Marc's Acquirable tastY Brain Eruptions 6-sided die showing the number 6

What NOT to do when keeping a journal

Wednesday May 11, 2022

Philip writes,

I’m using my journal to support my daily life & work activities, and I wonder if you could provide some examples of what not to do when keeping a journal?

You got me thinking, Philip. Here are some important ones:

Do not use your journal the way you think it “should” be used.

Some people see others journaling a chronology of events, like “what happened today.” For you, this might be a waste of time. You can do these instead:

  • How I feel right now
  • What’s next in my day
  • What’s interesting to me today

It’s also a really great idea to start building your idea of, “how I use a journal” because this is often a very easy and effective way to make fast improvements, as long as you keep an open mind and periodically try out new approaches.

Never feel pressured to read to others out of your journal.

And by pressure I mean internal pressure from yourself, mostly.

For example, if you feel pressure to show others that you aren’t writing about them, to prove that you’re a good person, please reconsider. A lot of times this pressure is really coming from yourself, not from them. And if it does come from them, it’s often a good idea to set a boundary and not entertain others with your private thoughts.

Related: Don’t feel pressure to be unrealistically positive in your journal.

Your journal should be a place where you can write “so-and-so is a jerk and I hate them.” It’s important to have a place where you feel free to express this energy.

Avoid the temptation to stick to your journaling style, or template, when it shows signs of not working as well anymore.

Periodically ask yourself, “what do I dislike about my journaling template, or journaling practice?” Immediately make the change.

If you don’t do this, there is a really good chance that you’ll start to procrastinate.

For personal support, know what TYPE of journaling is appropriate.

Use the right type of journaling to support yourself. For example:

If you feel like you’re not getting anything done today, stay away from imaginative journaling practices, and instead use the emotional-informational dichotomy.

You can start with “I’m not getting anything done!!!!” instead, followed hopefully soon by a list of things that should be done, and maybe followed by more venting…this is all really appropriate for diving into lists, especially big lists.

For more information on that kind of emotionally-balanced productivity, see Task BATL, my free productivity system.

If on the other hand you’re burnt out, or getting things done isn’t super important right now, it can help to move to intuitive or imaginative journaling exercises for example.

That ought to be good enough for now Philip! Good luck. —Marc

Filed in: Productivity /115/ | Therapeutic Practice /140/

Slim Down for Summer with Federated Content

Friday April 29, 2022

Recently I spent some more time exploring the Fediverse, specifically a little corner of it called Mastodon, and specifically to that, a little corner of it called “awkwardly trying to figure out WTF I’m doing here.”

Which, IDK, I think I’m going to say this was a success. I enjoyed it past tense, I enjoy it present tense. I look forward to using it more.

It feels like I’ve found a pretty good way to connect with people who are into a lot of the things I am, like FOSS, Linux, retro computing, music, art, whatever. There aren’t any ads, just ad-mins. They seem like a nice bunch of people.

Also, people generally put sensitive content (I had no idea it was so VARIED) behind a click-to-see barrier, so you don’t see it unless you want to.

Finally there are tons of controls and lots of little nooks to explore, and after some first efforts to understand it, I feel like it’s been a net positive.

So, to integrate that profile a bit with this site, I’ve added my feed to the world’s longest sidebar, here on MAYBE.

If you’re also a Fediverse person, feel free to follow me, my username is @marcolas at oldbytes.space:


…and RSS Ninja friends can get the RSS feed here:


Filed in: Technology /37/ | Interests /101/

A Sketch of A Stepping-Stone Model for Systems Fluidity

Monday April 11, 2022

The text below is a sketch from my journal and I thought I’d share it here so I don’t forget about it…

To those of us who do a lot of systems thinking, it’s becoming ever more clear that we live in a post-system world. It’s a world in which systems are widely understood and accepted as such, and subsumed into social meme culture.

We are far past the point at which “systems thinking” was broadly interesting as a novel term, and we have long since reached the point at which well-designed systems of the past can also be modeled as a threat to our current well-being.

Systems are now part of a broader, social conversation and information flow. In the world of internet platforms we can perceive one huge social “wall” against which we all throw our content and see what sticks, together.

This implies that those of us applying systems and systematic approaches, while still doing important work, may benefit from zooming out a bit, and giving additional consciousness and attention to a flow of systems engagement, or a flow between systems.

