A lovely piece on the power of human conversation and quiet solitude in a world of distractions.
A lovely piece on the power of human conversation and quiet solitude in a world of distractions.
But as the [coffee] industry grows, so does the aching presence of the coffee bore. And they’re everywhere. Not for the first time, the “craft” movement is slowly and earnestly sucking the joy out of something that isn’t half as complicated or important as some people think it is.
Joy thieves will attempt to make you feel inferior. Be vigilant.
Keith Pandolfi, for Serious Eats:
Standing at my kitchen counter, I measure out two teaspoons of Maxwell House instant coffee into my favorite mug, pour in 12 ounces of hot water from a tea kettle, and stir for a moment. I look toward the automatic drip maker to my left and feel a pang of sympathy for its cold carafe that once gurgled and steamed each morning with the best coffee money could buy. On top of the refrigerator, my old friend the French press has gathered dust. When I notice a dead housefly decomposing inside it, I wonder what the hell has happened to me.
Well written. Reminds me there’s a lot more to a coffee break than the coffee.
Jason Fried, on the how modern technology endures:
I’ve got two machines on me.
One’s strapped to my left wrist. The other lives in my pocket.
This thought has been lingering with me. A couple weeks ago, the cellular radio in my iPhone died. Just went kaput. One day it worked. Next day “No Signal.”
My watch is an automatic, similar to the way Jason’s works. It doesn’t have a battery and doesn’t need upgrades. It’s going to keep ticking reliably long after model and model of “smart” phones come and go.
How do we plan and set up the technology we use to be as long-lasting as possible? That’s another lingering thought in my mind.
Knowledgeable and respectable expert in digital security, Bruce Schneier:
Encryption should be enabled for everything by default, not a feature you turn on only if you’re doing something you consider worth protecting.
This is important. If we only use encryption when we’re working with important data, then encryption signals that data’s importance.
HTTPS encrypts the internet traffic between your browser and the server hosting the website.
Hack/Make now runs in HTTPS solely. Encryption has often been used to secure pages where passwords or credit card information is transmitted. Beyond changing the signal-to-noise ratio if everyone uses HTTPS, as Schneier suggests, there is a simple benefit to running encryption on a humble blog: trust.
When a website is HTTPS, the page that you are reading in the browser is truly the content that is being transmitted by the server. Other people can see that you are requesting a page from
hackmake.org but you can trust that no one is intercepting the page and modifying or censoring the contents of the page.
If you run a website, it can be a simple and inexpensive change that I encourage you to do.
Amongst several lessons on writing from the late William Zinsser:
Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other. It’s impossible for a muddy thinker to write good English.
In the same way, writing is good practice for clear thinking. I feel sharper when I write frequently.
Read this, and then read it again. No single pull quote can do it justice.
It’s an evolution that’s been going through my head and manifesting in my life a lot in the last year: what if I just stopped being so particular about everything. Stopped trying to hack my way through life, get over the fact that “there’s got to be a better way” (because the “better” way often isn’t), and stop thinking about everything pedantically.
The outcome of “what if” so far? I’m generally much happier.
A good overview from Jeff Hunsberger on using SublimeText as a multitasker. Less is more.
Justin Lancy (who you should buy a drink if you find yourself in Southeast Asia any time soon) went to Abbey Road Studios to learn about how the types of equipment they had access to impacted the sound of the recordings:
But as the 60s went on, culture—specifically counter-culture—began seeping into the studio and changing that dynamic relationship between the engineers and their tools. Over time, the room became filled with incredibly skilled people who were willing to break any rule if it helped their artists create new and interesting sounds.
Our equipment dramatically impacts the creative work we do and the evolution of tools begets an evolution in our work:
What new tools do is force a reconsideration of the relative strengths and weaknesses of old tools. After some time goes by, creative professionals generally develop ways to blend the best aspects of both the old and the new.
It takes a mastery of tools to understand their capabilities but is ultimately up to the master to take those abilities and constraints and do something completely new with them. Respect the constraints but focus on the output. The techniques of the engineers at Abbey Road are studied but it’s the album itself that is loved so much.
My friend Michael Schechter is back in the saddle, writing on Better Mess:
So why am I here? Why am I back?
The truth? I feel I’ve reached a point where I’m only getting better now in the ways that come easy to me.
Well said. It’s a mature thing to go from just getting things done and being introspective about that to using those tools and methodologies to help you learn new things and be a better person. I think it’s worth getting into the productivity racket to learn about better ways to manage the things that can get out of control in work and life but it’s also worth getting beyond that and learning new things using the framework that you’ve developed—even if it takes some grit.
