Items Of Interest #12

I have a ton of stuff backlogged to share with you. Strap in…

  • Two of my favorite writer’s and makers are making the bold and honorable move to take their online writing work full time. Matt Gemmell is one of the most compelling and refreshing voices on the Internet today. Brett Terpstra is a tinkerer who has worked for years writing and producing really useful tools to make our computing lives better. Both are more than worthy of your attention and support.

  • Deckset for Mac is an app I’m keeping my eye out for. While Keynote is pretty straight forward for creating presentations, sometimes and some folks require something even faster and easier. Deckset looks like it will be perfect for fitting that bill.

  • A Reddit Quick Start Guide for Geeks Who Aren’t Into Memes and Listicals by Nick Wynja is very useful.

  • Cory Doctorow argues that digital failures are inevitable, but we need them to be graceful. In other words, the way things fail is as important as how they work. I largely agree. Still pondering this one. I like the idea quite a bit.

  • Austin Kleon has a new book coming out called Show Your Work and has started a new Tumblelog launching of of the idea called Think Process, Not Product. I’ve really been enjoying it so far.

  • John at 50ft Shadows has released the next entry in his wonderful 50ft Radio mixtape series. This series is the only music I keep on my MacBook Air.

  • Huckberry currently has some crazy good prices on Kaweco Pens. I have two of the Classic Sport Fountain’s that I use almost daily (only $19.98). Use this link to join and we each get credit (That brings the price down by $5.00). I have ordered from Huckberry before and check it twice a week. They source great products and, for a limited time, offer them at prices you are unlikely to see anywhere else.

  • Though not much of a pencil guy myself, but a pen and analog fan in general, I found myself spending more time than I really should have at Woodclinched , a site devoted to the love of wooden pencils.

  • "The idea was to create something that was simple in concept but heavy in impact." Two Words Period is out to prove how much one can say with so little. Right up my alley.

  • Black History Album …. The Way We Were. Yes. More of this please. Much respect.

Until next time, breathe deep and seek peace.

Far, Far, Away

The movie Star Wars was released in May of 1977. I was 9 years old.

My mother and her best friend Phil went to see it together very soon after it opened. They came home absolutely raving about it. They told me they were going to take me to see it as soon as they could.

I asked them what it was about. But, when they started describing it — the big spaceships that feel like they are right on top of you, the ape-like creature that scares away the mouse-like robot in the corridor, the bad guy with the full helmet, heavy breathing, and deep voice — I could not picture it as "real".

I kept asking them, "Is this like a cartoon or, like, real things."

"Real!", they would exclaim.

"But, how can they do that stuff with real things?", I would say. I just could not imagine it. What they were describing sounded like a movie from some, until then, distant and impossible future. A dream, perhaps. It had to be animation I kept insisting. I even remember getting so angry and frustrated that they were tricking me and not confessing to it that I started to tear up.

I think we now forget just how far ahead, special effects wise, Star Wars was when it first came out. Almost every frame in the film contained something that no one else had done before. They, literally, were reinventing the technology of movie making at the same time they were making the movie. It instantly made every other sci-fi movie that came before it look like a relic of some distant past and raised the bar so high for everything after it that it took a couple of years before anything else came close. How could I, as a boy, have any reference point to imagine such things without seeing proof of their existence?

They took me a few days later. They insisted we had to sit in the front row in order to get the full effect of the opening shot. From the moment the Rebel ship flew over my head until the final scene, I was in absolute awe. I left the theater in a kind of shock — still not quite able to reconcile all I knew at age nine with what I had just seen.

I saw it several more times that summer and fall. I think it was the third or fourth time seeing it that I was able to simply sit back and enjoy the story. I was too busy having my mind blown on the viewings before then.

In the world of film technology and special effects, the marvels of Star Wars seem a long time ago now. But, at the time, they represented a future that was for most of Hollywood still far, far, away. And the level of possibility that taught my nine year old self and how much it changed me and contributed to my ability to embrace the unimaginable and believe beyond the impossible today is immeasurable.

Things I Learned In 2013

With the close of the year, here is a not nearly complete list of the things I learned this past year:

  • If you decide to do something, you can do anything. All you need is to get past that comma.

  • The first part of your life is spent finding out who you want to be. The second part of your life is spent finding out who you really are.

  • You do not discover the future. You create it with the actions you take today.

  • The fanciness of your process only reveals your resistance to the dirtiness of the work.

  • If you find yourself unusually productive in one area of life, ask yourself what tasks you are avoiding in the others.

  • "Work, without love, is slavery." — Mother Teresa

  • The secret to making kids that travel well is to start them traveling young and keep them doing so.

  • Schlag is a Viennese term for homemade whipped cream that is seeing a certain renaissance as of late (in order to differentiate it from the canned stuff).

  • We don’t buy things, we buy into things.

  • One should strive to use all things until their usefulness is no more.

  • I’m not sure I will ever be as emotionally fulfilled by digital technology as I am by a good pen and a nice blank page of paper. Nor will it hold, for me, the same feeling of possibility.

  • Chindōgu is the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that seem like a solution to a particular problem but cause so many new problems it is effectively useless.

  • So much of modern tech is beginning to feel like Chindōgu to me.

  • Sometimes, you have to come up with the completely crazy idea that could never work to get to the slightly less crazy one that will.

  • It’s worse than we could ever imagine.

  • One of the most dangerous ideas in a free society is one in which we believe that rights are granted, not guaranteed.

  • Fight fear, with facts.

  • “Fear is just excitement without breath.” –Fritz Perls

  • Most of what we call truth is merely consensus.

  • Unlike other trees whose roots are deep and thick, California Coastal Redwoods, some of the tallest of trees, are thin and wide. They stand tall by binding their roots with others near and far.

  • The first approximation of others is ourselves.

  • How much better “how to” posts/sites would be if they led with “what for”.

  • "Why?" would be good as well.

  • The GORUCK Challenge taught me more about myself in 13 hours than I learned this entire year. Especially the first item in this post.

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