Author Archives: smartpeopleiknow

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How the hotel industry is changing in light of the pandemic

The hotel business is changing in order to survive the pandemic. If you haven’t been to a hotel recently but plan to be, you should read this: What to expect from a hotel stay this summer – The Globe and Mail.

It says “summer” but really I expect this to be going on for some time to come.

(Image by Marten Bjork)

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WindowSwap: or how to change your view during the pandemic


If you are  tired of your view and want to look at something new, I highly recommend this site: WindowSwap.

WindowSwap gives you a random view of someone else’s window somewhere in the world.  Not all the views are beautiful or interesting, but many are. For those of you wishing you could travel but can’t, this site will allow you to vicariously do it through this website.

(Image by Mari Madriz)

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What is the equivalent of “Hello, World” for github?


This: Hello World · GitHub Guides.

If you wanted to learn how to use GitHub but felt unsure or anxious, this is a nice little tutorial on how to do it. You don’t need additional tools or deep skills or even be a programmer.

Well worth a visit.

(Image by Richy Great)

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Are calendars more effective than To Do Lists? Is there a third option? (Yes of course :))


This piece argues that they are: Why Calendars are More Effective Than To Do Lists.

I think there are definite benefits to using calendars over to do lists. For example, when you need to work with other people. Scheduling time makes sure people commit to working on something and getting it done. Calendars are also great for when you need to give yourself a deadline.

I think todo lists are better than calendars when you aren’t sure how long it will take to do a task. Calendars aren’t great if you  spend a significant amount of time planning to do things versus actually doing them. (Although you can procrastinate the same way using todo lists.)

One way of merging calendars with todo lists is to work in sprints of 1 to 2 to 4 weeks, like agile developers do. At the start of a sprint, go over your todo list and prioritize and size your tasks. Then fill up the sprint period with the tasks you can get done in that time. Then you can schedule them on your calendar to remind yourself to get them done.  If you have things blocking you that day, plan to resolve them by eliminating the blocker.

 

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Every story in the world has one of these six basic plots, now proven by data science!

Well, you can determine for yourself whether every story in the world falls into one of these six basic plots:

1. Rags to riches – a steady rise from bad to good fortune
2. Riches to rags – a fall from good to bad, a tragedy
3. Icarus – a rise then a fall in fortune
4. Oedipus – a fall, a rise then a fall again
5. Cinderella – rise, fall, rise
6. Man in a hole – fall, rise

…by reading this piece on how data scientists ran analysis on stories to see if they do: Every story in the world has one of these six basic plots – BBC Culture

It even comes with graphs! 🙂 Here’s Madame Bovary, following plot #2:

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How has New Zealand managed to go 100 days with no coronavirus community spread?

By having very strict controls.

This piece, New Zealand goes 100 days with no coronavirus community spread – Axios), shows just how strict they are:

By the numbers: New Zealand has 23 active coronavirus cases, all NZ residents newly returned from abroad in managed isolation facilities.

Of note: The border remains closed to non-residents and all newly returned Kiwis must undergo a two-week isolation program managed by the country’s defense force, which sees all travelers tested three times before they leave.

Police are stationed outside hotels where travelers are in quarantine. Officers have taken prosecutorial action against several returned travelers who’ve breached these rules by fleeing the facilities under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act.

So good for New Zealand for doing this. But I wish people wouldn’t say New Zealand has beaten the coronavirus. What they have done is control it better than anyone.

Image by Adam Nieścioruk

August pandemic highlights and ramblings (a newsletter, in blog form)

Hi there! Thanks again for reading my latest not-a-newsletter of highlights and ramblings since the last one in July. I didn’t think I would stick with writing these pieces, but I’ve been doing this monthly since the start of the pandemic! I still can’t see me starting a newsletter, but I am less certain now than I was months ago.

This newsletter has some bad things (references to the pandemic and Trump…sorry..) but I added some good things too (Jacques Pepin, vaccine progress, and more). I hope you find it worth reading.

