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My hope is that you use these emails to practice reflection. Since 2011, I've spent countless hours reading, reflecting, and writing for my blog to craft these emails. They have remained (and will remain!) free and ad-free, with no hooks, nor guest posts. If what I create improves your life in any way, please support my efforts with a donation of $5/month or $50/year …that's less than $1 for each of these emails.

Below each section, the word "~ Original" is linked if you want to share a specific section. A link to this email as a web page can be found on the previous issues page.

Moderation

True happiness springs from moderation.

~ Goethe

~ Original Tagged Goethe, Happiness, Quotes



Tranquility

I have a sequence of daily prompts for myself. The other morning it was, “Am I an energy-giver or -taker”. (There’s more to each prompt.) I thought about the prompt—as I do with each one, every morning—and something new occurred to me related to this prompt…

Whether I’m an energy-giver or -taker depends on what mood I’m in! There seem to be at least 3 moods. OVER-REVVING: Too many ideas, or a new/big idea, on my mind. Interacting with me in this mood really drains people. There’s just too much information flowing from me, and it’s too fast for anyone to follow—energy-taker! DEPRESSED: I know well what this mood is like. I’m no fun to be around… soul-crushing for others to be around me in this mood—energy-taker! …and finally, TRANQUIL: This is the state to be in. It’s also the state where I have the energy and space to be sufficiently aware of the people I Interact with. Only in this state can I listen.

Sure, “3 moods” is an over-simplification, of course. But it feels like a simple and useful pre-flight check: “About to interact? Which mood am I in? …and how can I shift to tranquil if that’s not where I am.”

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~ Original Tagged Reflection, Self-awareness



Amor fati

Don’t expect anything to happen. Just wait. This waiting is a deep acceptance of the moment as such. Nietzsche called it amor fati — unquestioning love of whatever has fated you to be here. You reach a point where you’re just sitting there, asking, “What is this?” — but with no interest in an answer. The longing for an answer compromises the potency of the question. Can you be satisfied to rest in this puzzlement, this perplexity, in a deeply focused and embodied way? Just waiting without any expectations?

~ Stephen Batchelor from, https://www.brainpickings.org/2021/10/16/the-art-of-solitude-stephen-batchelor/

That’s a quote presented by Maria Popova within a much larger post… which you should totally go read. There’s a stillness, and perhaps even tranquility, which I very much hope you’ve experienced. I’ve mastered the walking meditation which is perambulation. But the fully engaged sense of simpy being, when there’s no sense of expectation, is still a surprise when I manage to get far enough out of my own way.

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~ Original Tagged Amor fati, Friedrich Nietzsche, Maria Popova, Quotes, Stephen Batchelor



Not self-made

[…] it is not true that I am self-made. Like everyone, to get to where I am, I stood on the shoulders of giants. My life was built on a foundation of parents, coaches, and teachers; of kind souls who lent couches or gym back rooms where I could sleep; of mentors who shared wisdom and advice; of idols who motivated me from the pages of magazines (and, as my life grew, from personal interaction).

~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

~ Original Tagged Arnold Schwarzenegger, Quotes, Self-improvement



Brittle and prone to failure

Together, these approaches comprise “complexity.” They tend to make the economic system less resilient. At least temporarily, they pass fewer of the higher costs of energy products through to current citizens. As a result, the economy can temporarily withstand a higher price of energy. But the system tends to become brittle and prone to failure.

~ Gail Tverberg from, https://ourfiniteworld.com/2021/10/18/spike-in-energy-prices-suggests-that-sharp-changes-are-ahead/

I don’t know whether to say you’ll be better, or worse, off—but I absolutely recommend reading everything Tverberg has ever written. I’ve a number, (nowhere near all of her stuff however,) of things quoted here on the blog; All those posts are tagged Gail Tverberg. History shows many examples, over thousands of years of recorded history, where economies, (empires, civilizations, and the people,) grew slowly and ended precipitously. There’s yet to be an example of a gradual decline. The open question is for how much longer—possibly very very much longer—can humanity continue to incline? (And to be clear, I don’t have an educated opinion about that question.)

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~ Original Tagged Economics, Energy, Gail Tverberg, Society



Weakness

Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.

~ Victor Hugo

~ Original Tagged Arguments, Quotes, Reason and Rationality, Victor Hugo



What actually is the problem

Every obstacle that we normally think of as a problem to be fixed … every “flaw” in ourselves or others that we judge as something to be fixed … what if we can pause, find stillness, and get curious instead of trying to fix?

