Nate Dickson Thinks...

Small Thoughts for a Quiet World.

A few years ago I wrote a post on a (now defunct) blog, wondering how twenty one pilots felt about being the modern music that aging Gen-Xers like myself can point to and say “look! I'm still cool! I like that band!”

Well, I still like that band. I've given up on claiming to be cool, but I still think they are!

I know I don't really have to sell the world on twenty one pilots as a band; they are popular and they do a great job of being themselves. But here's a few things I love about them.


I was diagnosed with ADHD recently. It’s not really a surprise; I asked the doctor if it was a possibility because I’ve been seeing the symptoms in myself for a while. So my doctor gave me a questionnaire; of the twenty questions I answered “yes” to sixteen of the questions and “often” to two more. seems very likely that I am and always have been—or had, not sure about the terminology—ADHD.


In high school my choir teacher once told us

“People are going to come up to you and tell you that you did a good job on a solo or in a choir. It's tempting to say something like 'oh, it wasn't that good', or in some way diminish their praise.

“Don't do that. Just say 'thank you' in a clear and genuine manner, and leave it at that.”

That advice is a good 30 years old now, and still valuable. I found that Marcus Aurelius had similar advice:

Accept graciously, let go easily. (Meditations, Notebook 8§33, as translated by Robin Waterfield)

Combining the advice of a Roman emperor and a high school choir teacher emphasizes what's important in the dynamic. The praise doesn't matter. What matters is the interaction with another human being. We should be genuine and gracious, because that person's feelings matter.

But once we've accepted graciously, it's time to let go easily. This is true of gifts or praise or whatever else someone might give us. The person is important; whatever they've given us, less so.

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I figure, why not record my favorite ways to waste time in the last year. As always, This is a ranking of games I played in 2022 regardless of when they came out.

Here's the list, from favorite to least favorite, because I like putting number one on top.


Me: [Sleeping] 🧠: Hey. Me: No. I sleeping. 🧠: You know the Sierpinski Triangle? Me: I mean, yeah, if you know it, then I know it. 🧠: I'll bet you could use Python to draw it using the 'random game' method. Me: Probably. But it's [opens eyes] four dang thirty A freaking M I'm going back to sleep. 🧠: It'd be really easy in, like, Jupyter. Me: I can't hear you I'm asleep. 🧠: Now, how do you find the ratio of the length of a side of an equilateral triangle and the height of the triangle? Me: What? No. Tenth grade geometry was a long time ago and also I'm Sleeping. 🧠: That's fine, you just sleep, I'll work on this in the background. Me: ... ... UGH FINE.


Me: There, are you happy? 🧠: Yeee! Me: Why did we have to get up at 4:30 to do this? 🧠: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Me: Fine. Let's go to work.

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That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased — Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a quote that gets passed around a lot, and it's a good guiding truth. If we keep doing something we will get better at that thing and it will be easier to us. This is called building a skill.

But the inverse pressed itself upon me the other day: That which we neglect to do becomes more difficult, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has decreased. It's so obvious, and almost doesn't merit the time and energy it takes to state it, right?


With the number of major events happening on the big social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, you may have started thinking about moving to something else. It's always good to look around. One of the biggest of the little guys is Mastodon, a social media system that is somewhat similar to Twitter. This guide is written to give a gentle, painless introduction to the world of Mastodon, and to help newcomers get settled in.


Start a daily journal habit. But if you miss a few days, just write about today, don't punish yourself by trying to fill in the blanks.

This goes for just about any daily habit. Keeping track of “streaks” is a good thing, and often motivational. But if we lose sight of what we're trying to accomplish and focus on the “streak” we can start to de-motivate ourselves.

Now that I'm out of school I am trying to lose the “I need to get straight As” mindset. A “perfect attendance record” isn't as important as the improvements I make when I work on things. “Write every day” is a good way to be a writer, but there's not a score card for writing every day. The important part is the writing, not the days. If I miss a day, all that is really lost is the opportunity I had to improve that day, nothing is taken away from my ability to improve today. Punishing myself for “screwing up” or “missing days” is counter-productive and needlessly costly.

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I Am An Optimist.

By Choice. It's not easy. It's actually really very hard right now to be an optimist. But I have chosen to be one, because I believe that optimism is the best route to effecting actual change for the better.

I Am Excited.

I get excited about things. When I am interested in something I will dive deep into it. If it's a product I will learn all about how it's made and who makes it and why. I can tell you far too much about the founders of Apple and Microsoft because I got deep into their histories. I read Linus Torvald's Autobiography. Twice. I know the names of the founders of Field Notes, and what they do outside of making small pocket notebooks.


Some days I am a writer. A creator of worlds, a light in a darkened world, shining the beam of truth to teach and lead those around me to a higher level. #hyperbole

Some days I hate words.

Some days are both.

Thoughts? Tell me about them!
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