Newsletters: they seem to have really taken off now. The latest one I saw is Andrew Sullivan’s. It’s only been out awhile and he already has over 70,000 subscribers and 10,000 paying subscribers. Pretty big numbers, though not surprising given his fame/notoriety (depending on how you view him). His format is very blog like and more like the Sullivan I used to read. Though a newsletter, it seems like a series of blog posts emailed to you.

You can see Sullivan’s newsletter shaping up as each one comes out. The same is true of Alison Roman’s. She fills in a bit more each time, and she seems to be learning or evolving as she goes along. She now has a free and a paid one, and the paid one gets an extra recipe. Jamelle Bouie used to do something similar before he moved over to the New York Times.

Bouie and others like Austin Kleon have been doing newsletters for years. But things seem to have really taken off since the advent of Substack. The newer ones, like Sullivan and Roman, use Substack. I’m not sure what is driving it, save that Substack makes it easier to monetize subscriptions and provide tools to make it simpler to run a newsletter. It could be that newsletters are seen as the New Thing, the way Podcasts were the New Thing only recently, and people want to get in on the New Thing. For whatever reason, newsletters seem to be taking off.

I still feel like they are emailed blogs, and because of that, I will keep blogging. Blogging, tweeting, newsletters: all just ways of expressing ourselves in the era of the Web.

Favorite newsletters: As for my favorites, Austin Kleon is near the top of the list. His is tight. He has a good structure, he is consistent in putting it out, it is diverse in what it highlights. I like Alison Roman’s too: it’s like getting a small part of what will be her next cookbook weekly. Speaking of cooking newsletters, I really like Jamelle Bouie’s for that. Unlike Roman, he doesn’t develop new recipes, but he does highlight some really good recipes from others, as well.

Bouie’s has some smart political commentary. Another person with a newsletter filled with insights is Felix Salmon. Paul Krugman’s is ok, but I don’t feel it some times.

Pandemic update: it has been dreadful to watch the pandemic play out in the United States. My optimist’s eye is I seeing some evidence that more states are getting serious about putting in restrictions to get things under control. I hope so. While Trump seems incapable of doing anything remotely useful, others seem to be doing more to keep it in check at least. I feel for Americans.

In Canada things are improving. Not as good as some other countries, but improving. The next big test  will be school’s reopening in September. After that, we may see fresh outbreaks. We will see soon enough.

Overall, we seem to be in the beginning of the middle of the pandemic. If the end is when vaccines roll out and social restrictions ease, and if the beginning was our initial confusion over what to do and eventually doing radical new things, I think we are now in the middle phase where we have to buckle down and try to get by. This part is going to be the grind. When even Michelle Obama is talking about experiencing low grade depression,  it is not surprising that people with less means than her and are worried about their jobs or their health or their loved ones are also having a hard time.

And other bad things: the pandemic is not the only thing weighing on the mind of Michelle Obama and others. The killing of black Americans, as well as the other injustices they suffer, plays a part. Here in Canada we are seeing the inequalities in our society highlighted in the way that certain groups end up bearing more of the brunt of the pandemic than other groups. I was hopeful that one silver lining of the pandemic would be more political and social effort to address those inequalities. I am less hopeful now. After a burst of coming togetherness in the early part of the pandemic, I suspect now people strongly want it just to be over.

But some good things: if you search for “covid vaccine”, you will be swamped with results showing that much progress is being made there. Plus already there are better forms of treatment for people who do suffer as a result of COVID-19. That’s really good.

With better treatment and a wide spread vaccine and possibly a change in government in the US, there is also the potential for a huge economic recovery worldwide. This is not to overlook the suffering now, but to look forward to a new and healthy and better off world.

The other good thing about the pandemic is the strong fiscal stimulus governments have put into fending off the worst from an economic perspective. I hope more progressive political parties and organizations use this to push on in the future for greater government involvement in improving the lives of more and more people.  Let’s see.

Other good things….

Jacques Pepin: I found Jacques Pepin on Instagram. He’s great! Of course he’s great, Bernie, you sigh. I mean, what I love about him is his style of cooking and sharing. Very old school in some ways, very French, but not flashy. He cooks in a little kitchen and tells stories and chops up food and even uses a microwave. I love that! Who’s going to tell him he shouldn’t use a microwave? Only a fool would do that. Jacques Pepin can cook any way he wants. He’s Jacques Pepin, that’s why. 🙂

Le Bernardin and World Central Kitchen:  Eric Ripert is making the most of his downtime by turning his world famous restaurant into a place to make meals for those less fortunate. Every week he turns out hundreds of meals that are then distributed to others. It’s a good act, and you can read about it here.