One of the biggest problems facing those seeking therapeutic resources is the fear of the unknown, the future-tense, “will be, or may be” aspect. More than ever, people are becoming aware that change is not only necessary, but is also happening whether we like it or not.

This thought alone is a stimulant, and certainly a possible point of anxiety.

But we are also more conscious of the need to welcome change. In recent decades we have become more conscious of the risks of bringing the past wholly forward in order to solve problems in the future. The risks emphasize the need for a newness. And newness implies change.

In order to become more comfortable with the unknown, and thus more capable of facing challenges in the future, we’ll need to learn to fluidly navigate across systems, using the systems themselves as foundations, but also as increments, similar to stepping-stones.

Without this fluidity, people tend to come to perceive (consciously or unconsciously) the system in question as a provider of a given set of outcomes, and then perceive themselves as stuck with those outcomes. This will certainly increase the level of frustration a person feels with themselves and others.

What counts as a system, in this context?

  • A relationship
  • A team
  • A membership in an organization
  • A belief system
  • A problem-solving method, or a way of thinking about things
  • A corporation

(Exercise—are there specific examples of the above which come to mind and make you uncomfortable? If so—this gets exactly at my point)

Eventually, systems of this type will head toward disintegration if they aren’t redefined and re-contextualized to account for those emergent, yet-unknown needs which the future brings.

Human psychology is too dynamic to place trust in individual systems for very long, even though the systems’ usefulness may still be worth recognizing, or it may differ depending on the context.

So, we must learn to identify or create perceptions of navigable pathways between systems that transcend already-known boundaries. How do we do this?

For example, how can you preserve the system in which you own and operate your car, being authentic to what you love about driving your car, while also transitioning to a new state in which you live a car-free lifestyle, and authentically live its advantages?

Here are some ideas, for starters:

First, one must first meet a basic level of openness to new ideas and concepts. We can model this as “don’t be afraid of the future,” but there are other ways of looking at it:

  • Recognize and illustrate other examples of “having both”, i.e. examples not having anything to do with cars. Map this onto the current car-related context.
  • Encouraging an experimental approach, solving detail-problems as they arise
  • Modeling ways to find useful assistance or input rather than sitting with the problem

One must also be able to redefine a situation. This is as simple as switching from words that apply, that you used before, to words that also apply, that you didn’t use before.

For example:

  • What happens when you model “procrastination” as “waiting for the right moment”?
  • What new insights open up when you model “earth” as “living system”?

Finally, one must stay with the effort, check in on it over time, and hold it in a spirit of persistence and authenticity. This will help the individual continue to change things while moving ahead. For example:

  • How do you follow up on problems that are important to you?
  • What gets in the way, and how can it be dealt with?
  • How do you process regrets and mistakes in a way that helps you save face and feel less like a failure?

These are some of the first important steps in stepping forward with systems. And we must bring our systems-consciousness forward.

But we must also become new beings, in a sense—newly aware of new leverage over threats and problems constantly arriving from the future, which our previous systems may not be able to handle.

As we learn to improve our capacity to work in this way, our general ability to solve problems related to the future-concept will increase. As a result, our future-anxieties will dramatically decrease, and we’ll enter into a new period of superheroic possibilities.

It’s difficult to imagine a more amazing outcome, if we can pull it off.

Filed in: Thinking /66/ | Therapeutic Practice /140/ | Control /103/

The Name's Roo

Monday April 4, 2022

Recently I realized I had read the name “Quintana Roo” too many times to not know more about it. This is part of Mexico, so what’s with the Roo in the name? It doesn’t exactly sound Spanish, does it?

Quintana Roo is one of the 31 states of Mexico, and it turns out that it’s named after historic Mexican political figure Andrés Quintana Roo, a descendant of Canary Islanders. Aha, so I pretty much gave up on figuring out the Roo surname from there, because I found out that this is also a place where they have this interesting whistle.

Well, it’s a whistle that’s a language, known as el silbo or Silbo Gomero. It’s pretty cool to see and hear it in action and it reminds me of some things.

The first thing that it reminds me of is being a young outdoors-kid, working his tail off for all these badges. There was all this learning about all these different forms of communication. Flags, mirrors, whistles, trail signs, animal signs, long-form narratives that end in a silly joke, and so on.

