Journal: What I’m listening to, reading, and watching

I wrote most of this on the way to San Francisco. I’m finishing this on a train home from Flushing. I did some of the drawings between 5-8am on a few of the weekdays.

What I’m listening to

I increased my Audible subscription to two credits each month. I got a few books for my trip.

Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Need, by Margot Leitman, is about, well it’s in the subtitle. Leitman used to teach storytelling classes for the Upright Citizens Brigade’s education center.

I live by the UCB theater but haven’t gone to a show yet. I’ve been meaning to go with my girlfriend and this is another reason to. Leitman doesn’t currently live in New York, but the UCB storytelling show (The Nights of Our Lives) is still on every week.

Oh yah, I mentioned I started recording voice notes and private podcasts. I don’t have guests to interview so I just yap into a microphone. It’s a form of storytelling, so I want to improve. (Even if it’s only to entertain myself.)

I’m a few chapters in and it seems to be exactly what I’m looking for.

What I’ll eventually be listening to

Start With Why, by Simon Sinek, is about inspiring others and being inspired by asking “Why?”

That’s a guess based on the synopsis. I haven’t started listening to it.

The more I work on this blog with a handful of readers, the more I’m considering why I’m doing it. Not that I don’t enjoy it, but I’m looking for a little guidance in steering this ship. It takes time and energy so I want to make sure it’s worth it. I’m grateful that this doesn’t need to be a source of income at all.

What I stopped listening to and am listening to instead

I stopped listening to Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman. It wasn’t boring or bad. I stopped because fiction and narrative nonfiction still don’t seem to work for me. If I’m listening to something for entertainment, I’ll first reach for a podcast.

On that front, my brother pointed me to Hardcore Game of Thrones. (The first few episodes are on SoundCloud for free.) Hardcore Games of Thrones is a parody of Hardcore History. It treats Westeros history as if it were as real as medieval history.

It’s so good. HGoT gives me the same thing I was looking for with Norse Mythology. I don’t have to pay as much attention because I already know most of what I’m listening to.

What I’m reading

Here’s my current rotation of Kindle and hardcover reading.

  • Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart: Still working on this. One of my first memories ever is going to American Video (a video rental place in Japan) with my brother and dad. We were looking for the latest Bret Hart compilation VHS. (Likely this Coliseum Home Video production). Someone rented it out right before we got there. That’s first lessons in disappointment. Anyway, I’ve read far enough that I’m now getting to WWF pay-per-views and matches I grew up on.
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: I’m enjoying this. It’s got me thinking more about which activities I should prioritize to have a joyful life. Like when I was reading Snow Crash, I had to remind myself a few times that it was published in 1990. Since then, I imagine flow has become even harder to achieve. I got a paperback version of this. It’s reminded me of how different reading paper is. I can’t switch to social networks or to other books.
  • Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory: I should’ve bought a paperback version of this also. I’ve been buying a few drawing books but now I need to start applying them. Art Before Breakfast is a good reminder that even a few minutes of drawing will add up.

Every day has a dozen dull moments—fill each one with a quick sketch. A dozen sketches a day means that in ten years you’ll have done 43,829 drawings. Then you’ll be getting somewhere.

What I’m Watching

“Who else could get us to do this other than Kanye?” Some guy I didn’t know was asking his friends. “He got us staring at a brick wall at 1am.”

A lot of cool things happen in New York. It’s one of the reasons I decided to move here. Then I learned many of those cool things are very exclusive or have a gigantic line. This time, it seemed to pay off. I was about to sleep, saw a tweet about projections for the debut of Kanye’s “New Slaves”, got out of bed, and walked a few blocks to one of the corners listed.

We waited. And waited. We checked our phones to see if the other corners got the projections. They did, so we waited more, thinking the street team was making their way north through the city. We waited.

People left, convinced that they skipped our street corner for time reasons. The next day I found out we had the address wrong. The projection was one avenue over. Kanye somehow got us all to watch a brick wall.

Anyway, Big Little Lies somehow got me to watch hours of moms bickering.

Journal: Eating, habits, and Wrestlemania

Okay so I said I would schedule a newsletter and post last week because I was going to be in Austin for a friend’s bachelor party. I followed through on half of that: I went to Austin for a friend’s bachelor party. Lots of fun.

I’ll ramble about four things from the week.

I wrote an extra post this week: I didn’t send it out as a newsletter. I decided I’d stop numbering the journals/issues and just track the numbers on my own. I thought it might help me stop writing about writing and blogging about blogging. There’s a place for that but sometimes I need to try focusing on just writing about whatever the topic is. Oh yeah, the post. The post is The four pillars of health. In the past I might’ve just titled it “Book notes: Wired to Eat” then tag and categorize it properly. I share some thoughts from reading Robb Wolf’s Wired to Eat.

