Do The Work

I can’t stress this enough: before you like / share / forward / recommend something online, do the work to make sure that it’s accurate. If it’s not worth the work, then don’t pass it on.

I encountered another case of something  shared and re-shared on Facebook that encouraged people to take some kind of action to prevent an unwanted result. (I’m going to avoid specifics so as not be distracted by them. I’m sure you can imagine any number of current and relevant issues.)

The problem? It was both wrong and potentially out of date. The action being taken was ineffectual. The time spent – even just reading it – was time wasted.

Now, normally, that might not seem like such a big deal. I mean, I’ve talked about this with respect to urban legends for decades. This is different. This is more important. In the worst case it can be used against the very things you might care about.

Read moreDo The Work

Finding Comfort In People

While I’m always reluctant to pigeon-hole people, most assuredly myself, it’s pretty safe to say that I’m an introvert. Less so, perhaps, than I was in my earlier years – it’s a spectrum, after all – but still an introvert.

The classic rule of thumb applies: extroverts get their energy from being around other people, introverts such as myself recharge on own own.

As I’ve written about earlier, a persistent level of anxiety has become the norm for me due to today’s political turmoil. This is new and unusual for me; I’m typically a pretty laid-back person.

It’s also lead to something else perhaps even more unusual for me.

I find myself wanting to be around other people.

Read moreFinding Comfort In People

Kindness & Good News

Today is apparently Random Acts of Kindness day. A day on which to make the world a somewhat more kind, positive place by performing a random act of kindness. Here’s Richard Branson’s list of 15 ideas.

It feels like we live in a particularly divided, divisive world of late, and focusing on things like this from time to time seems critically important – not just on one random day of the year, but every day.

It’s harder than it sounds.

Read moreKindness & Good News

When is a Lie Not a Lie?

“Lie” might be the most popular word in the English language right now. We see it thrown about like crazy in news reports, opinion and op-ed pieces, blog posts, social media posts, comments, and just about anywhere individuals and organizations express their opinions.

I’m coming to the conclusion that we’re using the word wrong. That, in the words of the immortal Ingio Montoya, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Or maybe it does, but we’re still using it incorrectly.

Read moreWhen is a Lie Not a Lie?

My Day as a Race Car Driver

I’d gotten a new car and I wanted to explore some of its limits, as well as my own. I also wanted to do so in ways that are frowned upon when driving city streets.

The result was a day at the ProFormance Racing School. No, it wasn’t about racing, per se. It was more about putting myself and my car into situations in a safe environment so I could more safely handle similar situations out in the “real world”.

Read moreMy Day as a Race Car Driver

Re-living and Pre-living

One of the things that mindfulness (to use the currently popular term) focuses on is what’s happening now. It’s really nothing more than another way to say “pay attention!” – to yourself, to the world around you, to what you’re thinking and feeling right now. “In the moment”, as they say.

Some time ago I was introduced to a couple of terms that help clarify the alternatives: re-living and pre-living.

Read moreRe-living and Pre-living

Anger: What’s The Point?

“Keep this thought handy when you feel a fit of rage coming on—it isn’t manly to be enraged. Rather, gentleness and civility are more human, and therefore manlier. A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent, and such a person has strength, courage, and endurance—unlike the angry and complaining. The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS,

I’ve never understood true anger or rage. It seems so … pointless.

Read moreAnger: What’s The Point?

Dealing With Persistent Malaise

I don’t generally get depressed easily, or when I do, I typically don’t stay in that state for very long.

This is different.

Honestly, since last November there’s been a backdrop of disbelief that’s slowly transitioned into a growing malaise. This last week it took a full-on leap into “WTF?!” territory.

Unfortunately, it’s also been impacting my ability to remain focused and productive, and I’m not sure what to do.

Read moreDealing With Persistent Malaise

Now What?

I’m thrilled at the turnout for yesterday’s (January 21, 2017) protest marches, I truly am.