~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/explore/

Any day that Babauta gets me thinking is a good day. (If that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.) I’ve gotten pretty durn good at the “pause”, and the “find stillness”, parts. I also believe I have the “wait but why” curiosity bit figured out, since it has always been with me. It’s that “trying to fix” part upon which I’m perpetually stuck. And I get “particularly stuck”— “particularly stuck” aren’t the right words… if I could find the right words or word, I would use it instead. “Ensnared” is close. Or, have you ever gotten caught by a single thorn while out walking or hiking? That one thorn isn’t going to do too much damage if you stop quickly. In an instant, that one thorn becomes the laser focus of all of my attention. I really feel like I should be able to find the right word to fix that sentence.

Well, that’s curious.

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~ Original Tagged Curiosity, Leo Babauta, Snark, Stillness



Competition

I would like to remove all competitions in outdoor sports. The competition is not the important thing. The important thing is to learn to behave with wild nature.

~ Reinhold Messner

~ Original Tagged Competition, Quotes, Reinhold Messner, Rock Climbing



Pasteur’s Quadrant

The core idea of Pasteur’s Quadrant is that basic and applied research are not opposed, but orthogonal. Instead of a one-dimensional spectrum, with motion towards “basic” taking you further away from “applied”, and vice versa, he proposes a two-dimensional classification, with one axis being “inspired by the quest for fundamental understanding” and the other being “inspired by considerations of use”

~ Jason Crawford from, https://rootsofprogress.org/pasteurs-quadrant

I’ve put a bit of thought into research. I’ve certainly considered the two properties of “research for understanding” and “research for application”. But I’ve never thought of them as two dimensions. Click through and check out the simple but illuminating quadrant graph.

And I’m immediately wondering: Can I think of a third dimension upon which to plot research? (Field-of-study comes to mind. Time; The thing being studied, is it something that happens in micro-time like particle physics, or macro-time like geology?) I’m also wondering: what other activities could be plotted in a quadrant? (Writing: insight versus length? Coaching: net change in performance versus time spent training?)

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~ Original Tagged Jason Crawford, Math, Science



Pleasure

Moderation is the pleasure of the wise.

~ Voltaire

~ Original Tagged Moderation, Quotes, Voltaire



Core temperature

Interestingly, regardless of exercise intensity, exercising in the cold has been shown to reduce and delay the typical [human growth hormone] response to exercise, leading to the speculation that the increase in core temperature may be the more important regulator of growth hormone release.

~ Brad Pilon from, https://bradpilon.com/weight-loss/temperature-and-growth-hormone/

Human growth hormone is involved in a lot of the body’s signaling, and I was instantly curious about “hacking” exercise to raise core temperature… and then I remembered all the classic “boxers training in sweat suits”—drenched in sweat! It’s right in the name of the clothing. Boxes know a lot about training, muscle and getting into shape.

But then I got completely distracted reading the Wikipedia page. First off, I remember when we didn’t know what the actual shape of molecules were. Then along came mathematical modeling, protein folding… and I think there’s even a “folding at home” project where you can “donate” your computer’s free time to help figure out how proteins fold. Anyway, Human Growth Hormone seems to be solved. It has 192 (!?!) amino acids. The thing is enormous— except it’s actually not that big as far as proteins go. And the folded shape is as important as the chemical composition of each molecule. And you begin to realize the insane complexity of proteins that have hundreds of amino acids… And then you eat food and your body needs enzymes to disassemble these huge molecules into . . . sorry. I got excited. Ahem.

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~ Original Tagged Biochemistry, Brad Pilon, Hormones



Riches and power

To have what we want is riches; But to be able to do without it is power.

~ George MacDonald

~ Original Tagged George MacDonald, Quotes, Self-improvement



Accounting

Understanding an entity’s metabolism is fundamental to understanding its role within an ecosystem of competing entities and the selective pressures it is under. An entity with a successful metabolism survives and grows; one that fails in its metabolism is eliminated. Over time, through natural selection, an ecosystem becomes dominated by the entities with successful metabolism. Different entities can have different designs and make different choices, but the laws of nature decide which of them thrive.

~ Jason Crawford from, https://rootsofprogress.org/organizational-metabolism-and-the-for-profit-advantage

There’s good and evil, and moral and immoral. There are associations [in the most general sense of the word] of people working in a myriad of structures, trying to achieve many different goals which are good, evil, moral, and immoral. The first thing I had to get straight in my head was that the variety of the association doesn’t tell me anything about the goals, or the morals, of the people. Because it’s those people that matter.

People can use, or abuse, any structure. (Just like they can any tool. A structure of association isn’t magical; It’s a tool.) So what is the difference between “non-profit” and “for-profit”? …which tool is better at enabling people to work towards their goals?

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~ Original Tagged Business, Goals, Jason Crawford




 






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