In case you’re open to good New Year’s resolutions.
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I just finished reading an excellent essay by the girl (woman?) behind autotranslucence, called Becoming a Magician. In it, she writes about the people we look up to. The ones we want to surround ourselves with. The ones we want to be like. The ones that make whatever they do so seem so easy, it feels like they’re performing some magic trick on us. (That’s close to her
In my first exploration on the topic, I briefly touch on a similar thought (under “Heuristics”). “Only give advice on things you’d suffer from yourself. I saw this rule in action on my first pilgrimage to Santiago. I asked a car driver for instructions on what road to take. Now, after having walked 25 kilometers in the burning sun, an additional two kilometers (four, if you’re going in the wrong direction) is hell. For any car driver, that’s a five minute-mistake. For you, that’s two hours wasted. Only ask advice from those who will suffer from their predictions (other pedestrians, in the Santiago case). This rule is widely applicable. Want to become a doctor? Go and talk to doctors – and doctors only. Want to start a family at age 22? Go and talk to people who started a family at age 22. So often we expect others to hold the answers to our questions, only to find out later that they’re as clueless as we are. You can partly solve that by limiting your sphere of influences to those who have actually experienced it.“
She (I wish I knew her name) adds a few questions to the introspective part of the journey. I highly enjoyed answering these for myself. So grab a piece of paper and see how far you get! 🙂
- ‘What is the most capable version of me that I can imagine?’
- ‘What would I be like/spend my time doing if all my current major problems had been solved?’
- ‘What are the things I say I value but don’t act as if I value, and what would my life feel like on inside if I actually acted as if I valued those things?’
- ‘What am I afraid of doing, and what would my life be like if I wasn’t afraid of doing those things?’.
The last month of the year traditionally gives us the chance to reflect on what we’ve done and how we want to move forward. It’s also a great moment to give a friend or lover or parent or child a nice gift. Like a book. Here’s my list of 52 all-time favorite books.
- Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
- Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
- Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
- Letters to a Young Poet
- Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
- On Doing Nothing: Finding Inspiration in Idleness
- We Learn Nothing: Essays
- How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel
- The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
- The World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European
- Montaigne (Zweig)
- Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age
- The Crossroads of Should and Must: How to Find and Follow Your Passion
- Leonardo Da Vinci: The Biography
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
- The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
- The Meek One
- Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust
- If This Is A Man/The Truce
- Brave New World
- Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
- The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self
- On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Think On These Things
- Hannibal and Me
- Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II
- The Prophet
- The Gold Standard: Rules to Rule By (watch Entourage, the series, first)
- Milk and Honey
- Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
- The Sun and Her Flowers
- The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II
- The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
- Norwegian Wood
- Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character as Told to Ralph Leighton
- Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger
- The Big Fat Surprise
- The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam
- Atrocities: The 100 Deadliest Episodes in Human History
- Atlas Shrugged (small print version. Not the nicest to read.)
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir
- Thinking, Fast and Slow
- Stories of Your Life and Others
- Idea Makers: Personal Perspectives on the Lives & Ideas of Some Notable People
- Investing: The Last Liberal Art
- The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking
You cannot go wrong with any work by Matt Ridley, David Deutsch or Walter Isaacson. And last but definitely not least: Elephant in the Brain.
I was just wondering what your top gift ideas are for kids that won’t just become clutter in a couple of weeks. I know how special it is for children to open gifts on Xmas but I also don’t want to just buy toys or gifts that will ultimately end up in the back of a toy box in a few weeks. What do you guys get for your nieces, nephews, and children? Board games, books…etc? I really want to stay away from regular toys.”
Spend time with them.
- We made a coupon book that has things like “Go to Zoo”, “go to library”, “Go to Christmas play”, etc. We would have done most of that anyways, but we thought it was fun to have coupon book. Plus gives us a nice list to work off when we run out of ideas 🙂
- Sometimes on their birthdays, we’ll take off work and do something fun with them. It’s one vacation day, but feel it means a lot to them (most of the time, lol)
- Gifts that include interaction. I got a “clock kit” off aliexpress. It’s just a bunch of electronics that you solder into a clock. The kit it’s self was only $4 shipped, but took us a good part of a Saturday to put together. It was a great opportunity to spend time and transfer some skill knowledge and teach them with it being fun.