I think that size as well as the diversity of locations around the planet exceeded all expectations. It was a welcome message at a time when I believe we are in serious need of hope.

But it leaves me hanging, with a question.

Now what?

Read moreNow What?

The Probability of Understanding Stastics

When my father fell and broke his hip in 2004 he’d just had his last cigarette, ending approximately 75 years of continuous and occasionally heavy smoking. His remaining years in a nursing home involved weaning off nicotine, followed by periodic searches for his cigarettes which he was convinced he had simply misplaced.

As he aged prior to dementia he would occasionally use his longevity as an indicator that smoking wasn’t really that bad for you.

I knew better than to argue with him.

But … that’s not how statistics and probability work.

Read moreThe Probability of Understanding Stastics

Put Your Money Where Your Mind Is

Perhaps more correctly, “put your money where you want your mind to be.”

Much has been made in recent months of the decline in journalism. Specifically, that journalism has responded to changes in our culture and information consumption by becoming less of source of information and more of a source of entertainment. Quoting Seth Godin’s blog this morning: “… newspapers won Pulitzer prizes for telling us things we didn’t want to hear. We’ve responded by not buying newspapers any more.” The implication is that if newspapers and other sources of information want to survive they need to tell what we want to hear.

That needs to change.

Read morePut Your Money Where Your Mind Is

Mind Over Aging

“It’s a disgrace in this life when the soul surrenders first while the body refuses to.” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 6.29(*)

I’ll be honest, one of the reasons I began this writing exercise, and indeed, one of the reasons I do Ask Leo!, is to keep my mind as sharp and active as possible as I age. To force me to reflect, focus, think deeply, and perhaps as a side effect improve my writing skills along the way.

I’ve taken, and continue to take, steps to try to improve the chances my body will last, but there’s no doubting that as I age its capabilities will slowly wane.

I’d prefer my mind not follow the same path.

Read moreMind Over Aging

What I Learned Last Week

(First in a series… I hope.)

Josh Spector of 10 Ideas Worth Sharing asked in his Facebook group “What question would you like to see everybody in this group answer?” – My response? “What did you learn last week?”

Now, of course, I feel like I have to have an answer. In fact, given my recent focus on learning every day, it seems like something I should consider answering every week, even if only for myself.

Read moreWhat I Learned Last Week

For Suspension of Disbelief Dial 555-1234

In the North American Numbering Plan, telephone numbers all consist of a 3 digit area code, a 3 digit office code (or exchange), and a 4 digit station number. When written the 3 components are typically separated by dashes, or in some cases periods – for example 206-965-9805.

To prevent real telephone numbers from appearing where they perhaps shouldn’t, phone numbers in the range 555-0100 through 0199 are reserved for “fictional” numbers. (Most assume that the entire 555 office code is so reserved, but apparently not.) What this means is that in books, movies or television when a phone number is presented it’s typically a 555 number.

Knowing this, the use of a 555 number immediately breaks suspension of disbelief for many. “Oh, yeah. We’re watching a movie.”

Read moreFor Suspension of Disbelief Dial 555-1234

Grateful as F**k

I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude. – Brene Brown

Inspired a bit by this post from Erika Napoletano (not the self-doubt part, the “where I’ve been focusing” part), I’ve realized that my writing has taken on not so much a dark tone, but a serious, contemplative, and occasionally “here’s what’s wrong with the world” kind of tone. While those are important perspectives, and I’ll certainly return to them, I also need to bring balance to my thinking.

Heck, gratitude is what part of this exercise is all about.

Read moreGrateful as F**k

The Illusion of Knowledge

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”(1)

The first step to solving any problem is recognizing there’s a problem to be solved. It’s true for everything from personal issues to the trivial problems of daily living to the gigantic questions of our time. You can’t fix a problem you don’t know you have.

Particularly of late, knowledge itself – or rather the illusion of knowledge – is a problem.

Read moreThe Illusion of Knowledge