Glossary: Hypomnemata

Found this is a review of Pierre Hadot where he uses it how Michel Foucault has used it. While wikipedia will tell you it is scholarly essays written by the ancients, Foucault focused on the style more precisely: ” The hypomnemata constituted a material memory of things read, heard, or thought, thus offering these as an accumulated treasure for rereading and later meditation. ” In this way, Marcus Aurelius Meditations is Hypomnemata as it is a personal record of accumulated treasures. Sometimes these treasures are used in essays or speeches to persuade the the public in some way (the focus of wikipedia’s definition). but the more interesting part to me is the personal nature of the collection of wisdom. My blog is hypomnemata.

Remember Martin: Least Recently Used Rule for buffer overflow

Just finished Algorithms to live by. Lots of amazing principals in there which my nerd brain geeked out about. Of particular interest is the Least Recently Used Algorithm.

Turns out I have been using this all along to manage my closets and sort my to do lists of “someday” tasks. The term comes from computer buffer (cache) management. There is a limited amount of fast cache memory in a computer. To manage what is close at hand in this fast memory, the computer needs an algorithm for what to keep and what to replace. Turns out Least Recently Used is the best to get rid of when a choice has to be made. Get rid of the least recently used thing. Same with clothes. This is much better than a static algorithm that says something like “if it is more than x years old”. I also use this for “someday” to do list entries. When I put something on the to do list if when going through it again, the ones i have not considered or remembered recently get thrown off. Regardless of the length of time they have been there.

Seed Crystal: what is it?

Starting a new Category here at DGC: Seed Crystals.

A seed crystal can get a chemical process going. Especially in a super saturated environment. It is the catalyst that starts a larger process going. Like a spark to start a fire. Here is how Robert Persig describes it in Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

“A super saturated solution is one in which the saturation point, at which no more material will divide dissolve, has been exceeded. This can occur because the saturation point becomes higher as the temperature of the solution is increased. When you dissolve the material at a high temperature and then cool the solution, the material sometimes doesn’t crystallize out because the molecules don’t know how. They require something to get them started, a seed crystal, or a grain of dust or even a sudden scratch or tap on the surrounding glass.”

In today’s super saturated information environment, we need seed crystals. Tiny sparks to create new structures of understanding. I have found I don’t need more information, more media, more unrelated data, I need seed crystals to start the consolidation process that can make it all make sense. This new category will contain the items and examples of seed crystals that I have found useful. These are a reminder to myself to go back to the seeds, the first principal thinking when stuck. And yes I am often stuck. Usually because of supersaturation, not information deficiency.

Remember this Martin: the conclusion of Walden is Stoic

I ran across this quote from Walden yesterday. It is the last line in the book:

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard times. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is.”

Most people remember Walden for the escape to the woods, throw away busy life theme. But after two years on the pond his conclusion is you are where you are so love it. Don’t escape. Love it as it is. That is very stoic and fits with my experience.

Remember Martin: love the suck

Read this interview with the Ranger Up founder today.

“You routinely get fed a shit sandwich and are not only expected to eat it, but eat it using the proper utensils, table manners, and a smile on your face so that the men and women under your command maintain motivation and discipline as you tackle the new surprise mission.”

“After a period of time you stop wishing or hoping or expecting good things to happen. That probably sounds negative, but it isn’t. When you stop counting on an outcome, you tend to start taking things as they come”

“And when you get to that point, nothing can break you. You’ve programmed yourself to deal with the hands you are dealt and not waste unhappy time pining for conditions or an outcome that simply doesn’t exist.”

“Everyone has a breaking point. For most people, that point is very low, which is why many people never push themselves past their comfort zone”

“And the dirty little secret is that everyone has a coward inside them, and if you really want to be tough, and I mean that both physically and mentally, you have to push that coward to the breaking point and then push past it every day. You have to embrace suffering, or in military parlance, embrace the suck.”

Remember this Martin. Life is not about avoiding pain. It is about training for it because it will come. The question is what do you do when it comes?”

Remember Martin: Ask open-ended questions

Read this in a blog today: “Asking open-ended questions encourages the person you’re conversing with to think critically and therefore to be more engaging because open-ended questions allow the respondent, not the asker, to control the response.” In my experience, I agree.

My favorite Open Ended questions:

“How did you…”

“In what ways…”

“Tell me about…”

“What’s it like…”

I used some of these on my 4 year old during facetime today. Instead of “how was school?” which tends to get a one word “good” or “bad”. I asked “Tell me about school today?” and got a very long story with drawing, lunch, snacks, dancing, etc.

Remember Martin: Be wary of spectacle

I am in transit again. Sea->lax. In the airport lounge working. Monday night football is on. The Seahawks. Many of my friends are there. Many of them took the whole day off to go to the game. An entire day watching grown men play a game that most of them had exactly zero stake in.

This reminds me that my attention is one of the few things I actually have to give the world. There is a limited amount of it. Distractions are always pulling at my attention. But being a “sports fan” is another level of distraction. It is actually a commitment to watch the spectacle every time it is on. It is not a short term distraction like a game of poker. It can become an identity. People become attached to their status as a “fan”. All that time, all that attention toward a spectacle that does not improve the world or themselves in any way. Ok, if you are in that business and that is your life I understand being part of the spectacle. But what could be accomplished in the world if all the attention of all the fans of Monday night football did something else? It seems like an enormous squandering of an incredibly precious resources.

This is not a call to stop watching sports for anyone else. Only a reminder to myself why I chose to NOT be a “fan” of any spectacle sport. I have made the affirmative decision that I would rather spend my time doing just about anything else. It is an absolute negative return on investment for me. At one time I had season tickets to the Seattle Sonics. But I used those times to go with friends and family to create memories and close business deals. I have never read a sports page or online stat site in my life. The minute the game is over I am on with life. I use the spectacle as a connection framework to improve relationships. It is good for that. But I have never been attached to the games or teams themselves.

Remember Martin: be wary of spectacle. Be very choosy with your attention. If you attend spectacle do so in support of a personal relationship with those you are with. Not a commercial entity.

DO THIS: Upgrade your brain function

One of the amazing things I am able to do as CEO of Upgrade Labs is to run a bunch of NOf1 experiments on myself. Lately I have been very interested in how to upgrade brain performance in the short and long term. At Labs we have an astonishingly easy to use tool called the WAvi which tests things like brain voltage, beta/theta ratio, and P300 delay (a measurement of executive function). I recently ran a test on myself before and after a 100mg injection of NAD. The left is before, the right after. Brain voltage went up 38%! All the red areas are active. P300 delay was also improved over 20 percent. Which brain would I rather have? Yea the one on the right.

While I was able to feel the effects of nad in prior trials, this is the first visual and measurement I have of what is actually being upgraded in the brain. Very cool stuff. With anything you are considering to add to your life, design a way to test and quantify how it is working and to what degree. I am going to repeat this test with caffeine and nicotine and a couple other things to compare the magnitude of the changes for different things. Stay tuned…