Notes: Truth

A friend recently published a book, Truth. Here's what I shared with the author after reading the free copy that was sent to me:

I read the entire book straight through the first time I opened it. My intention was to download and read the book later, but I felt myself pulled in from the start, an intuitive attraction towards wisdom shared from one truth-seeker to another. Thought-provoking and soul-stimulating.

The various quotations you included throughout the book were perfect, along with the very reflective thoughts you added to each one. There were several occasions where I lost track of who I was reading: you or the person you just quoted!

I grew up with my dad reciting and elaborating on elucidations of mantras from the Vedas. I have felt the truth and depth that lies in ancient Sanskrit teachings and I was delighted to see you include several references to Sanskrit and Gandhi.

Here are a few of my favorites from the book:

The author who wrote the notes that were previously included here asked to have their name and all information about them removed from my site.

Notes: Letters to a Young Poet – Letter 2

Written between 1902 and 1908, "Letters To A Young Poet are ten letters written to a young man about to enter the German military. His name was Franz Kappus, he was 19 years old, and he wrote Rilke looking for guidance and a critique of some of his poems. Rilke was himself only 27 when the first letter was written. The resulting five year correspondence is a virtual owner's manual on what it is (and what is required) to be an artist and a person."

While you can purchase the book, you can also find the full set of letters online for free. I've been going through them slowly and keeping track of my favorite passage from each letter. I'll be sharing those passages here over the next few weeks.

Here's my favorite passage from Letter 2, written April 5, 1903:

Irony: Don't let yourself be controlled by it, especially during uncreative moments. When you are fully creative, try to use it, as one more way to take hold of fife. Used purely, it too is pure, and one needn't be ashamed of it; but if you feel yourself becoming too familiar with it, if you are afraid of this growing familiarity, then turn to great and serious objects, in front of which it becomes small and helpless. Search into the depths of Things: there, irony never descends and when you arrive at the edge of greatness, find out whether this way of perceiving the world arises from a necessity of your being. For under the influence of serious Things it will either fall away from you (if it is something accidental), or else (if it is really innate and belongs to you) it will grow strong, and become a serious tool and take its place among the instruments which you can form your art with.

Notes: Correct Posture by Capt. Godfrey Rodrigues

Correct Posture - Its meaning and its results is a fascinating little book on posture published in the 1930s by a man who appears to have no selfishly-motivated interest in sharing his knowledge and his experience (this was the first indication to me that this book was worth reading: he was sharing this knowledge because he truly believed in it and saw its truth in those who applied it).

For me the most interesting part of his story is how he came back to the western world with this newfound knowledge after spending some time exploring India and speaking with practitioners of yoga.

The principles presented in this book are incredibly simple and I can tell you, after applying them for less than two days myself, that it's the real thing. Try it and see for yourself. The book is short and you can read the entire thing online for free here.

I'm including a few of my favorite quotes from the book below.

Physical strength is of value to a man or woman only when it becomes a medium for a better and fuller life, a life of constructive labor an achievement.

Muscles are not the outward signs of inward health of body and mind, but they are part of man's equipment to 'carry on' in the rush and tumble of the world.


[...] misunderstanding is the world's worst disease with which man has to contend.


Teachers should themselves be taught first the value of posture and air--then they can turn to teaching it to the children. Make it necessary as their book education.


From the body of Arabian literature comes these words, as true today as when they were first uttered by some scholar in ancient Bagdad or Mecca: "He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything."


"The only way for a rich man to be healthy is by exercise and abstinence: to live as though he were poor." - Sir William Temple


"Refuse to be ill. Never tell people you are ill: never own it to yourself. Illness is one of those things which a man should resist at the onset." - Lord Lytton

Notes: Letters to a Young Poet – Letter 1

When I met Lisa Rigano earlier this year she recommended that I read Letters to a Young Poet, and I'm really glad she did because these letters are a goldmine of wisdom.

Written between 1902 and 1908, "Letters To A Young Poet are ten letters written to a young man about to enter the German military. His name was Franz Kappus, he was 19 years old, and he wrote Rilke looking for guidance and a critique of some of his poems. Rilke was himself only 27 when the first letter was written. The resulting five year correspondence is a virtual owner's manual on what it is (and what is required) to be an artist and a person."

