This is a weekly blog where I share updates and document the journey. I didn’t publish an update last week, so I am covering two weeks here. Usually I focus on three areas: running, reading, and writing. This week I will try adding a new section: “thinking”.
Always-on social media has changed the way most people keep updated on the lives of friends and family. I am an oddball because I abstain from most social media apps most of the time. So, the only way to be updated is to talk to me, or read this blog. My point is, another reason I write this stuff down is to be better at sharing what’s going on.
Still nothing remarkable to report this week. 🙂
I am going through a phase of reading many different things all at the same time.
I read this awesome little Mouse Book called A Little of Chickamauga by Ambrose Bierce. It an awesome telling of American Civil War stories. Bierce’s writing is superb. He is a writer who inspired American greats like Hemingway and Vonnegut.
Here’s a fun story about Mouse Books (https://mousebookclub.com). It’s a subscription service where you pay a one-time fee of $50 and every three month you receive in the mail three pocket-sized books. One of these little books got me into some trouble. Monday morning I put this Bierce book in my pocket. At lunch time I went to pay for my salad and discovered that the book was in my pocket and my wallet was not. Oops! It all worked out in the end.
I rediscovered a really cool ebook series that’s worth talking about. It’s called The Tao of Seneca: Letters from a Stoic Master. It’s a collection of translated letters written by Seneca, one of the ancient teachers of Stoicism. The ebooks are three volumes and made available complete free of charge by Tim Ferriss. Ferriss has authored several books including The Four Hour Work Week, Tools of Titans, Tribe of Mentors, which I have enjoyed reading and recommend.
I’m also reading a book called JRR Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter. So far Tolkien’s early life is fascinating. He was oddly obsessed with linguistics. For example he would invent words of his own words to add to dead languages. And he invented several languages of his own.
Writing is a craft I’ve decided to devote hours and hours to. It’s important to think about the question: how can I write better? I would define “good” writing as having these traits:
- Clear (easily understood, not ambiguous)
- Succinct (minimal fluff)
- Interesting (the reader is engaged)
- Entertaining (the reader enjoys reading)
- Useful (the reader gets value)
I have room for improvement in all these categories. What I’m working on right now is clarity. Clarity could be improved by using more words to explain a thought. Flow also helps with clarity also, because jumping around too much degrades clarity. As a writer, I tend to do both don’ts: I use too few words and I jump around. A weird thing about using more words is how search engines react. Algorithms tend to favor pages with more text on them (for whatever reason).
A quick note on “how I write”. Right now I am writing on my phone using the WordPress app for iOS. I’m typing on a light-weight USB keyboard. My iPhone is smart enough to hide the on-screen keyboard when a Bluetooth keyboard. So there are two big benefits to working this way. Screen real-estate, which is in short supply on smartphones, effectively doubles. And second, typing on a keyboard is much higher bandwidth compared to thumbs. So, the writing experience is much more stream of consciousness and more enjoyable, too.
The keyboard is great for travel, I’ve had it for years and I’ve never needed to replace the battery. Plus, the number of things you absolutely need a laptop for is shrinking. It’s convenient to leave the laptop at home and still get work done while on the move.
On to updates for my blogs…
I failed to publish a weekly update last weekend. Sorry!
Torrey’s Weekly Report (TWR) has grown to 88 subscribers this week. TWR is my weekly work blog which I publish to an audience of my peers. Some of the content is confidential and not appropriate to share outside the company. And some of the content is more philosophical and should be okay to share with the public.
I usually recommend the blog to new hires because it is written in way to make it easy for anyone and everyone to understand. A few of our brilliant summer interns liked and subscribed. Woot!
I’ve been thinking about gratitude
I, like many people, take most things for granted. This week, I’ve been thinking about the line between necessity and luxury. If you look back 300 years it’s easier to see where that line lies. Examples:
- Abundant clean water
- Hot showers
- Tasty food
Most of the luxuries we’re accustomed to are more than we need. A large fraction of the clean water from the tap goes down the drain, so clearly there is more than needed. The shower doesn’t need to be hot, but it sure is wonderful when it is. Food doesn’t have to taste so good for us to survive on it. You get the point.
In Benjamin Franklin’s America, books were hard to come by. He organized efforts to source books from Europe and later founded the first American libraries. Despite their immense value, public libraries are less and less utilized today.
Write Once, Publish Everywhere
I’ve also been brewing an idea for a new writing/coding project I call “write once publish everywhere.” I like to focus more time on writing and less time on formatting and other bits required for publishing. If you publish on multiple platforms, each one has unique features and it takes a lot of time adjusting for each publication. The idea for “write once publish everywhere” is to reduce some of this pain.
This is a writing project and a coding project. The beginning will be the most painful because the content needs be manually cross-posted on three platforms: Steem, WordPress, and Medium. As the tool develops it will become easier to publish thrice. If there is already a good tool for cross-posting, I haven’t found it.
Share fears to squash them
I’ve been thinking about writing down my fears on a weekly basis. This might help overcome them. And I think sharing the thought process might be valuable for readers. We all have fears and most of us struggle to overcome them.
As always, thanks for reading and