Author Archives: smartpeopleiknow

If you got value from your visit and want to buy me a coffee, now you can!

Simple. Go here: www.buymeacoffee.com/berniemichalik

and in no time you can buy me a coffee. Which I appreciate, since I buy a lot of coffee!

Thank you!

(Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

Not your parent’s sofa

If you have ever shopped for a sofa, you can quickly start thinking that there is not much to choose from. If you think that, I want you to check out this: Sofa designs so good, they’re impossible to resist: Part 3 | Yanko Design.

For example, you have this burgundy beauty here:

As well as some that aren’t quite as out there, like this:

You might never want to approach any of them, let alone buy one, but after you are done looking at them, you will have to admit there is more than one way to design a sofa.

On friendship, it’s importance and limits

 I have been thinking a lot about friendships over the pandemic. I have wondered how many friendships will dissolve due to the distance imposed on us by this disease. I have wondered how many will strengthen afterwards when we have a chance to reunite. This crazy time has distorted our lives in so many ways, and our friendships will be one of those things that gets distorted.

If I have you thinking about friendship now, here’s more food for thought:

  1. The People Who Prioritize a Friendship Over Romance – The Atlantic
  2. Why You Need a Network of Low-Stakes, Casual Friendships – The New York Times
  3. The Limits of Friendship | The New Yorker

The pandemic will be over. When that happens, make sure you value the people who were your friends during this difficult time. Best friends are best. But go out and make more friends, too.

(Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash)

On Frank Gehry’s latest proposed building for Toronto

Starchitect Frank Gehry is proposing a new set of towers for Toronto, and BlogTo has the latest on it here: Frank Gehry towers in Toronto updated again and people say they look like cheese graters.

I like it. I like the lack of smoothness to it, a quality so many basic buildings have in the downtown core (though there are many good ones, too).  I like how it looks like towers of blocks slightly askew. I also like it has many units: we need more places for people to live in Toronto.

I do wonder, though, if the final version will look anything like that. Or even if it gets built at all. I vaguely recall that Gehry’s designs for his version of the AGO were scaled back due to lack of money. And the ROM designs of another starchitect, Daniel Libeskind, went through transformations as well, though I believe for different reasons It would be good to have more Gehry in Toronto. If we get it and what it will finally look like remains to be seen. It may not looks like a cheese grater at all by the time it appears on King Street.

Do you love minimalism? Do you hate minimalism? Either way, I have links :)

If you love minimalism, you will love these two links:

  1. A Minimalist Home in Japan Utilizes a Tent Structure With Open Air Sides | Colossa
  2. A zen minimalist cabin that brings nature in and takes distractions out | Yanko Design

They contain images of beautiful buildings in a Japanese minimal style that I love. (The image above is just one of many that will have to fantasizing about visiting them if you love this style too).  Well worth taking a look.

If you hate minimalism, then you won’t leave empty handed if you check this out: The empty promises of Marie Kondo and the craze for minimalism | Life and style | The Guardian

For some reason the Guardian has no problem finding authors to complain about minimalism. Oh well. To each their own.

Some poems of hope and resilience


If you need some hope and inspiration and find your typical Internet material isn’t cutting it, perhaps you need something better. If so, visit this site: Poems of Hope and Resilience | Poetry Foundation. 

There’s many good poems there that might help. As they say:

How can we find hope amid uncertainty, conflict, or loss? When we feel we have lost hope, we may find inspiration in the words and deeds of others. In this selection of poems, hope takes many forms: an open road, an unturned page, a map to another world, an ark, an infant, a long-lost glove that returns to its owner. Using metaphors for hope seems appropriate, as the concept of hope is difficult to describe. It is deeper than simple optimism, and more mysterious, delicate, and elusive. It is a feeling we must develop and cultivate, but like faith, it is also a state with which we are graced. Hope can foster determination and grit—the ability to bounce back and to remain determined despite failures and setbacks—when we make daily efforts to change and improve what we can control. These poems speak to the importance of hope and resilience.

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

On the paths you get to choose in life


There are two sets of paths you take in life: those you choose, and those chosen for you. We comfort ourselves by thinking we have many opportunities to choose the right path, but often the right path is taken away from us, either directly by others, or indirectly through our circumstances. We also comfort ourselves by thinking we can influence others to take the right path by pointing out what is obviously the right way to go. Then we are surprised and saddened when they chose the wrong path.