While you can purchase the book, you can also find the full set of letters online for free. I've been going through them slowly and keeping track of my favorite passage from each letter. I'll be sharing those passages here over the next few weeks.

Here's my favorite passage from Letter 1:

Don't write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: they are the hardest to work with, and it takes a great, fully ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty Describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don't blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world's sound - wouldn't you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attention to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. And if out of , this turning within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.

Notes: Is this not true for all of us?

"Some of our dreams come true, others do not; some people stay close, others move away; some get sick and then better -- while others wither and die. Some people we love remain faithful and loving our whole lives, while others abandon or betray us. Relationships and friendships come and go, businesses succeed and fail, fortunes rise and fall, people we love will die, and we will grow old, get sick, and die. As William Stafford says, 'Nothing we do can stop time's unfolding.' In that inevitable, excruciatingly human moment, we are offered a powerful choice…;

Will we interpret this loss as so unjust, unfair, and devastating that we feel punished, angry, forever and fatally wounded -- or, as our heart, torn apart, bleeds its anguish of sheer wordless grief, will we somehow feel this loss as an opportunity for our hearts to become more tender, more open, more passionately alive, more grateful for what remains?" - Wayne Muller, A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough

I bought Wayne Muller's book on the Kindle today after reading this passage and I'm looking forward to digging into it during my one-week train journey across Australia later this week.

Notes: Book Highlights from The Tower

From Chris Guillebeau's new manifesto, The Tower:

A long time ago I was considering various titles and subtitles for my first book. One of the many I looked at with my publishing team was "A Life That Matters," as in here's what you do to live a life that matters.

Something bothered me about this title, and it wasn't just that a lot of other writers had used similar phrasing. I finally realized what the problem was -— because life is precious for its own sake, every life matters, even if that life is somehow wasted or unfulfilled. We believe that a young child's life matters even though she isn't able to work or otherwise contribute anything productive to the world. Most of us also believe that the life of a hardened criminal still matters, despite the poor choices they may have made that caused harm to others.

It's clear, however, that there is often a gap in our lives between what could have been and what actually is. Because of choices or circumstance, some people are limited to a life less than they hoped for, or less than they were capable of. Every life matters, therefore, but not every life's potential is fulfilled. Therein lies the problem with a phrase like "a life that matters," and also the opportunity: because your life matters so much, how will you put it to good use?

In addition to the other answers about the meaning of life -— to acquire knowledge, to live free of suffering, to pursue happiness —- another answer is to think about influence and impact. After our basic needs are met, we have an innate desire to build and create. Constructing a life oriented around creative development is an opportunity to fulfill that desire, while also providing something of value for others to appreciate. A structure created in a video game might be a fun diversion for a while, but in life, the people you influence will benefit from the time and attention you spend on building something real.

We must work on our lives the way we would work on any other project. Instead of knowledge, pleasure, or happiness, the purpose of life is to create something meaningful that will endure after we're gone.

***'ll need to exercise influence with the people who are affected by your legacy project. Influence is not the same as control, and sometimes it's not even direction -— you may not be telling anyone what to say, think, or do. Instead, genuine influence is often more subtle. When you craft a legacy project over time, you'll find yourself surrounded by onlookers and participants. As you build relationships with them, your work will inspire people to pursue big adventures of their own.

If you don’t know what to do at any given stage, start by creating something and giving something. Every day, wake up and think about these two things:

What am I making today?
Whom am I helping today?

Make something, help someone, and repeat. Your goal is to look back at the end of the day and identify something you've created and someone you've helped. Then, plan to do the same the next day, except try to take it further.


Part of my personal mission statement says that adventure and gratitude are my highest values, so I try to make decisions that are aligned with those values. My track record is far from perfect, but that's the point —- I need the values to guide my decisions when I'm uncertain. For example, I know that sometimes I can be stingy or selfish, even though I chose gratitude as a guiding force. On a recent shuttle bus ride to another hotel from yet another airport, I looked in my pocket in search of a dollar to tip the driver. I found only a $5 bill, and thus was presented with a dilemma: do I give $5, an abnormally high tip, or do I choose to give nothing?

I stiffed the driver and gave nothing.

A tip isn't always required, of course, but I felt bad all morning -- richer in cash, but poorer in spirit. If I had given the $5, I might have felt momentarily sad about the loss of a few dollars more than I had planned. But I'm pretty sure the monetary loss would have been compensated by the positive feeling of making someone's day with an unexpected reward.

