Practice

I wrote an entry based on a blog from Seth Godin some months ago. I was curious about the guy and I subscribed to his blog and bought one of his books. I finished last night and it as good things.

You can take it as directed to marketing people but you can use it for nearly everything. At the end of the day, it is not talent. It is practice and attitude. This is a concept I have read in different ways from several books like flow, midset, etc. And with practice, at the end, the result takes care by itself. You focus in the practice. You have your goal, you know why you are doing it. You can’t guarantee the result, dont worry about it. Just put yourself in the hook. You can’t please everybody, know for whom you are doing it. Trust yourself, you dont need external validation (MBA, CCIE, etc)

If you take this from the bright side, it is great, you can achieve most things in life with dedication. You dont have to born with the skill, wait for the muse, have the holy inspiration. You can be the tortoise and still win a race. And, it is a stop to the excuse of “I am not smart”, “I am not beautiful”, etc. So, turn up, start moving, do the job, dont overthink it, dont wait for the inspiration. Simply, repeat. There are things we can control, and others not.

In part of the book, I wondered, how all this fit with the concept “work-hard”, “work long hours”, “work-life balance”. Sometimes got the feeling that all this denies to have “a life”. It is great to enjoy your job, it is so important for social, financial and psychological reasons. But does it have to be ALL?

Learning and education is not the same. Learning is voluntary, it can be ugly as it requires some tension and discomfort. If you get something done without effort, you dont enjoy it. Here personally, as per “flow”, it has a manageable difficulty, something that makes you grow. Drop by drop you fill the bucket. I dont need everything now.

Something that I liked a lot: “Play to play, not to win.”

Scarcity and creativity: Actually everything is out there and there is plenty, it is up to grabs. Determination (your practice) is what you need. This plays with the concept of “The fear of falling behind”. It is something the current society makes a believe: extreme capitalism, social media, etc.

it is a good book, you can take positive things from it.

Ark

I fancied something light to read. Oh, how enjoyed those memories when I wished to be an archaeologist like Indy. It was like watching the movie again. I didnt care I knew every twist. It brought me some smiles. Pity I devoured it so fast. Will get to the last one at some point.

Flow

I had this book in the pipeline after reading “mindset”. I dont know but some part of me always think that I am going to find my universal solution in a book. The good thing, the other part knows that is not possible. We are happy at the end. My goal is to reach a stable state of “contentment” and resilience enough to weather anything found throw life. Contentment is enjoying (different from pleasure) what I do: working, cooking, reading, sport, etc. In balance. The books explain the search for happiness in our world. How the materialistic approach doesnt work and why and how some people reach it. You need a challenge, effort, instructions, goals, feedback, etc. One quite important thing is the challenge has to be possible with our skills. So we can improve our skills and grow. If it is too much, you may not even try and if you try, you will fell worse. This is very important in the work environment where all of us spent most of our time. How would be your life if you enjoy your work? I have reached a point, that enjoying is the most important point. And yes, money is important, but is not all. It is a balance. But not all is work, so finding meaning outside work is important too. So as the author says, the goal is to have a “flow” life. There is no work-life, family-life. There is just one life. And we need to find the way to enjoy our work (life)

I was quite surprised with the section about “The Waste of Free Time”, just two pages, but hit me hard. How eager we are for having free time but then we dont use it properly. It is mainly for the entertainment industry benefit.

“The future will belong not only to the educated, but to who is educated to use her/his leisure wisely”.

Another section very close to me is “Solitude”. It remind me to a Rafael Santandreu book. In a society/world where everything has to be connected. To be alone, looks like a recipe for disaster. But it doesnt have to be that way. I am in that path. For that I think it is very important to put order in your mind, and avoid “chaos”. Again, it is putting your goals, getting feedback, instructions, etc. It is your meaning.

Catching Lights

I finished “Greenlights” and really enjoyed. I am not very keen of famous people as I think they are overrated but I had watched some motivational videos from Matthew McConaughey in youtube and decided to give it a go.

BTW, this is the best definition (minute 2) for trading you can find anywhere. After this you will not need to apply for a MBA.

It has been a very engaging read, the typical book that you wish it had more pages. It is about “livin” as they author writes. You see the experiences, problems, adventures of a human being. With all the lessons. It is like spending a whole night with a person you just met or a good friend, enjoying dinner, and a drink (or two) and a smoke (or two) and you open up totally, mutually: good, bad, worse, best things. Until sunrise. Intense but soothing .

When you dont have much social interactions, sometimes, you only source of “experience” apart from yours, it is a book. And I feel I learned from it.

So, I need to start catching my own lights.

The Art of Memory

I finished this book and to be honest it has been a bit of a “tostón”. I read it because was referenced from another book (I dont remember which right now) and I thought it should be interested.

The book starts in the Greece of Socrates/Plato times. Socrates didnt write anything and all his lessons/learning were oral. All we know come from Plato. So all teaching from Socrates was based on Memory. And obviously you had to memorize a lot and techniques to do that should exist (and of course were not written). The idea was to find a building and create a history from its features. Kind of mnemotechnics. As well, we have Aristotle.

I have been always more keen to understand things than memorize but there are cases where you have to memorize and the rules has been always repetition and brute force. But in some few cases, I have learned to use mnemotechnics and I dont know why this technique is not taught more often. I will always remember EIGRP parameters (bad dog loves red meat – b d l r m – bandwidth delay load reliability mtu) and BGP best path decision process (NWILLA OMNI – I have in my mind the spanish footballer David Villa playing in Africa)

So until that point the books was good as a history refresh.