All of that is a way of introducing these two articles on Terry Naugle. The first one is about him being sentenced to 15 years in jail at the age of 62. The next one is about him dying in prison a year later.

I don’t have anything more to add to this man’s life and death. It seems from a The paths available to him from a very early ages were the wrong ones. Later on he could have chose better paths, but it seems he could not make it over to them. His story made me think about how a good life can move away from us given the paths before us.

(Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash)

Things to look forward to in 2021: growing a small garden


It’s important to have things to look forward to in difficult times. Planting a garden when the weather gets warmer can be one of those things.

If that appeals to you, you want to check this out and perhaps print it out: Everything You Need to Know About Vegetable Gardening in One Graphic. It’s a fine infographic and article outlining what you need to know about growing a plot or patio vegetable garden, including important info like when to plant (some in February!) and when to harvest. (You can see this in the snippet of the infographic is above).

You have to admit it is pleasing to think of going to your patio or plot and pulling up some nice greens to make a fresh salad. To turn that winter dream into a summer reality, check out the article linked to above.

On Jacobin magazine – a marker

Occasionally I like to capture and post markers on things in this blog as a reminder for myself. I have this one on Peter Thiel. This post is on a tweet from a Jacobin magazine author that captures what I think of that publication.

It’s a good reminder of me that some people further to the left of the political spectrum will always focus their attacks not on the right but those in the center and not quite as left wing as them.

On restaurants loved and lost

The pandemic has been hard on people and hard on businesses. One type of business it has been especially hard on is the restaurant business. So many has closed that it is hard to recall them all. Partially to remedy this, the Times did a piece on them: Remembering the Restaurants America Lost in 2020 – The New York Times

If you read it, you will likely see some you loved. One I always wanted to go to but never got to and now never will was Lucky Strike. Here’s how Julia Moskin recalled it:

Lucky Strike was for us. That’s how it felt in the early 1990s, when I lived in downtown Manhattan and my restaurant priorities were cheap red wine, good lighting and a potent steak au poivre. Lucky Strike was Keith McNally’s first restaurant of his own, and a looser, more fun sibling of the polished, magnetic Odeon in TriBeCa, which he had opened with partners in 1980.

At the time, Lucky Strike’s location was most accurately described not as “in SoHo,” but “near the mouth of the Holland Tunnel,” and its strip of Grand Street was desolate at night. The warmth and noise that it spilled onto the street made it a beacon for locals. We liked that the food was never quite good enough to draw a crowd. We liked that the rough floors and wine tumblers repelled the people who came looking for lychee martinis and tuna tartare. Mr. McNally went on to open bigger, glossier joints that are still with us — like Balthazar, Minetta Tavern and Pastis — and has closed almost as many, but Lucky Strike was the only one that was a neighborhood restaurant, and the only one I’ll mourn.

I was going to NYC a fair bit in the 80s and 90s, and I remember the buzz around Lucky Strike. I thought: that’s my kinda place. That’s the kind of place I want to hit when I get to Manhattan. But while I went to New York a fair bit, the times there were always short, and I never made it.

There are many great restaurants  I have gone to in my lifetime. Some like Lucky Strike were killed off in the pandemic, some closed long before that. Some of them are still on some form of life support, hoping to make it through to the bright side of this dreadful era. I want to write about those places before I forget them, for my own sake if nothing else. Although perhaps you will have the same thoughts reading them that I had when reading about Lucky Strike. If so, that will be good too.

Restaurant reside in the best parts of my better memories. It’s a good time to recall them, write about them here, and group them with the tag #restoslovedandlost

(Images from the New York Times article)

The worst technology failures of 2020, including one not considered a failure but could be the worst of all

This piece (Worst technology failures of 2020) by MIT Technology Review has a list of the bigger technology failures of 2020. Some of them, like Quibi and facial recognition abuses, are well known.

One listed here may be the greatest technology failure of them all, though for many it is not considered a failure at all. That is the unregulated pollution of space with tiny satellites. As the article states:

Since prehistory, humankind has looked upwards for awe and inspiration, to imagine what forces created the world—and which might end it. But now, that cosmic view is being contaminated with the reflections of thousands of inexpensive commercial satellites put aloft by companies like Amazon, OneWeb, and SpaceX, who want to cover the Earth with internet connections. Sixty satellites can swarm out of a single rocket.

