Every Picture Tells a Story

Some stories just aren’t pretty.

The bedroom wall.
The bedroom wall. Click for larger image. (Image: Leo A. Notenboom.)

In 1981 we purchased our first house. 740 square feet of education lay ahead of us.

So. Much. Education.

Starting with the day we took possession.

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Knowing Isn’t Enough

One more step is required.

Scale
(Image: canva.com)

In 2014 I lost 56 pounds. I went on to lose 10 more beyond my goal after that.

It was intentional and methodical.

After reaching that goal, occasional lapses (Hello, Thanksgiving) would be met with “oh well, I know how to do this”, and the holiday weight would eventually come off.

And then: pandemic.

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Write As If No One’s Watching

They probably aren’t.

Typing
(Image: canva.com)

One of the best books on my infinite reading list is Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is And What You Can Do About It by Steven Pressfield.

The title says it all.

Most writers want to fix it. Most desperately want their work to be read. Some build a business or life around it.

I’m no different, I guess. But I have an additional constraint I find myself fighting: there are certain people I’d love to know are “reading my sh*t”.

Yet I know they’re not.

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Meditation Versus FOMO — The Approach I Use

The “other” app I run.

Monkeys
(Image: canva.com)

This has happened too many times to count: I get a great, or not-so-great, idea I want to act on later.

The problem is I’m not in a position to write it down or save it in some way.

Let’s face it, “I’ll remember it later” is not a valid answer.

Especially as I age.

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A Pre-Microsoft Microsoft Story

I E S I Datacorder II
IESI Datacorder II

Back in the days BM (Before Microsoft), I worked for a small company in Seattle called International Entry Systems, Inc, or IESI. They manufactured Z-80 (8-bit) based data entry terminals consisting of a single line display, a keyboard, and a cassette data recorder (hence the product name: “DataCorder”). All software was loaded from tape. (This was 1980, after all.)

One of the software packages they had available was a copy of Microsoft Basic. I won’t go into the machinations needed to have a working Basic interpreter using a single 40 character line display and a single cassette deck for all storage, but they did.

It was in place, though underutilized, when I showed up.

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Seeing Both Sides is a Curse

If people can’t put you in the right bucket, you must belong in the wrong one.

Black & White
(Image: canva.com)

Being able to see both sides of an argument is a curse.

People want black and white. If you’re cursed with an ability to articulate shades of grey, it’ll be taken as blanket disagreement no matter what your actual opinion.

Anything seen as less than 100% agreement is disagreement.

If we are to survive, that must change.

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Writing as Therapy

Writing
(Image: canva.com)

Earlier today I posted a eulogy for one of our Corgis who passed away last night.

Wrote, posted, and shared on social media.

I started to think it might be useful to consider why, why, and why.

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My “Infinite Reading List”

I’ll never run out of reading material

Mobius Strip
(Image: canva.com)

Now that I’m a few weeks into my process to read more this year, I’ve decided to formalize something that’s been bouncing around the back of my head for a while.

I call it my “infinite reading list”.

No, not that there are an infinite number of books I’ll never get around to reading. Something smaller and much more practical.

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All Eyes are On You — Don’t Screw this Up

Democrats, you’re under the microscope

Gas Co ball, Trocadero, July 1941
Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales via Flickr Commons

In a recent political discussion, I discovered something shocking: the person I was talking with attributed the same horrible fears to my side as I did to theirs.

The bullet lists were nearly identical.

Wow.

I don’t believe there’s a short term fix. “How do we change their minds?” is not the question, because minds aren’t going to change any time soon.

The answer is both simpler and more difficult.

Show them they’re wrong.

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1918 – 2020

Flu Shot

“Investigators today believe that in the United States the 1918–19 epidemic caused an excess death toll of about 675,000 people”

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History was published in 2004, a full 15 years before COVID-19 would race around the planet beginning in 2019.

My greatest takeaway from this book might well be a sense of disappointment: in our inability to learn, in our government’s inability to lead, and in our inability to understand and trust science.

In other words, not a lot has changed in 100 years. And that’s sad.

