Issue № 26

A glimpse

The best way to get a vivid impression and feeling of a landscape, is to sit down before it and read, or become otherwise absorbed in thought; for then, when your eyes happen to be attracted to the landscape, you seem to catch Nature unawares, and see her before she has time to change her aspect. The effect lasts but for a single instant, and passes away almost as soon as you are conscious of it; but it is real, for that moment. It is as if you could overhear and understand what the trees are whispering to one another; as if you caught a glimpse of a face unveiled, which veils itself from every willful glance. The mystery is revealed, and after a breath or two, becomes just as great a mystery as before.

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne from,

sigh Some people can write.

There’s a practice to reaching that effect. At first, I couldn’t pull it off. After much practice, I can now arrive at this state quite regularly. Alas, at no time have I ever imagined as delightful a description as Hawthorne’s. The interesting part of the effect—at least, the effect I’m experiencing—is that it is quite clearly me that is different. Our brains are powerful filters; salient is how we describe that which our brains admit. In experiencing this effect, it feels like the salience filter is transparent… as if, instead of feeling swamped by sensory input, the window to the world is momentarily perfectly clear. 


Creating something that can be turned down takes discipline and courage, so there’s reason to feel pride for each rejection.

~ Rhaina Cohen

Bitter or better?

The Stoics would agree that the world can be ugly and awful and disappointing. They would just remind us that what we control is what we do about this. We control what difference we try to make. We control whether it makes us bitter or makes us better—whether we complain or just get to work.

~ Ryan Holiday from,

My grasp is failing. My ability to keep track of this, and make a plan for organizing that, is waning. Each year I more quickly become frustrated at unforeseen twists and foreseen complexities. Believing I’m successfully juggling just two things, I’m surprised to discover one has already hit the floor. I’ve moved beyond having a to-do list long enough that many items are below the fold; the regularity of adding items near the top means the items below the fold will never get done. Instead, I have multiple systems piled up in sedimentary fashion. Entire segments of my life, which I thought were integral to my identity, have fallen below the fold.

And every day my life gets better. I wish I’d learned the lesson sooner.


The extraordinary doesn’t wipe out the ordinary. People get married in wartime. Babies are born during pandemics. My mom drew water fro my bath while my father did test runs for the end of the world.

~ Mary Laura Philpott

Why aren’t you working on that?

Richard Hamming was a mathematician who worked at Bell Labs during the 1940s-1970s. He had a habit of sitting down with scientists in other fields and asking them “What are the important problems of your field?” After they explained their field’s most important open problem, he would ask them: why aren’t you working on that?

~ “CFAR!Duncan” from,

Ouch! I wonder if Hamming got punched in the face a lot? That’s a link to an appendix that doesn’t have an attributed person as the author. But if you can see past all that, it’s a series of eight prompts which really cut through my bullshit. “Why am I not working on that?” …well, actually, I am trying to work on that. Unfortunately, I’m also dividing my efforts in too many other directions simultaneously.

Maybe that’s just me though?


If we don’t want to live in a nepotistic society, we have to stop practicing nepotism. And by ‘we’, I mean you.

~ Richard V. Reeves


The paragraph above has a topic sentence, then three fragments. Yes, fragments. Like this and the one before it. A fragment is a non-sentence; it does not have a subject and main verb. Students are taught that fragments are errors. Hogwash! Writers use fragments all the time. Your English teacher may not like it and the college admissions office may not either. But, learn to use the fragment.

~ Mylinh Shattan from,

Shattan is writing about writing, and mentions how sentence fragments can hold imagery. I’ve been wondering if this isn’t a critical skill for spoken conversation. Speaking a fragment feels like throwing up a sign post: “Exampleville 15” is helpful in that it gives a definite distance. Deep in a conversation, if I drop in a fragment, it can be a way to indicate I think we’re headed somewhere in particular; fragments can check that are trains of thought still match. Fragments dropped into conversation make sense—like inside jokes—because we’re both on the same journey.

Until next time, thanks for reading.



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