Been Away and a Recommendation

You know, I believe in posting here, but I seem to let the days get by without doing a post. Sorry about being so negligent.

I need to, right from the start, recommend a book to read. The book The Infinite Game by Sinek is perhaps a masterpiece. It is the story about how business and everybody is thinking and acting short term and not long term. Businesses and Wall Street think about quarterly profits when they probably should be thinking about the long-term. Our tax codes drive us to support this thinking. The same with our political parties and government. Everything is about the short term, the next quarter, the next election, this session of congress, etc. The result is we are killing ourselves. I’ve so far read about 75% of the book but highly recommend it already. Every American should read this book and then use it to inform their thinking in the next election cycle.

So I ran in the Disney Wine & Dine 10K and Half Marathon Two Course Challenge last week. I never think of myself as a fast or very good runner which is probably what most runners think of themselves. However, I looked at the run results after the half and I ended up in the top 15% of the runners in my gender and age group which stunned me. Ok then, I’ll keep running and pressing on. I run another half marathon in 10 days in Tulsa.

Regarding the book above, there is mention of a group of oil rig guys getting together to spend time together and basically become more open with each other. The result of their time invested in this fashion is their rig became a high performing rig, with minimal downtime, high output, and low environmental impact. Their time together made them each realize that they all come to the workplace with issues, insecurities, and vulnerability but they mostly hide it behind tough guy personas. When they realized they all felt this way, their performance as a team dramatically improved. They began trusting each other.

I think we all think this. We aren’t good runners. We aren’t good teachers. We aren’t good friends. But really, we are doing the best we can and we are doing ok. And we can make a difference in the world around us and with the people around us. Even if in just one person.

Listen, just make a difference in one person’s life tomorrow. Be bold. Say Thanks. Say Hi. Hold the door open. Make a difference. The world needs more people making a difference.

On My Mind

I read an article this week that really struck me in describing the current times. It was entitled The Weaponization of Feeling ‘Unsafe’ and it struck me as very true. We are in an era where ‘The new McCarthyism requires that everyone bow to demands of “victims.”’ People expect everyone else to bow down to their opinions and affirm their beliefs and nobody is entitled to hold a different viewpoint or opinion. I have to think about this further.

And then there was this article called Why Men Don’t Have Friends and Why Women Should Care which caught my eye. I think there is a huge amount of truth in this. I’ve had two friends move out of town/state this past year and I’m still processing the loss.

I just finished the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by Epstein and I have to say this is a book the resonates deeply with me. I like to think of myself as someone who reads widely and is interested in lots of things: “a reader of much and an expert on nothing” and this book exactly talks about this idea. It just resonated with me and I recommend it.

Finally, I was talking with a friend this afternoon who told me about a recent family wedding weekend where the family nearly broke into fist fights. One family member had to step in and tell those who were feuding that the weekend was about the wedding party, not them and they needed to cut it out. I know of another dear family where there is conflict and one family member is spreading hatred and false narratives about another family member. Such huge hurt for some. Why do we do this to each other? Why does family do this to family? Really, why does anyone do this to anyone?

Be kind, for you do not know what battle others are fighting. Here is an idea, decide to be kind and gracious and give the benefit of the doubt. Life is short.

Non-Fiction Winners

I seem to love three genres of reading and one of them is science non-fiction for laymen, i.e. for non-experts in the field. I’ve been struck by several amazing books in the past year or two and I’ve mentioned a couple of them before. However, I wanted to do this post to pull together a good list of amazing books to check out.

The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli is a book that unravels the nature of time as we currently understand it. Ideas such that there is a smallest ‘tick’ of time, i.e. time is not continuous as we might think, and the faulty view of thinking about events happening simultaneously were just amazing. The question of wondering what is happening in the Andromeda galaxy right now is nonsensical. This is one of only a handful of books that after finishing it on Audible, I started it over immediately and listened to it again.

The Order of Time caused me to immediately follow with another of Rovelli’s books, Reality is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Rovelli again. Another fascinating and very understandable journey through some amazing ideas.

I’ve posted about The Information: A History, a Theory a Flood by James Gleick is a wonderful review of the development of information theory which covers networking, communications, codes and computing. I’ve gone through this two or three times.

I’m currently listening to Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy by George Gilder. This book is challenging some foundational ideas that I’ve believed in for years. I’m not done with this one yet, but I’m thinking there are some critical ideas here about security and the future of computing.

And finally, Scale, The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life, in Organisms, Cities, Economies and Companies by Geoffrey West. I’ve recommended this one to several and then some of those people have come back to me to discuss this they have further recommended it to their circles. I’ve been through this one twice too.

If you have any you’d recommend along these lines, please let me know.

