This is part of a set of book notes posts for How to Write Funny by Scott Dikkers

Dikkers talks about subtext and its importance in writing jokes. He explains subtext and provides a bunch of examples showing the subtext of different jokes:

Fun Fact: If you stretched out your intestines they would reach all the way to the cabin in the woods you were murdered in.

SUBTEXT: It’s a little unsettling when people point out how long our intestines are.

Throughout the rest of the book he continues pointing out subtext in jokes. With good subtext, you’re in a good spot. You can work from there.

Subtext applies to other creative things. What’s the subtext of this blog? I’m trying to improve creatively but foolishly think I can shortcut my way there.

What’s the subtext what’s the subtext what’s the subtext. That can be my mantra when writing jokes. Or writing anything.

Steven Pressfield wrote about something similar in Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t:

When you as a writer carry over and apply this mode of thinking to other fields, say the writing of novels or movies or nonfiction, the first question you ask yourself at the start of any project is, “What’s the concept?”

He describes it as concept and subtext seems to be concept applied to jokes.

Let me try finding subtext to a joke. I went to a Chuck Klosterman talk today and he re-told a Mitch Hedburg joke. Someone asked if we should still be motivated looking for answers if we’ll probably be very wrong anyway.

You shouldn’t just stop because you know the ending will be bad. It’s like one of Mitch Hedburg’s jokes.

“Why do you drink, Dont you know you’ll get a hangover?”

“Yeah. At the end.”

It’d be like not eating apples because you know there’s a core.

How much can an ending really ruin the rest of the journey? Lost fans might chime in here.

The subtext is that people rarely consider consequences. Well, they do, but it’s hard to have the right perspective in comparing experiences if one is happening right now and the other is later on. Would anyone drink if the cost was having the headache before drinking?

Well, yes. Probably. Bad example.

Maybe the subtext is simply that people love alcohol.

What other jokes come from the consequences subtext? What’s worth doing something horrible for?

It’s the opposite of exercising, where you intentionally feel like garbage to feel better the entire rest of the time.

Make, Show, Learn Issue 7


I was in Seattle and Vancouver this past week. I took a week off from drawing, instead showing my girlfriend the majesty of my hometown. Meaning showing that I wasn’t joking about Wal-Mart being one of the prime places to spend time at. And taking the 40-minute trip to the nearest mall.

To keep things running  this week, I had a post pretty much ready to post once I got back. I didn’t have it scheduled. I wanted to add this short dispatch section to keep everyone tuned into what I’ve been up to. Here are a few quick updates.

I finished a book this week — The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler. It’s about flow how it helped action sports progress rapidly in the past few decades. I enjoyed getting away from my usual echo chamber. It’s got me thinking I should be a lot more deliberate in the books I choose to read.

Anyway, it feels like the first time in a while that I finished a book in a week. Flights help with that. I took a quick look at my reading in the past couple months and realized I hit my goal of 52 books this year. Longer recap to come.

Thanks to my girlfriend, I now have a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. I’ll write some thoughts about my first week with them. After a couple days using them, I only wish I had them earlier.

I also have these drawings of Conor McGregor and Mike Tyson. They had to do with something Joe Rogan said about knockouts.


What you see happen in the ring is only the beginning. Recovering from that is something that can take weeks and months. Eventually I’ll write something comparing this to burning out mentally. By the time you realize you’re burned out, it’s going to take a bit of time to recover from it.


I wish this was for a better topic, because I liked how this illustration turned out. (Though my struggle with faces continues.)


I’ve already started on a few drawings for the next post. A few will be expansions of the quick updates above. We’ll be back to the regularly scheduled program this Sunday.


What I’m Reading: What in God’s Name

I finished What in God’s Name a couple weeks ago. It was the last of Simon Rich’s books that I hadn’t read. In the book, God is a CEO and heaven is his company. Angels are employees and are able to make things happen on earth.