To see what I mean, check out this picture from the article:

Telescope views from earth are being marred with the light of all these satellites. This is today’s problem. Tomorrow’s problem is going to be all the other pollution, light or otherwise, which is going to result from the rush to put things in space. Science is getting wrecked by this.

Already astronomers are thinking of putting telescopes on the dark side of the moon to escape such problems. But without regulation, who knows if even this will be successful? To hear Elon Musk yammer on, he’s just going to be throwing who knows what into space. He’s already launched one of his stupid cars into the atmosphere. Hardly the guy you can trust to be responsible when it comes to deciding what should go into space.

Here’s hoping that in the rush to do more and more space development (a good thing)  there is also an effort to make sure it is well thought and regulated (also a good thing).

If I had the space in a sheltered woods then I would build this home

So many small homes are…well…not great. Small! But nothing special.

This one is arguably an exception to it. Not only is it more attactive than most, but it is fairly fast to make: This DIY Guesthouse Cabin Comes in a Kit and Only Takes Three Days to Build | Apartment Therapy.

You can argue it is not a home at all. Fair. But it is related, I think. And worth checking out.

If you live in a small space and you are getting tired of it, this can help

It’s tough being at home all the time during the pandemic. It’s tougher still if you live in a small space. Indeed, the sameness and smallness of it can get to you.

One way to get some relief — short of moving — is to rearrange your space to make it seem newer and different. If you are stuck for ideas, you might be able to steal some from here: The Best Studio Apartment Layouts We Saw in 2020 | Apartment Therapy. Make a note of the ideas you like. Maybe get some paper and pencil and start drawing new layouts. Soon you will be on your way to freshening up your place.

If you treat it like a game, it might actually be fun to redo your space. Maybe throw out some old piece or wall hanging and get something new too while you are at it.. Paint an accent wall, even.  With all this rearranging and redecorating you just might find your old place seems fresh and new again. And that will make the pandemic bearable over the next while.

(Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash)

If you are tired of cooking, you need quarantine cooking help


At the beginning of the pandemic there was lots of advice on  cooking and baking being published. Then summer came, and it seemed to have stopped. Restrictions loosened, people went out to restaurants, and in the meantime much of that advice got shelved.

It’s winter now.  In the middle of the second wave with more lockdowns and restrictions, we need that advice again. Bad news: I don’t see as much new material on it. Good news: the old material from before the summer is still good. Case in point, this, from the New York Times: Our Best Recipes and Tips for Coronavirus Quarantine Cooking – The New York Times.

There’s lots and lots of good advice and good recipes there. More than enough to keep you going for the next few months.

My favorite of the lot are the recipes from Melissa Clark. If you don’t know where to start, start there. But really any of the pieces in that long list of recipes and tips are good.

As Jacques Pepin likes to say: happy cooking!

(Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash)

 

Thinking about things Christopher Nolan while watching Tenet

I have been a fan of Christopher Nolan for awhile, although that love is subsiding and Tenet did nothing to help reverse that. I saw it recently, and while I liked it, like was the strongest emotion I could muster. As this says, ‘Tenet’ Is a Must-Watch for Action Movie Fans | WIRED,  maybe it would have been better on the big screen. I mean, films like Interstellar and Inception were.

I had mostly thoughts about Nolan as an auteur and director while watching it, and basically thought

  • He still loves playing with Time: Interstellar, Dunkirk and many other of his films explore and play with time as an element in his films. Obviously he really goes all out here in Tenet. It makes his films challenging and thought provoking at times. Not to mention confusing. Speaking of confusing…
  • He hates dialog. Ok, not entirely, but it is really hard at times to understand what is going on in Tenet. Not just because of the complexity of Time, but because Nolan does terrible things to the film by often obscuring dialog with sound effects. I mean it was hard understanding Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, but it gets way worse in Tenet.
  • He loves reusing actors. That is one of the things I love about Nolan’s films. If he likes you, you are going to get to act in a number of his films. Tenet is no exception.
  • He hates colour. Tenet is one washed out movie. When I think of it, many of his films seem that way to me, but I could be wrong. He’s no Wes Anderson, that’s for sure. I think the most colour he used in any of his recent films was for the character The Joker in The Dark Knight. Meanwhile in Tenet I kept thinking of all these great location shots he filmed and how they all seem like one big drab filter is applied to them all.