Finally…

2020 and the pandemic era: there’s a meme started by Reese Witherspoon showing a headshot for each month. Many other celebrities have adopted it. As you might suspect, each headshot shows more and more distress as the months pass. If you feel that way yourself, consider yourself part of a larger community!

We are in the pandemic era. Like other periods of great stress (e.g. the Great Depression),  time is measured more by a specific set of events and less by calendars and scheduled events. We cannot schedule this, only live through it.

It will end. Just like all era do. Try and make the most of it, and try to permanently record your thoughts and feelings and anything else that embodies the era. You will fondly look back on it, the way humans tend to do. Plus, people of later generations will want to hear about it and see evidence of it. Give them something of yourself from the time. Even if it pictures of the bread you made that one time, or a snapshot of the Zoom calls you were on, or something you bought online when all the retail stores were closed. You are living through history: you are special just by living in this time.

At the beginning of the pandemic I made this zine to remind people to make a list of things they want to do when the pandemic is over. There is still time to make that list, even though some of those things are already happening. Traveling is one of the things on mind. But even something simple like causally wandering into one of my favorite noodle bars and slurping some good brothy noodles is something I am looking forward too. And with that said, thanks again for reading this.

 

Image of a bar

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On why I will likely never be a minimalist

Simply put, I love rooms like this. The books! The colour! The nik naks! 🙂

Love it. If you do too, check out where I found this photo: 19 vibrant rooms that don’t shy away from color and pattern.

Many of them are stunning and luxurious, and others are simple and low key, like this:

I’d be happy to hang out and live in any of these 19 rooms.

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Is New York dead yet?

Predictions are hard. Predictions about New York City especially so. This one was written a few years ago, and talks about how gentrification is killing NY: The Death of a Once Great City | Harper’s Magazine.

Now in the midst of the pandemic, that economic costs of that will take a bite out of gentrification, which will be nothing compared to the closures that will occur as this disease hangs over the city and the rest of the world.

Whatever happens to New York, be it 9/11 or gentrification or the pandemic, I think the best and safest prediction is to never count it out. Perhaps some far off day New York will no longer be one of the world’s great cities. Perhaps some day it will die off, like many other great cities have. I think we can predict that day is far away still.

So whenever you read about New York dying of one thing or another, take it with a grain of salt.

(Photo via malteesimo)

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On my odd fascination with minimalism

I am oddly fascinated by minimalism. It appeals to me, though I could never adopt it. Visually I like the look of minimalist places (like the one pictured above, from this piece, Goodbye things, hello minimalism: can living with less make you happier? | Books | The Guardian). But then I know I am terrible and I would be hanging pictures and adding furniture in no time.

I suspect the simplicity of it appeals to me too. So much less to manage. But then I would get bored of wearing the same clothes, like this:

Likewise, a kitchen with this many things in a drawer seems great. No clutter, no struggling to find things, or manage things

But then I think that a kitchen is a workshop and like any good workshop, you need supplies and tools to be effective.

So when I read pieces like this, about Japanese hardcore minimalist, it lures me in to thinking about it for awhile. Then that dream fades.

I am not as anti-minimalist as the author of this piece. But I think they raise some excellent points. Then again I have read the book Goodbye Things and thought it worthwhile.

I suspect that my odd fascinating with minimalism will live on for some time.

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COVID comes for the French Wine Industry


And the result, if you are a fan of French wines, is tragic: Of Wine, Hand Sanitizer and Heartbreak – The New York Times.

You can read it straight up, but it’s worth pondering what it tells us about our values right now, and what they were before. Times are tough in the pandemic era, for winemakers in particular as well as all of us in general.

(Image thanks to Sven Wilhelm).

