What I learned this week, February 12, 2021

Fog in front of my house, Richardson, Texas

Want to Reduce Brain Fog And Improve Clear Thinking? Give up These Things Immediately

Mental fog is often described as a “cloudy-headed” feeling.

Common conditions of brain fog include poor memory, difficulty focusing or concentrating, and struggling with articulation.

Imagine if you could concentrate your brain power into one bright beam and focus it like a laser on whatever you wish to accomplish.

Many people struggle to concentrate. And when you can’t concentrate, everything you do is harder and takes longer than you’d like.


Something in front of Braindead Brewing
Deep Ellum,Dallas, Texas

How to Stop Overthinking Everything

 

Deliberation is an admirable and essential leadership quality that undoubtedly produces better outcomes. But there comes a point in decision making where helpful contemplation turns into overthinking. To stop the cycle of thinking too much and drive towards better, faster decisions you can: put aside perfectionism, right-size the problem, leverage the underestimated power of intuition, limit the drain of decision fatigue, and construct creative constraints.


Mural on construction fence, Farmer’s Market, Dallas, Texas

How gut microbes could drive brain disorders

Scientists are starting to work out how the gut microbiome can affect brain health. That might lead to better and easier treatments for brain diseases.


Art Deco mural from Fair Park in Dallas

The Science Behind Miracles

How our minds push our bodies to defy expectations, beliefs, and even our own biology—in short, to make miracles.


Self Portrait
Andy Warhol
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Fort Worth, Texas

Why self-compassion – not self-esteem – leads to success

Talking about being kind to yourself may sound like something from a nursery classroom. But even cynics should care about self-compassion – especially if they want to be resilient.


Posing for photos at the Leaning Tower of Dallas

20 Realistic Micro-Habits To Live Better Every Day

m sick of lists of habits that are unrealistic for the majority of people. Even worse is when someone says to wake up at 5 am or run 10 kilometers every day and calls it a micro-habit.

This is not one of those lists.


Happy Again

How to be mediocre and be happy with yourself

In the novel Catch-22, the author Joseph Heller famously wrote: “Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”

He’d taken a quote by Shakespeare on greatness and turned it on its head.

The implication was clear: mediocrity is a bad thing, to be avoided. Yet most of us go on to live what by most measures are pretty ordinary lives.

So what’s wrong with settling for mediocrity?

What I learned this week, January, 15, 2021

Artwork in the Braindead Brewing Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

On Getting Rejected a Lot (and Liking It)


You can (and should) train yourself to sleep on your back


Falling Water Fountain, Dallas Arboretum

The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything


3 Important Life Skills Nobody Ever Taught You



One vendor features tomatoes. The back of his slot is filled with pallets of tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes.f

Gardening Fixes Everything


The Deep Roots of an Italian Song That Sounds Like English—But Is Just Nonsense

 

Short Story Of the Day (flash fiction) – Viral Marketing by Bill Chance

“A Paradox, the doughnut hole. Empty space, once, but now they’ve learned to market even that. A minus quantity; nothing, rendered edible. I wondered if they might be used-metaphorically, of course-to demonstrate the existence of God. Does naming a sphere of nothingness transmute it into being?”
― Margaret Atwood, Der blinde Mörder

 

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth,
Fort Worth, Texas


 

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#76) Three fourths there! What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


Viral Marketing

Penba Norbu was brought to the United States to work for the VBP corporation in their nucleic-neuro-interface division. The full name was the Viral Book Publishing Group, and had actually used the “G” on their name once, but VBPG was deemed too long and tongue-tying by an extensive series of focus groups so the final letter was dropped. This, along with a thousand other facts, were adsorbed by Penba during his new employee orientation. A year earlier this would have taken days of tedious power-point presentations and a hundred pounds of loose-leaf notebooks emblazoned with the VBP logo. Penba knew he would not have remembered one-hundredth of it.

Now, though, orientation took less than a half-hour. A nurse with a suspiciously short skirt on her uniform that exposed the very top of her stockings as she pulled the dose out of a locking case, checked the number on the vial against Penba’s badge, and then used a plastic pipet to place a single drop of thick orange liquid onto a sugar cube.

“Open, wide.”

And Penba, sitting on a tall stool, obeyed. The nurse shoved the sugar cube under his tongue then placed a hand under his jaw, forcing his mouth closed and holding it until his throat gulped. While she held his head securely and close to her body Penba wondered why so many buttons of the nurse’s uniform were undone, exposing a hint of burgandy lace.

“A month ago I would made you drop your pants and bend over that stool. I’d have given you a big old shot right in your left ass cheek. Those were the good old days.” The nurse let out a small sigh them asked Penba to open his mouth again. Still firmly holding the back of his head she stuck her finger under his tongue and probed it roughly around.

“OK, you’ve swallowed, please sign the training roster. Include your employee ID number and the date and time please.”

She shoved a clipboard into his hand and after a scribble to get the pen working he filled in the bottom line.

“Please proceed to the restroom. You will soon feel some digestive discomfort and then experience a slight fever for twenty four hours as the virus runs its course. Please report to your workstation at seven AM tomorrow morning to begin.”

Penba slid off the stool and wavered a little. He could feel a strong grumbling in his stomach already. It quickly began spreading downward, into his gut. This was a fast acting virus indeed. He started stumbling forward, moving toward the restroom as quickly as he cold.