It doesn’t have to be electronics, it could be wood working, painting, hiking, computer programming, etc. If you are an expert or have a hobby, then I’m sure you could find a cheap way to introduce them to it.
I fondly remember my Dad showing me how to shoot a BB gun. He made it into a big deal, going over how BB and real guns work. Showing me the mechanics using charts and videos and diagrams. He even stripped a BB gun and a shotgun to show me how they worked. Then we had a gun safety “course” and even had some super duper cheesy VHS gun safety video, but he did install a sense of respect for firearms… My Grandpa even came out, a real WWII vet to help with the training.
After lunch at the “mess hall” [my mom making us sandwiches], then he finally took me “out in the field” with “live ammo” and safety glasses and spent an afternoon pliknking paper plates with bullseyes on them. The thing is, my Dad isn’t even a “gun nut”, just knew a little about them. He really made it fun and magically but using a lot of grown up terms and having my Grandpa there. I was only 7, but felt like quality man time.
- scavenger hunt. either make one your self or if you are lazy, just go geocaching 🙂 (I almost always do the latter). Protip: your phone has a GPS unit most likely so cost is near zero. Make or print out some “lore” and a “treasure map”. Soak it in tea overnight and let it dry. It’ll look old and mystic.
Up until a year ago, I had never visited an art expo. Things changed when I met the incredibly talented Charlotte De Baere (CDB.), who I easily became friends with. (I’m also the proud owner of one of her works, Ziener.)
But what do you see when you look at art? Obviously, the artist put quite a lot of work in it. But if you’re unfamiliar with expos as an activity, it’s quite hard to figure out what to pay attention to.
So here’s Jerry Saltz’ take, from his wonderful How to be an Artist essay.
Try to find the content in a painting by Robert Ryman, who has been making almost-all-white work since the 1950s. Ask what Ryman’s (or any artist’s) ideas are and what his relationship to paint is, to surface, to internal scale (meaning what size brushstrokes were used in the work), to color. What is white to Ryman? Note the date: 1960. Why would he make this painting then? Would this have looked like other art at the time? How would it have been different? Ask yourself what else was being made then. How is the work hung on the wall? Is it in a frame? Is the stretcher or surface thick, thin, close to the wall? How is this like or unlike other almost-monochrome works by Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman, Agnes Martin, or Ad Reinhardt? Is the surface sensual or intellectual? Does the painter want you to see the work all at once or in parts? Are some parts more important than others? Is every part of the surface supposed to be equally important? What are the artist’s ideas about craft and skill? Do you think this artist likes painting or is trying to paint against it? Is this anti-art? What is Ryman’s relationship to materials, tools, mark-making? How do you think he made the work? How might it be original or innovative? Why should this be in a museum? Why should it not be in a museum? Would you want to live with it? Why or why not? Why do you imagine the painting is this size? Now try a Frida Kahlo.
I love newsletters. Since I’m not on social media but I still like to keep in touch with people I admire, I tend to seek out their newsletters. Here are my three favorite ones.
- Austin Kleon’s newsletter. Great for any artistic mind.
- Brainpickings’ newsletter. Great way to unwind. Sit down and read it on a comfortable Sunday.
- Ryan Holiday’s Reading Recommendations. For those who like to read..
Shoutout to @naval (Naval Ravikant), probably the best Twitter feed around.
Last day! The conference flew by, which is a good sign. Yesterday’s Blockchains LLC announcement was quite the thing, and people are still talking about it. We’ll see how things evolve in the next years. It’s 9.41 am and Lubin is going to talk in
two weeks twenty minutes. I’ll be updating throughout the day. (Also check day0, day1, day2 blogposts.) Read more →
Today I’ll spend most of my day in Radiant Orchid and Prism/Spectrum (the two main rooms). Tonight we’ll have the Blockchains LLC announcement. These are the talks I’ll attend. I’ll provide updates throughout the day. I share a quick impression and encourage you to watch the sessions yourself. Read more →