A few of the scenes involve a server that stores all of history. You can search and watch things like it’s YouTube.

That got me thinking about what places I would want to check out if I had access to the server.


The pyramids
I was very interested in the pyramids as a kid. Anytime I had a choice of topic to do in a school project, I tried doing something on the pyramids. I’d tell everyone I knew that they’re set in the earth following Orion’s Belt. There’s still speculation about how they were built and who built them. It’d be great to just go and see for myself.


Feudal Japan
I grew up in Japan (sort of). It’d be cool to see what it was like when samurai were prevalent. What in God’s Name describes the server as showing things that end up underwhelming. People aren’t as beautiful as the legends say. I have a feeling this is what it would be like without any specific battle to go to. I’d just see them practicing a lot.


The coliseum
Another cool time and place would be Ancient Rome. A lot of things in the server end up being reminders that modern cities are really great in many ways. One big landmark from then is the coliseum. This wouldn’t be as fun as watching Gladiator.

Things seemed to be getting more and more violent and I don’t handle gore well. Time to lighten things up a bit.


Macho Man proposal
The coliseum lives today through sports stadiums. It’d be great to go back in time to buzzer beaters, walk-off home runs, or successful hail marys (maries?). But those are a thousand times better if they’re for teams you root for. Nothing sticks out all that much for teams I root for.

But I’ve definitely rooted for babyfaces in wrestling. And plenty of things stand out. Macho Man proposing to Elizabeth would be a great non-violent palate cleanser.

(Or the Ultimate Warrior returning to help Hulk Hogan. Steve Austin returning to help Mankind would’ve been great too.)


2001 Slam Dunk Contest
Back to sports. I do root for Team USA. The 2008 final against Spain could be cool to see as an entire game. Then I remembered Vince Carter jumped over a guy a few years before that, which would be very very cool to see in person. Then it hit me that the 2001 dunk contest would be great to see from end to end.

I remember watching it live. I remember re-watching it in my dorm room with a few guys on my floor a few years later. And I don’t remember all the individual times I’ve re-watched it in the YouTube spirals after that. I just know I’ve seen it a lot. Seeing it live would be great.

Now I’m realizing I’ve mixed this up a bit. The server in the book lets you watch things like YouTube. It doesn’t let you jump into the place. And I can already watch these modern things on YouTube.

Consider the first three good answers and the wrestling and slam dunk ones answers if we’d be able to have some kind of VR experience of the event.

And of course
You have to see you parents when they were younger, right? There was a Sinbad special I used to watch over and over. One of his bits is reminding us that our parents used to be cool. We’re the ones that made them uncool.

My favorite Tim Ferriss Show episodes

I’m excited for Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss’s 4th book, coming out in December. I want to set some time aside to devour it, then write and draw a book notes post.

His first three books are all related in that they’re not quite what their titles suggest. The 4-Hour Chef isn’t really about cooking, it’s about meta learning. The 4-Hour Body is really about trying things yourself and seeing the results. The 4-Hour Work Week is really about systems.

Ferriss published the audiobook version of Daily Rituals. He loves getting into the actionable aspects of other people’s day to day. From things he’s said leading up to its release, it seems like he’ll be making a tome of knowledge from the podcast.

Tools of Titans will be over 700 pages. I’m guessing it will cover the routines and systems of world-class performers. But it will really be about practical application of that knowledge. I’m guessing Tools of Titans will be something like Daily Rituals, except with his podcast guests replacing the historical figures.

The Tim Ferriss Show has a lot of significance for me and this blog. Earlier this year, Ferriss talked about writing two crappy pages as his goal. I started aiming to write two crappy pages each day.

Then I tried posting daily for 100 days. After finishing that, I turned my attention to drawing. Which led to the current form this blog has taken: I write a weekly post with some drawings to accompany it.

A lot of the posts I wrote were basically show notes of his podcast episodes. Here are five of my favorite episodes from the past year.

