Images?

My blog has an enormous amount of photography. There are over 2,000 images posted, and while many are simply me saving typing a thousand words, many of them are gorgeous. I’ve cherry-picked the best of them into a Featured Photography page.

…actually, since I’m me, I set up some code that creates pages of images arranged into gallery-carousels, and I have only to tag the images behind-the-scenes rather than manually edit them into the page. I digress.

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New York after Paris

The truth is that New York is in the throes of creation. With infinite travail it is taking on a body adequate to its needs, — a feat Paris long ago accomplished. The operation necessarily involves disagreeable surprises, and the immediate result, viewed in its entirety, is, it must be confessed, much more grotesque than impressive. An orchestral performance in which each and every performer played a different tune could hardly be less prepossessing.

~ Alvan F. Sanborn from, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1906/10/new-york-after-paris/306234/

Items from The Atlantic are appearing more often here on the ‘ol blog. My reading goes through epochs as I discover things that interest me and begin following them via RSS.

However, I landed on this article after a few clicks from another place, and that’s odd. Generally, the things I read do not contain links to other interesting-to-me things. That sounds backwards, perhaps? You see, if I find a place that has something interesting, I follow it in some form or another. So usually, any interesting links I find, point to things I already have seen—or if they’re very fresh, I’m already about to stumble upon shortly. I’m not sure that itself is interesting to report, but there it is.

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It’s even better than that

I’ve a few readers who really enjoy the Marcus Aurelius quotes in my collection. A few initial Aurelius quotations I collected through my general reading online, before I eventually read Meditations (English translations thereof, to be fair) and pulled a bunch more quotes myself.

I’ve just spent a few hours cleaning up my Aurelius quotes. Mostly this was adding the section number from Meditations to my blog posts. It’s now easy to find the original material. Note that Wikisource has several versions of Meditations available online. But at the risk of sounding snobbish, I really like Gregory Hays’s translation which will go out of copyright (maybe) in 2102. I digress.

During my cleanup, I realized that one of my quotes, “Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.” is not something Aurelius wrote. It’s something the character Marcus Aurelius said in the Movie Gladiator. But it really sounds like him; It’s a great line of dialog for a movie.

It turns out that there are two spots in Meditations which echo the often misattributed quote. In the middle of section 2.17 he writes, “[…] it accepts death in a cheerful spirit, as nothing but the dissolution of the elements from which each living thing is composed.” which is the sentiment without the cinema flourish. It also doesn’t make perfect sense when you pull it out from its context.

Eventually, you reach the final line of section 12.36 and find, “So make your exit with grace — the same grace shown to you.” That’s literally the final line he wrote as a meditation to himself. Can you imagine that being the last line you wrote to yourself? And thus my title.

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Exploring

It’s been six years since I started recording conversations for Movers Mindset. I’ve finally (after talking about it for years) gotten around to creating a Movers Mindset daily email of bite-sized things from all the 150+ podcast episodes. I have an enormous pile of episode summaries, quotes from the guests, their answers to the 3-word-questions, a few articles, choice bits from transcripts…

There’s a signup form over on Movers Mindset‘s web site.

Fun, inspiring, and educational, the daily email makes it easy to explore Movers Mindset. It also includes a notification about new episodes, which is handy if you don’t want to subscribe, but still want to know who’s on the show so you can grab just the episodes that interest you.

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Should I keep blogging?

This is not a passive-aggressive maneuver to get you to scroll to the bottom, read the footer and consider supporting my work. (It would mean a lot though if you did.)

This is a serious question which I ask myself at a frequency approaching every minute. All the benefits are not directly measurable.

Exposure — In order to ensure I have material to write posts, I have various processes and systems that force me to skim an insane amount of stuff pretty much every day. If you imagine skimming my weekly email in a second or two, that’s 7 items. I skim about 300 to 500 items every day. A small number each day catch my attention enough that I toss them on my read-later queue. There are 764 things on that queue at this instant. It takes me significant time to read them, but often just a few seconds to realize, “yeah this is going to be a blog post” (and then I go on reading to the end and then I write the post.) If I stopped blogging, would I still do all that work to be exposed to ideas?

Learning — Writing blog posts creates a third “imprint” in my mind. First a glance, then a read, and then thinking about it. Even if I sometimes abort the blog post mid-writing, it’s still three different repetitions. And I have software that feeds me my own blog posts (“what did I post 10 years ago, today?” etc.) so I am constantly re-reading everything on this site; that’s more repetitions as things drift into history.

