Tag Archives: Reading

Who are You Apart from Your Job?

There have been a bunch of articles about “The Great Resignation” over the past year or so, but this piece by Maggie Mertens for The Atlantic feels especially on point.

I’ve written a decent amount about job satisfaction, often referencing the concept of “ikigai,” and this article gets at some of those notions in the context of said job re-alignment.

Hobbies: Only by Imperial Decree

Hobbies, those interests to pursue without it being a “side gig” and often without the need to be at all expert at them, were something I started focusing on, ironically, in the Before Times. I believed (and still believe), it’s very healthy to have some pursuit that is not monetized, potentially not judged and evaluated like job performance might, and perhaps free of some of the wacky things outside of your control that one can’t avoid in their ducat-earning occupations.

(This is one of the reasons I strongly advocate actors, who by and large depend on others to hire them to act, cultivate pursuits that are not dependent on someone else’s approval.)

I’ve also mused that overall life satisfaction depends on a combination of hobbies and the aforementioned ducat-earning occupations, as no one thing is going to do it all. (This is connected to the concept of ‘ikigai’).

These were some of the thoughts I had when reading Anne Helen Petersen’s piece on hobbies on her “Culture Study” site.

It sadly doesn’t surprise me that people have to work harder to carve out time for hobbies and that being able to do so is almost a form of luxury. The nature of the hobbies too, being demanding in such a way so that the time must be yielded, also scratches my anthropological curiosity. However, I can’t say it seems like a good thing, a notion that I had from the Before Times and feels even more relevant now.

Satisfaction & Stepping Off the World’s Treadmill

Monday posts have been about motivations and resolutions and worldviews so far this year, so why stop now?

After this long, has Sir Mick accrued measurable satisfaction?

From that standpoint, Arthur Brooks’ piece for The Atlantic was a welcome read (or, if you so desire, a 41-minute listen).

What I appreciated was the time Brooks took in defining why we human animals are on this neverending treadmill for satisfaction. The societal pressures are, I would hope to most people, rather self-evident. The evolutionary arguments are ones that make me want to revisit some of my anthro coursework of ages ago and see what’s happened since then. I suspect there’s some nuance on the evolutionary angle. Nonetheless, from societal pressures alone, it makes sense why it’s so hard for one to get off the treadmill.

By the time we get to Brooks’ thoughts on three ways to aim for more satisfaction in life (decidedly not Conan’s way), the approach resonate more because of the definition of the problem.

So, as many of start another workweek, may you take some steps off the treadmill.

Spaceguard is On the Case

When I watched the recent film Don’t Look Up — as a great deal of other Netflix subscribers appeared to– they mentioned the very real Planetary Defense Coordination Office which made me think instantly of Spaceguard, which isn’t an official overall terms, but dangit, I’m not alone in thinking of it. In fact, overall efforts appear to be inspired by that vision of science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, visions that have born fruit over the past few decades.

Knowing that, it is perhaps not surprising –but still reassuring– to know that NASA and others take their planetary defense duties seriously as Brian Resnick details in this recent article in Vox.

“What If?” by Tobias Roetsch/Future Publishing

And speaking of Clarke, if you’d like to read a hard SF novel of his that deals directly with an asteroid headed towards Earth, The Hammer of God is a fun read, and one I don’t hear mentioned as much as the novel where he first mentions Spaceguard, Rendevous with Rama.

What’s the Deal with the Groundhog?

All of a sudden, it’s Groundhog Dayagain. And in case you’re wondering why this is the case, Danny Lewis in the Smithsonian Magazine goes deep into the historical record.

And in case you don’t want the Smithsonian, but still want something plausible, perhaps with a theater reference, well here ya go.

And if you were reading Danny Lewis’ article above and were thinking “hmm, what about a horror film where the groundhogs in Groundhog Day are portents of Lovecraftian elder gods and their imminent return?” Well, I’m listening…

For When You Want Wonky with your New Year’s Resolutions

So, for the past few Mondays (see 1/3, 1/10, and 1/24), I’ve done posts about New Year’s Resolutions and similar life goals on both the micro and macro goal. But what if you want something a bit more wonky? What if you want to track your progress in such a way that friends and family may recoil in horror as if you asked them to watch a paint-drying marathon on HGTV?

Meredith Dietz over at Lifehacker has the article for you.

If this image quickens your pulse, goal-tracking by spreadsheet may be for you.

Now, even while I personally wouldn’t think of such goal tracking as “journaling” per se, I have to admit that keeping on ongoing record of this or that stat can really be handy — especially when you go back and look at it after a year. I’ve done that before to get myself on track with writing a certain number of minutes per day and I’m looking to track some other stats this year.

So as we get into month two of 2022, consider if you want to track something by spreadsheet.

Historical Gold from the Silver Screen

As I’ve mentioned various times, my dad made sure we saw many of the classic and not so classic films from bygone ages. I mean, I’ve seen pre-Russian Revolution films using stop-action animation of insects for crying out loud!

To date, it is my favorite World War I allegory using stop-action animation and insects.

Now, besides such curiosities and rattling good stories, these films provided de facto period pieces: they were recording the here and now of an era long past –in human terms– with details quite unknown to me.

So this article, by Fritzi Kramer, for Smithsonian magazine, was a good reminder that nowadays, early cinema represents some useful historical documents. Something to consider the next time you find yourself in an ancient attic. Just be careful with nitrate film.


Hacking Your Personality in the Pursuit of Happiness

So, a couple weeks ago, I posted a link to some deep thoughts: guideposts for how to live your life. It was all part of a series of posts I’ve been doing this January exploring the whole notion of New Year’s resolutions writ large.

So why not continue?

The article that piqued my interest in this case was an article by Christian Jarrett for the BBC. A TL;DR summary of the article might be “everyone has their own personal goals they’re working on which often bring true life fulfillment day to day — and there’s ways to work on and complete their goals by understanding your personality and reframing your goals so your personality isn’t an obstacle.”

The article references the work of Dr. Brian Little, a psychologist who, surprise, surprise, has spent some time researching personalities and traits. You can get a taste of him from this TED talk from a few years ago:

Mind you, there’s probably a lot more that could be written about next steps, but as I’m not a research psychologist nor journalist on deadline, I leave this appetizers out there for the reader who wants to dive in and make a meal of it.

Resolve to Reframe Your Worldview

Last Monday, I posted about lots of little things to add some joy or satisfaction to your day-to-day life. So from the micro to the macro, here’s a few overarching goals you might want to take on for this new year… or for the rest of your life in general.

“The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin

Bear in mind, this list from Maria Popova for The Marginalian gets pretty heavy, but if you’re in the headspace where you’re thinking about how you want to live your life better writ large, there are worse ways than examining the notions presented by some of these folks.

A Cold War that’ll Give You an Ice Cream Headache

Running contrary to the New Year’s notion of doing better for several years running is the McDonald’s Ice Cream machine, a notoriously finicky piece of equipment that has its own online dashboard of failure. And if the efficiency experts in your life don’t gnash their teeth at that, they likely will when they read Andy Greenberg’s article in Wired.

Photo: Gabriela Hasbun

It’s really infuriating to see miserable experiences be standardized, but to see the lengths to which people go to preserve a sucky status quo, well, it may not be surprising, but it is dispiriting (that said, it’s a fascinating read).