Category: Culture

Caol Ila on a Lazy Sunday

Caol Ila on a Lazy Sunday

Just opened a new bottle of scotch and am sitting here enjoying the lovely aftertaste of smoked oak. A Caol Ila Moch to be precise that I bought earlier today at my local supermarket. What a treat!

Next time I am to introduce someone to peated whisky I’ll offer them a Moch. It has a sweet, well-rounded, slightly lemony and fairly lightly peated character. The aftertaste lingers on in your mouth for about 10-15 minutes. Of course, waiting that long before taking another sip is unlikely going to happen here at my household.

On the inter-webs it said that Caol Ila has historically mostly been used in the Johnny Walker blended whiskies which makes me somewhat skeptical about the brand, but it seems that Caol Ila is now growing in its own right as a single malt.

By the way, how do people manage to pronounce Scottish whisky properly? I always get whiskies like Lagavulin completely wrong and I am sure its no difference with Caol Ila which is supposed to be pronounced “cull Ee-la”. Ehm, Carol what?

“Please say that again” I’ll ask the barman and they’ll raise a brow at me as I try to get it right for the 15th time. I’ve got this test that when I am able to pronounce Lagavulin right I know it’s about time I go home.

Of course its not easier when it comes to wine. I’ll call Côtes du Rhône “court ruin” and I won’t even attempt at pronouncing the Mourvedre  grape let alone the Nebbiolo or the Gewürztraminer.

In other news, I went with my roommate Karen for a huge bowl  of mussels, fries and white wine Friday evening. Yesterday I went for a couple of Indian Pale Ales with another good friend of mine followed by a big juicy burger. Today my roommate and I am cooking up some pork with veggies and having a chill evening at home.

Anyway, there really isn’t a point of me telling you these trivial things other than to add an assurance to all of you that I am in fact still alive and well. Considering that my last two posts were a now two year old tribute to a man who had just died at the time (how depressing) and a incoherent babble about not being able to write anything worth reading anymore (even MORE depressing) you’d imagine as far that I might not be coming back here ever again.

(I wouldn’t have bet on me being back either).

RIP, Seth Roberts

RIP, Seth Roberts

I am very saddened to learn of Seth Roberts untimely death on April 26th 2014. Unlike many of the people listed below, I did not know Seth personally, that is, I never met him in real life.

Online, however, Seth actually took the time to contact me a couple of months ago when I had cited him in a post recommending honey before bedtime on this blog. He was very interested in knowing more about my experiments, and I found it a great honor that someone as accomplished as him would take the time to contact random strangers with few proven credentials for advice.

Back then, and to this day, this says a lot to me about what kind of person Seth must have been to the people who really knew him.  It is not every day that you meet someone who treats everyone, from every walk of life, equally. I don’t, if I must be completely honest, and I don’t think I have ever met anyone who truly does yet.

But Seth absolutely seemed to me like someone interested in getting to know everyone on equal terms. At least the few email correspondences I had with him leads me to think so.  He was also someone with unconventional ideas about how to hack life. I have experimented with many of his ideas myself, and will continue to live my life in the same vein that I imagine Seth did.

I don’t have a category on my site that matches news like these, so I am putting the post under spirituality. I do this because Seth was, although unknowingly,  a spiritual teacher  of sorts of mine – understood in the sense that to me being spiritual means being able to look outside the box of conventionality. Seth obviously did, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to do so too.

If you do not know who Seth was, take a look at his blog. Although he won’t be able to contribute to our collective knowledge further, his blog as well as his book are still very valuable resources for those interested in self-experimentation and in lifehacking.  I will leave you with links to posts by people who actually knew Seth well. (Borrowed from Tucker Max).

Tucker Max

John Durant

Richard Nikoley

Ryan Holiday

Ben Casnocha

Nassim Taleb

Was this post meaningful to you? If so, I always appreciate comments, likes and shares. Thanks!

Dan Schawbel on the Trade-Offs you Have to Make in Life

Dan Schawbel on the Trade-Offs you Have to Make in Life

After having discovered his book Me 2.0, I recently began following Dan Schawbel on Facebook. I haven’t read the book yet, and I don’t know much about Dan, but the below quote, a status update of his, I really liked. More than enough to share it here:

“For every choice you make in life, there’s always a trade off. If you work on one project, you don’t have as much time for another project. If you spend time working on your company, you have less time for your friends. There is no real balance in life, which means you are forced to make decisions where you have trade offs. Since this happens to everyone, it shouldn’t stress you out. It’s managing these decisions that make us who we are and who we will eventually become.” – Dan Schawbel

Everything that Schawbel says here goes without saying, yet I never used to look at life this way. It can seem like a bit of a mechanical way to approach living, yet if you choose to “go with the flow”, and not consider the future ramifications of your present choices, then the shape of that future will be safely out of your hands.

These days I am thinking of just about everything I do in terms of trade offs. I want to sleep in late, but when I do so the trade offs are too big in that I am wasting valuable time for nothing but a moment of comfort. If I don’t put a lot of effort and time into various work projects the trade offs are too big in that I am not moving towards  having more power over my career in the future. If I don’t go out and learn how to become a better conversationalist the trade offs are too big in that I won’t be able to go out and enjoy meeting new people as much in the future. And the list goes on.

Maybe you agree? Maybe Dan and I are being too mechanical about life here? Let me know what you think.

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My 2014 Reading Diet – First Draft

My 2014 Reading Diet – First Draft

Note: So it only took me a couple of hours after writing that other post on how I’m NOT AT ALL inspired to write, before I just had to get this one down and out there. I already needed to share this list with a friend of mine, and so thought that I might as well also publish it here.

For the rest of 2014 I want to read at least one book a week. I also want to do reviews of each and every one of them, but I don’t know if that latter will happen. It is mostly a time issue for me. So likely not. But I will try to experiment with ultra short reviews, amounting to nothing much more than my recommendation of the book. I don’t know if anyone will be interested in that, but it is the best I can do, and it will be a fresh breath of air from everything else I do here in my neck of the woods.

My current reading list, in no particular order:

  • Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • De Bello Gallico and other Commentaries by Julius Caesar
  • The Letters of Cicero by Marcus Tulius Cicero
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
  • Mastery by Robert Greene
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins
  • Choose Yourself by James Altucher
  • Contagious: Why Things catch On by Jonah Berger
  • Trust me, I’m lying by Ryan Holiday
  • Drive by Daniel H. Pink
  • All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  • Georgias by Plato
  • Euthyphro by Plato
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • The Art of Being Unmistakable by Srinivas Rao
  • Spark: How Exercise Will Improve the Performance of Your Brain by John Ratey
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • Platform: Get noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt
  • Me 2.0 by Dan Schawbel
  • Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana
  • You are not Your Brain by Jeffrey M. Schwartz
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
  • Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
  • Autobiography of a YOGI by Paramhansa Yogananda

At a glance, most of these books are quite focused on marketing, social media, self promotion and, to some extend, on self development. The reason being that I am trying to make a career for myself in marketing, out there in the real world.

The list lacks a good amount of fiction writing. For some reason I find it difficult to get through those kinds of book – which is truly a sad thing. If you got any book recommendations of your own (especially if they are fiction) please let me know below. Thanks!

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The Nerd’s Guide to Being Confident Book Review

The Nerd’s Guide to Being Confident Book Review

I just read this little 63-page book and thought I might do a review of it while it is still fresh in my mind, since I’ve missed doing reviews a lot for a while now. The few previous reviews I’ve done have all been pretty low in quality because I tried to do ratings, summaries, and other things like that. At least for this one, I am just going to write what I think about the book. Also, from now on I’ll only do reviews of stuff that I particularly liked and therefore recommend. Lets get to it.

To sum the book up, and as far as I can see, the book is a collection of a bunch of posts from Mark’s website markmanson.net. I don’t mind this fact, thought, because what Mark has to offer is of a very high quality, at least compared to other pick-up related material I’m familiar with. Therefore, I am more than happy to spare him a dime.

The tittle, however, is a bit misleading. If it had truly been a Nerd’s guide it would have offered a much more structured and concrete approach to improving your confidence. Still, it is a great collection of useful essays regardless.