Chase Jarvis: This is the episode where he talks about two crappy pages. Ferriss talked about starting the podcast and not worrying about the equipment or insanely high audio quality. He knew people would be listening while doing other things. Audiophiles don’t test setups with podcasts. 

He made sure it was easy to do. Podcasts are a great format for that because he could go long with minimal editing.

Through this year I’ve continued working on reducing any barriers in creating posts. I had a pretty good system. Then I started drawing and now I’m modifying my system.

David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson: This probably has to do with me writing about the episode and drawing him. It was the first episode I wrote about in one of the Make Show Learn posts. I admire Basecamp’s view on work life balance being a part of a sustainable business.

Sustainability and consistency have been themes for me this year.

Malcolm Gladwell: This came out right in the middle of my 100 posts project. He talks about writing being blissful (check out my post about that). In the sense that most writing isn’t actually writing. It’s planning and editing. When he can really sit down and just write, that’s bliss.

Derek Sivers(That’s a transcript): Before the current iteration of this blog, I had random book notes posts. When I was in the 100 posts phase of this blog, a lot of times I was just trying to mimic what Derek Sivers had in his book notes section.

He shares a lot of great stories on the Tim Ferriss show. All with good lessons. He found success while making an effort to stay small.

Mike Birbiglia: I’m all-in on episodes with people talking about writing habits. Birbiglia goes to a coffee shop first thing in the morning and writes for at least three hours. Sometimes five.

Like other writers, he starts by getting words on the page with minimal editing. Everyone has different names for it. He calls it his throw-up pass. (See The vomit draft).

Most of the posts I wrote during the 100 days, 100 posts weren’t very good. I wrote about a quote Birbiglia talks about: Only emotion endures. It’s one of those 100 that I’m actually happy with in hindsight. 

Make, Show, Learn Issue 6

“I’m gonna try something” — Captain Jimmy Wilder

Being mindful of word count worked well last week. Each week, one section goes on much longer than the others.

I’m getting close to abandoning the single-post-each-week format. It often ends up being a hodgepodge of ideas baked to different temperatures. It makes sense to separate some things into their own post. Particularly when it’s about a single book.

A close friend called me on FaceTime earlier this week. I haven’t seen him in a few months. After talking about things that actually mattered, I mentioned that I started drawing. I showed him some of the work things from the last month.

It was good to see some improvement. There are still times when I wonder if this is something to pursue long-term. In the past, I could see myself saying, “Nope! Must not be passionate enough.”

This time, though, I remind myself of the end I have in mind. A year from now I’ll have 40 weekly posts with illustrations and writing. Issue #4 was better than issue #1. Issue #40 will be better than issue #4.

It won’t be fun every single time. It will be worth it every single time.

I had a plan this week. On Monday, I made five separate files (one for each section of the post) in iA Writer. I was going to fill them in, add drawings as I went along, then have a post ready to go. I pull the posts together on the weekend. By Friday, I had five sections filled in, but only one that I liked.

Something else I had was more ideas. I tossed my plan out along  with a few of the sections. I’m separating the one that I liked into a separate post.

I’ll have a varying amount of time to work on each weekly post. I’ll need a system for moving the extra time into weeks where I have no time at all. This upcoming holiday week will be my first test.

I’ve been brainstorming in Notability. It’s one of my favorite things to do. There’s a template I’ve been using that’s a vertical storyboard. Actually, here’s what it looks like:

I’ve been trying to write down the text side and then sketch things out on the left side after that. Here’s a look at some other pages I’ve done.

I wanted to try presenting things like that in a post. On Saturday, I tried things out in HTML/CSS and then converted it to WordPress. Actually, let me do a quick demo.

Images on the left. Text on the right. (One column on mobile.)
I didn’t say it was going to be mindblowing or anything.

In hindsight, I’m frustrated with how long it took to figure this out. The solution was more straightforward than I thought. Sometime in the next few months I need to sit down and learn WordPress.