Notes: Book Highlights from The Pursuit of Elegance

"What made the Sopranos finale one of the most-talked-about events in television history? Why is sudoku so addictive and the iPhone so irresistible? What do Jackson Pollock and Lance Armstrong have in common with theoretical physicists and Buddhist monks? Elegance."

I recently finished reading The Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing by Matthew May, a book that gave me so much insight into what elegance really is. I'm sharing my highlights from the book below.

I read books almost exclusively on my Kindle and I love that I can highlight passages in the books as I'm reading and have those highlights synced to my Kindle profile.

(The location numbers below let you find the highlight when reading the book on the Kindle.)

the full power of elegance is achieved when the maximum impact is exacted with the minimum input. (Read more at location 91)

A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit—to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort—that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company, or most important of all, a life. (Read more at location 132)

as Henry David Thoreau once observed, if you're familiar with a principle you don't have to be familiar with all of its applications. (Read more at location 157)

Because by nature we tend to add when we should subtract, and act when we should stop and think. Because we need some way to consistently replace value-destroying complexity with value-creating simplicity. Because we need to know how to make room for more of what matters by eliminating what doesn't. (Read more at location 179)

What is Donald Knuth's definition of elegance? "Symmetrical, pleasingly memorable, spare—with the ease and immortal ring of an E=mc2."Read more at location 258)

Symmetry. Seduction. Subtraction. Sustainability. These are the key elements of elegance—the laws that can help us harness the power of the missing piece. (Read more at location 297)

Symmetry helps us solve problems of structure, order, and aesthetics. We are natural-born symmetry seekers. Most of nature, with its infinitely repeating patterns, is symmetrical. It is present in nearly every living thing, and we generally equate symmetry with beauty and balance. In fact, a number of studies have found that most people find symmetrical faces more attractive. But symmetry isn't limited to biology. Symmetry is where mathematics, nature, science, and art come together. We are adept at noticing a lack of symmetry, which is why we can exploit it to our advantage—when someone experiences a degree of asymmetry, they naturally want to "fill in" the obviously missing piece. It's the nature of symmetry that enables us to find solutions given only partial information. When symmetry comes into play, what appears to be missing isn't. It's at once absent, and yet present. (Read more at location 298)

When, for example, Sopranos viewers were robbed of a standard story structure—a beginning, middle, and end—they were initially distraught. But when reassured by the story creator himself that the missing piece was "all there," they went in search of an ending—the "truth"—to restore their perceived loss of symmetry. Symmetry allowed you to complete the letter E earlier, and the role of symmetry in Sudoku is clear. (Read more at location 305)

Seduction addresses the problem of creative engagement. It captivates any attention and activates any imagination. The power of suggestion is often stronger than that of full disclosure. Leaving something to the imagination, open to interpretation, creates an irresistible aura of mystery, and we are compelled to find answers. The seduction is in what we don't know. What we don't know far outweighs what we do, and we are naturally curious; we are easily drawn to the unknown, precisely because it is unknown. What isn't there drives us to resolve our curiosity. (Read more at location 309)

Subtraction helps us solve the problem of economy. Doing less, conserving, doesn't come naturally. Humans are natural-born adders, hard-wired to push, collect, hoard, store, and consume. Perhaps that's why Costco is so successful—something about taking home thirty-six rolls of toilet tissue makes us feel especially secure. And therein lies the conundrum. The same penchant we have to "fill in," to add, is exactly why elegance, being subtractive, is so elusive. Whether we're talking about a product, a performance, a market, or an organization, our addiction to addition results in inconsistency, overload, or waste, and sometimes all three. We all face these types of problems. It is how we handle them that enables or prevents elegance. Do we really gain through loss? Can we actually add value by subtracting?Read more at location 321)

When we use the word elegant, we're describing a solution that is as surprisingly powerful as it is uncommonly simple: it goes to the heart of a wickedly complex problem with such laser-like clarity that it leaves no doubt that the solution is the right one, or at the very least a long way down the right road. Elegant solutions solve intractable problems once and for all without causing further ones. Put another way, not everything simple is elegant, but everything elegant is simple. (Read more at location 357)