The book begins with a short chapter telling the reader to quit complaining and start being grateful, which I think is great, because that is exactly what it’s intended audience should do (be grateful, not complain). Why? Well, as Mark says, you are probably ‘richer and more educated than 99.5 % of people in human history’ if you are reading this sentence. Most of us got a lot more to be grateful for than frustrated about, and more importantly, whining and bitching about things and thinking that the world is unfair is just about the most unproductive thing one could do. I’ve been there myself, of course. I was angry that women only wanted jocks and players (or so I thought)…then I took a long and hard look at myself and realized that the “problem” wasn’t external, but inside my own head. So props to Mark for telling it how it is.

He then goes on to describe how and why we can be our own worst enemy at times. Among other things, he cites a very famous parable that I would also like to share with you here:

As my friend passed by the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused, by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a rope tied to their legs. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break free from the ropes they were tied to, but for some reason they did not. My friend saw the trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to escape.

“Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and at that age it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe that they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” My friend was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were. The powerful and gigantic creature limited its present abilities by the limitations of its past. How many of us go through life believing the ropes tied to us?

This story is just great on so many levels. I am not going to give away everything Mark says in the book, but among other things he relates it to limiting beliefs, a concept I’ve also talked about before on this blog.

Next, there is an essay on values with several good examples of people who go through life without proper values. Basically, If you haven’t got strong values you are going to be used by other people. I, for example, do not tolerate overly manipulative behavior. But as Mark describes, a friend of his did, getting into a lot of trouble with a woman who was still seeing her ex while she dated him. He then complained in a long email to Mark about how he was treated by her. Mark offered his friend no sympathy and he doesn’t get any from me either. At times people complain to me over something which is inherently self-inflicted because of a lack of self-reliance. I’ve done the same myself, but today I know better. In a sense, its the same message as above: quit complaining; begin taking responsibility for your life.

Fittingly, the next essay is a laundry list of negative attitudes people have. I won’t reiterate anything here, because frankly, reading it made me bummed myself, but I guess that was also Mark’s purpose in writing it; making us see how negative people can be – how negative YOU AND I can be.

Then he talks about the thinking mind and the observing mind, which is basically a Buddhist concept that People like Eckhart Tolle also talks a lot about. So nothing new here either, but it doesn’t hurt hearing the same thing over and over again. I actually really liked this particular chapter. Through meditation, one can learn how to distinguish between being angry and feeling angry. Most people define themselves by their feelings. ‘I am depressed,’ they’ll say. No, you are feeling depressed, and there is both a reason why that is and a solution for it. In the end, we are what we think about ourselves, so make sure to make it something other than what you are feeling. Confused? Read the book…or continue reading my blog. I talk about these things frequently.

By now, I am a little tired of going through every single chapter, and I also think that I shouldn’t be giving the whole book away here. After all, it is only 63 pages and takes less than an hour to read. Safe to say, the rest of the book is also pretty great and useful.

This is not really a life-changing book, though, more in the category of those confirming what you already knew. Some might think that it offers too little value, but then again, the book is only $ 3.99 on amazon.com as we speak. Mark’s blog has a lot of value to offer for free, and therefore I think buying this book is a good way of supporting the work he is doing, like I said above.

So that’s that. I recommend The Nerd’s Guide to Being Confident a lot…and I am not even being paid for saying that! If you go check it out yourself, please let me know what you think about it once done reading. Thanks!

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The photo is of the book’s author, Mark Manson, and I got it off of his FB profile since I couldn’t find one related to the book on the web. Let’s hope that he doesn’t mind.

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Daily Rituals – A book Review

Daily Rituals – A book Review

I am enjoying reading Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work: How Artists Work by Mason Currey so much that I had to make a quick post about it. It is the second book in the Tim Ferriss Book Club. If you haven’t’ already joined the club, I’d encourage you deeply to do so.

In short, “Daily Rituals..” is a simple, straightforward book about the daily habits  and rituals of a number of famous creative people who lived during the past 400 years or so. Each chapter deals with one person and is about two pages long, which makes it an easy read.

