to think of the effort of giving a speech as the 30-60 minutes it takes to stand and deliver the talk. But, for me at least, I spend many hours mulling ideas, putting the structure together, designing slides, […]

Enough is just right

Enough is as good as a feast. — Alan Watts (@AlanWattsDaily) November 26, 2015 Often, it’s better. It may take hindsight to bear it out, though. Not too much. Not too little. Enough. Enough is just right. The middle way regularly turns out to be a better way.

Road-trip audiobooks

This is a good week to load up an audiobook or three for road-tripping. I just added SPQR and Stumbling on Happiness to my Audible queue. SPQR is Mary Beard’s new history of ancient Rome, and it’s gotten strong reviews. And I can’t seem to get enough of Roman history. Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness […]

There is good in everything

“There is good in everything, if only we look for it.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder via Ryan Holiday There is good in everything? You certainly have the choice to find the good in even the worst circumstances. Don’t resist what is. Love, somehow, even the heartbreak and tragedy that comes your way. Use everything—every setback, every […]

The element of surprise

The moment the element of surprise is gone, the zest for life is gone. — Alan Watts (@AlanWattsDaily) October 25, 2015 Certainty kills the fun.  Not-knowing provides the necessary tension for drama and suspense and a reason to keep turning the page, to keep leaping into the fray each day.  Having the answers is boring.  […]

David Foster Wallace predicts our current reality

Merlin Mann linked to this comment the late author David Foster Wallace made in 1996(!): “’Cause the technology is just gonna get better and better and it’s gonna get easier and easier and more and more convenient and more and more pleasurable to sit alone with images on a screen given to us by people who […]

Weekend reading: Offscreen Magazine, #12

This is my only magazine subscription. It’s not available in a digital version. This is it. Paper and ink. It’s a delight to hold and to look through and to smell. As powerful as the internet is for the spread of ideas, I’m sure that most of what makes a splash online now won’t have […]

Be a better person

So normal to want a better life: so unusual to set out to be a better person. — Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) September 21, 2015 Want a better life?  Be a better person. 

Worse than Nero

Religious violence has a long and terrible history. From Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari: “In the 300 years from the crucifixion of Christ to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, polytheistic Roman emperors initiated no more than four general persecutions of Christians. Local administrators and governors incited some anti-Christian violence of their own. Still, if we combine […]

Steer into the fear

From Neil Gaiman’s masterful 2012 “Make Good Art” commencement address: Do the stuff that only you can do. The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have […]

James Rhodes: “Serious” music

This lovely Zen Pencils post introduced me to the pianist James Rhodes, who has an incredible personal story to go along with his immense musical talent. He came through an abusive childhood and was given new life by music.  I listened to his Live in Brighton album while I worked today. Between pieces he discusses […]

The approaching inevitability of our electric car future

This article makes a compelling case for why electric cars will dominate sooner than you might think. Tesla will do for electric cars what’s Apple did for smartphones: Gas stations are not massively profitable businesses [4]. When 10% of the vehicles on the road are electric many of them will go out of business. This […]

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