The second thing it reminds me of is radio propagation, specifically line-of-sight propagation which is where there are a lot of overlaps with ranges used in whistling for communication. But it’s not quite as simple as one might think; I mean you’ve got fresnel zones to think about, and I wouldn’t even call a fresnel zone calculator a very intuitive tool at all.

So I wonder if whistling gets that complex, and if, way back when, in the Canary Islands, there was somebody working on similar tools or practices for the dynamics of whistling for communication. I’m sure the topic can go pretty deep.

Anyway, back to the Isleños, or those who hail from the Canary Islands, you’ve got this very fascinating cross-emigration between Cuba and the Canaries, for example Fidel Castro was born in the Canary Islands, and from what I understand, the Canary Islanders are basically responsible for the Cuban cigar industry.

By the way, the Canary Islands are not named after the bird, but rather either dogs or an African Berber tribe known as Canarii. Something like that—and from what I can tell, this latter point may be a very important point of identity for a people who were colonized by Spain.

Oh and San Antonio, Texas, USA, was founded by Canary Islanders. All of a sudden there are a bunch of random facts coming up as I open various browser tabs.

I thought I’d look up a book on the Canary Islands so I headed over to Gutenberg.org and found book number 66355, which is to say The Canary Islands by Florence Du Cane, which starts a little something like this:

Probably many people have shared my feeling of disappointment on landing at Santa Cruz. I had long ago realised that few places come up to the standard of one’s preconceived ideas, so my mental picture was not in this case a very beautiful one; but even so, the utter hideousness of the capital of Teneriffe was a shock to me.

And with that out of the way, there are some interesting historical insights shared, so maybe it’s a good book. There’s also a book called A Voyage to New Holland, Etc. in the Year 1699 by William Dampier which is from a couple centuries earlier, and contains some pretty neat map-style drawings along with quite concrete descriptions of the place as he found it.

Finally, the Tenerife airport disaster is absolutely gobsmacking and worth the read, or maybe the watch.

Additional aspects I thought were interesting:

  • Lucha canaria, the islands’ own form of wrestling
  • Parts of Solo: A Star Wars Story were filmed on Fuerteventura
  • Speaking of Star Wars, Krull was also filmed in the Canary Islands.

So, starting with Quintana Roo and going through all that, I’ve still got about 30 tabs open that will have to wait for another time. Examples:

Too fun!

Filed in: Interests /101/ | Randomness /25/

Where's the Dirty Cut Gone? And Some Notes on Introverted Sensing (Si)

Friday March 25, 2022

Aspen asks,

Where did you end up with your dirty cut dieting regimen? Did it continue working for you?

It’s been a while since I was really focused on that! Good q.

(This makes me think about the way weight loss is also an archetypal interest, itself a symbol, since its subjectively-interpreted importance REALLY varies in interesting ways over time. Lately I’m interested in this other stuff over here, but wow, I was really laser focused on cuts back at that time! Interesting to observe that.)

So first, I’m definitely not in a really intense mindset about weight loss right now.

But second, health in general is always interesting. And I’ve been working on what you could call Si lately.

In other words:

  • What is my body “asking” me to eat right now? (Or not eat? Or drink? Or do?)
  • How much will do the job? A lot, or just a little bit?
  • How do I feel after eating it? Did it help to think it through?
  • What does my body seem to like to eat, and when?

This kind of thinking helps me a LOT. You may recall that I wasn’t very aware of my limits and needs with eating in previous decades.

I was certainly way more into the Se box. Sensory impression and sensory variety were really important to me.

Overeat? Sure!!! Hey, you can have so much fun eating a huge plate of what’s basically garbage! NICE!!!

Whoa Whoa Whoa what about Se though?

Now, before I get into the rest, I’m still in the Se club:

  • New and interesting foods are awesome!
  • Interesting AMOUNTS of foods are awesome!
  • Whoa look at all that FOOD!

I will probably go to my grave a fan of videos like these because they are too much fun to watch with my kids, for one.

Enter the SiNJA

But I married into Si psychology. My wife and some members of her family are SUPER DUPER into Si, by nature. I always appreciated this, but I never really got it, at this psychology-of-food level, until recently.

During a stressful day, my wife would ask something like, “would a little piece of chocolate help?” And I’d think, “you mean like the LARGEST chocolate bar in the store, right? Can we go to the store? That would be so cool! I would devour that thing!