Most of the great minds written about in this book lead very structured daily lives, and many lived seemingly dysfunctional ones…substance addiction is a very common denominator for many of them. Mostly just coffee or alcohol, but between the pages you’ll find plenty of other ways in which these great minds fueled their brains.

I expected the book to answer a lot of my questions on finding the perfect daily routine, but instead it has made me doubt many of the answers I thought I had already found.

There doesn’t – for example – seem to be a concurrence of opinion about when to sleep, or how much to sleep. I’ve been working towards getting up early every morning, preferably at 5 or 6 AM, but many of the artists in the book (and Tim Ferriss, by the way) preferred to work into the night instead. It seems like there is no “one size fits all” solution.

The same problem arises considering substance abuse. It is quite clear from the book that many have benefited creatively  from overindulgence, but this line of thought is in direct opposition to the Buddhist guidelines that I have begun to subscribe to myself. The way to contentedness is not necessarily as straightforward as it would seem.

One thing that all of the creatives seem to be in agreement about, is having very well-defined daily routines. It is that simple. In order to be your most productive self, leave nothing up to randomness. Never stray from the plan. This makes sense. We are unproductive and unhappy because we are constantly taken out of focus by many different distractions during our day.

Anyway, I highly recommend the book to anyone who likes to experiment with his or her daily routine. Get it here (amazon) or here (audible).

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (book review)

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (book review)

Author: Steven Pressfield

Rating: 3 (out of 5)

Cover of "The War of Art: Break Through t...
Cover via Amazon

Summary: Not brilliant, but worth the read

The War of Art (the tittle being a nice spin on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, which I will have to review next) is a gripping story about the authors own struggles with writer’s block.

According to Pressfield, the perhaps biggest problem every writer faces is resistance towards getting any actual writing done.

Resistance can show its ugly face as a fear of judgement (by peers, readers etc) or through a wealth of other reasons for not picking up the pen, including procrastination and laziness.

If you’ve got problems with finding the inspiration to get your work done, as a writer or in any career, this book is for you!

Social context: Written for writers and other creatives

Writing style: Popular psychology

I picked up this book because it seemed accessible and tackled a theme that I care about. While not (yet) an expert on writing style, the book kept me interested, at least for the first two parts. Most people will get through it without too much effort, making it a good first book to read for any aspiring writer who wants to become an actual writer with time.

My thoughts: Read the first two parts; skip the third

Part one will teach you why you aren’t currently writing your ass off; part two will teach you how to get started with writing you ass off.

That just about sums up everything you need to know about this book before getting started with reading it.

Part three is more abstract, philosophical, and spiritual of nature than the other two parts, and to be honest, I didn’t like it at all.

After having read the first two parts I would have given the book a rating of 5 out of 5.  It ends at a 3 out of 5 because of the anti-climatic conclusion.

While I am sure many people will enjoy the third part more than I did, it doesn’t make sense to me to attribute your success (or your failure) as a writer to something outside of your own mind and body.

I am perfectly fine with people believing in a supreme being in the heavens (I don’t), but just because god created us (going with this view) it doesn’t mean that he or she is responsible for everything you do – YOU are!

The first part (on identifying resistance) and the second part (on battling resistance) does a fine job out of making us aware of our own responsibility for how we fare in life.

You really don’t need more than that from this book.

It doesn’t, however, offer much concrete advice on becoming a better writer.

I think that is okay, though, seeing as our main goal here is to get started with writing on a regular basis.

Indeed, this book will (hopefully) get you past any resistances you may have towards getting some writing done.

In terms of becoming better writers, we will have to look elsewhere for advice (and I will, soon enough!).

That is all. Despite my somewhat negative remarks, I think this book is one you should consider checking out. It was by no means a waste of my time and it won’t be of yours either if you decide to spend the couple of hours on it that it takes to get through it.

Get it here!

PS:

This being my first book review, I would like to note here that I am aware of the fact that I make some grammatical and linguistic errors throughout my writings!  English is not my native language but with every post  I seek to become a better writer. My time being limited, I have to choose between writing lots of posts or writing fewer posts that I take more time to go through for errors and such. Most of the time I do the former because I, like Pressfield, believe in improving through practice.