A little story from Jason at GORUCK, who has learned a lot about simplicity the hard way:
Way back when we thought we were so special in every way. Truth be told, we’re similar to most places most of the time. We build stuff we sell stuff we write about stuff we publish pictures and words. Our culture and our values and what we do make us different in some ways, but those have nothing to do with e-commerce sites and blogging platform layouts.
Jason and team had designed and built a custom template for the blog but then a thing happened that happens to all of us. Things change, technology changes, but the old special snowflake way we do things, the things that are built on old technology, built on old dogmas, old comforts, they don’t change and then we get stuck:
So we switched instead to an existing theme. Life is easier and it lets us focus more time on content creation and less time on being special.
Less special, more simple—something we can all practice.
This is pretty much the same way I went about putting together my book Coffee Shop Contemplations. It’s a great way to bring together your work in a way that’s easy for your readers to access your work and a way to make some money on your writing that isn’t ads.
When asked by Kelton Reid, Maria Popova—who writes BrainPickings.org—defined creativity like this:
The ability to connect the seemingly unconnected and meld existing knowledge into new insight about some element of how the world works. That’s practical creativity. Then there’s moral creativity: To apply that skill towards some kind of wisdom on how the world ought to work.
A great article whether you consider yourself as a writer or not.
Leo Babauta with a fresh approach to finding a new perspective:
If we can learn to get outside this personal bubble, and see things from a less self-centered approach, we can see some amazing things…
We become less self-centered, and begin to have a wider view. Everything changes, from letting go of fear and anger and procrastination, to changing our habits and finding work that matters.
A great story of craftsmanship and focus on quality by Casey Johnston:
Lorina’s hands are so fast and sure at putting the headphones together her movements startle me. She shows me how to apply two different kinds of glue and how to solder the wires from the driver. In about five minutes, the headphones come together into one piece, and she lets me test them the way Grado tests every headphone: with an 80Hz tone that feels like Inception. Since my shoddy craftsmanship came after most of the important assembly steps (namely, the driver got there before I could mess it up), they actually work.
Grado headphones are one of my favorites and even the entry-level SR60s have a clean, crisp sound at a price that makes them a nice value. The flat response of Grado’s (the sound not being manipulated to be more bassy or bright) and the open-back engineering make these headphones sound “true” and nice to see the company behind them be true to the craftsmanship of making something wonderful.
Some advice for a first-time cigar smoker on /r/cigars:
Enjoy the experience. Don’t focus on enjoying the cigar. Enjoy the weather. Enjoy the company. Enjoy the music or conversation. Enjoy the beverage (I’d suggest water or tea or coffee without too much crap in it). Yes, also enjoy the cigar, but the time should be about more than the cigar.
I’m learning this every day of my life: don’t focus on the list/goal/want, enjoy the experience. Enjoy the quiet. Enjoying having made. Enjoy their smile. The list is just a way to get to do more of those things you enjoy and be able to enjoy them more. This time should be about more than the list.
A practical minimalist lifestyle encompasses more than chucking your stuff, but it is a big part of it as it is one of the most tangible changes you can make, and the result will be both literally and figuratively, a massive weight lifted from your life. Declutter mindfully and slowly so the change is not so overwhelming. It’s a catalyst for the rest of it.
A reminder that “minimalism” is an approach not a veneer.
I picked up something really cool from Costco today.
I’ve been having a personal struggle with photography over the last couple of years. Between the painful process of managing photos well and the distraction of constantly having my phone around to capture the moment, I’ve shied away and sometimes feel like I’m missing out because of it. In December 2012, I intentionally stopped taking and posting photos to Instagram. I don’t really enjoy taking photos or want to turn it into a hobby of mine so I figured I’d leave it to the pros and move on with things. I wanted to focus on writing and have that be my method of capturing life. The bonus was that my phone stayed in my pocket and I was interacting in the world around me without a screen as my viewport.
But I miss those overwhelming rushes that Sid felt.
The GORUCK GR1 has been my daily carry bag for a couple years. The GR1 isn’t cheap but you get what you pay for. If the price tag has kept you away from GORUCK gear, now might be a good time to reconsider. You can save $100 on the non-black GR1s which makes a $195 Coyote GR1 a pretty nice deal on a really nice bag.
My friend, the venerable Patrick Rhone, has launched a new site, “The Cramped”:
If you are the sort of person who appreciates nice paper, a decent pen, a well-crafted notebook, a solid pencil, writing and receiving handwritten correspondence, beautiful handwriting, or the clicky-clack of a dependable typewriter, you have come to the right place.
This is going to be good.