Changes to Listening

I’m reading the book Deep Work right now and it too has caused me to rethink about what ‘noise’ is invading my days. And, this month at church, we are talking about the idea of ‘breaking up with your phone’ and in that study, we are hearing a lot of data about how our addiction to our mobile phones is having a dreadful harmful impact on our lives.

Whether it is your mobile phone, television or your computer, we have a lot options to pipe noise into our lives

  • If you listen to cable news network all day long one mostly hears negative views of everyone in all directions: all is bad, nothing is working, everybody is your enemy. (I do like the last story on CBS Evening news which always seems to be a positive story about someone or something that works.)
  • Local news spends a big fraction of their reporting on murders, fires, thefts, corruption and car wrecks.
  • Social Media streams to are quick to point out blame or evil. And in a flash, you can attack, or take sides, or fan the flames.
  • Podcasts are available on every single possible topic on the planet. Many good, many bad, and many that might just not be helpful. A source of true crime and hate messages.
  • True Crime shows are the rage on tv now, but they are just so frightening and gloomy. These can make you want to just stay inside and pack a weapon all the time.
  • Many movies and shows on television are not very good messages to pipe into our heads and the heads of our kids.
  • Facebook is sometimes full of joy (birth and marriages) and other times full of sadness (death, loss and sickness). Unfortunately, it is also a place (like Twitter) where people, who might otherwise seem normal, will bombard you with politics or news that you do not want to hear. The last presidential election cycle was a nightmare.

A while back I referenced the book Factfulness which tells us that perhaps, things are better than we realize. And really, there are lots of good people and organizations around trying doing to do the right things.

So where does all this go and what do I do about it.

  • I’ve cut way back on listening to the news. I’m mostly interested in the weather forecasts (something that might justify another post) and sports. I do try to check in on the national news daily, but I don’t spend a lot of time with it.
  • I used to listen to true crime podcasts and was fascinated with the solved and unsolved cases. However, I got to a point were the scary, negative, sad, awful was overpowering. And, as some of you know, I’m a runner and I would listen to these on early morning runs before the sun comes up. It is not a good mix to listen to these stories while out alone in the dark. Not needed. I’ve stopped listening to this whole genre.
  • On my mobile phone, I’ve turned on screen time app limits to limit social media access daily.
  • As mentioned on my last post, I’ve deleted Facebook and some other apps from my phone.

I think there are more steps to take and I’m on a journey here. I’d welcome hearing your thoughts and recommendations on how to best throttle or control the pipe of news and information that is streaming into my head.

Two Recommendations

However, I did just finish listening to Dr. Death podcast at the recommendation of SL and as a result I’ve decided to never need surgery. I wrote on an earlier post how essential it is to have a medical advocate to support you when going into surgery or serious medical issues. Wow.

And at the recommendation of JE I’ve just finished listening to Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Stevenson. He is coming to OKC to speak in a few days. Must listening. Must read. By the way you should follow JE’s blog here.

Epilogue: Running

So my fierce running partner and I decided to run 1,400 miles last year. I had run 700+ the year before while dealing with a foot injury so it was almost doubling my mileage in the year. We completed the task by mid-December and we made ourselves some medals to recognize the milestone.

And, of course, we’ve signed up to run another marathon this year.

Three Interesting Reads

Relax, Ladies. Don’t Be So Uptight. You Know You Want It is story on Medium with lots of things to consider. The article is about so many cultural norms of the past that now seem so out of date about women and men and their relationship in society and work and home.

Here’s a fun game. Ask yourself: What strongly held opinion of mine will my grandchildren one day struggle to understand?

and

No one thinks of themselves as a byproduct of a generation. Your parents and grandparents, sure, they’re byproducts. (Exhibit A, your grandmother’s helmet-shaped perm.) But not you. You’re aware of the trends and social attitudes of your generation, but your thoughts, proclivities, and the votes you cast are entirely your own. Or are they?

Every generation is a slop-sink of prejudices, norms, and ideologies, and since we humans are more sponge-like than rock-like, we naturally absorb our share of generational sludge. Tobacco-smoke enemas were all the rage in the 18th century. Stomach ache? Heart stalled? Typhoid? Doctors blew smoke up your ass. The United States performed over 40,000 lobotomies between the 1940s and ’50s, more than any other nation.

I’m Broke and Mostly Friendless, and I’ve Wasted My Whole Life is the second read to consider. A person who feels they’ve wasted their life so far and have no hope writes a letter which is then responded to by Heather Havrilesky.

The letter written is about shame and loss of hope and second guessing life decisions and the response by Havrilesky is thought provoking. I’ve decided to listen to one of Havrilesky’s book right now on Audible.