Nolan is a smart guy, and that comes across in how he uses time in Tenet and other films. That said, I never felt that one needed to be a philosopher or physicist to watch this or any of his other films. They’re fun sci-fi / action films that are more middle brow than anything else. Don’t be intimidated by some commentary on the internet. Grab yourself a bag of popcorn and watch the film when you are the mood for an action blockbuster. Just take note of what I said above. 🙂

(Image is a link from the Wired article.)

 

 

Illness mindset, pandemic mindset

This is a stark and great piece on how one woman found that her cancer from a previous time is helping her now:  I spent eight months in the hospital as a teenager. Here’s how it prepared me for the pandemic – The Globe and Mail.

It’s really worth reading. This part struck me in particular:

People have a tendency to believe that “everything happens for a reason”; that bad things happen to transform us into individuals who are more grateful, or open, or happy, or strong. So many well-wishers said this, or some version of it, while I was sick, and I hear it so often now, during the pandemic. But I think the real chance for something you could call transformation comes from accepting that there is no reason, and learning how to live with that.

I agree with this. As I argued earlier, many people will not be affected by the pandemic and will go back to their old ways. Those affected may become better people. Or not.

Something to consider as we slog through the days, waiting and hoping the vaccines take this all away.

(Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash)

You know you want to know: how to dress up sweatpants

Like many of us, Fashion has thrown in the towel and has decided to embrace sweatpants. Don’t just take my word on it; here’s one of  the Guardian’s fashion writers explaining, well,  How to dress up sweatpants.

Once the pandemic is over, I predict we are going to see a wave of fashion that is the total opposite of sweats. In the meantime, if you are going to wear them, use that article to be both comfy and stylish.

On my tweeting and my working

Someone today highlighted my tweeting while working. I thought it useful to explain how I work and how tweeting fits in.

For the past many years I have mostly worked in solitude. I get assignments and projects where I am mostly working by myself. I have some meetings where I talk to people, but 50-90% I don’t speak with anyone, day in and day out.

For many people that would be unbearable, but mostly I like it. Mostly. I do like to have company and I do like to stay in touch with the world. For that I use work tools from time to time. But I also use twitter.

On days where I am not slammed with work, I will use the pomodoro approach. I will set a timer for 15-25 minutes (depending on how good or bad my ADD is that day). Then I will take a 5 minute break and check out and respond on twitter. Then I will set a timer again. By doing this, I can get my brain to stay focused. I can do my work in focused spurts and then let my squirrelly brain go for a few minutes.

I have found by doing this I am the most productive I can be. So if you think, “how can this guy be productive if he is on twitter all the time?”, well, now you know.

P.S. If you say “why can’t you just stay focused like me”, I can just say my brain isn’t like yours. You may as well ask: “how come you can’t be the same height as me?”

(Photo by Chris J. Davis on Unsplash)

It’s the second week of January. You’ve broken your resolutions. Here’s some better ones for a pandemic


You’ve made resolutions to improve and already you’ve broken some of them. I get it: it’s hard to keep resolutions at the best of times, never mind during a pandemic.  It’s worse if you were hoping those resolutions were what you were going to get you through the rest of the pandemic. You may feel adrift.

Fortunately help is at hand. Here is a good article that will provide you with some gentle resolutions and how you can keep them: I teach a course on happiness at Yale: this is how to make the most of your resolutions | Health & wellbeing | The Guardian.

In a nutshell, be more compassionate with yourself. By doing that, over time you may find you build up enough inner resources to go back and tackle those failed resolutions. Did I say failed? I meant, paused resolutions. 🙂

(Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

 

On Vija Celmins


I first came across Celmins work at a large exhibit recently at the AGO and was so blown away by it. I love the detail and the abstaction of her art. You can get really lost in just one of her works. I know I did when I saw them. I think you will too.

I was doing some research on her and I found these articles to be good. If you want to learn more about her, check them out:

  1. Vija Celmins – 11 artworks – painting
  2. Explore the art of Vija Celmins – Look Closer | Tate
  3. Vija Celmins’s Surface Matters | The New Yorker

If your book shelves need arranging or inspiration

Here are two links you need if your book shelves need arranging or inspiration:

  1. 450 Square Foot Studio Apartment Layout Inspiration | Apartment Therapy
  2. How to Add Built-In Bookshelves Around Doors in Your Home | Apartment Therapy

(I love the above photo by L’odyssée Belle on Unsplash. I wish our city had something like that.)