I had found my groove in this fundamental level of non-attention to my physical needs. Unfortunately, that non-attention led to ERUPTIONS of food-need, in a feast/famine cycle of my own making.

Eventually it started to click as I studied personality dynamics—this is a more frequent, low-level attention to those needs. It’s more sensitive, too, so it’s gentler by nature.

And it feels really good.

I used to eat candy like Skittles by the handful. But now I can figure out the exact number and flavor of Skittles that will make me feel better! And sometimes it’s like THREE of them.

In yellow.

This kind of thing used to weird me out.

So with the dirty cut

The focus on Si has this funny way of making words like “dirty” and “cut” seem kind of ridiculous.

So, I no longer really do a dirty cut.

But overall, my diet is more under control, and also more indulgent! At least in the sense that I more frequently ask my body what it needs. Which—in other ways is not indulgent at all.

It also helps that I learned to sense fluctuations in water weight by about a half pound, which is a pretty useful input and guide in a way.

Oh and This Other Thing

These days, I find that when people talk about “healthy food” it doesn’t make any sense to me anymore. Like, it’s downright confusing to even start to talk about.

“You mean you think there’s food that’s just ‘good’, and for EVERYBODY?”


I was raised on what my dad called an “inspired diet”. Tons of whole grain, greens, diet this, healthy that. It was based on all these nutrition books he read, and asked me to read, and send me clippings from, yada yada. OK, sure there was some interesting stuff in there.

But I have to shake my head at that a bit, now.

And these days I see ads with “fresh greens” and “lean meats” and I’m thinking, this seems kind of like 101-level Eating.

Maybe I’m only at 110-level myself, maybe it’s 102, I have no idea. But that style of thinking about food seems way too kibishii. People can be gentle with their bodies and still have a healthy diet that’s not so green.

This must be where the Subjectivity in Si (that little “i”) comes from: Sometimes it depends on the details and depth. The person, their situation, their environment, etc. Why be so shallow about prescribing specific foods for all humanity?

To me, healthy food could be a candy bar or a donut. And often is! This is related to why I gave myself permission for the dirty cut back then.

I admit I probably wouldn’t eat a whole box of donuts though. Though gosh…I wouldn’t ever rule it out. Subjective stuff goes so deep…

Oh and finally

  • I know this all sounds a bit breathless.
  • In my coaching mind, that’s a good sign for energy levels.
  • I am still just as dumb as ever, both intentionally and…sub-intentionally.

Thanks for reaching out Aspen!

Filed in: Sensation /39/ | Dieting /17/ | Si /16/

The Great Dialing-Back

Friday March 25, 2022

Looking back to some of my favorite experiences and moments in life, they always started with a few things:

  1. Reflective Realization: Hey I’m way overexposed to this set of frustrating things!
  2. Emphasis on Direction: OK here’s what I wanna do—I want to END those frustrating things and DO something better.
  3. Dialing-Back: I lower my range of general activities and go off the radar while I figure it out and focus on these specifics.

I could say a lot about each of those points.

(And I think you could easily use those three steps, together, as a model for accomplishing a LOT of amazing stuff in life.)

But that last item, #3 above, is a big deal by itself. And nobody ever really talks about it.

Dial It Back

We can call that dialing-back “introversion,” if you like. Or “solitude” or “distancing” or whatever else seems to fit.

The fact is, it reveals a lot of strengths in introvert land.

I think I use the idea & related activities more naturally these days, than I did when I was younger. I grew up in a household that was focused more on Dialing it Up.

This is true of a lot of people I have coached, also. Typically my coaching practice intersects with their lives either just before, or during, their dialing-back phases. Some of these people were, like me, over-focused on making a big splash.

They needed to Dial it Back.

There are all kinds of side effects that come along with it, too, like:

  • Maybe you don’t spend as much time with friends, and they wonder where you went!
  • Maybe your family asks you—why so serious lately?
  • Perhaps you neglect some otherwise-important aspects. Maybe you haven’t gone for that daily run in months!
  • Or maybe you are letting other things slide.

But quite often, what happens on the other side of the dialing-back is a huge, general improvement. Those things in the list of side effects don’t matter as much, or are quickly and easily addressed, afterward.

So, the dialing-back stage is really, really interesting to me. I think it deserves a lot more credit and respect for what it can do, despite all the stereotypes of withdrawal, darkness, etc.