As I opened the front door, I turned around and told her how nice it was, talking to her. She smiled. “You’re a human being,” she said. “A real human being.”


“I am,” I said. “I wasn’t a few years ago. But I am now.”


All you have to be is a human being, … That’s success. When you’re a human being, life feels satisfying. Everything adds up. Every little thing matters. Look at what you have. This is where it all begins. All you have to do is open your eyes.


Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era: Avoid Women at All Cost is a tragic and obvious followup to the #MeToo era.

Some problems are very hard to solve. We need good people of character and integrity. Related, we need to be elected people of character and integrity to government offices. Duh.

Reading Recommendations

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I’m currently flying through The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact on Audible by Heath and Heath. It is perhaps the most interesting and thought provoking book I’ve read in quite a while on business or organizational (or personal) excellence. It is full of examples and ideas that could be applied in all kinds of situations: schools, churches, organizations and even in your personal life as you interact with others. Highly recommended. Likely to go through it again.

Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Hansen is a Christian view on not taking offense, forgiving and just being humble.

We humans are experts at casting ourselves as victims and rewriting narratives that put us in the center of injustices… And we can repaint our anger or hatred of someone—say, anyone who threatens us—into a righteous-looking work of art. And yet, remarkably, in Jesus’ teaching, there is no allowance for “Okay, well, if someone really is a jerk, then yeah—you need to be offended.” We’re flat-out told to forgive, even—especially!—the very stuff that’s understandably maddening and legitimately offensive.

and

Forfeiting our right to anger makes us deny ourselves, and makes us others-centered. When we start living this way, it changes everything.

In this age of everyone taking offense at everyone else and as the author says, “Everybody’s an idiot but me. I’m awesome” we need to be more patient, tolerant, understanding and forgiving. Much to process in this book and I will likely go through it a 2nd time shortly. Thanks SL for the recommendation.

And I listened to the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis again. Amazing.

Currently working through The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World by David Deutsch but at 20 hours on Audible, it will take a while…

Also appreciate recommendations from any of you. Best wishes.

 

Several Updates, Books, Audible, Blogs and Sci-Fi

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I’ve read two interesting books lately which I wanted to highlight here.

First, The Power by Alderman which is an amazing fictional story about a shift happening in girls and spreading to adult women where they have a power or capability to physically overpower boys and men. Without going into the detail or revealing more, it is about what happens in society when ‘power’ shifts from men to women. It is a very thought-provoking story as it touches on many different ideas and thoughts.

The second is Death with Interruptions by Saramago which is a tale about ‘death’ deciding to stop at the beginning of the year and those who should die, don’t. Day after day, in this one country the dying do not die. It is a story about what happens in society when those who really should reach the end, no longer die. The aged and hurt simply don’t die and the hospitals and homes fill up with people who are still alive.  Aging still happens. There is much social upheaval and implications as a result and it is a fascinating story. Eventually, the person ‘death’ is introduced in the story and we start hearing ‘her’ story as she interacts with people in this country. Fascinating.

I listened to both on Audible. Recommended.

And here are some interesting things I’ve read in the past few weeks. These 1st two have really caused me to pause and think.

Why Everyone Should Lift Weights is the most thought-provoking post I’ve read in a while. Don’t let the weightlifting put you off, the post is about being stronger and revealing yourself to yourself and gaining self-confidence. The following gets to the heart of it:

Challenging your own body is the greatest method for discovering the strength of your mind. Nowhere is this more true than with strength training. There will be days when you don’t feel like coming into the gym. There will be sets that you don’t feel like finishing. There will be times when everyone else in the gym will see you fail.

And if you keep showing up anyway, then you’ll develop the mental fortitude to get past failure, work when you don’t feel like it, and discover what you’re really made of mentally and physically

Related, the article called The Equation That Will Make You Better At Everything I posted on Twitter a while back and it has been getting reposted afterward as people read it.

Stress + Rest = Growth. It’s as simple and as hard as that.

And let me throw in one more bonus article on relationships that struck me. In The Subtle Art of Connecting with Anyone we find the following:

If you dig deep enough into questions about what it means to live a good life and how to create happiness and fulfillment, you’ll likely find yourself between a few different schools of thought, each with their own approach.

That said, in pretty much all schools, the idea that a complete life tends to be one filled with a number of high-quality relationships is pretty consistent.

In a way, happiness is other people. It’s the connections we build and the relationships we foster. They create us, and they continue to shape us.

If you are into Science Fiction, then I highly recommend the Audible series The Expeditionary Force by Craig Alderson. You need to listen on Audible. Trust me. Hilarious and fantastic. Did I say ‘trust me’ on this?