One of my favorite photos: nine kings at Buckingham Palace

This may be one of my favorite photographs of all time:


Nine Kings at Buckingham Palace – Iconic Photos

It pictures the nine European Kings gathered together for the funeral in 1910 of England’s King Edward VII.

What I love about it is the illusion of power and permanence it holds. All nine men were soon to shaken by the changes brought on by the upcoming war. All nine would fall from the height they stood on in this photo.

If you go to the link in Iconic Photos, you can get a who’s who of the Kings as well as what happened to them.

More on it here including some wonderful detail, such as the seating list for dinner. Of those gathered around the table, everyone was royalty save the heads of state of the USA and France.

Ai Weiwei turns the tables on the New York Times By the Book and you just might feel better about your own reading afterwards

Whenever I read By The Book interviews in the New York Times, I am always a bit embarrassed. Everyone it seems has a stellar collection of books that they are about to read, they have read all the classics including some obscure ones, they read voraciously, and they arrange their books wonderfully. Meh. Reading about them makes me feel bad.

That’s why I felt better after reading this interview with Ai Weiwei: In the Cultural Revolution, Ai Weiwei’s Father Burned the Family’s Books – The New York Times.

He is well read and thoughtful but he seems much more ordinary about his book reading. And for good reasons. I recommend the interview in itself. And if you feel bad about your own reading, I highly recommend it.

(Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash)

To improve society, you need governments to want to improve society


To improve society, you need governments to want to improve society. This seems obvious, unless you see government function as either wasting money or punishing the worst off in our society. But governments can function very effectively to improve society, and these two articles illustrate this:

  1. Trudeau’s Child Benefit Is Helping Drive Poverty to New Lows – Bloomberg
  2. Jobs, Houses and Cows: China’s Costly Drive to Erase Extreme Poverty – The New York Times

In both countries, poverty isn’t declining by magic or the invisible hand of capitalism. It’s being driven down by specific policies and programs with an aim to eliminate poverty.

A better world is possible. Progress is possible. We just need people and their governments to want it to become possible. Never believe that progress is impossible or an illusion.

(Chart above from here. The downward line is people living in extreme poverty, while the upward line is people not living in extreme poverty.)

Instead of trying to be great, try to suck less


Yesterday I wrote about building up a new habit. Some habits do not require you to gain new skills (e.g. eat more fruit, walk every day). Some habits do (e.g. learning to code, draw, run a 10K). When you first try to build up new habits in those areas, you are going to suck. Your code will suck, your drawings will look like crap, your running might be difficult and painful. To deal with this, you need to do two things.

One thing is to make your goal to suck less in the time to build up your new habit. If you are drawing every day, don’t worry if it sucks. Aim to suck less than the last day. To do that, you will need to do two things:

  1. pay attention to where your new habit sucks and make some notes on where they suck
  2. research how to make such suckage go away
  3. apply what you learned from your research

If you are learning to run and it is hard, research how to make it easier. Maybe you need to stretch more, maybe you need to vary your routine, maybe you need to just cut yourself some slack. If you are learning to draw, maybe you need to draw different things, or maybe you need to draw the same thing every day, or maybe you need better media. You get the idea.

For more good advice on this, see this post by Austin Kleon. In that post you can get a PDF of the calendar pictured above if you need a way to track your progress to less suckage.

And what happens if you keep working on sucking less? Eventually you will find you don’t suck at all. (Or if you do think you suck, everyone else will think you are good and wonder why you think that. :))

How to shake those bad pandemic habits


It’s a new year, and you may not only be fed up with the pandemic but with the bad habits you picked up during the pandemic. You – ok, and me! – need new habits. While there a billion trillion guides on how to build healthy habits, here’s a nice article from the New York Times to help get you going: How to Build Healthy Habits.

In a nutshell:

  1. Start small and stack/tie your new habit
  2. Do it daily
  3. Make it easy
  4. Reward yourself

Stacking or tying your new habit involves tying your new habit to your daily habits and routines. For example, if you drink several cups of coffee each day and you want a habit of eating more fruits and vegetables, then have a piece of fruit every time you go have a coffee.  To make it easy, put the bowl of fruit next to the coffee machine. To reward yourself, have a small — small, not big! — piece of chocolate after completing the new habit. To do it daily, tie it to a routine or current habit you do daily or more.

