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from NOLA first half

Melissa and I are about halfway done with our NOLA getaway... here are some photos splitting the difference between "documenting our trip" and "I like the way this photo came out" (so not showing all the food diary shots, I'm better at eating food than photographing it.)

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
Andre Gide
Found this quote I grabbed 16 years ago... it really summarizes an important aspect of my philosophy. There is an objective truth, and you should feel compelled to align yourself with it, but you can never be certain you're there, and an important part of both understanding both probability and empathy is to be respectful of other's view of it, so long as there is a good chance they are being sincere and not obviously cynically manipulated.

Heh, another relevant previously blogged quote form 5 years ago:
The universe of ideas is just as little independent of the nature of our experiences as clothes are of the form of the human body.
Albert Einstein

from on reading, and writing

Thinking about my reading habits. One of the downsides to tracking all the books I've consumed (for almost two decades now) is the tendency to "gamify" reading. I started the practice to try and remember the books (along with movies and games and what not) of my life, but now that there's a yearly number to it, it's hard not think in terms of the tally - whether for "bragging rights" or just to get a feel for how I'm spending my time over the course of a year, and how that number varies over the course of a decade.

That leads to a few knock-on effects, like how I'm more likely to follow a mediocre book to the bitter end, or less likely to start juggling several books at once, partially for the pressure of adding to the tally.

For a while I admired and kind of imitated people saying "Oh, I only read non-fiction, really." Isn't the universe rich enough that we should focus on what is, rather than people who are making up more of it? But now I'm thinking I want to recant on this idea, and focus more on fiction.

I'm a fast reader (and so, secretly a skimmer) and so I tend to read for substance, books presenting superficially interesting and novel ideas. Or better yet, and maybe this is where novels can best produce novelty - books that give me a new way of interpreting the otherwise too familiar.

I read through Kris Gage's 8 Things I Learned Reading 50 Books A Year For 7 Years (Tangent: this article was a recommendation from Firefox's Pocket, the first "let us be your homepage, we'll show you interesting stuff" portal widget I've seen that actually seems good.) The author quotes this lovely passage:
We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.
Rebecca Solnit, "A Field Guide to Getting Lost"

Arthur C. Brooks in the Atlantic on Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think

It's an intriguing article that starts about professional decline with age, with a sudden veer into a call for spirituality and finding a role in being a mentor. "Corpse meditation" - a practice of literal encounters with the remains of the dead - is touched upon; to me the "exposure therapy" it offers (similar to the "negative visualization" suggested by modern forms of stoicism) is much more satisfying than a life of avoidance...

Interesting wrapping this into where I am now - my long term lack of career ambition (long term ambitions in general, actually), combined with my mid-life rediscovery of community through band, and my version of a spiritual quest in terms of helping people cope with their own mortality, as well as figuring out the sense of ultimately unrealizable but existent and relevant objective truth that has driven me so many years.
So much of my writing is made worse by me trying to say too many things, either to show off my smarts or to acknowledge the validity of people holding conflicting opinions... even before I've stated my own.

Or the fear that if I leave out a detail, it is gone forever, without hope of later retrieval as needed.

"Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity" and you can leave off two of the Simplicities...
Is life fair? Short answer, no. Long answer, nooooooo.

from January 10, 2016

Aging well is largely a process of recognizing what you don't need to worry about, one thing at a time, until, presumably, you winnow it down to life itself and find you can easily let that go too

loveblender digest

from October 6, 2014

You think it's cool to hate things. And it's not. It's boring. Talk about what you love and keep quiet about what you don't.

One of those mornings where you think "huh, lot of glare from the windows, makes the monitor look so dark, relatively" and then 10 minutes later you remember you still have your sunglasses on.
SNL Skit "Whites" -- man I wish we were all this cool with demographic change. ("WHITES: Still calling the shots til 2050. 2060 Tops.")
Is there any generalized way to get old medical records? Specifically I wish I had more data about what I weighed before 1998 or so, high school, college, and just after. More for curiosity's sake, but still... I'd love to know what my start and end points were for my weightloss in high school (first time I gave it a serious effort... I was gently teased for constantly having to pull my pants up) and what it was during college.
http://www.conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project Oh, man. 5 years ago I found this project page. The begging the question of the fundamental correctness of everything Conservative is just mind boggling. "We know we're correct, and we share God's view of everything. So if anything in the Bible doesn't support exactly what we believe and how we believe it, it must be a mistranslation, and we can fix that." It runs so counter to other fundamentalist ways of thinking - swapping "the inerrancy of the Bible" for, like, "the inerrancy of us" (or maybe "the inerrancy of Rush Limbaugh") Check out the "talk" tab for extra awesomeness.
Also, that "best of the public" scheme it leads off with, that pretty much anybody who deeply studies a subject starts drowning in the kool-aid of that fields collective wisdom... man, physicians, heal thyselves!!!

from March 26, 2013

For every yes there must be a no. Decisions are so expensive. They cost you everything else.
Irwin Yalom, "Existential Psychotherapy"

Anyone else you there have the most recent xkcd open in some out of the way window, just letting it run?

from on loss

Quote of the Moment
That it's ok to be sad, and cry... and that's it ok when you finally stop crying, too.
Julie Hill describing what her son had learned in dealing with his father's terminal illness, NPR's This American Life, Episode 188.
(June 22, 2001...I'm listening to it now. It's worth seeking out, if you don't mind kind of moist eyes.)

Link of the Moment
Yogi Berra in the NY Times on the Yankees and why Losing Isn't a Loss. This guy is really wise, from his semi-scrutable Yogi-isms to his general attitude to life and the game he loves so well.