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Switching gears, it's...

The Captain's Newsletter

2021-W15 - kirkkittell.com/captain

Intro

Walk-up song: Ween. "Exactly Where I'm At". White Pepper (2000).
"And to think, you've got a grip / Well, look at yourself / Your lips are like two flaps of fat / They go front and back and flappity flappity flap"
I have a bimodal problem.
Don't worry, it's not contagious.
I have, as it were, two gears: (1) fast and loose; (2) very, very precise, and somewhat slow. I think this is mostly normal for humans, but I tell you, for me there is a big huge wasteland in between those two settings. There is no slider between them—just 0 or 1, zoom by or zoom in.
Know thyself—right? That's the name of the game. What game? The game. Yes, that one—this one. Life. "Know thyself", as far as I can tell, really translates to: keep your weird habits from harming other people. I used to think that "self knowledge" or "examining your life" or any kind of useful exercise in self-awareness was about trying to fix problems in myself. Who wants to go through life with a bunch of messed-up parts?
Lately, I've been thinking differently. Something about bursting into an age that starts with a 4 changes the analysis. Fix the toxic parts of yourself, sure. Nobody deserves that part of you. Improve the suboptimal parts if you want to. No pressure. But, for the most part, it's just about awareness, I think, not improvement.
I have to be aware at work and at home when I'm shifting gears—hell, I have to be careful when I'm in a gear, because there are only two, and widely spaced. When I'm in the fast gear I don't tend to slow down to pick people up on the direct path from A to B—they might be getting grabbed through an open door of a still-moving vehicle and told, in no uncertain terms, that there is no time to slow down and reconsider whatever there is to reconsider. We're going to power slide the turns and maybe spend some time outside the yellow lines, all in service of finding the most direct route to the goal. The slow gear is more like grinding down diamonds, atom by atom, removing all atoms that do not fit in the One True Final Shape.
I used to feel a little uneasy about having those two settings. It really seems like a Well-Adjusted Adult Human should have figured out a setting like "half fast, half precise". That seems normal. I don't worry about it much anymore. I almost enjoy the feeling when the part of me that handles the gearshift straps on the helmet, snaps the chinstrap, and jams my head into the top gear—OK, we're in that mode, let's get it on. In fact, now that I give up that desire for control of the gears, I have more access to them. By not fighting the shift, I can shift myself.
I don't know what it means. Control through releasemaybe. Control through giving up control—closer. Control through knowing that there is no control—I think we'll stick with that.

Seven links, plus-or-minus two

1. Anne Helen Petersen. "LARPing your job". Culture Study (2019-05-05). LARP = Live Action Role Playing. In terms of your job, it means: doing all of the actions that look like work but, let's be honest, you're not working. You're just wearing all of the clothes that look like work and saying all of the things that sound like work.
2. Dave Trott. "Energy Beats Talent". Dave Trott's Blog (2020-12-07). You can beat people who are faster than you if you take them to an uncomfortable place where they have to choose between Now and Later.
3. Glenn Hodges. "Why was the ancient city of Cahokia abandoned? New clues rule out one theory." National Geographic (2021-04-12). The moral of the story is: don't assume your own current problems are necessarily the same as someone else's problems.
4. Austin Kleon. "The song machines". austinkleon.com (2021-04-13). On stealing like an artist. And arting like a factory.
5. "Unnecessary specification". kirkkittell.com (2021-04-17). There are times to be ultra specific—and times not to be. Don't be the idiot who (me) who doesn't know the difference.
6. Jason Pargin. "How 'The Karate Kid' Ruined The Modern World". Cracked (2010-05-01). America is full of frustrated, broken, baffled people because so many of us think, "If I work this hard, this many hours a week, I should have (a great job, a nice house, a nice car, etc). I don't have that thing, therefore something has corrupted the system and kept me from getting what I deserve, and that something must be (the government, illegal immigrants, my wife, my boss, my bad luck, etc)."
7. Dan McKinley. "Choose Boring Technology". mcfunley.com (2015-03-30). When you're building something, choose exciting and new things sometimes—but there is a limit to how many exciting and new things you can do at once before the thing you're trying to do grinds to a halt, or explodes, or steals your credit card.

Outro

I was going to have some exciting Garden Content—hashtag content—for you today, but today, like many days, ends when it gets dark outside. What happens when it gets dark outside. No photos, etc. I used this fantastically nice spring weekend to finish most of the straightaway of the wall I'm building below the deck, and that's going to be the home of much of the garden this year. So tune in next time and I'll spin you a story about all of the kale and cabbage and lettuce—and, like, other manly things like steaks and buffalo and chesthair and mustaches things like that—that I planted behind the wall.
 
-kirk
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