Filed in: Relationships /73/ | Control /103/ | Therapeutic Practice /140/

Talking about -isms, so you can more easily work with -ists

Saturday March 12, 2022

One of the coolest ways of dealing with issues involving -ists is shifting to a lens of -isms.

If you can understand how an -ism can happen to anyone, you can better confront the question of -ists. Even in yourself.

As an example, a typical person would probably rather admit to being “caught engaging in narcissism” than “being a narcissist.” This separation of problem from identity is really crucial in supporting the way people want to see themselves, while also allowing a persistent approach to solutions.

It’s like the difference between saying, “I do that thing sometimes” and “I am that thing”. It is extremely hard to get yourself to move out of the “I am that thing” box, to say nothing of trying to convince others! So fixating around the identity by using an -ist term can threaten our ability to work on an issue.

Once problems can be deepened by engagement with aspects of identity, as opposed to taking on the “whole” identity as if it’s a problem, it becomes clear that more conditions or models may apply than previously anticipated.

For example, in the world of personality type theory, we could say:

  • I was confronted by my narcissism when I was caught in the grip of my fourth cognitive function.
  • When I am around types that focus on specific cognitive functions, various -isms are activated that weren’t really on my radar before.
  • Focusing on my own temperamental motivation and perspective shields me from -isms that lurk in my shadow. This shows me I have some things to learn about how others deal with issues which are frustrating to me.

As these new models emerge, the problem can be engaged with more easily without ignoring additional issues around projection (it’s not me, it’s them!), embarrassing vulnerability freakouts, and a fault-sharing, blame-spreading mindset.

Since the -ism usually breaks through this subjective Me / Not Me barrier more easily, and since that barrier is also a breadth-to-depth barrier, we can take a huge variety of issues and give them, individually, the needed treatment by narrowing the scope and focusing on workable avenues for problem solving.

(Some people also use the phrase “-istic behavior” which can help, but “behavior” is also a very detached term which can lead to feelings of defensiveness and activate a backlash effect. The “focus on -ism” approach allows quicker attachment while also allowing that the problem may be limited in scope.)

This topic also highlights the way identity is a very potent tool, and especially, positively so if we can be flexible with it. There is an “OK, I’m lots of things, AND I’m going to use that to help me solve problems” aspect which is extremely underrated in overcoming life’s challenges.

Filed in: People /68/ | Relationships /73/ | Therapeutic Practice /140/ | Control /103/

Cross-training the Critic Archetype

Thursday March 3, 2022

We get a lot of Critics who stop by the blog. And I don’t mean people who are unkind or anything—quite the contrary, most of you make a visible effort to be polite.

A lot of you identify with the INTJ or INTP four-letter personality types. You are naturally or automatically able to scrutinize, analyze, conceptualize, and see something for what it could be, which is a core gift of the Critic.

And still others identify with more supportive, emotive, or idealist-existentialist personalities, like the ENFP or INFP, and you may even feel guilty that you are starting to criticize more in life, and idealize less.

And me, what’s my interest in this? Hell, I’m a Critic myself. Personally, one of my long-term goals is to examine this archetype, and find ways to hack on it, bit by bit.

Sometimes we Critics are caught out by our blind spots. These could include:

  • A lack of self-awareness, or over-protecting the self
  • “Me vs. You” or “Me vs. World” mindset
  • Over-emotional critique
  • Perpetually feeling misunderstood, or underappreciated
  • Difficulties in navigating the social world at a professional level
  • Problems in receiving or contextualizing feedback from others

Oh and my favorite:

  • Feeling like a cornered rat, in a world in which everything sucks!

(I just love the imagery in that one)

So with this article I am to discuss ways to train in preventing that, among other positive outcomes.

As far as I’m concerned, one of the best things you can do for your Inner Critic voice is to cross-train. This involves engaging the Critic archetype in a flexible way, while exploring other archetypes as a way to broaden the available perspectives and apply their lessons back into the personal world of the Critic.

Here are some suggestions for other, non-Critic archetypes that provide really great opportunities for training. These archetypal “worlds” are great places, or mindsets, from which to start your journey in cross-training your inner critic.