What I’m watching: Wrestlemania 33: During one night of the bachelor party, we made burgers and watched Wrestlemania. I haven’t watched a wrestling pay-per-view with friends since middle school. Undertaker had a streak but it wasn’t The Streak yet. Most of us had not watched wrestling in a while. But all of us watched wrestling as kids.As an adult, it’s always great learning someone watched wrestling growing up. You know that person, at some point in their life, could suspend their disbelief to be entertained by giant men pretending to fight each other.

It brought me back to when we were all growing up. That’s when my friendship with the bachelor was built. We weren’t watching it for the irony or anything. We watched it for the art that it is.

The Undertaker retired. When I was a kid, he was 100% the deadman. He went through his phases but was still the deadman. I’ve changed my gimmick up more than he has since then. When the Undertaker debuted, I was 4. I’m 30 now. And just as willing to sit down with my best friends to find entertainment in giant men pretending to fight.

Mindful now, mindless later: I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before. I’m really enjoying it so far. I read The Happiness Project a few years ago. She’s described it this way: The Happiness Project is about finding what made her happier and Better Than Before is learning to make those happy things a habit.

When establishing a habit, you start by being mindful about it. With the proper approach you can find proper motivation and build the environment and trigger. Then it becomes mindless. You’re going to have habits one way or another. Why not make them go toward your goals?How have I applied this in the past? I write and post pretty consistently. I’ve removed as much friction as possible. I can write anywhere on a lot of devices. I switched from Jekyll to WordPress — trading some nerd cred to think just a little bit less anytime I want to post something. (Sometimes thinking a lot less without the temptation to tweak HTML & CSS.)

My motivation has become more and more intrinsic. I… just like writing. Having a blog lets me create goal markers. Making it even more enjoyable. If I was driven strictly by extrinsic metrics reader count or revenue, I would’ve stopped 175 posts and $1.67 ago.

(Thanks for the continued support to my two subscribers. You know who you are. And you know who each other… is? “are”?)

I started a private podcast: Where “started” is “pressured friends into listening” and “podcast” is “audio files of me rambling for 20 minutes”. Though that probably does qualify as a podcast. It’s the Wild West out there.I mentioned that I’ve been recording voice notes. I was recording more and more. I was starting to feel myself so I went long once and thought it wasn’t bad. I sent it to a friend then a couple more. One of them enjoyed it.I can see why so many people make them. It’s fun. It’s a good change of pace to yap into a microphone for twenty minutes instead of re-writing a sentence over and over. (Just kidding, I re-write once at most then scratch my head. Remember kids, good is the enemy of “it’ll do”.)

I’m off to San Francisco this week. I’ll bring my camera along to try and take a morning walk if possible. Or a walk after work. As always, we’ll see.

Journal #14: Back to drawing

This week, I finally got back to drawing. Going to get back to believing in the process. If I show up and draw, I’ll get better at drawing. Reading about deliberate practice won’t be as good as actually practicing drawing, even if that practice doesn’t 100% fit the guidelines for what makes it deliberate.

I finished reading The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. I really enjoyed it. It’s about Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, and his friendship with Amos Tversky, his collaborator for many years. It touches on relationships, academia, credit, military duty, and thinking.

I also finished reading Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein. It’s another book I really enjoyed.

Sunday Journal: 30 Days, No Tinkering

I won’t edit HTML/CSS until I hit 30 (new) posts in WordPress. How’d I get to this point?

Basically everything I hoped for with WordPress in terms of not tinkering has absolutely not come to light. I tinkered with so much stuff this weekend. I even went back and forth between themes. I went about it pretty poorly. It makes a nice demo to code things live. And is relatively fast. But if I sat down, sketched it out, thought it through, then moved it into code, I would’ve been better off. It’s fine. I think it’s in a good place now for the types of posts I plan to focus on: book notes posts, photo posts, and link posts.

I used WordPress for my blog in high school. Prior to that I tried Greymatter and b2. WordPress has changed a lot in over ten years. What hasn’t changed is my development approach. Change some things. Check it out. Change some other things. See if it works. It didn’t work. Google around for some snippet to try.

You can spend many many hours doing this and I did. I’m going to hit the gym for a mental break, then I’ll try to do these things for a few quick wins:

  • Move more book notes posts over. These are going to be the bulk of what I want to write about. A main motivation for moving over to WordPress is that a lot of times I’m reading and want to write about a passage. But then I think it should be a part of a bigger book notes post that I’ll write after I’m completely finished with the book. Eventually I forget and these things I had a lot of ideas about get lost in the rest of the highlights. I’m betting a collection of 3-5 individual posts as I read will be better than trying to do one long post at the end of reading.
  • Create a to-do page. I’ll write down things to do in the future when I set aside time to tinker.
  • Migrate my 100 Days, 100 Posts page. This will still link to the Jekyll versions of the posts. I’m oddly happy with the collective pile of garbage this is. Because it’s my pile of garbage. This blog will slowly swallow all my other online work as I figure out sensible ways to present them here. The easier part is everything from my Jekyll blog that used to live here. The harder things will be moving my stuff over.