At 59, do you start counting up or start counting down?
At 59, do you start counting up or start counting down?
Mark Evanier’s perhaps never-to-be-quite-exhaustive “List of Things I’ve Learned About the Comic Book Industry Since I Got Into it in 1970, Many But Not All of Which Still Apply.”
Emotions are never a statement about the world around us. They are always a statement about our momentary perspective on life. Emotions are a quality-control device that measures the quality of our thinking. They tell us whether or not we are viewing life dispassionately—and how sound our judgment is. When we experience black emotions like anger and despair, we know that we are taking things too personally and have lost touch with the big picture. When our feelings are positive and light we know we are viewing life with more wisdom and perspective. (Location 883)
The Theory of Action as defined by me states that if something is moving, you are getting closer to your goals. This means your mouth is moving while you call prospective employers or clients, your feet are moving as you walk to an appointment you set up, your eyes are moving as you read a book to improve your skills, your fingers are moving as they type up a business plan you will present to investors to attract new capital to a business, your feet are moving as you exercise to lose weight. The corollary to The Theory of Action is equally as important. If something isn’t moving, you probably are not getting closer to your goals. (Location 3,398)
A talent never persuades or encourages the owner of it; it drives him with a whip. (Location 1,080)
So is that what architectural sophistication means – knowing what buildings you’re supposed to like and not like, according to people who know a lot more about the subject than you ever will? I hope not. Architecture merits close study, even if amateurs like me sometimes get it wrong and miss the finer points, for the reasons that all culture merits close study: to take nothing for granted, to resist complacency, to notice things, to be more awake, to be more alive. Close study of skateboarding may well provide the same advantages; I really couldn’t say. Maybe what matters as much as the things we love is the quality of attention we bring to the things we love.
And the only thing that’s interesting about most writers is just the tap tap tap of keys. Otherwise they’re just as boring as the rest of us.
Michael. We wouldn’t have lasted ten years if our marriage hadn’t turned around. We went to a marriage counselor who knew what he was doing. He helped us to straighten things out. Interviewer. What did he tell you? Michael. He suggested we stop trying to analyze and “work on” the relationship and concentrate on enjoying each other. (Location 2,294)
But if writers are to entice us into their vision, let us make them work for it. Let us resist enchantment for a while, or at least for long enough to have some idea of what we are being drawn into. For the mindless, passive acceptance of other people’s representations of the world can only enchain us and hamper our personal growth, hamper the possibility of positive action. Sometimes it seems the whole of society languishes in the stupor of the fictions it has swallowed. Wasn’t this what Cervantes was complaining about when he began Don Quixote? Better to read a poor book with alert resistance, than devour a good one in mindless adoration. (Location 77)
But Bennett’s insight is that zoning out is tiring, not relaxing; half-hearted semi-focusing causes life to feel like an exhausting blur. (Location 689)
My days run through me as water through a sieve. (Location 86,728)
I realized being free does not come from being aware of our story; it comes from being aware of our creation of our story. (Location 4,487)
These are the highlighted Kindle passages sent to me today by Readwise.
The second question threading its way through this book is: how do we go about changing career and making the best possible decisions along the way? Although I offer no blueprint strategy that will work for everyone, there are three steps we ought to take. A starting point is to understand the sources of our confusions and fears about leaving our old jobs behind us and embarking on a new career. The next step is to reject the myth that there is a single, perfect job out there waiting for us to discover it, and instead identify our ‘multiple selves’ – a range of potential careers that might suit the different sides of our character. Finally, we have to turn the standard model of career change on its head: rather than meticulously planning then taking action, we should act first and reflect later, doing experimental projects that test-run our various selves in the real world. Ever thought of treating yourself to a ‘radical sabbatical’? (Location 142)
Greg Waldmann Reviews the Musical Career of Anthony Burgess (couldn’t find a link!)