Then we moved to the Middle Ages with St Thomas Aquinas, St Albert Magnus as next figures in the art of memory using the old Greek master. I always remember St Thomas Aquinas as the person who converted Aristotle writings to Catholic views. And St Augustine, who converted Socrates/Plato to Catholic. So the Church in those times could cope with the new threat of people using their brains. Here things get messy in the book and start losing track. Things looks a bit esoteric, magical, the ocult.

And when we reach Ramon Llull, I feel quite lost. The book start talking about Cabala and some other things. I had some reference from RL before (it is the main university in Majorca and wrote in catalan) but nor much more.

Moving forwards to the Renaissance, I hit two figures totally unknown to me: Giulio Camillo and Giordano Bruno. The first one, built a theater for the King of France as an example of memorizing the universe. And Giordano write several books about the art of memory that look quite complex due to esotericism, occultism, magic and references to Egyptian religions, etct.

In the last part we reach the Shakespeare times and the architecture of the Globe theatre as example of art of memory. Big debate if it is a circle or hexagon originally.

And finally, Leibniz, that refers to Ramon Llull as one of his references to create a common language that turned up to be Calculus.

It is like all this occultism, turned up as just Mathematics. In other references to Newton, he tried to convert lead into gold, and tried a lot of crazy stuff. So it looks like it makes sense that the begining of the science we know today was pretty much connected to esotericism, hermetic, occultism, etc.

I checked the author, Frances Yates and it seem she focused on esotericism.

Anyway, I tried to take positive things, mainly historic. And I learned from “new historical figures”.

HiddenLifeOfTrees

I just finished this book about trees. It has been interesting to learn how trees communicate (roots), socialize and live (slowly). Trees has been in Earth before us so respect to them. And how much Nature doesnt need us. Maybe it is difficult to believe that trees feel, communicate, suffer etc. But they are living things like us. They have survived longer than us. So even if they dont have a conversation about Bach or Godel, they still do it their way, more “primitive”, maybe yes, but it works. So I learnt a lot in this book. Mainly the communication system via roots, the social support, defence systems, reproduction and how is better leave a forest on its own. An somehow, it came to my mind the Ents. Very likely my favourite part of LOTRs.

Looking forwards to go trekking soon!

GEB

Finally managed to finish GEB. I read it for first time when I was in university in Spanish. This time I wanted to read the original version. It is a dense book with topics I didnt grasp at that time. Now, I am a bit more up to date but still find it hard although still very interesting. The last part is quite focus in AI and you notice how far has gone this field in the last 20 years since this book was written. We have AI beating the best players in chess and Go. And even go further to work out 3D shape of proteins. So this goes well with another part of the book related to DNA and replication.

Still one of the main topics of the book it is Godel’s Theorem. It is the typical thing, I think I understand conceptually and then in a different topic, I lost it. Somehow, I want to connect Godel’s to software engineering in respected of bugs. In my head, the more complex the software, the more vulnerable becomes. But not sure how to explain it.

As well, the author has made some very good drawings to connect with the text. Quite original.

To be honest, the musical terms are quite puzzling because I dont understand most of the topics but I am trying to listen to the Musical Offering of JS Bach and try to find “something”.

I hope in another 20y, I can make more sense of it.

Mindset

This is the last book I read this week. I bought it after reading other book this Summer about focus. And to be honest, I was quite surprised. The main idea is if you believe your capabilities/skills are born with you or you can develop them. Dr Carol Dweck shows how is life when you think you can develop your skills. And that is useful for anything. As well, you can have a growing mindset for some things and a static mindset for others. My mindset for the book was that it was going to be all about career and hard work. But I was surprised that there were more subjects related to a growing mindset, like education (children), family and relationships. I was to narrow-minded initially to the idea of growing mindset but it makes sense to apply it for everything in life. Learn when you have static mindset and make the effort to grow. Drop by drop, the bucket gets filled, said my Golang instructor. I really liked the examples about teachers who went beyond anything to show their pupils they could learn, and they did. And reminded me to the Dangerous Minds movie. I have told myself millions times that some people are born smart and I am not. But I need to realize that I have been growing since I decided to study and advance in my life. So, keep applying it, keep growing. For study, for work, for sport and relationships…

Tao-Te-Ching

I finished this book this week. My favourite part was the introduction as it gives a brief view of China’s history and the thought schools developed around 100-500 BCE. One of the main figures of that time is Confucius and his school of Confucianism. Other school developed in that time was Taosim. It looks back to an ideal time even before the origins of the first Chinese kingdoms, all based in a basic way of life: survive with the minimum and avoid problems. There are a lot mysticism and no much logic in the statements, but it seems that’s the goal. Follow life, it is not lead by logic (as we would like).

Some of my favourites:

Knowing others is intelligent.

Knowing yourself is enlightment.

Conquering others takes force

Conquering yourself is true strenght

Knowing what is enough is wealth

Forging ahead shows inner resolve.

At the end, the book is small, but it can be tricky to understand. The philosophy is quite different from the Western one I am use to but I liked it. There are always small gems to take with you.

IronFit

I finished this book this week. I was interested how you can prepare for an IronMan or a normal triathlon. I like to have a training plan for different levels of commitment. And the planning for the race itself. I have learned some tips to improve in the three sports. At some point I would like to try a triathlon (I need to join a swim gym and get a heart meter). My only concern for a bigger challenge is the left knee. But, step by step.