Most people are also at least somewhat familiar with another kind of symmetry, the rotational kind of symmetry exhibited by, say, a snowflake, sphere, or starfish. In addition to its mirror-reflection symmetry qualities, if you rotate a sphere around any axis going through its center, it appears to be the same sphere. (Read more at location 408)

mathematician Hermann Weyl defined it in his seminal 1952 book, Symmetry: "A thing is symmetrical if there is something you can do to it so that after you have finished doing it, it looks the same as before."Read more at location 415)

Scientists and artists agree that symmetry bridges any gap between the two seemingly disparate fields and holds the power to reconcile that which we normally think of as personal, emotional, and subjective—aesthetic beauty (proverbially being in the eye of the beholder)—with what we normally think of as impersonal, rational, and objective: the truth. Symmetry is such a fundamental characteristic of the natural world—of the universe as we believe it to be—and plays such a big role in whatever we think or do, that we often overlook its importance. Until it's absent. (Read more at location 422)

Thus, the final questions Taylor confronted were these: given the overwhelming appeal of Pollock's paintings—one of his last drip paintings, Blue Poles, is valued at well over $40 million—do people prefer fractal patterns over nonfractal ones? If so, does the fractal dimension range Pollock painted within, and that nature exhibits, represent some sort of ideal? If so, the implications might be enormous. The short answer to Taylor's questions is yes. Since 2000, Richard Taylor has conducted dozens of visual perception experiments, with rather fascinating results. In a survey of 120 people to see whether fractal patterns are preferred over nonfractals, 113 people chose the fractals. In several tests involving 220 participants, subjects were shown more than forty different fractal patterns from a number of different sources. Universal preference was given to images with fractal dimensions between 1.3 and 1.5, irrespective of how the fractals were generated—computer, Pollock paintings, nature photographs, or Pollockizer. Today, all of those mesmerizing screensavers on your computer are dynamic fractals roughly in that range. (Read more at location 653)

Hans Monderman believed that traffic controls do not, and cannot, create that kind of behavior, but rather that you have to build it into the design of the road. As he told the Times in the August 22, 2004, Sunday edition: "Treat people like zombies and they'll behave like zombies. But treat them as intelligent, and they'll respond intelligently." What Monderman is saying is exactly what Jackson Pollock was saying, only in different words: when you are fully involved in a process governed by very simple relationship rules, a natural inclination takes over, and a self-organized pattern emerges that is far more orderly than anything legislation could produce. Under those circumstances, you're connected and interacting with what's around you. Lose that connection, and a mess ensues. Hans Monderman thought that traffic controls sever us entirely from the very connections we need to travel safely and they amount to admitting defeat in achieving good road design. That raises the most important question of all: What are the dynamics under which these natural symmetries can develop?Read more at location 793)

travel controls give a false sense of security, an illusion of safety, which is "the biggest mistake we can make. Traffic rules strip us of our capacity for socially responsible behavior, our ability to be considerate. The greater the number of prescriptions, the more the sense of personal responsibility dwindles."Read more at location 811)

What he means is that how we behave is ultimately governed by our surroundings and the cultural signals that go along with them. So by removing clear boundaries and blending street with sidewalk, you create a social context for behavior based on the environment itself. In a space shared equally by drivers, bikers, and walkers, the right-of-way priority disappears, replaced by good judgment and common sense in interpreting the simplest of governing core values required of any working relationship: respect for others. (Read more at location 816)

"What's wrong with how we engineer things is that most of what we accept as the proper order of things is based on assumptions, not observations," Hamilton-Baillie says. "If we observed first, designed second, we wouldn't need most of the things we build." To his point, in spite of the billions spent each year around the world on installing and maintaining traffic controls, there is absolutely no comprehensive research anywhere to demonstrate the benefits of traffic signals—in either the context of traffic flow or safety—but there are a number of studies showing their detrimental effect. (Read more at location 823)

"We have a sophisticated ability to handle complex situations far beyond what traditional engineering assumes," states Ben. "Signs and lines only inhibit the way we work as social creatures. They reduce our extraordinary ability to read and respond to situations appropriately, because the more evidence there is of legislated control, the less we think we have to be involved, to use our own senses."Read more at location 841)

The famous poet Fujiwara Teika developed the equivalent of non finito in his verse, believing that "the poet who has begun a thought must be able to end it so masterfully that a rich space of suggestions unfolds in the imagination of his audience."Read more at location 990)

