Things You Shouldn’t Be Stingy With

One of these days, I’ll run out of something to say. That’s how the thinking goes, right? Yet the days I actually have the least to say are during those stretches when I haven’t been saying much. It’s much easier to write something if I’ve got a string of days behind me in which I’ve written other things. Thought begets thought. Writing begets more writing. Continue reading

Bricks to Buckets

Perimeter shooters in basketball rarely pass up an open shot. They have two reasons for this. The first is that when they’re not making much, they have to work themselves into a groove … at which point they encounter the second reason for continuing to shoot: They’re making everything. Continue reading

Being Goofy at Disney

Disneyland is one of the few places on earth where you can wear whatever you like. There, you’ll see a large-biceped bodybuilder sporting a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and standing comfortably next to a glamour model with sequined Minnie ears. The sprawling assemblage of teenagers posing together in matching orange shirts emblazoned with the words Johnson Family Vacation. The 20-something collegian wearing a fanny pack to hold her tickets and water. These people are dorks — for a day, at least. And no one at Disneyland cares. Continue reading

Passion Is Overrated

Many of us spend our entire lives trying to identify what we’re passionate about. When we can’t find it, we get frustrated. We’re supposed to have something that drives us, yet we don’t. We go through the motions instead of being driven by what enthralls us. Continue reading

Drivers in That State Are the Worst

Something magical happens as soon as we cross state lines: The drivers become horrible. It doesn’t matter where you’re going or why, but that other state always has worse drivers. When I was a kid coming up from California into Portland, it was the Oregonians. “They drive live maniacs in the rain,” relayed my white-knuckled parents from the front seat. Continue reading

I Miss All the Crying

For the last month, I’ve had to travel extensively for work, coming home only for the weekends. Inevitably, in the security line or at the gate or inside the plane, there will be a family with a child about the same age as mine. The child will be crying or on the verge of tears — flying, after all, can be scary. The parents try desperately to shush the child. All those emotions are fine, they say, but can you please express them quieter? Continue reading

Fresh Is a Meaningless Word

I’ve been staying at a hotel for work all week. It’s a boutique hotel, so there’s no restaurant downstairs — just a cafe and bar that serves simple breakfast stuff in the mornings. I was there before the server this morning, and watched as she rolled up the cover to reveal all the baked items and juice and fruit underneath. They’d been there overnight.

“When were these muffins made?” I asked.

“Yesterday. They’re all fresh.” Continue reading

Writing Is Hard

If given the choice, I’d rather not write. It’s hard, day after day, to come up with something out of nothing. Better to edit — that way, there’s a starting point. You can take something that’s already on paper and make it better or even completely change it. There’s a catch, though: To edit, you have to write something first.

Self-Driving Cars for Self-Driven People

As much as I believe that people should live close to where they work, the advent of self-driving cars may be a boon for commuter productivity. At the moment, internally driven people are limited to podcasts and audiobooks for commuter edification. Self-driving cars would free up time for tasks that are more resource-intensive, such as reading, studying, writing, Skyping with old friends or getting extra sleep — all things people claim they don’t have enough time for. Continue reading

We’re Getting Further Away

Everyone wants to save a buck. And to get a cheaper deal, many people will sacrifice a much more valuable resource than money: time. Cities expand outwards and people choose to live in the suburbs, where rent or mortgages are cheaper. But they give back these savings in two ways. First, their commute lengthens. Now, they’re spending less time with their families, less time on leisure, less time on cooking meals, and more time in the car. Second, the car ride isn’t free either. Increased commute times raise the price of insurance, gas and maintenance — and make it necessary to buy cars more frequently. So, congratulations, you’ve saved on rent so you can pay more to Chevron. Continue reading

Déjà Vu and the Coming Singularity

Einstein theorized that time is happening all at once. That time you crashed Mom’s car into the neighbor’s fence? It’s still happening. Your death 52 years in the future? Also happening right now. Thanks for the memories, right? Because the human brain would be overwhelmed if every single event appeared to be happening all at once, it does the most natural thing to make sense of it all: It lays it out into a linear format with past, present and future. Continue reading

The Masculine Default

There’s a tragedy lurking inside children’s books, one that most people don’t realize: Taken as a whole, the genre is kind of sexist. A study of kids’ books published between 1900 and 2000 found that male protagonists were nearly twice as common as female ones. And in anthropomorphic fiction such as Winnie the Pooh, male heroes are even more dominant. Pick five to 10 books from your child’s library and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Continue reading

Why You Should Write Less

Most people write too much. Remember that three page essay in junior high? We clawed and scratched and cajoled that word count higher. But guess what? The essay still sucked. We took 1,000 words to express a thought that could have fit in a paragraph. And when we turned it in, we hoped the teacher wouldn’t notice we had only read the first 20 pages. Continue reading