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Now is the time to ask a million questions. You may think you know the answers, but you really don’t. Everyone all together knows the answers, so the more you ask people, the more you will know the most. Here are some question-asking tips.
First, set your tone to open-hearted and neutral. Learn how to ask open-ended questions, where the respondent is able to describe things in their own words (not fill in your blanks). Inquire further, like a 3-year-old… but why? but why? but why? Get comfortable with awkward silence. Big quiet moments will get filled up with the best answers. Be a curious listener for days on end and watch your knowledge grow.
Kanye West’s struggle with bipolar disorder has led him to say and do a lot of things that don’t align with his core identity. But he has said profound things with his music over the years. In the song “All Falls Down” Kanye admits to having a “problem with spending” and talks about how people mask self esteem issues with having nice things. It’s the song with the chorus that goes, “When it all falls down who you going to call?”
The music video takes place at an airport, where his luggage is scanned. The security guard has him lie down and go through the luggage scanner too, and his whole body is X-rayed.
It’s important to take care of ourselves, wear clothes we look good in, have a home we love and do beautiful things with our lives. This week, think about the balance between the things you love and how your value yourself.
You’re still in a healing space, but suddenly there is more energy available to you. As the conversation heats up, keep tabs on how all the parts fit into the whole. You can work through some interesting ideas and solutions this week.
While there can be moments of headbutting, hitting a dead end or getting lost in the maze, remember to have fun. Turn it into a game. Twist out into a new perspective. Re-map your way of seeing, like toying with a Rubik’s cube. Maggie Appleton wrote that visual maps shift “us from an ‘egocentric’ view of the world to an ‘allocentric’ bird’s eye view.” Guided by your natural curiosity and playfulness, zoom in and then zoom out to get full coverage.
Before cars took over the streets, people used to walk in them and kids used to play in them. Cars killed lots of people in the early years until the car industry started a campaign against “jaywalking” in the 1920s. By the 1940s, it became common to designate special areas for kids to play.
Full of construction detritus, old paint cans and tires, “junk playgrounds” were proto-playgrounds. Over the decades, parents wanted safer places for their kids to play. One of the safest playground inventions, the ball pit, was invented by designer, Eric McMillan. He was inspired by imagining what it would be like to float around in a jar of pickled onions.
The internet has popularized urban legends about the dangers of ball pits, saying they are spiked with deadly bacteria, heroin-filled syringes and half-eaten chicken nuggets. These untrue stories gained traction, so now places like McDonalds and Chuck E. Cheese removed their ball pits for safety reasons.
This week, remember the things you used to do as a kid that were dangerous, fun or both. Consider what what seemed safe, but wasn’t, and vice versa and how memory is rife with misperception. Oh, and play like you’re a kid again.
Even if there is a sense of urgency, a need to do things right and the heightened discussions that go along with it, you can still put on your charm. Consider what everyone brings to the table with authentic curiosity. Someone can offer a true gem, a perspective you had never thought of before. Look at all your conversations like tunneling through ancient caverns and mythical forests, where you could stumble on a magical key at any moment.
And as you consider what you like and what you don’t, you take a closer look at your values and self-worth, how you make a living and the objects you own that make you feel good. You may find that what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, and distinguishing that difference is part of your journey to self discovery.
Language has two purposes, 1) as a mode of public “expression”, a vehicle to communicate with others, and 2) as a tool for internal “reasoning”, to build ideas.
One can keep a personal notebook for “reasoning” and give a public presentation for “expression”. With visual languages, like drawing and map-making, one can use a sketchbook to “reason” through a composition and produce a print series to “express”. Consider how ideas can be designed with wiggle room or modularity.
While you build concrete ideas to express to other people, remember to not take yourself too seriously. Remember the malleability of thoughtforms, and the humanity of yourself and others. Even though you have constructed well-designed concepts, expressing this to others may change your hardened idea. To soften your designs, maybe you can sing an important algorithm in the form of a song?
Garden metaphor moment! Brought to you by Dulcet Loam Seeds.