Doodle from last week’s post
Last week I wrote a description of Joe Rogan talking about motivation always fading with time. The sketches were each done on a five minute timer. Before that, they were even rougher. I scribbled them down the side of one of the storyboard pages in Notability.

The voice in my head is an asshole
Dan Harris says that was one of the working titles for his book, 10% Happier (check out my book notes). It came to mind while reading The Creative’s Curse (blurb below). We say so many things to ourselves that stop us from being creative.

Anyway, that’s the end of the demo. It won’t be the last time you see it. I’ll also keep thinking of other layouts.

What I’m reading: A peek into the echo chamber

Remember, ‘stalagmite’ has a g in it so it’s on the ground. Note to self: use a different color for cave next time.

Last week a lot of us became a little more aware of the echo chambers we’re in. Over the past year I noticed that authors I liked were showing up on a bunch of podcasts I listen to. I’ve made an effort to consume media from more perspectives.

This week’s reading was not the best example of that effort. (Neither is my podcast rotation that’s basically only Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, Bill Simmons’s friends, or TADPOG.)

The Creative’s Curse by Todd Brison
I enjoyed The Creative’s Curse. You can get a sense of what the book will be like by reading Brison’s latest blog posts.

I’m guessing people read The War of Art and realize it’s like a collection of blog posts. Steven Pressfield says his nonfiction started as a bunch of separate essays in Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t.

People with their own collection of blog posts eventually try putting something similar together. The Creative’s Curse reminds me of those books, but it’s a hell of a lot better than other self-published eBooks I’ve read.

How to Write Funny by Scott Dikkers
Dikkers was a founding editor of The Onion. At the beginning of the book, he talks about writing about writing comedy.

A lot of people who write books about how to write humor feel a pressure to make the book funny.

The book captures someone very good at comedy trying not to be funny. It’s the exact inverse of my blog.

The One Thing by Gary Keller
I read this a couple years ago. I got the audiobook after hearing it recommended by Charles Poliquin on the Tim Ferriss Show.

For a few months I was using a couple templates from the book to plan my weeks. You take different areas in your life and figure out the one thing that’s most important in that area. Then plan your week to focus on those few things.

It becomes two things: 1.) the most important long term goal and 2.) the immediate task you can do to move toward it.

The challenge is picking both of those. (Check out my post on Angela Duckworth’s Grit to see her exercise for picking top-level and mid-level goals.)

The Systems Mindset by Sam Carpenter (Free eBook)
Last week I wrote about The Checklist Manifesto. The stories were great but it didn’t quite get down to making the checklists. The Systems Mindset does a great job complementing that book.

Carpenter explains that the first step is recognizing that systems are everywhere (that earth/ramen photo from earlier is supposed to be earth with clock internals). There’s an example of the system we have for drying towels. It’s automatic. You don’t ever think about it. You hang it up and never think about it.

When you recognize the systems then you can pick them out and improve the ones that aren’t working. You can then design systems for problems you run into.

What I’m drawing

Instead of commenting on drawings inline, I’ll try separating them into a different section and this section will go at the end. I want to be thoughtful about what I’m drawing each week. That way I’ll have a better way to see progress.

Vince Carter
This is a drawing for next week’s post (though I thought I was going to post it this week).

I took a screenshot of this to get the grid around it. I don’t know how much this is considering cheating and if it’s going to hurt or help my learning.

Even with the grid right in front of me, I needed to remind myself to just trust the grid. Some things didn’t seem right, like his leg seemed like it was too long or the shape of his left calf looked odd. Once it was all together, though, it was alright.

That’s a lesson in trusting what I see and not what I think I see.

The only problem with my drawing of Vince Carter is that it doesn’t look like Vince Carter. I can’t get his face right.

Vince Carter, pt II
I haven’t been coloring things in like I was the first couple weeks. It’s fun. When drawing, there’s a lot of thinking. When inking and coloring I can just go without thinking. I’m using those terms very very loosely because I know what I’m doing is a naive version of the actual inking or coloring process.