Basic Level – Low-risk

  • Student Archetype: Critics can do well to embrace the Student archetype. It is typically a high-empathy zone for the Critic. They can leverage their own ability to learn into a quick energy-turnaround, providing fresh, optimistic grounds for productive engagement with others. It ought to feel Fresh, Breezy, and Easy to learn new things. If a learning topic is proving elusive or challenging, the Student should rely on learning structures, i.e. “Beginner Level,” “Intermediate Level,” etc. for personal measurement and better control.
  • Tourist Archetype: Critics should make an effort to get out and explore, letting their walls down. They can “soak it all in,” letting the new setting and its information come to them and make an intentional decision to focus their talent on navigating the destination for a desirable outcome, rather than criticizing it. (This archetype also applies to info-tourism, virtual tourism, etc.)
  • Audience/Fan Archetype: Critics should regularly experience things at a level that meets their basic human needs and pushes beyond a bit, into resonance with human desires. This will not only attune them with their audience, but it will also allow them to set a more reasonable performance-bar for themselves and others. It will allow the Critic with clearer access to empathy.

Intermediate Level

  • Academic Archetype: Critics should happily reach into the world of academia and theoretical studies. A good critic should be able to be “down to earth,” but they should also be just as happy “up in space” designing and scrutinizing novel, intuitive, theoretical structures. There is some risk here in that Critics may find it difficult to initially navigate from a position of intellectual nuance, as opposed to experiential nuance. Academia requires one to build the capacity to suspend judgment, and to conclude, “I can see what this could be getting at,” instead of, “WTF is this even supposed to mean?”
  • Programmer Archetype: Critics can turn to the Programmer to understand how to make scheduled progress into a performance of its own. The Programmer calls on structure directly, or creates it intentionally, like the academic. But unlike the Academic, the Programmer is typically orchestrating a specific outcome by relying on informational inputs. This archetype may seem difficult for a Critic to match in terms of skills, but the mindset itself can be a very helpful one for understanding the constructive world from a less emotional viewpoint.
  • Coach Archetype: A good Critic should engage in, plan, and anticipate their own outwardly-focused attempts at encouraging and supporting others, including Performers. They should be able to support and improve these efforts over time. They should also be able to turn this focus inward and coach themselves. A good Coach will never not be coaching themselves with conscious structural support, systems-development support, and ongoing emotional support.

Advanced Level – High-risk

  • Performer Archetype: Critics should and do perform. But I think it’s more important to communicate with this archetype, to relate to it, than it is to become it.
  • Teacher Archetype: Critics can be drawn into shallow patterns of engagement when filling a teaching role. It is important that they pay attention to their emotions, e.g. emotional eating, emotional communications, emotional boundaries relations with others, the martyrdom effect, etc. The Critic should remember that they are also here to learn, and they should build intentional, if gentle, boundaries around their learning time.
  • Personality Archetype: Critics need to be very careful moving into roles that position them as a Personality. These roles expose the critic to constant invitations for flippant criticism coming from an emotionally-overextended state. Critics can learn a lot about this world and its “game”.

In each of these advanced cases the Critic should attempt to define, broaden, and deepen the game, rather than detaching from it.

Well, there are a lot more to consider! But archetypes are a really fun lens on growth. This should provide a fun and interesting start to a lot of you.

Filed in: Essays /47/ | Coaching /27/ | Control /103/ | Energy /111/

2022 Ukraine Conflict Notes and Resources

Thursday February 24, 2022

Map of Ukraine

Map image credit: Steschke on Wikimedia Commons

Sending my sympathies and solidarity to my Ukrainian friends—here are some notes and resources for the ongoing conflict.

Note: Resources that I find more relevant or frequently updated are marked with ▲.

Low-bandwidth Version: This page is available in a Low-bandwidth Version (less-frequently updated)

How You Can Help

Monitoring and News Resources

Traditional News Sources & Outlets

Maps and General Ukraine Information


Social Media Lists and Accounts

Personal Notes & Log

February 24, 2022, Update #3

Last update for this first day of the page. I am alarmed to learn that Russian soldiers say they were told they were embarking on a training exercise while being sent into combat. If true, this is a tragic violation of their human rights.

February 24, 2022, Update #2

I’ve added additional Twitter accounts and other mapping services above.

February 24, 2022, Update #1

I’ve just started this resource page and hope others find it useful. Here are some of my thoughts as I begin to build it out…

Monitoring and News Plan

One mistake I made in 2014 (when Russia previously invaded Ukraine) was becoming the news-consumption equivalent of a day trader —always on, all the time, no boundaries.