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On the Apple Cube, a wonderful failure

It’s hard to believe that this computer (see above), that is in the MoMA no less, was a failure. But as this piece shows, it was one of Apple’s least successful computers for a number of reasons: 20 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Built Apple’s G4 Cube. It Bombed | WIRED.

Beautiful design, but not a great product. Every company has those from time to time. Apple was no exception.

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One of the best things about Toronto, the Beltline Trail, is going to get even better


According to this: This Toronto trail is getting new platforms where old train stations used to be.

The Beltline Trail is one of the things I treasure about Toronto. As a pathway alone it is wonder, full of runners and cyclists and many folks just out for a walk under the tree canopy. It likely wouldn’t exist if not for the short lived train line that cut through this part of the city. Now the pathway will be tied to the very thing that brought it to life. That’s great.

If you live in Toronto, you owe it to yourself to visit it sometime.

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Change your rug, change your room

You might reply, sure Bernie, that’s fine and I agree, but rugs are expensive. I can’t argue that: rugs can be expensive. But there’s also good cheap rugs  and if you don’t believe me, read this: Cheap Thrills: Vintage-Style Rugs Under $100 | Apartment Therapy

Now, that’s an older piece. Some of those rugs may not be there. But it’s worth reading just to get the names of websites that have low cost rugs. Check them out; you’re sure to find one you like.

If you want to change your room, you can change your furniture and you can paint your walls. But that’s can end up being a lot  time and money. A cheap rug could just be the thing to freshen up your room.

P.S. Not all the rugs are colorful, but I like colorful rugs so I chose that image. Also that rug has pink and pink in a rug tends to go with many room colours.

P.S.S. IKEA is also a source of inexpensive rugs. And their black and white Stockholm rugs is famous for a good reason while being low cost.

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On the passing of filmmaker Alan Parker

Alan Parker just died. If you grew up in the last quarter of the 20th century, odds are very good you’ve seen one of his films, if not several. You may not even realized you did. He wasn’t a fan of the auteur idea of being a director, and that likely resulted in him not making films in a consistent way. Which is fine, since he made many a good film. The New York Times has done a wonderful thing and put together a list of some of his most well known films and where you can watch them online: Where to Stream Alan Parker’s Best Movies – The New York Times.

If you haven’t seen any of his films, now is your chance. Grab that list and go stream. I may rewatch “The Commitments”, one of the more enjoyable films from that time.

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On Microsoft Teams, or how the old problems of Microsoft are new again


There were two problems with the company that Bill Gates built up until he left (after the famous antitrust case). One old problem was the approach they sometime took to dominate a market. Based on this quote and this article, Slack files competition complaint against Microsoft in the EU – The Verge, it seems they are using this approach again. According to Slack…

Microsoft is reverting to past behavior,” claims David Schellhase, general counsel at Slack. “They created a weak, copycat product and tied it to their dominant Office product, force installing it and blocking its removal, a carbon copy of their illegal behavior during the ‘browser wars.’ Slack is asking the European Commission to take swift action to ensure Microsoft cannot continue to illegally leverage its power from one market to another by bundling or tying products.”

That’s too bad. It’s bad for Slack, of course, but it’s bad for anyone who works in a modern office and wants to work effectively. You end up using not the best product or the one best suited to your needs, but the product from the vendor that is able to crush the competition.  That’s how you end up with places having lots of Microsoft products, rather than the best products.

Which brings me to the second problem with Microsoft’s products. It’s a problem Steve Jobs talks about here:

My personal feeling is Microsoft’s products still have no taste, whether it is Sharepoint or Xbox or Azure or Teams. When I compare them to Playstation or IBM Cloud or Slack or a variety of other products from different vendor, I am always disappointed. I realize that taste is subjective and that could be just me, but I always find them a bit blah. They do the job, and at an enterprise level they may make good business sense, but in a perfect world, they would not be the ones I would use. I believe Microsoft knows this: that’s why the first problem occurs.

P.S. A reminder, when it comes to IT opinions expressed here, these are meant to be my opinions only, and not those held by my current employer.