Jobs revealed that a stop-doing strategy figured centrally into Apple's approach: "We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of many of the things we haven't done as the things we have done."Read more at location 1066)

Curiosity—aka the need to know—is part of what's behind the impact of not just the iPhone strategy, but also of elegance and the missing piece in general. (Read more at location 1082)

Berlyne determined four primary external stimuli that arouse curiosity: complexity, novelty, uncertainty, and conflict (defined as the violation of expectations). He also discovered that there's a specific trigger point for curiosity: if the level of stimulation is too low, there's no real motivation to explore; if it's too high, the result is anxiety and avoidance. In other words, in order for something to motivate us to act on our curiosity, it needs to hit a kind of "sweet spot" for one or more of the four stimuli. (Read more at location 1095)

gap—when we perceive there to be a gap in our knowledge, we feel deprived, a feeling we label as curiosity. And it's our desire to alleviate that feeling that motivates us to obtain the missing information. How deeply deprived we feel is relative to how we perceive the gap. It all depends on how much we know and how much we want to know. (Read more at location 1111)

The first is to arouse curiosity by demonstrating a moderate gap in the observer's knowledge. Second, provide just enough information to make them want to resolve their curiosity. Third, give them time to try to resolve their curiosity on their own. (Read more at location 1179)

focusing only on what we already know can limit our ability to think more expansively. (Read more at location 2135)

"What's wrong with how we engineer things is that most of what we accept as the proper order of things is based on assumptions, not observations. If we observed first, designed second, we wouldn't need most of the things we build."Read more at location 2139)

Just before he became mayor of New York City in 1994, Rudy Giuliani attended an all-day seminar on "Broken Windows" policing methods at a think tank called the Manhattan Institute, where George Kelling was a fellow. As mayor, Giuliani hired Bratton as chief of police, and a more far-reaching effort to shut down small crimes in New York City began. Manhattan's infamous "squeegee men"—petty perpetrators of forced vehicle windshield cleaning, followed by demands for money—were tossed in jail. Drug dealers were frisked and arrested for carrying guns. Graffiti was cleaned up, broken windows fixed, litter removed, and the petty criminals dwindled in ranks as they became the center of police attention. Day by day, month by month, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, the number of arrests for smaller crimes rose. As they did, the rates of the more serious crimes dropped, quickly and sharply. A new vitality took hold. Before the Giuliani/Bratton campaign, 125th Street in Harlem didn't have a supermarket or a movie theater. Today you'll find Magic Johnson Theaters, Pathmark, The Gap, Barnes & Noble, Disney Store, and the office of former U.S. president William J. Clinton. (Read more at location 2161)

Toyota employees know that fact-based problem solving and visual management is at the heart of every decision and that true knowledge comes from clear, accurate, firsthand observation—of customers, of operations, of products. Both Toyota and William Bratton would agree with the wisdom of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famed detective, Sherlock Holmes, who, when asked by sidekick Dr. Watson whether he had formed a theory shortly after arriving at the scene of the crime, said: "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has the facts. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts." Similarly, at Toyota, marketing reports and focus groups are all well and good, but those are just data, and while data may indicate the facts, there is no substitute for being in the field to gain true insight into problems facing customers and employees. Likewise, if you're a copper in Bratton's rank-and-file, you know that you need to be on top of what's going on no matter what your beat, and the only way to do that is to be out there not just looking, but seeing. (Read more at location 2205)

In the factory, a new associate in a Toyota plant is sometimes asked to observe a particular operation while standing within a circle drawn on the floor, known as an "Ohno circle," named for the engineering pioneer Taiichi Ohno. Ohno often would draw a circle on the floor in the middle of a bottleneck area and make a line employee stand in that circle all day to watch the process, directing them to observe and ask Why? over and over. Ohno believed that new thoughts and better ideas do not come out of the blue, they come from a true understanding of the process. Typically what happens during this exercise is that you quickly become familiar with the process, and start to see problems, gaps. Because you can't move or take action, you start to ask Why is this occurring? Finally, you come to understand the root cause. Then, and only then, can you offer a solution. When the person would report to Ohno any observations made, problems discovered, and solutions recommended—as well as the rationale for them—Ohno would just look at the person and say, "Is that so?" By requiring keen observation before action, by demanding that one look beyond the obvious surface symptoms to better see the deeper causes, by never giving answers and only asking questions, Ohno taught people to stop and think. (Read more at location 2260)

