“The nobler sort of man pays special attention to nine points.
He is anxious to see clearly,
to hear distinctly,
to be kindly in his looks,
respectful in his demeanor,
conscientious in his speech,
earnest in his affairs.
When in doubt, he is careful to inquire;
when in anger, he thinks of the consequences;
when offered an opportunity for gain, he thinks only of his duty.”—Confucious
When visiting friends, I am notorious for leaving my clothes behind. Despite my stubborn determination to stop doing this, it happened again last weekend when I left my coat behind at a vacation house. After a day or two, I was contacted by the shadowy group that was holding my coat hostage. An anonymous e-mail arrived with a brief message:
And then, later that day:
I had no choice but to comply with this totally unreasonable request. Chris, a nice waiter at Melting Pot helped me out. (He preferred the arms-under hugging position.)
I hoped that this would appease the hostage takers.
Excellent! I can practically feel the angel-soft microsuede of my beloved coat back in my arms.
Hug a MAILBOX? How could I possibly comply? I don’t have a mailbox! In a panic, I ran through the streets of Concord, MA desperately searching for help. Thank the sweet lord, I came upon a post office where some very nice women took my picture:
You’ll notice that I’m wearing my backup coat in this picture.
These bastards aren’t easy to please…
YES! The Exchange would be imminent. That same night, I was blindfolded and led to a dark room where I handed over a package of Hershey’s Hugs. At long last, I got my beloved brown coat back, completely unharmed. I’ll never again leave an article of clothing behind!
Our bodies are made of material that was forged in the cores of stars.
Our universe was initially composed almost entirely of Hydrogen and Helium, the lightest elements. The only way to really form the heavier elements that are required for life (Carbon, Oxygen, Iron, etc) is through stars formation and subsequent explosive nucleosynthesis. Huge clouds of hydrogen and helium coalesce over millions of years to eventually form stars. In the cores of those stars, there’s enough heat and pressure that nuclear fusion fuses lighter elements into heavier elements. Elements heavier than iron are created when the cores of stars reach supercritical mass and explode in supernovae.
Many think that much of the material on earth and in our bodies was created over the course of at least three “generations” of stars forming, exploding, and eventually forming again - perhaps as many as a dozen generations.
It took almost 10 billion years for the universe to create the materials that make life possible on Earth. It took trillions of births and deaths over the last 3.5 billion years for humans to evolve from those raw materials.
There is an immense weight of history behind every cell in your body. Don’t take them for granted.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, con a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”—Robert A. Heinlein, via mirRoR
Nicholas Felton has a project that inspires me: his Annual Report series. Nicholas collects data every day, and then creates an “annual report” for the year, detailing the progression of his travels, musical tastes, relationships, moods, and interests. The result is a visually captivating. I’m a sucker for infographics with good typography, and he’s a master at it.
For 2010, he tried something new: he created a sort of lifetime report of his father’s life, organized roughly by decade. His father passed away in September of 2010.
The idea of compacting someones entire life into a pretty annual report is a little distasteful to me - a lifetime is so much more than a series of datapoints. At the same time, I think it’s a great way to memorialize someone. Any attempt at describing someone’s life necessitates some form of distillation, of selecting some details instead of others. Over the years, I’ve tried several waystomemorializemymother, who passed away in 2006. With the multitude of documents and photos I’ve got, there’s plenty of data that I could use to create a Feltron Report.
I ran 25 miles in the last 6 days. I haven’t done that since I was a teenager. As a thirty-something computer geek who is easily distracted, I’m grateful that there are always opportunities to re-invent yourself.
“Perhaps what people who believe relationships are hard work are actually referring to is the difficulty of interacting and living with an immature, childish human.”—Zen Habits : Relationships Are Easy
"The more I focus on living, the less it seems I need."
I’ve got a brand new apartment, and no significant furniture to speak of. I’m considering keeping it that way.
I don’t have cable TV anymore, and I don’t plan to invite groups of friends over just to watch television. I’m going to keep a dining table and chairs in the basement, and drag them up only for dinner parties. A two-person couch for reading or watching the occasional movie is plenty. No end tables, no coffee tables, no stand up lamps.
My new space is fantastic, but I want to live my life outside of it.