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On supply chains, using one tiny widget’s journey through North America


You may have a view of trade as being straightforward: one country either buys or sells a product to another country. However as this older piece shows, it’s never quite that simple: One Tiny Widget’s Dizzying Journey Through the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

That’s not to say all products are like that. As we learned during the pandemic, all it takes is for a shutdown of one country and suddenly we can’t get a product. But for many products, the journey isn’t from A to B. It’s from A to B to …Z? It’s complex. And if there is a disruption along the way, disaster can occur.

One thing for sure, given how the pandemic disrupted supply chains, I expect many companies are countries are going to be revisiting how they get products and how they can better protect themselves against not being able to get it in times of emergency.

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Brush up on philosophical ideas at The Stone

Keeping up with contemporary philosophy can be difficult for people who are not dedicated to it. Which is why I am happy to share news about The Stone over at the New York Times. As they describe it:

(The Stone is) A forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. The series moderator is Simon Critchley, who teaches philosophy at The New School for Social Research.

I read a number of good essays there. The ideas can be challenging, but the language used is not. Well worth checking out.

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The Vocal Ranges of the Greatest Singers*

Ok, this is fun: The Vocal Ranges of the Greatest Singers*.

You really want to check out the site using your desktop: you don’t get to appreciate the site as well on your phone.

I found some of it surprising, though not all of it. Barry White is obviously well represented in the low end, and Mariah Carey is well represented in the high end. And while some singers don’t perform in a wide range, that’s no reflection on their singing ability (ahem, Aretha).

I also added an asterisk because people familiar with singers from the opera world would argue that all these pop singers are not truly the greatest.

But like I said, it’s just fun. Enjoy.

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On the difficulty of meaningless work

I thought this piece was  insightful and worth reading:  Too Many Jobs Feel Meaningless Because They Are.

One of the examples from the piece was especially insightful:

Consider the case of Eric, a history graduate hired to oversee a software project ostensibly intended to improve the coordination of different groups in a large firm. Eric only discovered after several years on the job that one of the firm’s partners had initiated the project, but that several others were against it and were acting to sabotage its success. His job — and that of a large staff hired beneath him — was a meaningless effort to put into place a change that most of the company didn’t want.

This is not to imply that all companies are like this. Companies can be efficient and well aligned and the vast majority of the people in it can feel like the work they are doing make a difference most of the time. However there are also companies which are not well aligned and there are conflicts within the organization. When that happens, the work being done may be meaningless, despite the fact that someone wants it done.

Work can be hard for a number of reasons: too much of it,  difficult people to work with, etc. But it can also be hard if it is meaningless, even if everything else is good.

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The Uighurs and China

I suspect there will be many more stories about the Uighurs and their relation with China in the months to come. If you want to know more about them and the reason for the conflict, I found this was a useful piece: The Uighurs and the Chinese state: A long history of discord – BBC News.

 

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If your house is in shambles, you’re not alone


If your house is a bit of a mess right now, don’t beat yourself up. As this article showed me, it’s a pretty common problem: My House Has Not Kept Up With the Pandemic in The New York Times.

Now what you do about it is up to you. If you are fine with the mess, then fine. But if you are like me and the mess is getting to you after awhile, I recommend you start setting up a schedule to tackle it. Even bits at a time, starting with an area you can manage. You may find (like I did) that after you clean and tidy a bit, you feel better. Sure, no one may be visiting, but you’ll feel better, and that’s important too

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Two interesting IT trends and one novel thing: iPhone 11s in India, Siemens doubles down on WFH, and you can run Windows 95 PC inside Minecraft and play Doom with it.

The good folks at itbusiness.ca have a podcast called Hashtag Trending and today they talked about two interesting IT trends and one novel thing: iPhone 11s in India; Windows 95 PC inside Minecraft; Siemens doubles down on WFH. Here’s an excerpt:

Apple is building iPhone 11s in southern India. The move comes as Apple has been looking to shift some of its manufacturing away from China amid US-China trade war and disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple already assembles two other models in India — the iPhone XR and iPhone 7. ….

… A new modification has been created for the game Minecraft allowing players to order computer parts from a satellite orbiting around a Minecraft world and build a computer that actually runs Windows 95 and other operating systems. According to the Verge the mod uses VirtualBox, which is free and open-source virtual machine software, to run operating systems like Windows 95. All you have to do within Minecraft is place a PC case block and then use it to create virtual hard drives to install operating systems from ISO files.

