In his book Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age, Sven Birkerts shares an astute observation,
The explosion of cell phone use changed the terms of the game. That more people were able to call while not tethered to the landline meant more calls, and more calls meant a growing likelihood that those who had not gone portable would be missing calls. Along with this—again, by degrees—emerged the expectation of reachability. Responses that before could have waited for the receipt of the call or message acquired a new urgency factor. The margin of acceptable time for response began to shrink and it has not stopped shrinking—for if there is a reluctance about making an actual voice call, there is no excuse for not texting a reply. There has followed a profound (and ongoing) revision of etiquette assumptions. I am the same person in 2015 as I was in 2000—at least in terms of my calling habits—but in that interval i have grown a devil’s horns. The same hours-later or day-later response that had been perfectly acceptable is now often seen as rude. And, in a neat inversion of the former situation, the delay is now seen as a kind of preening, an assumption of exceptionality (pp. 33–34).
I absolutely loved Cal Newport’s Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. From beginning to end, Newport cuts through the mess and offers a genuine way to engage in “deep work,” through penetrating and sustained thought. If you feel crippled by incessant emails, text messages, and social media, which cultivate low-value “shallow work” done in a state of distraction, you need this book.
Prayer is the breath of the soul.
Our breathing is a constant source of renewal to our bodies. We eat three or four times a day. But we breathe all day long, all night too.
As impossible as it is for us to take a breath in the morning large enough to last us until noon, so impossible is it to pray in the morning in such a way as to last us until noon. Therefore, too, the apostle says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Let your prayers ascend to Him constantly, audibly or silently, as circumstances throughout the day permit.
—O. Hallesby, Prayer (pp. 147–148)
I have a paper problem. Historically, I’ve exhibited the tendencies of a pack rat. That’s probably just a way to word things in order to deny that I am a pack rat. I’m trying to get better. I just read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I enjoyed the book. While there seems to be an implicit animism at work in the book, Kondo prompts the reader to think more critically about the “things” in his or her life. One constant in my life seems to be piles of paper. Kondo offers a practical strategy for dealing with these:
Papers are organized into only three categories: needs attention, should be saved (contractual documents), and should be saved (others). The point is to keep all papers in one category in the same container or folder and to purposely refrain from subdividing them any further by content. In other words, you only need three containers or folders. Don’t forget that the “needs attention” box ought to be empty. If there are papers in it, be aware that this means you have left things undone in your life that require your attention. Although I have never managed to completely empty my “needs attention” box, this is the goal to which we should aspire.
I’ve invested in a good double-sided scanner and an Evernote premium account. I scan everything and attempt to shred everything for which I don’t need originals or hard copies. This works well for reducing the paper clutter. Now I have to deal with the problem of unorganized notes cluttering up my Evernote inbox!
I’m boning up on my white tail butchering technique for November.
Martin Guitars produced a wonderful documentary on the dreadnought, what we think of as the classic shape of the acoustic guitar.
Narrated by actor and Martin player Jeff Daniels, The Ballad of the Dreadnought traces the rise of the Martin Dreadnought from selling only a few dozen guitars for its first 20 years to becoming the musical companion played in almost every musical genre in every corner of the world.
For 100 years (1916-2016), the Martin Dreadnought has stood the test of time and survived endlessly evolving musical tastes becoming the musical companion for countless artists throughout music’s history. From Crosby, Stills and Nash on stage for the second time together at Woodstock with a D-45 to Seth Avett discovering countless songs waiting inside his Martin D-35, artists such as Rosanne Cash, Roger McGuinn, Steve Miller, Vince Gill, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Del McCoury to name a few, will take you on a musical journey as they lovingly recall moments where they stood proudly alongside their trusted Martin Dreadnoughts. #DreadNot #MartinPride
Watch The Ballad of the Dreadnought
I’ve registered for my second triathlon. It’s another Olympic distance event in Wisconsin, though this time at Williams Bay in Geneva Lake. I’m looking forward to improving my initial Olympic time—especially on the swim. My swim at Elkhart Lake in May was atrocious. I suffered something of a panic attack, which threw all my training and form out the window. But I’ve been swimming regularly in Grays Lake with good results. I plan to train hard and smart through the summer and come out of the race Saturday, September 24 with a solid performance.
American morality is in decline. It’s nothing new, but that doesn’t make it unimportant. Michael Avramovich asks whether we’re the proverbial frog sitting still in the boiling pot.
Yes, our nation has now come to dry rot and decay, and I fear that we can only expect things will get much worse as we endure God’s holy and righteous judgment. The Jefferson Memorial contains a quotation from President Thomas Jefferson, who said powerfully, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” Lord have mercy!
The life of study is austere and imposes grave obligations. It pays, it pays richly; but it exacts an initial outlay that few are capable of. The athletes of the mind, like those of the playing field, must be prepared for privations, long training, a sometimes superhuman tenacity. We must give ourselves from the heart, if truth is to give itself to us. Truth serves only its slaves.
—A. G. Sertillanges, O.P., The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods, p. 4.
When I started running longer distances regularly, I expected the typical health benefits such as weight loss and a stronger heart and lungs, but I wasn’t anticipated the cognitive benefits. Scientists are beginning to explain something runners have known for generations: running helps clear your mind.
A good run can sometimes make you feel like a brand-new person. And, in a way, that feeling may be literally true. About three decades of research in neuroscience have identified a robust link between aerobic exercise and subsequent cognitive clarity, and to many in this field the most exciting recent finding in this area is that of neurogenesis. Not so many years ago, the brightest minds in neuroscience thought that our brains got a set amount of neurons, and that by adulthood, no new neurons would be birthed. But this turned out not to be true. Studies in animal models have shown that new neurons are produced in the brain throughout the lifespan, and, so far, only one activity is known to trigger the birth of those new neurons: vigorous aerobic exercise, said Karen Postal, president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology. “That’s it,” she said. “That’s the only trigger that we know about.”