One my favorite passages from his writings is at the beginning of Little Wilson and Big God, where he sits in New York’s Plaza Hotel in 1985, watching people go about their lives and thinking back on his own. “One goes on writing,” he says, “partly because it is the only available way of earning a living. It is a hard way and highly competitive… But one pushes on because one has to pay bills. There is also a privier reason for pushing on, and that is the hopeless hope that some day that intractable enemy language will yield to the struggle to control it… When I hear a journalist like Malcolm Muggeridge praising God because he has mastered the craft of writing, I feel a powerful nausea. It is not a thing to be said. Mastery never comes, and one serves a lifelong apprenticeship. The writer cannot retire from the battle; he dies fighting.” (Location 184)
CONTINUE TO “MANUFACTURE” a healthy environment and appreciate the results, without hoping for more. Hoping for more gets in the way of appreciating what you have now. (Location 703)
In the cultivation of the mind one of the most important factors is precisely the feeling of strain, of difficulty, of a task which one part of you is anxious to achieve and another part of you is anxious to shirk. (Location 963)
Ultimately, if you protect yourself perfectly, you will never grow. All your habits and idiosyncrasies will stay the same. Life becomes stagnant when people protect their stored issues. (Location 889)
Habits. It’s the 5x5 rule. You are not just the average of the five people around you. You’re the average of the five habits you do, the things you eat, the ideas you have, the content you consume, etc.
An animated graph showing causes of death since March 2020; note COVID-19’s rise from the bottom to the top.
To make two paintings, this much of a plan had come to her quickly, her first day in New Orleans, and even before. It hadn’t seemed serious or plausible then, had been simply too daunting. But now she knew where to find in herself what she needed to be able to do it. She’d started to catch on at the fountain at Pat O’Brien’s: that she, like everybody else, was both a reservoir and an outpouring. That she’d been pretty stingy all these years about what she’d poured out. (Location 4,213)
The great convenience of masterpieces is that they are so astonishingly lucid. (Location 949)
How often have you found yourself avoiding challenges and playing it safe, sticking to goals you knew would be easy for you to reach? Are there things you decided long ago that you could never be good at? Skills you believed you would never possess? If the list is a long one, you were probably one of the bright kids – and your belief that you are “stuck” being exactly as you are has done more to determine the course of your life than you probably ever imagined. Which would be fine, if your abilities were innate and unchangeable. Only they’re not. (Location 1,923)
To see the stories readers perceive in your paragraph, circle all the grammatical subjects and read them in progression. (Location 353)
The art of career change requires turning the conventional approach on its head. We should wean ourselves off the rational-planning mentality and replace it with a philosophy of ‘act first, reflect later’. Ruminating in an armchair or poring through files at a career centre is not what we need. We must enter a more playful and experimental way of being, where we do then think, not think then do. (Location 836)
Latest issue of newsletter I send to friends and fam: update on stay-at-home, donating blood, jigsaw puzzles, taking out a tree, coach training, and what habits to keep after we get to the other side of COVID-19.
Ghost town photos of normally bustling public places in Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill
I did the Power Red.
Discovered a most oddball Windows 10 feature through finger fumbling on the keyboard. I cannot conjure a reason to rotate a display by 90 degrees or upside down, but then I’m a words-and-text boy; when my Word document went all goolally, I nearly had a cow.
Flyer posted at our co-op’s community bulletin board.
Sent the second of my bimonthly letters last weekend. In this installment: snowflakes, Lenten Challenges, end of life concerns, aging workers, and movies we’ve seen.
Well, that explains it…
Used the new silicone muffin pan Liz bought me for Xmas to make some quiche muffins (although we’re trying out different names – “protein pucks”?). I used my standard spinach mushroom bacon recipe, which made two pans of “puckelets” (no).
The nice bit about the silicon muffin tin – no greasing of the cups needed nor paper cups.
Froze most of them. We have found the best way to reheat them is to let them thaw at room temperature, microwave for 40 seconds, and they taste great.
My latest newsletter to friends and family went out this past Monday. This particular issue I dwelled on three information tools I used or created in the previous week. Also: contronyms!
While spending a few evenings this week diagnosing the problem with Disk Utility not erasing my external hard disk, I also searched the Carbon Copy Cloner site for clues.
During those latter searches, I found this MacMost video on why cloning is a poor choice as a backup strategy.
Gary’s point is a valid one: cloning your disk should not be one’s sole backup strategy. Although CCC can certainly do incremental backups, that is not its strength. He outlines three cases where a cloned drive can be helpful, but by and large he is against the use of cloned drives. He prefers a mix of Time Machine backups and cloud backups.
Gary fields lots of offended comments on that page from folks who don’t share his faith in Time Machine backups (they do fail and act capriciously; it’s happened to me). Anecdotes are shared on how a cloned hard drive enabled folks to recover from disk failures in less time than using Time Machine.
I’ve always tried to be a good little boy when it comes to computer backups. I have:
Up to now, I’ve not thought of this as overkill. My iMac is the center of my computing universe; I sync my iPad and iPhone regularly. Although my wife has an iPad, she only syncs it to the iMac twice a year: to put on or take off her Christmas music.
