Journal 17: More Things I Learned

(Then even more things I learned, then scary things to learn in the dark, etc.)

I didn’t draw as much this week. I did write a few posts:

  • Podcast Notes: Cal Newport and Pat Flynn — I’ve been reviewing Cal Newport’s Deep Work lately. His appearance on Pat Flynn’s podcast was a nice surprise. I wrote some notes about their discussion.
  • Book Notes: The Alchemist — I finished reading the alchemist last week and wrote some notes for it I haven’t quite posted to the front page because I don’t have a drawing related to it right now. My book notes expand on the blurb about The Alchemist that I wrote in my last journal post: passion isn’t everything (Hey hey, Newport and Flynn talk about that on a certain podcast), but affirmations do have a lot of power.
  • Book notes: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running — I listen to this audiobook in a day or two. I’ve been doing this more often just walking around listening to audiobooks in a few days. It seems much more effective than when I read through but very quickly and and mostly skimming it. Getting through large chunks of books in one go that makes it easier to see connections. It’s like binge watching a TV show over a weekend versus watching the season through normal weekly releases. I imagine the same negatives come with that as well. Oh yeah, the book. It could basically be called what I write about when I write about writing. There’s so much insight into how he approaches writing and what it means to live his life as a writer. There are pitfalls and there are great things about it and he’s able to explain that and related to his other interest: long distance running.

This week, I’ll try again with notes from three different sources. Last week it was all books. It won’t be that way every week. I want to mix some podcast notes, YouTube videos, and any other thing I might find some inspiration from.

(As I’m writing that I’m realizing this is just about the standard newsletter format.)

Laughing every day

In the past year, I’ve read a handful of books about writing comedy. Unfortunately (for me), you wouldn’t be able to guess that by my writing. I started another one, Comedy Writing Secrets by Mark Shatz and Mel Helitzer. Here’s one of the early suggested exercises:

List your ten favorite comedians and humorists, and use the Internet to search for jokes or quotes by each of these individuals. After you amass twenty jokes, write each joke on an index card. On the back of each card, identify the subject or target of the joke, and explain why you think the joke is funny. This exercise will help you become aware of the format of successful jokes and provide you with insight into your own comedic preferences.

I’m realizing just how little I’ve actually executed on the different exercises offered up in all the comedy writing books. My takeaway from all of those books and any interview with comedians is that it can be learned but it’s very hard work. Then I proceed to not do any of the hard work. I haven’t tried creating association lists or anything like that.

I used to have a template for daily journaling. It had the usual things like gratitudes and picking out most important tasks. I also wrote one thing that made me laugh every day.

By far, those laugh sections are the best reason to go back and read those old journal entries. It best captures how much there is to enjoy day to day. A lot of the entries would be about some dumb thing a friend texted. And I’m able to remember how I felt reading it.

I suspect doing this would have a similar effect to writing gratitudes every day. I’ll try that on my own and also try explaining why I found it funny. Because jokes you have to explain are the best kind.

Daily decrease

I read Declutter Your Mind last week and came across this Bruce Lee quote:

“It’s not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”

In college I managed to lock down a single room at one of the dorms my sophomore year. I heard they were small, but then I opened the door and saw this.

It redefined what a small room was to me. Now that I’ve experienced New York apartments, it doesn’t seem so bad. In either case, spending a year in that dorm room showed me how much I needed to live comfortably. The answer: not much. I did a pretty good job avoiding acquiring stuff throughout the years. I did a suitcase-only move to New York.

In the past couple years I’ve really been able to start applying that type of thinking to other aspects in life. I’ve been enjoying just walking around for the sake of walking lately. Which is taking advantage of the city and taking it for granted at the same time.

I also ordered an iMac earlier this week and canceled and then ordered it again. I still like stuff, so I know I’m not quite ready to turn into a ball of plasma and join the energy stream. But maybe I can increase meditation sessions to 15 minutes.


I’ve been reading Snow Crash and I came into it thinking it was a super serious book about VR. I didn’t expect so much hilarious writing. Descriptions here and there keep making me chuckle. I’ll have to read more Neal Stephenson books. Here’s a description of gargoyles, who attached computers to themselves to become advanced PIs but look more like human surveillance systems:

Nothing looks stupider; these getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculator pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class that is at once above and far below human society.

It’s a perfect description of so many contemporary things. I used to use an armband with a slot to slide your iPhone into during workouts. When I wanted to change tracks I’d tap some things on my bicep or tricep depending on how much the armband moved around. It was just a few taps away from the Predator trying to blow up Arnold and the jungle.

Technology and startups are cool now. They’ll always be able to trace their lineage to some calculator pouch. I’ll always trace my lineage to weekends looked like this: