Random please

I’m a process process process person. The second time I have to do something, I’m trying to figure out how to either never have to do that again, or how to automate it. (And failing those two, it goes into my admin day.) But being process oriented also means I like to build tools to enable doing things that weren’t previously possible.

Recently, I installed a little bit of code on my site that will bounce one to a random post. This means I can now have a link, which takes me to a random quote. I collect all the quotes because I want to read them. A big portion of the enjoyment comes from their discovery. So any time I can mange to re-discover a quote, by stumbling over it some how, that’s a bonus. So now, each morning, I bounce myself to a re-discovery…

https://constantine.name/?redirect_to=random&tag=quotes

Which is great to bookmark— Except, if you click that, you land on a quote; and making a bookmark is then of that specific quote. Instead you have to manually create a new bookmark—so that’s your homework for today, go figure out how to do that in your fave web browser. In that new bookmark, you can copy-and-paste that URL as the address for the bookmark. Then, any time you go to that bookmark, my web site will bounce you to a random quote.

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Lunacy?

But there’s a message all of our readers should appreciate: Blog posts are not enough to generate the deep fluency you need to truly understand or get better at something. We offer a starting point, not an end point.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2017/02/on-shallowness/

First off, I totally read that as, “to generate the deep lunacy …” which is probably closer to the truth than I’d like to admit for my own blog if one tries to just read it. Second, this is so meta. I’m writing a blog post about a blog post that is referring to the other posts on that same blog.

I’ve said this sort of thing before, but it bears repeating: On this blog, I’m showing my process of reflection. I would get the exact same benefit if I did all this writing, and pressed delete instead of publish. (With the notable exception that I do also use my blog as an archive to re-find things.) But I make no claim that simply reading this blog will do anything for you. “Look! Here are my footprints, stumbles, side tracks and snow angels in the woods.” Maybe you can see some art, or some fun, or whatever. But the whole point of having it out there for you to read is to encourage you to do your own reflection.

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Little Box of Quotes

Daily email

If you simply love quotes, you can get a daily, random quote by email from my Little Box of Quotes.

All the quotes

Craig Constantine

You can jump to a random quote. That link targets a new window in case you want to bang on it a few times. ;)

All the quotes are here on my web site, tagged Quotes. If you want to page through them. (But following the tags on a particular quote might be more interesting?)

Finally, there is a small collection of posts about the quotes and how I collect them, tagged Little Box of Quotes.

Podcast

The quotes are also published as bite-sized podcasts. Search for Little Box of Quotes wherever you normally listen. You can also play them in your web browser directly from Simplecast.

Patterns where there are none

Last week, one of your fellow readers hit reply—replies come directly to my personal email box—and shared some thoughts about connections and interesting juxtapositions in the week’s email. After I pointed out that the patterns they commented on, were simply a byproduct of how I write and how the email is assembled automatically, they rightly observed, “Lol, humans finding patterns where they don’t exist. A timeless classic.” I completely agree, and our power of pattern-finding is an awesome tool.

I was reading, and found a new-to-me Einstein quote. (You’ll find it soon, some time in February.) When I capture a quote from someone already in my collection, I have to check; There are ~800 quotes these days and sometimes I “find” one I’ve forgotten. (Surprisingly though, I can usually tell on sight if it’s in the collection already.) This led me to a search for “einstein” here on the blog. (There’s also a tag for Albert Einstein, but the search nets more posts including those I failed to tag.) I found a quote already on the blog—but not the new one that prompted it all—that was so old, it wasn’t in my collection. I fixed that, leading to a very old blog post, with a very high slipbox address, 4a784: Part of a Whole. And also 4a789: Do You Have a Question? Those were posted in 2013.

They’re about curiosity and broadening our sphere of compassion. Which sounds a lot like my just-barely-one-year-old vision and mission.

My vision is a world where everyone can flourish. My mission is creating better conversations that spread understanding and compasion.

So, as a human here finding connections, that’s a breadcrumb from 8 years ago hinting at the path I took to today. Awesome.

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House keeping

A shout-out to Alice who joins us this week. Welcome! :)

The front of my blog includes a random selection of testimonial quotes from readers of this email. It would be helpful if you’d hit reply and write something I could add to those testimonials.

Also, I’ve made a small addition to also show the tags for each of these items. After 10 years and 3,000+ posts, all my tagging along the way has proved well worth the time. If you’re curious, I have two pages for tags; One is an insane “all the tags” page, (there are 1,326 unique tags on my blog,) and the other is a more useful page of “tags with 10+ posts.The latter runs to about 100 tags and is an insightful glimpse into the sorts of things which interest me.

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Escalation, Part 2

Three weeks ago—zoinks, time flies!—I wrote in Escalation that I didn’t want to turn this into a quote-a-day blog. That would also make my weekly email have 7 quotes, plus all the additional daily blog posts.

I’ve got to be honest: I was wrong. I really do want to publish all the quotes, and write all these blog posts. So, “All ahead flank-speed!” This week’s email will be even larger. …and onward thusly we shall proceed.

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drip drip drip

This is post number 3,000 — What a long, strange trip it’s been!

My very first post here, “Hello world,” was written on August 13, 2011. That marked the beginning of this second incarnation of my home on the Web. It’s been a sublime decade of tap-tappity-tapping away. I’ve learned a lot about werd-slingin’, and obviously developed my own way of doing things. Looking back, I believe I’ve settled into a comfortable melange of: posting photography rarely enough that they have real impact when they appear, and often enough that I feel I’m actually doing something with the digital photography I manage to shoot; quotations that inspire, conspire, and aspire to be helpful; random linking to the effectively limitless wonderful things created by humanity; working on my own thinking by exposing my reflection; pointing out interesting connections among people, places, and things.

