Posts tagged with life


[M]y only qualifications … are having read several books about marriage and experience from my own marriage, now in its 30th year…
  • “… a misconception: … to make a marriage work, you have to find the right person. The fact is, you have to be the right person,…
  • … students … interview friends about their … weaknesses, and discuss what triggers their … reactions … in order to understand their … hot buttons… “Being blind to these causes people to experience problems as due to someone else—not to themselves,” Solomon explains. “We all have triggers, blind spots, growing edges, vulnerabilities. The best thing we can do is be aware of them, take responsibility for them, and learn how to work with them effectively.”

  • … blaming, oversimplifying, and seeing themselves as victims are all common traits of unhappy couples and failed marriages. …
  • frame statements as “X, Y, Z” statements, rather than finger pointing: When you did X, in situation Y, I felt Z….

Here are a few of my own thoughts on marriage: 

  1. There are a huge number of dimensions on which one might wish to be well-matched with one’s spouse. There is no way you are going to be well-matched on all of those dimensions.
  2. The reputation you have built up with your partner for telling the truth about objective facts is a precious asset in any relationship. …[T]here is bound to be some way to tell the truth. (If you can’t think straight, say “I can’t talk about this right now,” rather than lying.) The more subjective realm of revealing what is in your heart is trickier; seize moments when you will be able to express yourself well and be well understood. It is worth working toward being known.
  3. In an argument, if each partner comes back with 101% of the irate heat the other just gave, things will explode. But if each partner ratchets down the intensity to 99% of the intensity of the last remark, things will eventually calm down.* So a small difference in reaction pattern can be the difference between an explosion and something that simmers down.


* Math note: To pursue the logic a bit more, if your partner is coming back with 125% intensity on each round, you are going to have to return less than 80% intensity on each round to avoid an explosive chain reaction….

A regular reader writes in:

I tried that for a long time. It was better than escalating in the short term. But I eventually realized that some people like explosions, and created them when they weren’t happening.

…having been married for a long time, I can guarantee you, that no one on the outside has any idea what goes on inside a marriage.

The parts of being married I enjoyed were great. I’ll never do it again.

Estonians are amenable to marriage. They have a liberal, “eh, what the heck” approach to it and see it as a manifestation of romantic love, as opposed to the US where it has been viewed as a phase in life that occurs sometime after a big promotion at work.

A life in vita.


24 Hrs. To Live by Mase feat. The Lox, Black Rob, & DMX

(Source: Spotify)

Most advice for young people is so terrible it makes me want to throw heavy objects at the adviser. Like

But the founder of Wikipedia has chosen advice related to (a) making money and (b) other people trying to get you to give it to them. Maybe it’s his experience with diverse Wikipedians that helps him think outside the rich-person bubble?

In my experience, costs are easier to control than revenues.

Wales’ advice to young people is also similar to advice my great-grandfather gave to my grandfather about work and money.

And it’s similar to my favourite equation from economics, which I summarise as:


I know many of you tumblr readers are young and some of you are interested in hearing advice from older people. If you read Wales’, let me know what you think?

Words that seem innocuous to me can set other people into anger mode. (I too, of course, have my own buttons that can be pushed—mostly economics-related.)

One woman who has raised more children than I can even fathom doing (9) will launch off if she hears the phrase “quality time”.

She says "Quality time" is short for "I don’t really know my kids—but I’ll make up for it by going to their sports games and dance recitals.”

To her, ∄ such thing as “quality time”—time spent with your kids that’s significantly better than, or can make up for, other, less important, time. For her you really get to know your kids during all the unimportant, mundane, pedestrian moments of life.

The jazz educator David Baker had this to say about jazz improvisation:

You start out learning scales; modes; whole songs. You   play along with your favourite records. Then you start breaking it down to pieces—licks, long bits of solos. Gradually as you get more and more mastery of your instrument and over yourself, your control becomes more and more atomic. At the level of full mastery you are feeling, and choosing, every note, every rest. Eventually it’s every fraction of a note, or fraction of a rest, that you’re playing. Actively.

You also want to extend your range. Your body has a wide range of expression at your command. It’s not just your instrument that can make sound. Clomps, stomps, screams, claps, yelps, lip trills, Brooklyn raspberries, exhaling, inhaling, crying out—all of these are tools at your disposal. You also want to become comfortable in every range of your instrument—even very very high, and very very low, have a purpose that in expressing some emotion you may want to utilise.

The bolded part especially rings true for me much more broadly than in music performance. Free will, I feel, can be exercised to varying degrees. If I check my email in the morning, go on Facebook, check my twitter notifications, whatever, I’m yielding up my free will. I’m passively responding to things that I put in front of myself. On better days, or at least the days when I assert more atomic control over my time and choices, I actively spend time in the moment and/or ask myself what I really want to be doing, rather than rolling the wheels through the ruts of habit or letting stimuli lead me to respond.

For me the question of free will isn’t about yes/no deductions—it’s about how much, today?

John Bonner’s slime mould movies (por princetonuniversity)

  • some slimes altruistically sacrifice themselves,
  • the individuals communicate based on micro rules to make a macro (emergent) decision “together”, yet without a central planning slime
  • the slimes move around (like animals), yet also form a “stem” and grow upwards (like plants), yet also shoot spores out of the top (like fungi).

Late spring. Just after the last frost. I was walking home barefoot, facing the sun. Above one yard with plenty of white dandelion heads I saw in the polarised light golden motes dancing, circling each other, bobbing and teasing each other. They looked like golden fairies.

I was riding a bus through the western United States. From the eastern border of Wyoming down through Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, … onward to my destination.

There was a young man who rode with us for a while. He came from Gillette, Wyoming: pop. 29,087 or 2.4 people per acre.

He told us that

  1. He had already tried dating every girl in his town
  2. He was riding the bus on a mission of love. He had saved up enough money by working in the oil fields to “rescue” his long-distance girlfriend.

Rescue her from what? was the response from most of the women to whom he told this story on our journey.


His girlfriend lived 3,000 kilometres away. They had never met in person. She was living with her ex-boyfriend, who, according to the young man on the bus, was still having sex with her (but she didn’t want to).

To the many women to whom he told this story during the 30-hour bus ride he relayed varying stories of the ex-boyfriend’s jerkitude, as well as of the strength of his relationship with this young woman.

  • They had talked every day for a year and a half.
  • She told him she loved him.
  • He was going out there to save her and bring her back to Wyoming to live with him.
  • (By the way: having given up the oil fields for some reason that slips my mind, he was working at a petrol station doing stuff like preparing pizza, slicing deli meats, and mopping floors. He lived with a roommate but I believe the roommate was willing to move out once he brought the young woman back to Gillette, Wyoming.)

To say the story was met with scepticism by the female co-Greyhounders would be a gross understatement. Many, ranging in age from (I guess) late teens to middle age, tried to warn the young man of the error of what he was doing.

  • He was missing the obvious signs.
  • She lives with the other guy.
  • You’ve never been next to her in person.
  • She’s lying to you, or to him, or both.
  • He was just lonely (and, they were too polite to add—ugly and lacking in social sense) to see things clearly.

But he was resolute. He had saved up enough money to rent a car to drive both of them back to Wyoming. He had brought duffel bags for her belongings. He had arranged for her to meet his foster parents in Colorado on the way home.

I never got to hear how the story ended.