This edition of the Offline Newsletter is written by my father, Brent Snow. As you work to find your digital sweet spot this year, I hope this serves as inspiration.—Blake Snow
There is a story about a billion dollar luxury liner, outfitted with every possible appointment, convenience, necessity, and designed to gratify every decadent demand of its prominent passengers. This floating Taj Mahal, booked solid for months by wealthy citizens and exporters, exhibited a phenomenally delicate profit margin in which time was money. Lots of money. For this great ship to sit idle for even an hour would cost the owners millions of dollars.
As such, every effort had been made to ensure that the ship would operate at peak efficiency. The engine room had as many backup systems and fail-safe mechanisms as an Apollo rocket. No detail had been overlooked in building the most reliable, durable mechanical equipment money could buy. The engine room was staffed by officers, experts, and mechanics from around the world. Each stood vigil in a gleaming white uniform looped with gold braid and brass buttons. Computer systems, draped in matted plastics and steel, lined the walls. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Continue reading…
I watched Nicholas Nickleby over the holidays with my soulmate.
It’s worth watching, at least according to this romantic. Charlie Hunnam’s performance was uneven—brilliant when confronting his uncle, not so much when mourning the death of his friend. But it was obvious to me after watching it: Charles Dickens is a masterful storyteller. He’s proved it many times over. As have his contemporaries, including Jane Austen.
Upon finishing the movie and while channeling the most formal English I could muster, I commented to my wife, “We gotta go to England! The source of such great storytelling deserves to be honored with our presence.”
Plus, I’m a sucker for Ferris wheels, and I hear London has a rather considerable one.
I get it. These guys are overplayed. The Old Navy of Rock ‘N Roll. Maybe even a bit pompous.
But if the above video doesn’t alter your opinion of said musicians, you’re a snob.
DISCLOSURE: U2 doesn’t make my top 10 or even top 20 band list. But I still believe they’re deserving of much of their success. This is my favorite song of theirs. And Achtung Baby is a ’90s masterpiece.
If you insist on setting 5, 10, or 30 year goals in life, you’re gonna have a bad time.
The reason: Time-based goals are arbitrary and futile. Since life is full of surprise, setting specific expectations for it largely results in a feeling of failure.
In other words, “Don’t aim at success,” writes Viktor Frankl in his seminal Man’s Search For Meaning. “The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.”
This has certainly been the case in my life. Continue reading…
The precipitation Gods dumped blankets of snow on my neighborhood recently. Well more than a foot, which required a lot of shoveling to maneuver.
I encountered my neighbor Gary while shoveling one day, and we both commented on the sight. ”Oh, I love it!” he exclaimed with a bright smile. “I do too, I responded.”
Like all good things, snow is worth the effort. I didn’t always think that way. Continue reading…
Excepting more embarrassing personal stuff, here are the changes I hope to make next year:
- I’m gonna speak softly to my kids. I’m loud. With my choice of words and opinions as much as my volume. Children don’t need that extra emotion as they’re figuring out the world. Often times I bark at my kids when they make a mistake or disobey. On a whim recently, I tried something different. Instead of scolding my three year old with a mean face and verbal outburst, I kneeled down, leveled my eyes with hers, softly expressed my disappointment, and encouraged her to change. She lovingly accepted and immediately improved her behavior. After overhearing the exchange, her older sister said, “Dad, I like when you talk to us like that. I feel a warm spirit in the room when you do that.” Then this happened. Then I resolved to speak kindly when disciplining my children from that day forward. Continue reading…
Warning: This post contains existential beliefs. If you have a perfect, godless knowledge of the meaning of life, discredit my opinion and skip to next post. Otherwise, follow me, blind believers!
Either dirt has a fetish for fine art or God exists.
I say that because every winter crystals form on my office window. It’s an old, single pane window. It has no business living in an energy-efficient world. But its side effects can be mesmerizing.
Last month, during a particularly negative below cold spell, I entered the room to see something like this, only it was much more mathematical. Like something a computer would do in geometry, spilled all over the lower half of my window. But it wasn’t as mechanical as computer art. It was organic. Precise but spontaneous. As if the creator of math and science Himself had sent a memo.
The other windows in my house don’t do this, but this easterly-facing one does on occasion. Does it come from God or chaos?
Either way, it’s exquisite.
It’s difficult to describe the love/hate relationship of raising humans. This Coca Cola commercial from Argentina does a pretty good job. (Thanks, Bella—via Facebook)
In other words, you don’t do if for the money.
“The Brazilian World Cup is best understood as a party,” writes Simon Kuper for ESPN. “You don’t host a party to get rich. You do it to have fun, and Brazilians will have fun. Yet there’s something obscene about hosting an extravagant party in a country where millions of people need houses, electricity, doctors. That’s what bothered the protestors.”
Politics aside, there are measurable increases in happiness among a host nation’s citizens, according to Soccernomics. Not unlike the effect a good house party has on a host.
But you can still skimp on a party and have a good time. The problem is, I think the Olympics and FIFA always want a lavish party, even if the designated host can’t afford it.
