‘The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle’

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The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never get struck by lightning, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us.

John Green, Paper Towns

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Van Gogh: ‘These waves are claws, the boat is caught in them, you can feel it.’

Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai finished his most famous work, The Great Wave, at the age of 71. #ocean #art #waves #doorcurtain #interior #house #apartment
The Great Wave off Kanagawa Door Way Curtain (Amazon)

Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai finished his most famous work, The Great Wave, at the age of 71. Upon seeing the print, Van Gogh remarked: “These waves are claws, the boat is caught in them, you can feel it.”

Read about Hokusai’s great wave: a lesson in persistence

‘Don’t read the words. It’s bad enough that people use Powerpoint as a sort of teleprompter.’

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If you use Powerpoint, a few principles and tips to keep in mind when using type on a slide:

Don’t read the words. It’s bad enough that people use Powerpoint as a sort of teleprompter. Much worse that you don’t trust the audience enough to read what you wrote. If you want them to read the precise words, stand quietly until they do. If you want to paraphrase the words, that can work.

Big font, few words. And use pictures. Your narrative is the message.

Words on slides by Seth Godin

The benefits of walking in nature

The benefits of walking in nature

One of the main benefits of walking in nature is that trees inspire feelings of awe. According to research done by psychology professor Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley, awe benefits not only the mind and body but also improves our social connections and makes us kinder.

Spending time outside is also vital as a destressor. One study found that camping gets the stress hormone cortisol back under control. Even sitting near trees at the office help calm us down with “softly fascinating stimulation.”

Spending time outside has many benefits including improving short-term memory, sparking creativity, lowering blood pressure, reducing fatigue, strengthening focus and more.

The benefits of walking in nature
The Hyperion: The world’s largest tree located in Northern California (Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic)

Nature is a higher power

Knowing how little we stand in a swathe of gigantic trees also puts life in perspective. Wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Nature:

“Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.”

Nature soothes the sense of self. It reminds us that we are less significant we are, and that fact may make us happier we’re here.


Social media companies as old storefronts

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Designs by Andrei Lacatusu

If Facebook’s recent newsfeed changes are any sign, social media is in decay. It’s gone from connecting people to Buzzfeed’s linkbait to a nest of echo chambers where the likeminded and bots spread fake news.

The art done here by artist Andrei Lacatusu provides a metaphor for the chaotic and ruinous state of social media, which appears to be failing like today’s brick-and-mortar stores. While we can expect the social networks to stay in business, they need to spend 2018 rebuilding the public’s trust.

 

From foam parties to climbing Machu Picchu, my favorite images of the year

Let’s start off with the least significant photo of the year.

I shot the below soap bubble pool party while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

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Photo by Wells Baum

While it’s my most downloaded photo on Unsplash, the only thing it reminds me of is the period where I was trying to finish up my book. Stuck in writer’s block, I remember walking around the hotel looking for inspiration when I heard party music and noticed large bath bubbles floating through the air. The 90s MTV-esque ‘spring break’ foam party was the perfect distraction from the agony of the unfinished manuscript.

What’s popular isn’t always what matters

However, my most meaningful photo from this year had to be the time my wife I and walked up Machu Picchu mountain. It was a true test of fitness, a devious mountain that tricked you into thinking the top was always closer than it was. It took an hour to go up and another hour to go down. But when you finished, we got to write our names in the logbook.

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Photo by Wells Baum

Here’s a few more…

Mishearing things

ilya-ilyukhin-281346Listening seeds ideas. Overheard dialogue, especially misheard words, are auditory stimulants for the imagination. Said Joan Didion in her essay “On Keeping a Notebook:”

“See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do… on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there…”

From the dull to the senseless, an ambient awareness latches on to snippets of interestingness in any conversation. The journal archives and then whispers for a second look. Simply rereading our notes gives them a new form, turning the slightest quip into a saintly significance.

The Illusion of Christmas

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The Illusion of Christmas by Signe Emma and Theodoulos Polyviou

Hypnotic, dizzying, and trippy. ‘Tis the season:

We have developed our design through the use of 3d modelling software. In doing this, we were given the advantage to view our compositions through mobility and constant change of viewing points aiming to achieve the most effective result possible. This process extends our understanding regarding these mediums available at the moment as “setting the stage” for creativity to be enacted. The final result is an interplay between the “physical” and the virtual.”

The Illusion of Christmas by Signe Emma and Theodoulos Polyviou

 

First stillness, then catastrophe

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Photo by Wells Baum

Transformation can be exciting, but it can also be retrograde.

Change doesn’t mean better. Boredom with the status quo can sometimes beget darkness.

The function of play, a style of art, a kind of government, are meant to be noisy but unrestricted.

The stimulation of calm and collected still leaves space for the unimaginable and disruptive. However, going back seems to be an evil obsession at the present and the unfortunate direction of the future.

Transformation opposes progress?

 

Abstract thinkers make more eye contact than those who think in concrete terms 👁️ 🤔

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“Many of us, no doubt, have reached the conclusion that people who do not look at us while either listening or talking are trying to hide something. This is in general agreement with the opinion of law-enforcement offcials who have attended our seminars. Michael Argyle in his book, The Psychology of Interpersonal Behavior , observes that people look at each other between 30 and 60 percent of the time. He also notes that when two individuals while talking look at each other more than 60 percent of the time, they probably are more interested in the other person than in what he is saying. Two extremes might be lovers looking at each other adoringly and two hostile individuals getting ready to fight. Argyle also believes that abstract thinkers tend to have more eye contact than those who think in concrete terms, because abstract thinkers have a greater ability to integrate incoming data and are less likely to be distracted by eye contact.

Gerard I. Nierenberg and‎ Henry H. Calero, How to Read a Person Like a Book