This time I plan to consciously disengage and reengage with the news at specific intervals, typically with minimum 3-4 hour breaks. This allows me to 1) better contextualize the news, 2) benefit from the emotional settling effect, and 3) track the general news story development timeline rather than so many random details.

Another mistake I made was not paying attention to aggressor media, or “the other side’s media”. You can learn a lot by paying attention to their actual words, terminology, etc. This is why I’ve included Sputnik above (the other sites are down right now; I can’t even test them).

Previously I was picky about whether sources were propaganda, and by whom. But these days I care a lot less about “whether it’s propaganda” and a lot more about “what it’s saying, in the context of what the others are saying”. I can handle the propaganda part—that’s really not a problem and I’m familiar with propaganda studies at a personal level.

Donation Preparations

Back in 2014 I made donations to Ukrainian nurses that were delivering supplies to the front lines. I also supported some US-based ex-pats who were gathering materials to send to Ukraine.

This time around, I’m expanding that framework and first conducting a sort of donation-possibilities sweep. When the time comes I’ll update this space. For now, I really appreciate some of the unique charitable efforts I’ve seen. For example, here’s a thread aimed at supporting Ukrainian artists:


There is already some absolutely beautiful art talent on display, and this network could be engaged for a lot of really useful reasons, from business to personal.

I’ll update this article as events continue to change.

Filed in: Global Issues /1/

Everybody Needs So Much Time to Cool Off, But At Least We Know About It

Thursday February 17, 2022

I was discussing this with a valued business partner the other day.

“When do you think I should send this email?”

“Yeah, I think you should wait, send it after the weekend.”

“Me too, probably even send it in the morning. Otherwise they’ll make a silly decision like they did before.”

We know it, they know it, we even joke about it together.

No blame. It’s a known feature & bug with humanity. At least, now it is known, to me. I never really acted like I knew about it when I was younger, and I regret that for sure.

I personally sent some business nasty-grams that were really bad. Justified in this or that way, but I would rewrite those in a second if I could.

But I also sent business normal-grams at times that were convenient to me, and that turned out to be really dumb in a lot of cases. The emotional issue wasn’t on my end, it was more like an awareness issue on my end plus an emotional issue on theirs.

This need for cooling off is such a great human thing to know about. It made me think about my other personal cooling-off periods:

  • If there’s a problem I learn about and it pisses me off, I write a draft message now, and then edit & send later.
  • If there’s a new thing I learn about and it gets me excited in a good way, the same applies to any notes I’m taking about it. I find SO MUCH ALL CAPS in those notes.
  • If I’m shopping for things that are available as limited-time deals, I always note the deal expiration date and come back later after the emotions have cooled off. Knowing the expiration date is a really nice advantage when shopping for deals. When I’m cooled off, I am better prepared to decide—do I need the whole deal, or just part? And so on.


I do have some personal corollaries to this. For example:

  • If it’s a casual blog post, publish it and then edit down the emotions later if you need to. The risk of not posting at all is higher than the risk of some casual blog post causing alarming issues.

(This is tongue in cheek, but I think there are plenty of situations where cooling off is important, but you have to figure out how the cooling works best for you.)

Building a Perceptive Superpower

It can also be helpful to know about this for other reasons.

Sometimes you hear people say, “ah it’s depressing to learn too much,” but I’d always rather have the awareness, especially if I can execute on it. (Yeah, awareness alone can feel very depressing—always attempt to execute on your perceptions)

After you do this for a while, which is the same as saying “after you pay attention to this new set of perspectives for a while”, you can start to gain something that may even feel like a perceptive superpower:

  • You can probably deal with stressful problems with more resilience and creativity.
  • You know when and how to avoid raising the stakes for most situations. Raising the stakes is really dumb with very few exceptions.
  • Still, you start to understand when and how to raise the stakes, if you ever need to.

You do have to take an executive standpoint on all this. You have to put it to use. But that’s fine with me.

I really like it when this happens—you start to notice how a thing works, then you get some ideas for making the thing better, and pretty soon your stress levels go down, because you’re human (weaknesses) but you’re also human (strengths)!

Filed in: Feeling /60/ | Control /103/ | People /68/ | Relationships /73/

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