💠 Sunday Scaries (11/15/20)

Man-eating lampreys, nine kings, and what is fire?

Hi everyone,

Writing to you from Mammoth Lakes, California. It was the opening weekend at the ski resort here, and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity go to waste.

One of the biggest things that I struggle with is the tradeoff between the economic and social benefits of living in a city, compared with the psychological peace that comes from being closer to nature. Frequent trips help to keep me sane, and this weekend had everything I was looking for.

Things were a bit different this year because of Covid, but overall the experience felt safe and well organized. Some photos from the trip:


What’s New From Me:

  1. A subscribers only post on my process for creating a standup script in Roam. This simple action helps to organize my thoughts so I can focus on what’s important.

  2. Sequoia. I wrote this piece a few years ago after a similar weekend getaway to Sequoia National Park. Finding energy to leave the city is difficult, but I’ve never regretted a weekend in nature.


In This Week’s Edition:

Kurt Vonnegut on Man-Eating Lampreys

This wonderfully animated six-minute video is taken from a talk that Kurt Vonnegut gave to a classroom of students in 1970. As to be expected, it is thought-provoking, funny, and slightly sad - a mixture of emotions that I’m come to associate with anything produced by Vonnegut. It provides an introspective look into Kurt’s childhood and writings. This quote in particular stood out to me:

I’ve heard that a writer is lucky because he cures himself every day with his work. What everybody is well advised to do is to not write about your own life — this is, if you want to write fast. You will be writing about your own life anyway — but you won’t know it.


A Colorized Photo of Nine Reigning Kings

This photo, taken in 1910, is one of the only surviving images of 20th-century monarchs gathered in the same room. It was shot in Windsor Castle before the funeral of King Edward VII. Shortly after this photo was taken, World War 1 broke out.

What amazes me about this photo is the formality and age of those in positions of power. Our business suits today don’t hold a candle to the military attire that was fashionable at the time. Also: bring back the ‘stache!


Fun to Imagine - Richard Feynman

Frequent readers of this newsletter will know that I never let a Feynman video pass by without comment. This complete video is the source of countless excerpts floating around the internet. Over the course of fifty minutes, Feynman explains an incredible range of concepts in plain English.

This type of understanding is why Feynman was so successful as a science communicator. He was not afraid to ask “dumb” questions and would delight in explaining things so that anyone could understand the fundamentals. One of my favorite lessons from his books is the Feynman Technique for learning. It goes something like this:

  1. Choose a concept you want to learn about

  2. Pretend you are teaching it to a sixth-grade student

  3. Identify gaps in your explanation and areas where you were not able to explain in plain words. Go back to the source material to understand it better.

  4. Review your explanation and create analogies.


Thanks for reading,

Phil

Sunday Scaries is a newsletter that focuses on content that has stood the test of time. Because of The Lindy Effect, the topics covered will still be relevant in the future. You can subscribe by clicking the link below. 👇