Remember it takes time to build a new habit. According to the article, building a new habit can take “from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days”. So give yourself some time. And start small and pace yourself.

A few more thoughts:

  • If it starts getting boring, challenge yourself. Or vary your habit.
  • If it starts getting hard, cut back, perhaps to the minimum amount (but not zero).
  • Get a coach or cheerleader, even if it your spouse, your best friend, or even your kids. (Kids love to cheerlead if they get to make noise. :))
  • Track that new habit. I like the journal below. Other people like putting Xs through a calendar. Whatever makes you proud of your accomplishments.
  • At first, focus on the fact you are started. Don’t think about how far you are going. Think about that you are going at all.

(Top Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash. Bottom Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash)

Guyub and other untranslatable words that show different ways of living


Reading through this, 7 Concepts That Celebrate The Importance Of Simplicity, I started thinking we don’t have these words in English perhaps because we don’t value what they represent. But then I came across guyub. According to the piece:

The Indonesian idea of guyub (pronounced guy-oob) celebrates the importance of social connection. This concept entails bringing individuals together to share life’s ups and downs as a community, offering support and ultimately creating a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Now we do have words like that in English: family, community, home. They are simple words: so simple we don’t give them a lot of focus. So perhaps we don’t a Swedish word like döstädning but we do have our own words that represent a range of feelings for what we value. Words like Christmastime or Thanksgiving, which represent much more than a date on the calendar. Perhaps in other languages those are untranslatable too.

(Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash)

Do you love books? And design? And bookshelves?

bookshelf

Then you want to go to this page and check out the magical bookshelves there (like the one above). This lover of books and design absolutely drooled over them (metaphorically speaking).

(I don’t know how comfortable or useful that chair is above, but I love the idea of it.)

On recording (why you should think about it differently, why you should resolve to do it)

Recording. Record. To me those words bring up images of black vinyl disks to play music. Records are great, but there is so much more to making a recording.

A recording can be anything, on any media. All the photos you take on your phone and store on Instagram are a recording. All the receipts you collect in a box are a recording too: a recording of what you spent and where you spent it. Last year I wrote down all the dinners I had since the start of the pandemic: it too is a recording.

For 2021, a good resolution is to record some part of your life. Do it in a way that is easy to do regularly. Do it such that there is enough information to look at it later. Some of my recordings this year were terrible: books I read, runs I went on. Others were strong: things I enjoyed despite the pandemic, politicians I wrote, friends I kept in contact with.

Some people like to use paper for this. Austin Kleon, a master of recording, outlines his process here: The year in notebooks. As he says

If you’re looking for a New Year’s Resolution, keeping a daily notebook is a pretty solid one.

On the other hand, if you are a digital person like me, use a simple tool like SimpleNote or Evernote or just your smartphone camera to record that part of your life. Whatever tool works best for you is the best tool.

It doesn’t have to be a diary or journal format. It can be a log of the best thing that happened each day. Or the funniest thing that happened that week.  Or the weather. Just record something, even if it is a few words.

There’s a number of benefits to making these recordings. If you do it well, at the end of your year you may be able to build up a list like this: 100 things that made my year (2020) – Austin Kleon. Even if your list is smaller, what you may get out of such a list is a recording of what makes your life worth living and what made things worthwhile during times when perhaps things weren’t that great.

Later, as you go through it again, your memory will fire up and you may recall other good moments not captured on paper or computer but still there. That’s another great thing about recording things: it helps you remember so much more.

Your life has value and meaning. Recordings help show that. So get making them.

(Photos by Photo by Samantha Lam  (top) and  by Markus Winkler  (bottom) on Unsplash)

Welcome to the New Year. This advice could come in handy.

Optimism

It’s a new year. A new year after a very difficult one.  It’s a good year to work on being optimistic. If you want to put in that work, start by reading this: How to Be More Optimistic – The New York Times. It will give you some tools to get you started on the path of seeing the fullness of your life.

Yes, there will be difficulties: there always are. The glass is never full. But being able to see things positively is a skill to work on. Today is  a good day to start working on it.

(Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash)

On what Bill Gates was thinking about last New Year’s Eve

Taxes

If you thought that Bill Gates was thinking about pandemics last year, you are incorrect (although he has put a lot of thought into them). No, what he was thinking about when he wrote this,What I’m thinking about this New Year’s Eve, was taxes. Specifically, how to make taxes in the U.S. fairer.