Still, Gary’s strong statements in the comments that cloned drives really aren’t needed made me review my choices. I can only think of two times when I’ve needed backups:
A cloned drive would have been nice, I suppose, but wasn’t really necessary in these cases, I think. Time Machine worked just fine, as I recall.
As of now, I’m OK with my backup strategy. I do have things backed up to CCC, such as iMovie projects, that I have not bothered to upload to Dropbox or Backblaze; they’re simply too huge to push through our tiny internet connection. I view my cloned hard drive as insurance, something I carry while hoping I never need it. I am happy now to go back to ignoring my automated backups as they chatter in the background.
Carbon Copy Cloner’s weekly backup task broke after my iMac’s upgrade to Catalina recently. I followed these instructions from CCC to reformat the external drive as APFS but Disk Utility kept crapping out with error “-69877: couldn’t open device.”
I tried different compatible formats but Disk Utility resolutely refused to reformat the disk.
Many searches for -69877 solutions yielded people who recorded numerous reformats, reinstalls, etc. I held off taking the complicated solutions seriously, though; I particularly ignored the worst-case solution: junk the disk. I figured if I kept looking, some stray sentence somewhere would ring my bell.
And it did. In one of many forum discussions about -69877 on the Apple site, I found this gem:
Sometimes when Disk Utility gets stuck like this for me, I choose a PC format to initialize the HDD then reformat with the Mac settings. So after you give it a name, click the first pull-down menu and select MS-DOS (FAT), then click the second pull-down menu and select Master Boot Record. Go ahead with the reformat. When it completes, just re-format again with the Mac settings.
I reformatted the drive as MS-DOS (FAT) and Disk Utility erased the entire drive. Success!
I was then able to follow the CCC directions to select APFS and create the CCC partition and an extra partition I want to use for storing large files.
A good question to ask to start off the New Year.
I center my email and calendar activities around Gmail and Google Calendar. They feed the Mail and Calendar programs and apps I use on my iMac, iPhone, and iPad.
I’ve encountered the following issue a few times: a new calendar I’ve added or imported into Google Calendar does not appear on my iOS/iPadOS calendars.
Most recently, it was importing the ICS link from my workplace’s Outlook Web app into GCal. I could see my workplace schedule on my Google Calendar but not on my other devices.
Troubleshooting this was maddening. I’ve selected the right calendars in Google, the calendar connections to my iMac and iDevices look fine – why am I not seeing what I KNOW should be there?
I found the answer in this 2015 blog post from Online Tech Tips. The writer correctly pinpoints the problem to third-party calendars that show up under Other calendars.
And he identifies the solution – a specific link that “for some ridiculous reason…does not appear anywhere on any page while in Google Calendar…However, this page is key to getting those other calendars to show up in the Apple calendar app.”:
And indeed – my workplace calendar was unselected in the list. Ticking the box, clicking Save, and checking my iPhone later showed that the new calendar was now there.
File this under “yet another 20-second solution that took two hours to find.”
WEIRD - An acronym used in academic literature to identify possibly biased results:
Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic
What acronym could accommodate those + “young” and “male”? Thinking here of diet and exercise studies, or studies of online behavior, where the results are hard to generalize due to the limited demographics of the study population.
A boggling collection of different startup ‘dashboards’ for Evernote users on Evernote’s community forum. Some interesting ideas here, some familiar ideas dressed differently.
Looks like the contributors are mostly men, which makes sense considering we love tinkering with our environments under the illusion that we can control what happens to us.
John Simon was a critic I read voraciously for many years, mainly in my 20s when I reviewed movies and theater as a reporter for a small-town newspaper. Simon’s breadth of material was astonishing; his movie and theater criticism were expert, though as my friend Scott observed, he seemed to have no feel for American artforms like the cartoon or slapstick.
I found Simon’s opera and poetry criticism more interesting because those topics were more unfamiliar to me; I could feel his love for those artforms shine through. I think he loved them more than theater.
Simon was a relic of a different, lost world of print and publishing, the way George Jean Nathan represented the sort of Broadway reviewer represented by George Sanders in All About Eve. I subscribed to New York magazine solely for his theater reviews and Peter Davis’s music reviews. And yes, I subscribed because Simon’s takedowns and insults were so entertaining. But when Simon loved a work – and his collected reviews tended to finish with an unalloyed positive appraisal of a book, movie, or play – his writing would soar and it made me want to see or read the work that elicited such praise.