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Upping My Reading Game

Biggest takeaway

(My apologies for the long delay between personal blog posts. All I can say is “2020”. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

When I was young I was a voracious reader. Lots and lots of books passed through my fingers. Once I discovered fantasy and science fiction the pace only increased. Being a socially awkward only child gave me lots of time to myself, and reading was one of the activities I thrived on.

At one point during my Microsoft career a manager turned me on to self-help and growth literature, and I was once again an avid consumer.

Fast forward <mumble> years and things have changed. I’m not the reader I once was. I watch my wife consume upwards of a book a day, while I’m lucky to do one or two a month.

I want to change that.

I think I have a plan.

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Chester

Chester (Brookehaven on Second Thought)
18-Apr-2007 – 12-Aug-2020

Chester the log dog
Chester the log dog

In 2011 we got a call from our breeder that, for reasons unrelated to the dog, she’d had one responsibly returned. The catch was that this was the son of one of our other dogs, Dagmar. It was an opportunity she wanted to offer to us first.

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Wear a Mask – Don’t Be A Dick

No, I’m not saying you’re a dick for not wearing a mask. Maybe you are, maybe you’re not, but that’s not what I’m saying.

In fact it’s very possible I’m saying exactly the opposite.

People are so freakin’ quick to judge, it’s frustrating. We’ve become so incredibly judgmental, and most often without even a shred of evidence. And yes, if that makes me sound judgmental, so be it. I also can’t tolerate intolerance.

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Science is Evolution in Action

Fire

There’s a line of thought among some of the COVID-19 conspiracy or anti-mask crowds running like this: do nothing and let people get sick. It’s how evolution works; the strong will survive, and humanity will be better for it. Besides, things aren’t as bad as [the government / the media / the liberals / the fraidy-cats] makes it out to be, anyway.

There’s a lot wrong with that thinking I won’t get into.

My point is more fundamental: it doesn’t have to be that way. Evolution can do better, and is, in fact, doing so right now. You can watch if you want to see it, and know where to look.

But you might also want to help.

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Was My Dad Ahead of His Time?

Assembly drawing, c1969 – Leo J. Notenboom (Click for larger image.)

Pictured above is a drawing my father created in or before 1969.

I don’t believe that it depicts anything particularly remarkable, but this isn’t my field.

What is remarkable is that this image exists at all.

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Father’s Day Thoughts

The Notenbooms, circa late 1957 or early 1958 (Click for large image.)

My dad (b. 1916) would have loved the internet.

I’m not sure he’d deal well with all the technology side of things — that could go either way: frustrated with the fragility, or stubborn enough to not let it get the best of him.

I think of him often, and usually in the form of “Oh, he would’a loved that!”

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How I’m “Stepping Away” From Facebook

(Because I’m “stepping away” from Facebook, I may post more frequent, shorter things on my blog https://leo.notenboom.org. For example the things I might have shared on Facebook might end up here. Or not. We’ll see. Interesting times.)

About a week ago I decided I really needed a break from Facebook. It was impacting my attitude, impacting my sleep, increasing my depression, increasing my anxiety, and decreasing my productivity. These are all things I’m normally extremely good at managing. But not here, not now.

You know the drill: Facebook bad.

But, of course, it’s not quite that simple.

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There Is No “Over”, There Is Only “New”

Health workers during the ‘Spanish’ influenza pandemic.

“When this is over…”

It’s a phrase we’re hearing or saying often, of late, frequently followed by a litany of activities to resume after things return to normal.

I’ll admit, it’s comforting to dream of a time when we’ll do what we did as we did before.

Unfortunately “when this is over…” is a lie.

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Looking For Opportunity in Crisis

Two months ago the coronavirus wiped out two thirds of Ask Leo!‘s ad revenue.

Two weeks ago a Google search algorithm update cut my traffic in half.

I’m not the only business in this position, online or off. For these and other reasons many businesses around the world are suffering.

Here’s what I’m doing about it, in the hopes it’ll give you ideas to follow along, survive, and perhaps even thrive.

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