And lastly, Reuters is reporting that German conglomerate Siemens says it’s going to allow employees to “work from anywhere” for two or three days a week, and focus on “outcomes” rather than time spent in the office. Days after the recent announcement, the company says it was giving its over 100,000 employees access to a new app that provides local data on the COVID-19 situation, shows office occupancy levels and acts as a contact tracing tool. This of course is just the latest enterprise announcing its intentions for the post-COVID-world, following in the footsteps of Twitter, Facebook, OpenText and others, which have made their own announcements around remote work for employees moving forward.

It’s really remarkable how much thought provoking stuff is jammed in here. I find itbusiness.ca a good way to keep up with IT business news, regardless of what country you live in. Worth subscribing too for sure.

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Microsoft tries again in the phone business with the Surface Duo

And Verge has the story on this device…


…here: Microsoft’s Surface Duo looks like it’s ready to launch – The Verge.

Who knows if the world is ready for a Microsoft Phone or a Dual Screen Phone. I predict that dual screen phones like this will become more common in the next few years. Unlike some of the foldable screen phones, this one looks more durable, which will help. As well, phone makers need new designs to entice people to upgrade. And people will want the next new thing (though maybe not from Microsoft). All this adds up to more of these in the hands of cell phone users in the next few years.

That said, I am terrible at making predictions!  But I predict this will see some form of success. 🙂

Three links to help you get back into some kind of fitness routine.

I keep searching for information on fitness, trying to motivate myself to get there. These seemed good to me. If you are in the same slump, check them out:

  1. Just try anything, 3x a week.
  2. Some new fitness routines to try.
  3. Some fitness myths that may be stopping you from exercising.
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On how Christopher Nolan borrows from Michael Mann and “Heat” for The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan borrows heavily from Michael Mann, in particular from Mann’s best film, Heat, for his own film, The Dark Knight. To see what I mean, watch this video: The Dark Knight: Visual Echoes.

Visually, he borrows a great deal. But I think he goes much further than that. The bank scene in The Dark Knight takes a lot from the bank scene in Heat. Not just visually, but sounds and action too.

To see what I mean, here’s the scene from Heat:

And here’s the scene from The Dark Knight:

This is not to take away from Nolan, who is a great director. But it is fascinating to me to see how much he uses of Mann, another great director. It’s almost a homage to him.

Fans of The Dark Knight might like to watch it and then watch Heat. You won’t be disappointed.

P.S. The scene from Heat is not just the bank robbery but the getaway. It’s a classic.

When you need to paint your room and you don’t want white or strong colours, then…

You need to read this piece: The Best Neutral Paint Colours That Aren’t White.

Most of them are variations of gray, which is…good. You still get some colour in your room, but the overall effect is still neutral. (For example, this room in Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter).

The article gives a wide range of colours (yes, gray is a colour). You should be able to find something to take the white off your walls.

Friday Night Cocktails: Spritzes!

Now that we are in the middle of the summer (in the Northern Hemisphere), it’s time to add spritzes to your cocktail repertoire. If you are in need of ideas, I recommend this: Six Delicious Spritzes to Make from Cup of Jo. From the still trendy Aperol Spritz to white wine spritzers, there’s like at least on drink in here you’ll want to make while the nights are hot and the days are even hotter.

Also a good idea if you still want a drink but want to cut down on your alcohol consumption. 

Cheers!

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On the importance of pride as a feeling to cultivate


Being proud is like many feelings: you have to proportion it. But many people believe that only lacking pride is the way to go. If you are one of those people, I recommend this: What Are You Proud Of? | A Cup of Jo

Being proud is a feeling that can keep you being good and drive you towards being better. Mix in some humility and some love for and your fellow human beings and you have a formula for growth as a person.

Pandemic Perspective: here’s some reasons to be optimistic


Sure, the pandemic isn’t over. In some places, it’s far from over. But that’s no reason to be totally pessimistic. If you feel that way, I recommend you read this: Six reasons to be optimistic about Covid-19.

