What I learned this week, January, 22, 2021


Human beings find comfort in certainty. We form governments, make calendars, and create organisations; and we structure our activities, strategies and plans around these constructs. These routines give us the satisfaction of knowing that, by having a plan, there’s a means of it coming to fruition.

But there’s another force, constantly at play in life, that often makes the greatest difference to our futures: the ‘unexpected’ or the ‘unforeseen’. If you think about it, you already look out for the unexpected every day, but perhaps only as a defence mechanism. For example, whenever you use a pedestrian crossing on a busy road, you look out for the unexpected driver who might race through the red light. That ‘alertness’ to, or awareness of, the unexpected is at the centre of understanding the science of (smart) luck and exploiting it to your benefit.

How to be lucky

Lucky Dogs cart – Bourbon Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

For others, however, commuting may have been a ritual that was critical for their mental health and work-life balance. Enter the rise of the “fake commute,” wherein people replace that daily transition with walks, runs, bike rides and more.

The rise of the fake commute, and why it’s good for your mental health

My commuter bike

A coronavirus pandemic forced the whole enterprise to announce its priorities, which are even more skewed than we realized. There are thousands of people working in college athletics with excellent priorities, of course—people who value academics, relationships, integrity and personal growth. But those are not the qualities the NCAA system rewards. College sports, purportedly a celebration of amateur athletics, are an exercise in big squashing little: large conferences whipping small ones, and revenue sports hogging resources from nonrevenue sports.

It Took a Pandemic to See the Distorted State of College Sports


David and I looked at each other, simultaneously realizing that the after-school special we thought we were in was actually a horror movie. If the medical industry was comprehensively broken, as Norman said, and the media was irrevocably broken, as we knew it was … Was everything in America broken? Was education broken? Housing? Farming? Cities? Was religion broken?

Everything is broken.

Everything Is Broken

Broken Concrete and Rebar, Dallas, Texas

The next time you’re feeling “motivated” — either right now or later this week to either either write a book, start a business, go to the gym, learn a language, or a skill — use the motivation wave to your advantage.

Make a list of everything you need to get in order to accomplish your goal. Then, sketch out a rough outline of your fail-proof system that’ll help you follow through.

When you put structures in place, you are likely to follow through.

How to Build Better Lifelong Habits


Sculpture by Jason Mehl, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

As it turns out, the science supports a totally different and ultimately empowering message: Trying to predict how a child will turn out based on choices made by their parents is like trying to predict a hurricane from the flap of a butterfly’s wings.

Why parents should stop blaming themselves for how their kids turn out

Nick reading Harry Potter.
Nick reading Harry Potter. Is this the first one?

Never too much Postmodern Jukebox and always good to have more Morgan James

Daily Writing Tip 53 of 100, Working Habits

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Working Habits

Source – The Basic Formulas Of Fiction by Foster-Harris

What you have to do is something probably far different from anything you ever did in school. You have to realize that your mind is like a mirror with two surfaces: a shiny, reflecting, front surface, and a dark surface deep down behind

You have been taught to use mainly the bright, shallow, front surface. Do you remember how many times you memorized in school what you thought would be asked in the examinations, remembered it just long enough to get it down on the examination paper, and then, an hour later, could not recall anything that you wrote? Well, that which worked was your intellect, your surface mind. But what you have to do in writing is evoke images from deep down in the dark surface of your subconscious. You know, like in the trick mirrors in which strange images will appear if you breathe upon them just right?

This book was written in 1944 and is geared to someone writing for pulps, I guess (not that there is anything wrong with that) – and Foster-Harris (his first name does not appear in the book) comes across as dated and shopworn. But I suspect that there is a lot of truth here – basic and useful. Sometimes all that dated means is that it is a foundation, rather than a flourish.

And we all need a strong foundation.