I’ve collected a surprisingly small number of posts tagged “Meta”, (19 to be exact,) which share more of the what-and-how of this blog.

I spent the last year preparing for this little milestone by currating a collection of posts tagged “Apogee”, which are the best-of-the-best. I was hoping to find 100, and without paying attention as I was finding and tagging, I ended up with 96.

Finally, this blog is a labor of love, and the front of the blog acts as the central-most “start here” for my presence on the Internet. It would mean a lot to me if you shared something with anyone you think would also enjoy it.

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Escalation

It’s fine if you didn’t, but last week you may have noticed this weekly missive put on a few extra pounds. (I just love the word, “missive,” don’t you?) This week’s missive is similarly embiggened. And for the foreseeable future, you can expect about 42.9% more puzzlement. What, pray tell, has happened?

Here’s how much care I put into this . . .

I write, and schedule, the it’s-just-a-quote posts as I find new quotes. At this moment, there are a few—202 to be specific—lined up in the wings awaiting their day in the sun. I had been scheduling them every third day. But you nimble-mathing people will realize that means I was scheduling them nearly two years out. (Relax. WordPress makes it easy to do.)

Worse, because I feed the quotes to my Little Box of Quotes podcast-turned-Little_Shop_of_Horrors-monster, I must accumulate at least one new quote every day, (on average.) Not only are the quotes stuck, like an epic fat-berg, in the pipeline of my blog, that ‘berg is quickly growing. What to do?

Well, I really don’t want to turn my blog into a quote-a-day web site. That’s the only real way to fix the pile-up. Instead, I rescheduled them to be every-other-day. (Relax. WordPress doesn’t make it easy, but I’m cuckoo, and fast.) I already felt that I was cheating 33.3% by only writing two blog posts between every-third-day’s quote— But there was no way I could bear to only write a blog post every-other-day. (Don’t misread that as: I couldn’t bear to cheat that much. No, the posts come out of my head faster than that, and I couldn’t bear to ignore them.) Which brings me to…

I’m going back to writing a blog post for every day, and you’re getting 3 or 4 quotes each week. Thus the jump from a regimented 7 items per week to an embiggened 10 or 11 items per week.

So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.

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Quotations are difficult

Most of my blog posts are either a quotation which I leave to stand on its own, or a usually-longer-length pull-quote with a citation and my commentary. Things around here are very intentional. The freestanding quotations are meant to leave all the context and analysis to you, Dear Reader, without any of my thoughts coloring your thoughts. You may very well try to learn more about me based on my selections, but I’m trying to recreate—for your enjoyment—the experience of discovering the quotation. The pull-quotes both expose the seed of my reflections and try to lure you to something in the world I’d like to highlight.

Fires can’t be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men.

~ Baldwin

But there are the vanishing rare two-fer posts like today. There. Have a quote. And…

I discovered this quote in a book, (p17 of Get Together, 2019 Richardson et al if you must know.) I know this will surprise you, but I have a well-practiced process for “capturing” quotes. In this case, the vague attribution tickled a memory; “I’m pretty sure I have a quote from James Baldwin…” I checked, and I do. “I wonder if this quote is that Baldwin…”

What’s the simplest thing that could possibly work? Just type the quote, in quotes, into a search engine… and Quote Investigator has a page for it. (Going directly to Quote Investigator is step two, by the way, if the search fails. I search generally, first, because it often finds the phrase in the original source material right out of the gate.) It turns out that this quote has a second sentence!

Fires can’t be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.

~ Baldwin

slip:4a732.

Oh, nice! I like that even more than the one I stumbled on. But who is this “Baldwin”… and then I read the Quote Investigator page. Their conclusion is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . It’s been attributed four different ways for nearly 90 years. And now I’m wondering if my James Baldwin quote— which is #380 in my collection of 700+ so it’s pretty old, although I think I recall where I got it, from Gaping Void . . . but don’t go there! It’s a wonderland rabbit hole of decades of cartoons. I digress. And I’m having images of the book authors doing this same rabbit hole deep dive.

Fine, executive decision: I’ll stick with “Baldwin.” But that makes for this wonky entry in my slipbox index of people… Now I have “Baldwin, James” and “Baldwin.” But you know what? I’m never going to forget about this now, if I ever look at that index slip again.

So now you know: When you see me casually drop a freestanding quote here, it’s not in truth casually.

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Two thousand nine hundred and six

Arbitrary milestones are just as useful as nice round numbers. This morning I decided I’d take some time to reflect on blogging.

I love grammar. I wonder if you thought that I meant this blog post would be my reflections on blogging? No, I took some time to reflect on my own. Today I’m yet again beating one of my favorite drums: It is life-critical to intentionally take time to reflect on the things one is doing.

What am I actually doing with my time? What is doing me benefit? What, harm? What things do I believe I must do? Why do I believe those are necessary? What promises have I made? …to myself, to others? What actually happens if I break one of those promises? …would anyone even notice? What could I do if I stopped everything and did some other thing with incredible focus? Why does that other some thing interest me? Could I more simply change what I’m doing to make a little room for it now? If I awoke to find all the things in my head, and on my lists, were done what would I do? …would I rush to add more things to do? …would I work on something new? …would I want to re-do something I’ve done before?

Discovery. Reflection. And then, go be efficacious.

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