It’s not the end of the pandemic. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it is at least the end of the beginning. Things are going to get better.

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The story of how John Lewis ended up making a graphic memoir

Is told here: How John Lewis’s masterful illustrated memoir is a shining torch for the next generation – The Washington Post

It’s a great story about the life of a great man captured in illustrated form.

Once you read about it, you can buy it here and other places that sell graphic novels and other illustrated books.

It’s Wednesday. Your brain is tired. Maybe you need to feed it better.

And by feed it I don’t mean drink more coffee. I mean eat foods that have been shown to help our brains work better. The author of this piece ate food considered best for our brains for a week and recorded what happened. Surprise: you don’t turn into a genius. But you will see some benefits. And that’s a good thing.

(Image from healthline.com)

In praise of Mary Pratt

Mary Pratt is a master of colour and light. You get a sense of that just from this photo of her, and if you have ever seen her paintings, then you already know that. I have been studying her painting recently, and in search of more information of her, came across this great piece in Canadian Art. She passed away in 2018, but her art will live on long after this decade or even century has passed.

If you aren’t already a fan, I recommend knowing more about her and her work. That linked article is a good starting point.

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Simple impressive: 15 Of The Most Beautiful Subway Stations In The World

This really deserves a look: 15 Of The Most Beautiful Metro Stations In The World

A surprising number of them are in Moscow. Only one that isn’t in Europe.

Subways should be beautiful: they get used by so many people. We deserve beauty.

(Image above a link to the original post)

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You should fill your house with eucalyptus

Why? Because it makes any room look better! This piece shows how, be it your bathroom, your bedroom or really any other room:  Eucalyptus: The Affordable Plant You Should Be Buying | Apartment Therapy

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Someday we will have dinner parties again. When we do, I recommend you study this piece


Someday we will have dinner parties, post pandemic. When we do, we will be very rusty having them. Plus, we will be so happy to have people over that the food, while important, should be secondary to being able to host people. So, what to do?

Easy, Through a very easy dinner party, like they did over at the blog, A Cup of Jo. It looks like a wonderful time with the least amount of effort. Which is fine! More than fine, in fact.

We will have dinner parties again. Read this and be ready.

P.S. Of course you can do just the opposite and throw an elaborate party to celebrate. That’s fine too! 🙂

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How to make your rooms pop by using bright complementary colours

Last week I wrote about white paint. Now for something completely different: bright colours! This piece is a great guide for how to use colour in your home, which is especially good for people shy about using bolder colours: Complementary Colors & How to Decorate With Them | Apartment Therapy

In a nutshell: “Complementary colors, when used together in color schemes, are especially dynamic and pleasing to the eye.” So find your favorite colour, find its complement on the colour wheel, and use that as your guide.

My small tip: if you love a certain colour (e.g. orange), then look to use the complementary colour in the background (e.g. blue sofa, blue wall colour). Then you can fill the foreground with objects in your favourite colour.

Another tip: use artworks containing both colours. Obviously you should love the art first, but if you have many pieces you can hang or display, aim to use those that fit in with the overall colour scheme of the room. (See the image above for examples of this. It’s a good example of how blue and orange go together.)

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Friday Night Music: Larkin Poe cover the classic ZZ Top song, “Sharp Dressed Man”

via Larkin Poe | ZZ Top Cover (“Sharp Dressed Man”) – YouTube

Via Paul Krugman’s newsletter. Not surprising, really.

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Friday Night Music: Stevie Wonder – Uptight (Everything’s Alright)

Great footage of a very young Stevie Wonder performing this classic:  Uptight (Everything’s Alright) (1965) HD 0815007 – YouTube

One thing for sure, Stevie Wonder is much more than an average guy. Enjoy.

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17 books to get you through the pandemic, or the summer, or even the weekend


I saved this at the start of the pandemic for a time when I could freely buy books again. Now is that time, in Canada. I think this is a fine list, full of old and new books: 17 books to get you through the pandemic – Free Candie

Summer is a great time to read. Try and do that. If you get stuck, I find sticking to short/funny/light books can help.

And ready the Free Candie blog. It’s great.

(Image from a link to the blog post)