Integration — If I write a blog post about it, I generally try to figure out its relationship to everything else. Adding blog tags is the most obvious bit of integration. But figuring out what to pull quote involves deciding what is salient to me. And deciding which part(s) I want to focus on, magnify, or disagree with requires further integration.

Writing — Thoughts swirl in my mind. Characters appear on my screen. There are several skills one can work on between those two sentences.

All of that goes into feeding my personal growth and priming my curiosity. Since good conversation is powered by genuine curiosity, all that stuff also enables my person mission.

Should I keep blogging? It doesn’t feel like stopping is realistically an option.

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1,000 quotes

Wow. Here’s the 1,000th quote added to my collection:

The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think that it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud and it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question – is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.’ And we… kill those people.

~ Bill Hicks

slip:4a1000.

I don’t “use” the numbers in simple 1, 2, 3, … order. Often I find several quotes from one person at the same time. I don’t want 20 quotes in a row from Leo Tolstoy in the daily quotes podcast. I space them out and end up with a smattering of numbers used out of order. So I keep a little list:

Each time I find a quote, I look to find the next number. When I used 999 for a proverb I thought, “I wonder what quote will be next?” And promptly forgot all about the milestone.

Today I bounced on my take-me-to-a-random-post link (see About this site) and landed on a very old post from 2013. It was a very large block of text, much longer than what I usually quote. I trimmed it down to what’s show above and copied it into my collection. I looked up the number and …surprise! 1,000.

In case you’ve not noticed the new bit of copy in the footer: You can get a daily quote by email from my Little Box of Quotes.

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Thoughts on Conversation

A few weeks ago I finally got around to starting a dedicated newsletter for my thoughts on conversation over on called Open + Curioius. This new, weekly newsletter is free to subscribers through Substack—you can read it on the web or via email.

Over on Substack I’m publishing more polished work. I’m sharing what I’ve learned and hopefully engaging in discussion.

The blog here at constantine.name remains the same; same posts, same quotes, same same. Here on the blog things are messy as I’m working with garage door up. There’s a lot of discovery and reflection happening here. If you’ve not been to the actual blog web site in a while, you may want to swing by my new Projects Page to see what I’m up to.

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Weekly email redesign

I’d like to do a bit of meta-discussion to start this week’s email. (If you’re reading this on the web site, these posts are assembled into a weekly email. This post sits atop this week’s assemblage.)

I reworked the stuff at the top to ensure that each email has a little more “what the heck is this?” context. I’ve moved the “hey could’ya?” contribute stuff down to the very bottom, (and added a non-subscription, any amount you like option.) I’m imagining that keeps it from being in the way, but is still noticeable—if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’re probably finding at least some value in the email.

I’d be happy to hear any thoughts you have about these changes: Is the please-support-my-work stuff too out-of-sight now? Does the stuff at the top make sense? After reading these emails, is there anything you’ve wanted to do—anything at all—that you didn’t know how to do?

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Thhhhpbt

Burnout research shows that cynicism is an easy way out when we don’t have the mental resources to cope. It’s no surprise that cynicism is a core attribute of the burnout equation: during a time of ongoing stress it’s much easier to be pessimistic than it is to mobilize and make a difference.

~ Chris Bailey from, https://alifeofproductivity.com/remember-burnout-and-cynicism-go-hand-in-hand/

That short blog post is about news-from-the-Internet and the pandemic, but it’s perfectly applicable to any source of chronic stress. For me, the chronic stress is entirely self-inflicted and the cautions remain the same.

I’ve gotten relief from myself over the years through journaling and blogging. Journalling gives me some perspective. (But it is difficult to do it well, since it can degenerate into subjectivity, navel gazing, or whining.) Blogging gives me the chance to regularly work with the garage door up; showing my work by exposing my thinking. Even if mostly no one calls me on anything, knowing that people are looking calls me to a higher quality of thinking.

Yesterday and today I’ve been thinking about taking another look at cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A couple years ago I made a pass at understanding it—specifically wondering if one could “do it” to oneself. (Yes.) I’ve dusted off a small volume for a re-read to see what I can tune in my existing self-care routines, and hopefully find some new ones to settle into for a while.

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