By now, you know which of your seedlings have grown into full plants. And you know which plants didn’t make it, that you can toss into the compost bin, to help make rich soil for next year. Now is a time to enjoy that one tomato plant that is producing tomatoes at an alarming rate, like a 1950s horror movie, and to share with all the people around you. Some tomatoes you can can. Let me rephrase that, put some tomatoes in glass canning jars. You can can-can, as in dance while canning. Ultimately too outrageous with all the kicking.
The theme is resource distribution, using all the parts, some for now, some for later, some for you, some for your friends.
Harper Forbes and Prakrit Jain used iNaturalist (an app where anyone can upload photos and collectively identify species) to discover two new scorpions in California. The scorpions, P. soda and P. conclusus, adapted for salty alkali basins with high pH soils. Scorpions fluoresce under ultraviolet light, so Harper and Prakrit used blacklights at night to find scorpions on the playa, in cracks in the hard clay and in bushes.
P. soda scorpions live on a few miles of federally-protected land, but P. conclusus scorpions can only be found on a narrow strip of unprotected land, and Harper says that “The entire species could be wiped out with the construction of a single solar farm, mine, or housing development.”
Rely on community for answers. Adapt to a changing environment. Glow in the dark.
There are tricks to make things easier. You can quickly learn a new language with spaced repetition flashcards that are timed to exploit the intervals that the brain most effectively remembers information. Linguist John McWhorter has an even faster language-learning trick: “Sleep with somebody.”
Drafting is a travel trick to conserve energy. Birds fly in formation to reduce drag. Trailing birds benefit from gliding in the lead bird’s slipstream. Cars can save up to 50% in fuel costs by “drafting”, or riding in the slipstream of the vehicle ahead of them (i shouldn’t be telling this to freedom-loving sag risers. do not do this in the wild. there are better ways to die). Bicyclists take advantage of this little trick, too. Stronger cyclists spend more time in the lead to help slower riders keep up with the pack while developing stamina.
This week, figure out teamwork tricks to make things easier for everyone.
Spanish retail chain, Eroski, has both worker-run stores and boss-managed stores. A research study found that the worker-run Eroski stores had higher sales growth because workers “have a large financial stake in the firm”. In a boss-run environment, workers can be on auto-pilot, but part of the job can be to make the boss happy, sometimes to accept unfair dynamics or ineffective policies.
When workers own the company, they take on more risk and reward. At The Cheeseboard in Berkeley, workers train in customer service, baking, accounting and consensus decision-making. Everyone is involved at every level of the bakery business. It’s more work to work together, but also empowering.
Truths to weigh this week (sorry I know cap risers already do this all the time): More ownership amounts to more responsibility. Equitable exchange requires developing better communication skills. There is a give-and-take in how you set up value exchanges.
If you live in a city, you likely live near a busy road or highway. You can get right on the road – a fast route to work or anywhere. But the downsides include lung cancer, asthma, heart disease and early death. Is the fun of living in a city and the convenience of living near a highway worth the health loss? Is the isolation of living in the middle of health-giving nature a better trade-off?
This reminds me of how even really good relationships have their trade-offs. Humans are inherently imperfect, and when they get close, there’s always a give-and-take. Sometimes you really love someone, but you just have a feeling that something is off.
This week, focus on the trade-offs in relationships. Identify what works and what doesn’t and find kind ways to co-plan for new relationship infrastructure design.
Geoff Manaugh wrote that post-wall Berlin “felt like a triple-exposure photograph… a haze of unbuilt architecture, whole neighborhoods yet to be constructed, everything still possible, out of focus somehow.” It held that dreamy, abandoned quality, places that your imagination could skateboard through with other poets, artists and adventurers.
As we now know, Berlin and other cities have been taken over, built up and claimed. As Manaugh writes, “The more that was built, the more Berlin seemed to lose this inchoate appeal.” Some of that natural rawness was preserved in a waterscape of bridges, underground pools and reeds filtering stormwater nestled within Potsdamer Platz, a huge, flashy shopping and business district.
Right now, you have that “inchoate appeal” of undeveloped land, layers of memory, overgrown weeds and shadows that slap in the wind. As you rebuild, keep some of this wild magic with you always.