On getting back into the habit of “reading” books

On getting back into the habit of “reading” books

Over the last couple of years I’ve slowly been lulling myself into the habit of reading far more stuff on the internet and far less books.

I think this is a shame.

I used to enjoy reading books a whole lot and I miss getting through at least a book a week.

I think I read less these days because my attention span has been weakened by the sheer amount of information I am confronted with whenever I turn on a computer.

But I also think that we are getting more an more used to having our senses overly stimulated by other means.

The solution?

To make your reading experience as stimulating as possible! 

How?

Well, my suggestion to you (an idea that I’ll be trying out myself as of today) is therefore to get both the audio book version of a book you’d like to read and the e-book or paper version as well.

This way you can either switch between reading the conventional way, listening while doing other stuff like riding your bike, or both at the same time (reading and listening, not reading and riding your bike. lol)

I am especially compelled by the thought of listening to someone with a pleasant voice reading a book out loud (on MP3 of course)  while reading along myself because this satisfies more than one of our senses at a time, therefore making getting through a book more of a thrilling experience.

Buying both can be extremely expensive, though, the current prices being too high in my opinion. So for the time being I think it is completely within “good” morals to buy either and get the other by alternative means.

If you got the economy for buying both audio book and e-book versions of the same book Amazon’s Whisper-sync service sounds pretty good as it syncs your progress between audible books and kindle books.

That’s all for a (very )quickly written little post.  Enjoy your weekend folks! (perhaps getting some reading done).

Jake

Android app of the day: Umano news reader (also available for iPhone)

Android app of the day: Umano news reader (also available for iPhone)

I originally envisioned the measured life to focus on minimalism, inspired by the greatest of the great, Leo Babauta of Zen habits.

Since then I’ve realized that one of my greatest strengths and interests lies in tech, and I’ll therefore expand my efforts in doing reviews of gadgets and apps.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t continue posting on subjects like the Taoism series. My first three posts on Taoism have received a lot of ping backs.

So being aware of the popularity of that topic it will receive the attention it deserves soon.

But why do reviews?

The first question I asked myself when I sat down at my laptop to write this review was this:

“What is the point in me doing reviews when there are thousands of other more professional places to go for reviews?”

Putting up reviews on the measured life makes sense because the specific apps that I use are an integrated part of who I am and of my self-development journey.

People like aforementioned Leo Babauta doesn’t write much about specific “products”, something I’ve missed when reading his blog.

I therefore figured that if people like what I have to say about personal development, they’d likely also like what I have to say about books, gadgets, apps, and more.

So my future reviews here will hopefully give a good picture of how I use technology to improve my life.

That out of the way, let’s get on with the review of Umano.

What it does

In the words of Umano’s developers, the app offers “interesting articles read to you by real people”.

Personally I like going through the popular news stories to get a general overview of what’s current, but you can also get your news specifically tailored to your interests.

You can also browse through different categories such as inspirational, scientific, lifestyle etc. You can also save items to your own playlist and download them in order to listen to news while you are not near mobile data or WiFi points.

How it looks

Umano has a simple, straightforward interface which is what I usually demand out of a news app. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it stands out in any way, but it is beautiful in its simplicity.

How I use it 

Umano is a great way to get updated on interesting news stories while on the commute. I’ll use it while on the bus, train or subway.

Although you could, I don’t use it while biking because the articles can become a distraction when having to pay attention to traffic.

I don’t have a car though would imagine that it wouldn’t be any bigger of a distraction for drivers than regular radio since it really just is a form of radio.

I also use it at meal time at home and some times as background “noise” while doing work.

All in all, use it whenever you’d listen to a regular radio station.

The take out

In the end, Umano is a really great and useful app that I use more or less on a daily basis as of writing this.

In the last couple of years I’ve listened less and less to regular radio and more and more to interest-specific podcasts (I will also do reviews of those soon).

While Umano won’t satisfy your demand for regular news on what’s going on in the world of politics or entertainment etc., it will give you interesting and short stories on topics that you wouldn’t have thought of researching on your own.

If this has sparked your interest in Umano, then go try it out through the links below!

~ Jake

Where to go from here

Umano Website

Umano on the Play Store