I learned something

I don’t know exactly what it was about the old library but I seldom wanted to spend any time there. Maybe it’s the open space, the brightness, or maybe it’s The Shed, but the new space is so much more inviting. I like to discover books, more than I like searching for them. The same could be said about music which is all algorithms now, which is far less satisfying than browsing for an hour at a store like Sam’s on Young St. in Toronto, back when LP’s were more than a narrow niche. So I wandered the aisles today at the learning centre, found a book and actually learned something new. Nothing life altering, just a useful function in Logic Pro I didn’t realize I needed to know. Now I do.

A company of one

This afternoon I was tired and unfocused so while I was drinking a cup of coffee I listened to a presentation regarding yet another accelerator program targeting companies who “want to grow fast.” This programs unique spin is that it prepares you to join more prestigious accelerators and unlike other presentations that I’ve listened to figures of 1-4-10 million dollars were thrown around. Though it might be hard for some to believe, I’m not against making money, but the whole culture of devoting your life to the pursuit of more and more wealth never jibed with me. Of course that also has the effect that I shop at noFrills, while others at SuperStore, or why I will never drive a Benz unless I become a chauffeur.

I’m quickly reading through Paul Jarvis’s “Company of One,” and I like some of what I am reading.

A company of one is simply a business that questions growth.

A company of one resists and questions some forms of traditional growth, not on principle, but because growth isn’t always the most beneficial or financially viable move. It can be a small business owner or a small group of founders. Employees, executive leaders, board members, and corporate leaders who want to work with more autonomy and self-sufficiency can adopt the principles of a company of one as well.
Paul Jarvis. “Company of One.”

Early home office

Circa ~ 2003 home office. Coffee culture didn’t exist in Hsinchu at that time so I killed myself with Diet Coke. No wifi either.

My copy of “Metaphors We Live By” by George Lakoff was pretty fresh then. A valuable text for anyone employed as a writer or in UX, or simply trying to understand the text we read. Wikipedia describes it as:

“Conceptual metaphors are seen in language in our everyday lives. Conceptual metaphors shape not just our communication, but also shape the way we think and act. In George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s work, Metaphors We Live By (1980), we see how everyday language is filled with metaphors we may not always notice. An example of one of the commonly used conceptual metaphors is “argument is war”.

First item on my Wishlist

I was looking at the US Amazon site this evening when I had a quick look at what items I had in my Wishlist – I haven’t used the feature much these past few years, as most of my purchases have been at Amazon.cn (which recently failed) or Amazon.ca. The item listed above was added over 17 years ago, which reflects perhaps the longest relationship I have had with any single retailer, online at least.

Most off the early products were books, all that was available I think, and included topics that ranged from art, design, business, HCI and sewing. I wanted to read about sewing, as at that time I was determined to start a bag company and do all the work myself. A familiar theme. It failed shortly thereafter. Also, an all too familiar theme.

My first purchase on Amazon.com was in 1999 and included “Teach Yourself Html 4”, “Midnight Without You by Chris Botti”, “Midnight Martini by Guido Basso”, and “Lonely Planet Vietnam”.

It’s interesting how lists like this can give you another snapshot into the changes in your interests and activities over time – a bit like finding old stuff in an attic.

The quality of your thinking depends on the models in your head. Perhaps. The book that forms the basis of this article won’t be released until October of this year but seeing that it’s affordable, I’ve pre-ordered it for a surprise addition to my reading list.

The old saying goes, “To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” But anyone who has done any kind of project knows a hammer often isn’t enough.

The more tools you have at your disposal, the more likely you’ll use the right tool for the job — and get it done right.

The same is true when it comes to your thinking. The quality of your outcomes depends on the mental models in your head. And most people are going through life with little more than a hammer.
The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts

How Mental Models Unlock Your Thinking

Building a library

I’m entirely sure what it implies when a library holds an event to rid itself of books, but I’ve attended each book sale the Confederation Centre Library has held and come away with some amazing bargains. I do most of my reading on a screen of some sort these days, especially reading for fun, but there is something wonderful about the printed page and the impact of a collection of books has on a home. It took us years to have 2 walls of our Hsinchu apartment absolutely covered in books. With sales such as this we will accomplish the same here in far less time.


The Japanese have a word, Tsundoku, for the act of acquiring books but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them.

The word “doku” can be used as a verb to mean “reading”. According to Prof Gerstle, the “tsun” in “tsundoku” originates in “tsumu” – a word meaning “to pile up”. So when put together, “tsundoku” has the meaning of buying reading material and piling it up.

I also have had this habit. Our home in Taiwan was wall to ceiling with books, and while most of them belonged to our kids, it was my wife and I who got it all started. As time went on I would continue to buy books of interest, but lack the time to read them. Here on PEI I have a number of boxes in storage, containing an older collection, that are waiting for us to have a more permanent home. Most of my reading these days is digital, which I think is a shame, as there is lasting value in the worn pages of a paper bound book, value which isn’t so apparent when your collection is all stored digitally.

“December” MV by AppleGirl

An original Christmas short by AppleGirl a.k.a. Kim Yeo Hee released in 2011. Super cute and the use of birthday balloons as Christmas decorations not something I’ve ever thought, surprising considering we are supposed to be celebrating someones birthday. Apple Girl is known for her break-through use of iPhones as back-up band.

Your Ability to Concentrate

I have always been somewhat of a day dreamer. I can remember being reprimanded by my elementary school teachers for sitting in class day dreaming – even today concentration and focus is still something I work on. If you add the additional challenges of lack of sleep brought on by a new born and all the distractions that being a parent brings, then having good focused time to work is even harder. I’m a big fan of the concepts of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience as told by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi so I thought perhaps this book by M. Sadhu might be a good try. I’ll let you know how it works out. You can purchase Concentration a Guide to Mental Mastery at Amazon.