A sustainable idea is the visible outcome of viewing finite resources as scarce and precious—an opportunity to think anew—and exploiting the one eternal source of creativity and innovation: observation. (Read more at location 2294)

It seems that if we can stop, look, and think long enough to ask the right questions and fight our natural tendency to arrive at an immediate answer, we will find ourselves in a better position to see the elegant solution. For many of us, though, it is answers that have consumed our thoughts since we were first-graders. Perhaps it's worth revisiting Rudyard Kipling's poem, "The Elephant's Child": I keep six honest serving-men; (They taught me all I knew) Their names are What and Where and When And How and Why and Who. I send them over land and sea, I send east and west; But after they have worked for me, I give them all a rest. (Read more at location 2299)

Most people recognize the eureka! moments of legendary insight—Archimedes' discovery of volume displacement occurring during a bath, Einstein's theory of special relativity coming to him in a daydream, and Friedrich von Stradonitz's discovering the round shape of the benzene ring after dreaming of a snake biting its tail. The more you look into how groundbreaking solutions came about, the more you realize how much they share a common element. Philo Farnsworth was plowing a field as a teenager in 1921 when the idea for projecting moving images line by line came to him as he gazed out over the even rows, prompting him to use his knowledge of electrons and vacuum tubes and invent the first electronic television. Richard Feynman was watching someone throw a plate in the air in Cornell University's cafeteria in 1946 when the wobbling plate with its red school medallion spinning around sparked the Nobel Prize–winning idea for quantum electrodynamics. Kary Mullis, another Nobel winner, was driving along a California highway in 1983 when the chemistry behind the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) came to him, stopping him in the middle of the road. In 1995, car designer Irwin Liu sketched the innovative new lines of what became the shape of the first Toyota Prius after helping his child with an elementary school science project involving the manipulation of hard-boiled eggs. Author J. K. Rowling was traveling on a train between Manchester and London in 1990, thinking about the plot of a novel, when the character of Harry Potter flashed in her mind—she was able to work out all the details of a children's story without so much as a pen and paper. Shell Oil engineer Jaap Van Ballegooijen's idea for a snake oil drill came in 2005 as he was watching his son Max turn his bendy straw upside down to better sip around the sides and bottom of his malt glass. The common element in all of these eureka moments is a quiet mind, severed for a time from the problem at hand. Most artists, musicians, writers, and other creatives instinctively know that the incubation of great ideas involves seemingly unproductive times, but that those downtimes and timeouts are important ingredients of immensely productive, creative periods. Until fairly recently, the how, when, and why of being kissed by the muse was something of a myth and mystery. But now researchers examining how the human brain solves problems can confirm that experiencing a creative insight—that sudden aha! flash—hinges on the ability to synthesize connections between seemingly disparate things. And a key factor in achieving that is physical or mental time away from the problem. New studies show that creative revelations tend to come when the mind is engaged in an activity unrelated to the issue at hand. Pressure is not conducive to recombining knowledge in new and different ways, the defining mark of creativity. (Read more at location 2332)

While no one yet knows what exactly that process is, what is important to know is that putting pressure on ourselves to speed up or artificially influence our brains to work harder, or more intensely, or more quickly, only slows down our ability to arrive at new insights. Ironically, when we let go, when we escape, either physically or mentally, we actually speed up the transformational processes. (Read more at location 2363)

The Object-Oriented Thought Process

I started reading a book called The Object-Oriented Thought Process. This book has been sitting on my shelf for at least a year or two (there's a 3rd Edition due out later this year) but with all the Java and GWT stuff I'm trying to become familiar with for work, I really feel the need to build a basic understanding of OO programming. This book is written for just that (and at only 250 pages, finishing the book quickly is not an unrealistic goal).

After finishing the first chapter earlier today, certain techniques I remember seeing used in Java (which didn't make any sense to me at the time) suddenly make perfect sense. Not only that, but terms like "Encapsulation", "Polymorphism", and "Composition" suddenly mean something that I can now understand. All this from just the first chapter!

One of the main reasons I'm excited to gain a solid understanding of the Object-Oriented thought process is because it will allow me learn and use features of programming languages such as Python and Ruby without feeling as though I'm missing something or lacking the ability to use the features those languages are designed around.

Let's see how many chapters I can finish this Memorial Day weekend!