No thinking while inking. I can see why adult coloring books are a thing.

See you in a week! In the meantime I’ll be working on fixing his face. While we’re at it, let me color another one.


Make, Show, Learn Issue 5

Welcome to issue 5!

What I’m up to

Welcome to issue 5. Last week went well. I’m slowly finding my voice, but it’s going to take a while.

The end of October ended my ban on tinkering so I did small layout updates and will continue with small updates each weekend. I want to focus on creating enough content to warrant a redesign.

Looking at the rest of the year, I could potentially have 11 issues. If there’s a week to take off it’s going to either be Thanksgiving or Christmas. Ten issues seems like a good time to take a week off, redesign, and promote what I have so far.


Each post is still way too long. 1.) It’s not a great reading experience and 2.) it takes hours to gather passages and drawings from the week to finish the post.

The previous post could have been split up into two or three posts. Eventually I’ll need back up posts for weeks off so I’m going to look for good opportunities to make separate posts. 

This week, I want to see if being mindful of the word count will help the post in any way. I’m shooting for 1250 words. Which is 250 words each day.

At first, that sounds way too short, because I’ve been successful in the past hitting 750 words in a single day. All I need to do is remind myself that those words collectively weren’t very good. 

I also need to remind myself that writing shorter posts is entire point. I write too much so I’ll try to write less.

What I’m shooting: The size of El Capitan

Adding on to last week’s topic of climbing, I’ve been fascinated with the size of El Capitan. A quick search gives answers in gigabytes. Thank you Apple.

Comparing heights, what percent of the Empire State Building do you think El Capitan would be?

Having been to the observation area in the Empire State Building, things looked pretty freaking high.

Couldn’t imagine anyone climbing that high, so when I read the question I guessed 75%.

Depending on if you include the needle or not, El Capitan is 2-3 times higher.

I’ve been taking photos to clearly illustrate the size of The Empire State Building. That way I can unclearly illustrate the size of El Capitan.

What I’m reading: finished a couple

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

It’s been a while since I finished a book in a week. I went into this book with the wrong expectations, which was both good and bad.

I didn’t realize Gawande was a surgeon before starting the book. There are a bunch of surgical operation descriptions. They’re vivid, fascinating, and terrifying. We know a lot about the human body.

The book has me completely sold on the effectiveness of checklists across fields. Great stories sell things.

As for practical steps for making effective checklists in different fields, look elsewhere. I’m pretty interested in reading his books that are entirely about the operating room.

Shut Your Monkey by Danny Gregory

I mentioned this book last week and finished it this week. At the end of the book, Gregory recommends Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Pressfield wrote three books centered around a concept called The Resistance, which is a close cousin of Gregory’s monkey.

In Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, Pressfield says his nonfiction books started as piles of writing that he would hand to his editor. His editor would re-pile them to tell a better story for a first draft.

Shut Your Monkey is similarly 1-2 page chapters. Gregory says the book came together a thought at a time and he likens it to building a mountain one spoonful at a time.

Going the other way, he talks about breaking big things into pieces.

How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.

I originally heard it as “How do you eat an elephant?” I imagine it’s pretty popular with different animals

A few months ago, I started seeing authors I liked showed up on multiple podcasts I listen to. It made me very conscious of one echo chamber I’m in. I’m guessing I’m in many more. 

To step out, I’ve been trying to read and listen to people writing and speaking from (at least slightly) different perspectives.
Joe Rogan provides a point of view that I don’t have with people I’m around day to day. He talks about the importance of friends with perspectives that don’t match your own. 

I wanted to see what Rogan thought about Tony Robbins. He mentions him in episode 846 with Michael Shermer. He thinks Robbins does a very good thing by giving people positive motivation. At the same time, he wonders what Robbins has done other than motivate people.

Rogan’s personal experience with motivation and things like that is that he’s been there. He knows what it’s like to go to a seminar or read a book and be completely inspired or motivated for a week. 