“Next!” the nurse yelled in Penba’s ear as she looked at the clot of new employees waiting in a cluster of folding chairs.

There was only one unisex restoom and Penba walked down the long line of stalls looking for an unoccupied one. The room smelled horribly and he could hear groans, sighs, and obscene liquid noises coming from behind each closed door. He reached the end of the line and there were no unoccupied stalls. Penba was beginning to have to clench and was getting worried when a door opened and a middle aged woman scurried out and began looking around. Penba pointed to a handwritten sign taped to the wall that said, “Sinks in the next room down the hall,” and quickly slid into her stall before somebody else came in.

He fiddled with the lock, trying to get it to hold, before he gave up, sat down and wedged it with one foot. As he sat, waves of nausea washed over his body, alternating with flashes of heat and cold chills. He sweated profusely until his shirt was drenched. Penba had always been a very private, proper person and tried his best to be quiet, clenching his teeth and jaw, but finally gave up and let out a shout of discomfort to join in the symphony of groans that filled the restroom.

With each wave of sickness that the fast-acting virus forced through his reeling system, Penba found his head filling with new-found memories. These were very clear and strong, like they were events that had happened this morning, but he could not place where these memories had actually come from. They were, of course, the result of the book virus he had been infected with, and were memories that he would never forget.

Musings on Some Short TED Talks

Try Something New for Thirty Days

Matt Cutts gave a short little talk titled “Try something new for 30 days.”

He gave a few examples:

  • Bike to Work
  • 10,000 steps a day
  • Take a Picture a Day
  • Write a Novel

 Bike to Work I’m working on it, that’s not something that can be done without proper preparation (at least not in Dallas, and not in the summertime)

10,000 Steps a Day – They gave out pedometers at work, I discovered I was walking about 12,000 steps a day during my workday alone.

Take a Picture a Day – Been there, done that.

Write a Novel (Nanowrimo) – Been there, done that.

How about a blog entry every day for a month… yeah, that sounds tough, not.

Then he gave a short list of examples of things to stop:

  • No TV
  • No sugar
  • No Twitter
  • No caffeine

I don’t find giving something up for 30 days to be so inspiring. If you want to give it up, give it up. If you only need to cut back, then cut back.

So, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. What can I do for thirty days that wouldn’t be too difficult, expensive, or time consuming, starting tomorrow. Let me think about it and go on to another TED lecture.

 Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself

Interesting idea. I have always thought that telling everybody your goals gave you the advantage of using social shaming as a motivating force. Another thing to think about and come back to.

Don’t eat the marshmallow yet

The most important principle for success is the ability to delay gratification. No big surprise. Anyone that has spent a lot of time around teenagers knows how rare and important this is.

Of course, there is another factor that isn’t discussed. Even when I was a kid, I hated marshmallows. I would have hidden the thing to make them think I had eaten it so I didn’t have to deal with another one.

Life Lessons Through Tinkering

I spent an enormous amount of time as a child tinkering. My children never really did this at all. Does that make a difference? I don’t know.

My tinkering spaces (my office room and my half of the garage) are sorely neglected. They are cluttered and inefficient. I miss the tinkering. I have a handful of tinker projects half completed.

Can I put the lessons from all these talks together?

OK, here’s my plan. I’ll work some, every day, a few hours a day, for thirty days, on the half completed tinkering projects I have laying around.

What are they?

I’m not going to tell you. Keeping it a personal secret will help me get it done. I have two projects in mind, both rather small projects, I know I can get them done. The bigger projects, such as redoing my office room, I’ll put off for the next thirty days… or the thirty after that.

Thirty days or so from now I’ll write a couple blog entries on what my projects were. Come back and see.

What about the marshmallow? Well, in this case, delayed gratification isn’t really an issue, the doing is the gratification. Maybe I’ll reward myself in some small, extra way. I don’t know how – there is no extra money laying around…. I’ll have to think about it.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

What I learned this Week, July 15, 2011

While I don’t share her enthusiasm for a certain morning cable talk show (though I did enjoy this bit of hilarity very much) I really like Peggy‘s Friday blog entries – Things I Learned This Week. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. I have no problem in blatantly ripping off her idea.

The Wave that Washes us all

The Wave that Washes us all

What I learned this week:

Procrastination caused by fear… I thought I was done with that, but I’m not. I still must say to myself:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain
— Dune

Markus Zusak saidFailure has been my best friend as a writer. It tests you, to see if you have what it takes to see it through.


With proper hydration, the most brutal heat can be dealt with.


Too much habanera sauce – while not a good thing in all respects – will clear out your sinuses very quickly.


From a Blog Entry – Global Weirding Coming At Us All, by Walter Russell Mead (read the whole thing)

Except for some entrepreneurs, mavericks and renegades, our technocratic elites are mostly a bunch of rule followers and incrementalists.  They got where they are by scoring well on tests, manipulating the platitudes of conventional wisdom a little better than the next guy and by pleasing their supervisors.

This is almost exactly the wrong way to raise leaders for tumultuous times. …  We are producing legions of promotion-hungry bureaucrats and narrow specialists with no knowledge of or interest in the tumult and chaos that inevitably rises up in times like ours.  We then place them in large, bureaucratically run institutions and expect them to deal creatively with the unexpected, the revolutionary and the totally new.

I can not say it better.


Kingfish is better fried than grilled.

Wankelfish

Wankelfish