Looking back, I won’t remember 2013 as a particularly strong year for music. But I did enjoy a handful of new and retro albums and have fond memories of listening to all of the below, ordered by most played to least played. Continue reading…
After a decade of self employment, I’ve been told “no” several thousand times. I have records. For the same period, I’ve been told “yes” a few dozen times. Fewer than a hundred. I have records of that, too.
As you can tell, I–like most humans, salesmen, and business owners–experience rejection more than acceptance. Unlike many people, however, I don’t let that discourage me as a proprietor. But I almost did once.
Fun stuff for those who grew up in the ’80s. See also: Starcadian’s spacey Heart video
If you haven’t already, consider buying Starcadian’s Sunset Blood, from which this song came. It’s one of my top 5 albums of the year.
This is good, embedded journalism about “the everything store” from which my family buys a sizable portion of merchandise:
There have always been rubbish jobs. Ian Brinkley, the director of the Work Foundation, calls Amazon’s employment practices “old wine in new bottles”. Restaurants and kebab shops have done the same sort of thing for years. But Amazon is not a kebab shop. It’s the future. Which may or may not be something to think about as you click “add to basket”.
I’ll think about it, but I’ll still click. I can honestly say Amazon has improved my life over the last decade. Whatever long-term cost I may end up paying for the cut-rate convenience is too murky to fear. At least right now.
See also: Amazon looks to the future
Clever move, Zappos.
“A lot of our job candidates are from out of town, and we’ll pick them up from the airport in a Zappos shuttle, give them a tour, and then they’ll spend the rest of the day interviewing,” Hsieh says. ”At the end of the day of interviews, the recruiter will circle back to the shuttle driver and ask how he or she was treated. It doesn’t matter how well the day of interviews went, if our shuttle driver wasn’t treated well, then we won’t hire that person.”
Beyond the obvious weight loss and cardiovascular benefits of regular fitness, here are a few bonus consequences of working on your body:
- Your skin improves. If vanity is your top goal for getting in shape, I’ve got good news: Regular exercise, particularly when coupled with a healthy diet, does wonders to your hue. If you’re white and pasty like me, your skin starts glowing the longer you work out. It looks healthy, full of color, slightly tan. The reason: “Exercise enhances blood flow to skin,” says Dr. David Katz. Plus, sweating works as a natural cleaning agent, unclogging pores and removing oil and dirt for fewer zits. My skin has never looked healthier. What a pleasant surprise. Continue reading…
After failing to reverse the declining fortunes of the fourth largest company in the world, outgoing Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer teared up this week in his exit interview with WSJ.
“Maybe I’m an emblem of an old era, and I have to move on,” he said. “As much as I love what I’m doing, the best way for Microsoft to enter a new era is with a new leader.”
That must be an incredibly difficult thing to admit. I respect that. To ease his pain, Ballmer gets $18 billion in retirement. Pity him.
See how my daughter is wearing her socks? I’m the only other person I know that does that, particularly if my ankles get hot.
Your ankles get hot? Yeah, my ankles get hot.
The complexing thing about this behavior, however, is that I haven’t “half socked” in years, certainly not since my daughter was old enough to notice. “Where did you learn to do that??!!” I asked in amazement the first time I witnessed her doing it. ”I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Why?” I followed up. “Because my feet were hot.”
Maybe my daughter did observe me doing it and followed suit. Maybe she saw some other weirdo do it and mimicked them. I don’t doubt other explanations.
But maybe, just maybe, my daughter did it because her genetics told her to. Maybe, just maybe, human offspring remember select quirks that having nothing to do with evolution and everything to do with social continuity.
As a father, it was an exhilarating connection that I imagine gets better with age.
While working onsite with a client last week, I met an Englishman that shared my love of music. At some point we diverged into a discussion on the merits of Daft Punk — his favorite band — and where their latest album went wrong. We both agreed that Random Access Memories was better produced that it was written, Discovery was ”bloody brilliant,” and their soundtrack to Tron: Legacy was their second best work to date.
As I was about to leave, my new friend excitedly announced, “I have something to show you!” He left the room, then returned with a custom, LED-lit Thomas Bangalter mask. “May I?” said I, giddy at the prospect. “Of course,” he replied. I put it on, struck a pose, then took several snapshots for posterity’s sake before bidding him farewell.
What’s funny is this Englishman had just traveled 6,000 miles from his office in Munich for weeklong meetings with “corporate” in Los Angeles. While most people scramble for chargers and underwear the night before travel, I laughed at the thought of this kindly bloke deciding to bring his shiny keepsake along for the journey. “Ah, yes! Mustn’t forget my smashing mask.”
That’s a fan.
AP Photo/Tom Stromme
Had a lot of fun recording the latest podcast with Josh this week:
In this Halloween Special of The Offline Podcast, Josh and I discuss the “new normal” work week, an app that supposedly boosts offline encounters, how to turn a small reward into something you’ll treasure forever, and doorbell ditching (aka the best offline experience of the week). Enjoy your life! Music by KC & The Sunshine Band and Tales from the Crypt.
MP3 (23 min) | iTunes | Feed | Reruns
Happy Halloween, readers. May all your Pagan dreams come true.