Friday Inspiration 375

I can’t quite put my finger on what I love so much about this short film, but maybe it’s seeing someone actually take their stacks of collected images and build collages out of them, when I have had this box of old mountaineering magazines sitting on a shelf for literally years, swearing I’d flip through them and do something with them “someday.” Anyway, this is a fun and touching piece. (video)

screen capture from I’m Usually Pretty Good At Naming Things


The sum total of what I actually know about blues legend Robert Johnson is basically: he sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads in order to become the musician he was, he died young, the only recordings we have of his music are pretty scrappy, and there’s not a lot of solid information about his life or death. So a book on his life, 50-plus years in the making, should clear up some things, right? I guess it’s not that straightforward.

If you live in or near Chicago, or more specifically, Oak Brook/the western suburbs, I’ll be co-leading a trail run at Fullersberg Woods at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, and then hanging at the new Arc’teryx store at Oakbrook Center afterward until 8 p.m. Hope to see you at one or the other—or both!

I’m wary, as a new parent, of sharing too much content about babies/kids/etc., since before I was a new parent, I was not interested in material about kids. But sometimes things are good/clever/funny enough that I think the creativity transcends having to be exactly “relatable,” and this McSweeney’s piece has so many good lines that I think anyone who’s ever observed a small child, even from afar, can get 1-5 laughs out of it.

You ever hear about the results of a study, or just read the headline from someone reporting on the results of a study, and it validates your general take on life, or just makes you feel better about how you’re living your life, and instead of thinking critically about it, you just start parroting the headline in conversation with friends, and over the months or years, in your head it just becomes 100% true? Well, if you exercise, and you sometimes or quite often don’t get what qualifies as “enough sleep,” have I got one of those headlines for you: Exercise May Help Counteract the Toll of Poor Sleep

I loved Oliver Burkeman’s book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management For Mortals, and I’ve been reading his newsletter for a few months now. I don’t quite know how to describe his perspective on the world, but I think if you’ve read or heard much about productivity culture (optimizing your morning routine to live more like a tech CEO, etc.) and you just can’t see that stuff working in your life, you might like his newsletter. It’s sort of a pragmatic but also philosophical look at how we view—actually, I’m just going to stop typing before I mischaracterize it. Anyway, this week’s newsletter is partly about how his [realistic] goal is to sit down at his desk and start writing by 10:30 a.m.—a departure from famously early-rising authors like Haruki Murakami (4:00 a.m.) and Kurt Vonnegut, (5:30 a.m.) not to mention Hemingway (I think “as soon as it is light”). 

If you don’t know about Bookshop, it’s a great way to support your local (or just your favorite) independent bookstore while buying books online—even if your local/favorite indie bookstore doesn’t have a website. I’ve been buying books there for a couple years now, and I kind of got how it worked—you pick your favorite bookstore from their list of participating bookstores, you buy a book, your order is fulfilled from an Ingram warehouse, your favorite bookstore gets a cut of the sale (without lifting a finger). Maybe you knew all this already. What I didn’t know, until I read this Wired story about the founding of Bookshop, was how much it was actually helping said indie bookstores. It’s kind of amazing. 

Although I have not read Jenny Odell’s book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, she said a lot of things that hit home in this interview she did with Sam Fragoso—about time, social media, productivity, and other topics. Like this: “I feel like there’s like a culture of certainty or something right now—people want to sound authoritative on things. There’s like this sort of mic drop statement on Twitter that’s a very sort of popular format. And it’s not as popular to say, “I actually don’t know.’” … and that could be an exciting feeling, not a humiliating feeling.” 

Finally: I am just starting to get together my Patreon update for this month, and if you have ever been curious about all the *secret* members-only stuff I post there, I think this month’s will be a fun one. If you’re interested in joining, here’s the link.