Monthly Archives: March 2019

I've heard there is a tribe of people who can leave clean clothes on their bed and then just walk away. This tribe is known as "people without cats."

Cal Newport Has An Answer For Digital Burnout

Writer Cal Newport says you should become a “digital minimalist” — someone who only uses social media technology that helps achieve priorities in life.

Most of us are “digital maximalists;” we adopt technology that might benefit us, without considering the cost. Sometimes that cost is simply time taken away from other things that might be more valuable. Time spent scrolling Instagram is not time spent reading books.

So many good points for me to think about here.

Host Ezra Klein says there probably isn’t a waking minute where he isn’t receiving some kind of input, talking to people or social media or listening to podcasts. Newport points out this is a recent phenomenon, even 10 years ago before the advent of smartphones, you HAD to spend some idle time.

Newport says our brains just need isolated time to process information that has come in through the day.

He describes isolation as time spent without receiving the thoughts of other people. Counter-intuitively, that means a person sitting alone in a cabin in the woods reading a book is not isolated, but a person sitting in a crowded subway car can be. I’ve felt that distinction in airports. Maybe that’s one reason I actually like airports.

Newport recommends before you start reducing social media from your life drastically, you have a plan to fill the time.

I found this podcast inspiring, and I’ve already taken a couple of baby steps. I do a lot of automated social media and blog updates; it’s dead simple to automate social media so you’re posting several times a day, every day, even when you’re not manually doing it. While listening to the podcast (ironically while walking the dog, which could be ideal isolation time!), I stopped to reconfigure those tools from my phone (more irony!) to cancel updates on the weekends. That will quiet things down on those days.

Additionally, new rule: No smartphone in the bathroom.

Those are very small steps, but journey of a thousand miles, etc.

I need to use social media for work and I enjoy it too, but I spend far too much time on it than is healthy for me.

Rick Steves Wants to Save the World, One Vacation at a Time

Wonderful profile of travel guru Rick Steves

… Steves has established himself as one of the legendary PBS superdorks — right there in the pantheon with Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross and Big Bird. Like them, Steves is a gentle soul who wants to help you feel at home in the world. Like them, he seems miraculously untouched by the need to look cool, which of course makes him sneakily cool….

Rick Steves is absolutely American. He wears jeans every single day. He drinks frozen orange juice from a can. He likes his hash browns burned, his coffee extra hot. He dislikes most fancy restaurants; when he’s on the road, he prefers to buy a foot-long Subway sandwich and split it between lunch and dinner. He has a great spontaneous honk of a laugh — it bursts out of him, when he is truly delighted, with the sharpness of a firecracker on the Fourth of July. Steves is so completely American that when you stop to really look at his name, you realize it’s just the name Rick followed by the plural of Steve — that he is a one-man crowd of absolutely regular everyday American guys: one Rick, many Steves. Although Steves spends nearly half his life traveling, he insists, passionately, that he would never live anywhere but the United States — and you know when he says it that this is absolutely true. In fact, Steves still lives in the small Seattle suburb where he grew up, and every morning he walks to work on the same block, downtown, where his parents owned a piano store 50 years ago. On Sundays, Steves wears his jeans to church, where he plays the congas, with great arm-pumping spirit, in the inspirational soft-rock band that serenades the congregation before the service starts, and then he sits down and sings classic Lutheran hymns without even needing to refer to the hymnal. Although Steves has published many foreign-language phrase books, the only language he speaks fluently is English. He built his business in America, raised his kids in America and gives frequent loving paeans to the glories of American life.

And yet: Rick Steves desperately wants you to leave America. The tiniest exposure to the outside world, he believes, will change your entire life. Travel, Steves likes to say, “wallops your ethnocentricity” and “carbonates your experience” and “rearranges your cultural furniture.” Like sealed windows on a hot day, a nation’s borders can be stultifying. Steves wants to crack them open, to let humanity’s breezes circulate. The more rootedly American you are, the more Rick Steves wants this for you. If you have never had a passport, if you are afraid of the world, if your family would prefer to vacation exclusively at Walt Disney World, if you worry that foreigners are rude and predatory and prone to violence or at least that their food will give you diarrhea, then Steves wants you — especially you — to go to Europe. Then he wants you to go beyond….

Steves is a passionate marijuana user and advocate.

For the next 20 minutes, Steves would read me koans about the glories of being stoned.

“High is the present,” he read.

“When you’re high, you debate long and hard over whether to put on your sweater or turn up the heat.”

This journal, Steves explained, contained what he called his “High Notes.” For nearly 40 years, he had been writing in it exclusively after smoking marijuana. He would get baked, open up to somewhere in the middle and jot down whatever he happened to be thinking — deep or shallow, silly or angry. There is no chronology; on every page, axioms from many different decades commingle. It is a lifelong treasury of Steves’s stoner thoughts….

I found myself wondering, for the thousandth time: Who does this? What kind of mind not only thinks of such a project but actually follows through with it, decade after decade after decade? Who, for God’s sake, is this disciplined when they’re high?

1957 ad for the Science Fiction Book Club

Anybody who signed up thinking Isaac Asimov’s “The End of Eternity” was a steamy erotic romance was destined for deep disappointment.

The Cerulean Process

“For a brief time, back in the 1870s, some people thought that blue windows were the solution to just about every medical problem you could think of.”


Chingodu is the Japanese art of inventing everyday gadgets that seem to solve a problem but are in reality pretty useless. Like a solar-powered flashlight, or a zen kitty litter box that lets you practice the art of sand raking while cleaning up cat poop.

Handsome young Anthony Edwards, with a full head of hair, stars in 1985’s campus-comedy-turned-spy-movie “Gotcha!” Watch the preview. Edwards is supposedly the hero, but he’s actually just a colossal dick, says Jason Weisberger at Boing Boing.

Edwards’ hair is definitely excellent, though.

Americans are not having sex, according to national survey

An aging population is driving the trend. But also young men; more of them are celibate than in previous decades, possibly because it’s harder for them to find jobs, which means they’re less likely to be in relationships.

In other words, millennials are killing sex.

This 1960s TV commercial for prunes, starring Ray Bradbury and directed by Stan Freberg, is surprisingly delightful.