You’re ready to take on the world. You wake up at 5:30 and do the road work for two weeks. Now you’re ready to take on a different route.

On that route, you get to 6 am and the light flickers on.

Hot, fresh donuts. Maybe you resist it in the morning. Maybe the entire day. But the next day? Week 3? Week 4? The inspiration fades as temptation rises.

Motivation and inspiration are temporary. Self development is an industry for a reason.

Rogan says it’s too easy to slide back into your old ways. They’re comfortable. You can’t turn your decades old ship around in a day. You need that inspiration and motivation every day for years.

The internet makes it more more available now than it ever was. (Maybe too available.) There are videos, articles, books, podcasts, webinars, live streams, online courses, and more.

I was reading Julian Shapiro’ guide to building muscle and there’s a section on motivation with this video embedded: How Bad Do You Want It?

It’s got 39 million views and I’m guessing 50 of them are from me over the past few years. Based on my double blind study, 1000% of people who watch this the first time work out the very same day.

On the 100th view, you no longer want to run through a wall. Variety helps with motivation. Different stories with the same takeaways can inspire you at different times.

Inspiration from Shut Your Monkey is still pretty fresh. In a week or two it’ll begin fading. In a month or two I’ll only remember the core lesson: create things, finish them, and create more things.

It’s the only way to fight the monkey. 

What I’m listening to: TADPOG (Tyler and Dave Play Old Games)
I’m strangely addicted to TADPOG. Each podcast episode is a little over an hour. Each is centered around a specific game but a lot is random banter and returning segments: quizzes, reading from Wikipedia, voicemails. 

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been putting it on in the background like some people put regular season baseball on. Lately I’ve been a lot more interested in very long podcasts like this one. It’s easy to put something on and let my focus go in and out.   

Some of their listeners describe it as hanging out with friends. Tyler and Dave don’t quite remind me of any friends. I just enjoy their humor. It reminds me of the internet in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Some of the jokes are very very specific. When you understand the obscure reference it hits in just the right way. They were talking about Streets of Rage and how things flash on the ground and if you drop the item a couple times it flashes and disappears.

One of them talks about if that happened in real our iPhones would be long gone.

The best thing is the game discussion. They call out all the ridiculous things in old games. Like conveyor belt stages in beat em ups.

Tyler and Dave aren’t over-the-top like a lot of other retro game personalities. (Who always seem to be angry.)

Anytime they talk about experiences with video games growing up, nostalgia takes over. Like sitting in school zoning out thinking about coming home to play a new game.

Here are some episodes I’ve listened to:

What I’m drawing

I’ll send you off with some drawings from this week. This week I didn’t draw as much as I would’ve wanted. Next week I’ll get back to applying lessons from Keys to Drawing.

This starts with a couple Chrono Trigger characters before going off into random territory. 

(Through TADPOG, I learned about the connection between Chrono and the main character from Secret of Mana. I couldn’t believe I never noticed the resemblance.)

See you in a week!

Make, Show, Learn Issue 4: Speaking of faces

Welcome to issue 4! As always, I’ll be trying new things. October was supposed to be my tinker-free month so I’m doing a few layout updates today.

More and more this seems like this is becoming a way to share what I’ve been reading, listening to, and watching. With drawings related to those things. I’ll be more explicit about that format here. But first, a few inches that will likely affect issues to come.

What I’m up to

I exchanged my 9.7″ iPad Pro for the larger one. This was a little impulsive, done a couple days after seeing someone with the big one at a conference then another person with the big one at Smorgasburg.

Of course, the main reason to upgrade was for drawing. The 9.7″ sometimes felt cramped when any UI elements were on screen. Now that I’ve experienced the 13.1″, it’s like I didn’t know just how cramped I felt. There’s so much more room to breathe.

As for other things, the writing experience is better. The 13.1″ Smart Keyboard is way better to type on than 9.7″ keyboards—I tired both the Smart Keyboard and Logitech’s Create.

The larger device is great for creating content but consuming content is worse. Sometimes you get a mobile site that doesn’t scale to this large a screen. Depending on type settings, Kindle books look like science journal PDFs or books teaching kids how to read. (Though landscape with two pages displayed is actually pretty nice.)

What I’m reading: Create, create, create

So what have I been reading in this giant Kindle view?

Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson

Continuing reading this and working through the exercises. Last week was focused on measuring properly and I’m still practicing that a lot. This week there’s been more on fundamental shapes and shadows.

Show and Tell by Dan Roam

Roam writes a lot about using drawing in a business setting. This is about storytelling to put presentations together. I’ll probably check out some of his other books about  sketching ideas.

Create or Hate by Dan Norris

A nice, easy read providing the right kick-in-the butt to go make something. Hate is the force that keeps people from creating things. It’s similar to The Resistance from Steven Pressfield’s books.

Shut Your Monkey by Danny Gregory

The Resistance and Hate are aggressive forces actively working to stop you from creating. Gregory talks about overcoming The Monkey. It’s a more lighthearted enemy but it stops you from creating all the same.

Word of the day: anthropomorphism. That’s also the title of my future post talking about the various enemies of creativity.

What I’m watching: Free solo

A friend visited New York a couple weeks ago with his girlfriend. Talking to them about climbing (they climb, I don’t) led to me watching some climbing videos. The one video to watch is his appearance on 60 Minutes: The Ascent of Alex Honnold

I checked my main reference source, the Joe Rogan Experience, and found an Alex Honnold interview.

Rogan asks him about being scared of what might happen if he falls from so high up. After about 90 feet, the result of falling would be the same. You’ll explode like a water balloon at 500 feet the same way you would at 1000 feet. What you don’t want is to fall below 90 feet, break all your bones and bleed out.


As I reattached my carabiner to my keys and shifted my learning aspirations from free-soloing back to drawing, I thought about how this lesson could be abstracted. If the consequences are the same at a certain threshold, go as big as possible?

Maybe climbing thousand foot rock faces shouldn’t be compared to drawing.

Speaking of faces. Actually, hold that thought. Let’s talk bodies.

I’m still working through Keys to Drawing and I recently read a section about the foundational shapes:

Even the human figure can be seen as a series of cylinders.

I tried applying this by drawing Alex Honnold

And again in a different position.

Thinking this way was really helpful. It’s a lot easier to visualize two cylinders connecting than it is to think about arm anatomy.

Speaking of faces! I’ve continued with trying to draw faces. I tried drawing without reference photos.

I’m getting better at drawing eye shapes when the face isn’t facing directly forward. At least relative to my life to this point where I thought it was impossible. To draw a face, first you draw an egg.

I’m always amazed that programming allows you to create so much by writing and combining text files. You can build a world.

Now I’m appreciating something similar with drawing. These faces aren’t great, they don’t have stories, and they aren’t particulary interesting. But they came from my head. Now they exist in this virtual sketchbook.

What I’m listening to: DHH on the Tim Ferriss Show

SNFPTAM: a sketched edition!
I’ll continue thinking of pronounceable abbreviations for show notes for podcasts that aren’t mine. I start probably every fifth sentence in conversation with “I heard this on a podcast…” I may as well write notes for them. It gives me something to write about.

We can’t multitask like we’d hope. It’s usually just rapid context switching. If there’s something I can do that looks like the idea of multitasking, it’s listening to a podcast while drawing something about what I’m hearing.

Speaking of faces! Here’s David Heinemeier Hansson, who you might know better as DHH.

He’s a co-founder of Basecamp and a proponent of work-life balance. Some things in work are critical, but so much can wait.

DHH recently appeared on the Tim Ferriss Show. They went for three and a half hours—long even for a Tim Ferriss podcast. As you can imagine, they covered a lot of topics. Here’s a drawing of Tim Ferriss from issue 1. (And a guest appearance from a Seattle legend.)

In the context of startup founders, they discuss goals sometimes being out of line with the journey to get there. Out of line is an understatement. Startup founders compress (aka nearly exhaust themselves to death) for 7-10 years.

All to possibly hit the jackpot and a vision of relaxation and rest and escaping the rat race. Then they go sit on a beach for a couple weeks and it’s not for them. So they start another company and, since luck is involved, they aren’t as successful. It’s not the best formula for happiness.

Well, it’s not quite happiness

In talking about happiness, DHH says tranquility might be key. He wrote about this in The Day I Became a Millionaire’:

If anything, I began to appreciate even more intently that flow and tranquility were the true sources of happiness for me all along. It was like I had pulled back the curtain on that millionaire’s dream and found, to my surprise, that most of the things on the other side were things I already had.

If you don’t have things that make you happy now, a bunch of money might not change that. (Assuming you can afford to eat and have a roof.) Ferriss talks about practicing being rich.

If you want to be good and hope to enjoy all these things and have fun when you have money, you have to practice these things before you have money.

Stone Cold Steve Austin is one of the most successful wrestlers ever. He was his real life persona with the volume cranked to 110%. You can get this amplification without being a pro wrestler.

Ferriss points out that one way is through alcohol and that money works similiarly. You’ve gotta be ready for it. Thinking through what you would do with a lot of money is a good step to finding tranquility without becoming a millionaire.

People love things they usually have some access to without money. If can’t afford to travel freely, you might have access to some aspects of traveling. Try a new restaurant. Check out an unexplored part of your city.

This made me think: If money weren’t an issue, what would I do? Spend as much time with family, my girlfriend, and friends as possible. Which also means traveling. In my alone time I’d blog about how drawing on my yacht being wobbly but enjoyable.


Mark Cuban hit the jackpot like many others during the dot com boom. Unlike many others, he stayed rich through diversification.

DHH suggests being mindful about diversifying your interests. If programming were his only interest and it was taken away, he might feel empty. But it’s not. If you took programming away from DHH, he’s still got his family, race car driving, and photography.

He’d rather go 80/20 in his interests to become very good at a few things instead of giving it 100 for a chance to be the best at one thing. He compares it to NBA players. You can live a good life as a mid-tier NBA player or you can have a completely awful chance at being Michael Jordan.

What this completely awful drawing of Michael Jordan represents is expectation. If my goal was to be the Michael Jordan of drawing Michael Jordan, clearly I’d be forever unhappy.

If we change the expectation from being a good Michael Jordan drawing to being a bad drawing of someone else, let’s see what we can do.

We’ll start with Kama, a wrestler whose gimmick was being a shoot fighter. Which is like being his persona with the volume turned to 7.

(Kama found extreme success a few years later with a different gimmick. As a pimp. I don’t know what lesson to pull from that.)

Why Kama? Well, we want to take MJ’s rings and melt them down, like Kama did to the Undertaker’s urn to make them into a chain.

Anyway, let’s melt down some of those rings:

Then throw that chain on.

And that’s how you draw Gucci Mane.

It’s always your fault

Startup success requires some amount of good luck. Though there’s the idea that you make your own luck and prepare yourself for opportunities. On the other hand, it’s important to then also accept there isn’t bad luck. You need to take responsibility for things that go wrong.

DHH says you can’t just stop at attributing things to bad luck. Something caused it. A lack of preparation often looks like back luck. DHH and Ferriss discuss stoic principles and Tim brings up a very important question.

How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?

This really stuck with me and I’m sharing it here partially to remind myself of it in the future.

What I’m coloring

DHH talks about letting kids binge on candy or letting them use an iPad for an entire day. They’ll learn firsthand why it’s not the best idea to overdo things. I’ve been on this iPad for most of the day now and am learning that same lesson.

Here’s a colored version of the bike — see you in a week!