It’s worth reading regardless of your political beliefs. If you are more right wing, you will find things to agree and disagree with. Likewise if you are left wing.

There is too much inequality and poverty in the world. Fairer taxes is one way to address that.

(Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

Some CBT Resources online you may find useful

Man thinking.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy is an effective way to deal with many forms of anxiety and depression. I’d argue it can help people with their thinking in general. If you are looking for tools to help you with it, here are two sets of resources:

  1.  Online Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Workshop
  2. CBT Worksheets (includes this PDF comes).

(Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash)

Kathy (Kathryn) Sullivan is an amazing woman and everyone should know about her


Do you know who Kathy Sullivan is? I didn’t. I know who Elon Musk is. I know James Cameron. Not to mention many other astronauts, athletes, etc. I’d argue she is as great as any one them. After all, she is the first woman to reach the deepest known spot in the ocean after being the first American woman to walk in space. That’s amazing.

If you’d like to know more about here, there’s this piece in the New York Times. And of course she has a Wikipedia page.

(Image attribution: NASA – Great Images in NASA Description, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6449687)

Four good pieces on my hometown, Glace Bay

Anyone with an interest in Glace Bay will find these worth reading:

  1. A COAL TOWN FIGHTS FOR ITS LIFE | Maclean’s | MARCH 15 1954: this was fascinating. A story from Maclean’s Magazine in the 1950s that documented Glace Bay at the crossroads. So much in this piece explains my home town and the people who lived there.
  2. Glace Bay hockey rink’s new name closer to its roots | CBC.ca: a mainstay of Glace Bay is the hockey rink. When I was a kid I lived about 100 meters from it. I spent most of my early days (until grade 10) going to it. So many memories back then revolved around that building.
  3. KEN MACDONALD: Remembering the miners | Local-Lifestyles | Lifestyles | Cape Breton Post: a good piece from the local paper on the mines of Glace Bay and the miners who lived and sometimes died in them.
  4. Miners’ houses: Lawren Harris in Glace Bay – Nova Scotia Advocate: finally this piece on Glace Bay with a focus on a famous painting of Glace Bay by Lawren Harris (shown above). It used to be in the AGO and I often paused to reflect on it, and my hometown. Just like I am doing now.

If you are thinking of doing lots of reading over the holidays…


You might find this interesting: What Happened When I (Tried to) Read 30 Books in 30 Days

Personally I think that is not the ideal way to read. But you should check it out if that sort of thing appeals to you.

Also, it’s the pandemic: don’t read that close to anyone but your immediate circle. 🙂

(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)

It’s Boxing Day in Canada. Shoppers take note.


It’s Boxing Day in Canada. For many, it’s a time of resting and reflection. For others, it’s a time of frenzied shopping to get a good deal. I am more of the former. If you are more of the latter, this link will help you. It supposedly has the best deals for Boxing Day in Canada. Of course you can search on Google for that too. Regardless, all the best to you on your shopping. May you save a bundle.

For more on the history and traditions of Boxing Day, click here.

Merry Christmas! Here’s everything you need to know about making a turkey but were afraid to ask (or do)

Merry Christmas! I hope the day is a peaceful and joyous one for you and yours.

As part of the celebration, you may be making a turkey. Good for you. But making a turkey can be daunting and fearful. You need help. You need a guide. Indeed, what you need this excellent guide from epicurious. It will help you get it done like nobody’s business.

All the best to you and yours on this great day. Merry Christmas. And happy New Year to you as well.

Save this for your Zoom wine and cheese get togethers this holiday season….


If you are planning to have a Zoom get together over the holidays and you are look for ways to jazz it up with a wine (bourbon?) and cheese pairing, check this out: The Best Spirits and Cheese Pairings According to the Experts | The Manual

Or you can go to the site that provided the fine poster above.

Merry Christmas Eve!

If you are spending Christmas alone this year….

If you are spending Christmas alone this year and  you find the thought of it difficult (and why not?) then you might find this helpful: The Best Ways to Spend the Holidays Alone, From Someone Who Does It Every Year.

Some good tips there, pandemic or no pandemic.

Happy Christmas, wherever you are, and with whomever you are spending it with.

 

Some low cost last minute gift ideas for you…

Are here: Best Gifts from West Elm for $50 or Less | Apartment Therapy.

Even if you can’t get them from West Elm, try and use the ideas and get your last minute items crossed off your list.

(Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash)