Nate Dickson Thinks...

Small Thoughts for a Quiet World.

The steps that brought this to you:

  1. I typed this using the Hanx Writer app on the iPad.
  2. Then I printed it using AirPrint, direct from my iPad
  3. I folded the paper to pretend I had mailed it or something, I don't know. This isn't a project that has a lot of seriousness around it. Then I took a photo of it using my iPad
  4. Then I uploaded it to
  5. Then I wrote about it and shared it on the internet.

There's no real thesis here, no real point. This was just because modern technology makes it easy to do pointlessly convoluted things for fun.

The source of this post.

There's that moment when your subconscious nudges you slightly.

“Pen. Paper. Now.”

And that's all the warning you get. So you dig out your notebook and pen and sit down and put the pen to the page...

And something pours out. for the first few characters you have no idea what's coming. And then as the words form you realize that what you're writing is the idea that's been quietly coalescing out of your thoughts and experiences. It formed slowly, like frost on the ground, and when it was ready that other part of your mind told you to collect it before it's burned off by the sun.

The more you pay attention to this little nudge, the more you honor that instinct, the better you get at catching these fleeting ideas. And the more you value inspiration the more of it you will get. The Muses are vain; they only reveal themselves to those that respect them.

To achieve mastery of any skill, the conventional wisdom goes, you have to practice that skill for ten thousand hours. And practice doesn't just mean “do that thing”, it means focus on building that skill.

When we talk about practicing a musical instrument, we've got a good idea of what that looks like. My kids spend half an hour every day practicing the piano, playing songs that their piano teacher assigned them. Their teacher assigns these songs based on their current skill level, and they are calibrated to stretch the students' abilities, to be just a little harder than the students can comfortably play.

And once my kids are done playing their songs, the songs are gone, dissipated into the air around the piano.

But what about practice writing? When I work on the skill of writing, I end up with lots and lots of random little files called things like free write Tuesday, October 30, or random story about Or, well, blog posts like this.

Some people, of course, end up with notebooks full of their words. Tolkien famously used the same paper notebooks over and over, erasing them when they were full and filling them again. His son Christopher has spent a lifetime going through those notebooks, figuring out what the erased versions said and publishing those erased stories.

I know this happens every year and everyone who has a camera in their pocket loves taking pictures of it. But I have a camera in my pocket and I love taking pictures of the fall colors. This is the first year I've worked in downtown proper, and the old, well established trees all over downtown are just beautiful.

Fun anecdote: I came out of my office, and saw some really beautiful trees, so I started snapping pics, then I took a pic of a plant with little purple flowers. Then I realized I had been watched the entire time by a guy who was just trying to have a nice smoke break.

Anyway, here's the whole gallery

Let me tell you a story, a story that is over three decades old.

It's a typical December day, I'm in kindergarten. All of us kids are sitting on the floor, around our teacher. The teacher is holding a set of cards with letters of the alphabet on them. The one I remember is “O” because it had a photo of an Octopus, not in the water, but on a gray solid background. Even at five years old I could tell you that octopus wasn't happy about life, if it was still alive. But that's not the point.

Somewhere around “Q” the door opens and another classmate comes in. She's wrapped up, bundled up against December weather. She puts her backpack down, carefully takes off her earmuffs, puts them on the shelf (“R”). She unzips her jacket, takes her scarf off and hangs it on a hook (“S”). She takes her coat off and puts it on the same hook (“T”).

Then she unzips her jeans and takes them off as well. (“NO!!!!” yells the teacher, but the card says “U”.)

But it's okay, she's got a skirt and leggings on under the jeans; they were just doubling as snow pants.

So Here's the Thing

We moved away less than two years later. I'm only about 50% sure I remember this girl's name; it's possible I'm conflating her with the one friend I had in that school before we moved. I certainly don't remember her face; I don't even really remember what color her coat was.

And what's even weirder is that when I recall this memory, she's not a five year old kindergartner, she's an adult. So am I. Contextually, our teacher is roughly fifteen feet tall, because right now I'm over six feet and she's quite a bit taller than me.

My memory of this event isn't a movie, it's just a script. The actors have changed over the course of my life to make sense with me being in the scene. This event happened in the 1980s, but in my mind her clothing (and my clothing) make sense for the 21st century.

Every time we recall a memory our brains wire in new connections to that memory. In computer terms every “read” is also a “write”.

I spend a lot of time thinking people are expecting things of me, that things are “due” by a certain date, even when there are no possible due dates. Nobody is expecting me to post anything on this blog. Nobody is expecting me to get to bed by a certain time, other than me.

Part of it is my #MBA program getting under my skin, of course. It's really hard to get out of that mindset when I'm training myself to always be looking toward the next due date, the next assignment. So it's a necessary evil, but one that will only last a few more months.

I hope.

I've watched the first episode Doctor Who featuring Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor. Twice, actually.

And I'm excited for what the new season is bringing to the table. The writing feels very solid, and lives up to one of the great promises of that show.

The things that the 13th Doctor says, the things she does, they wouldn't be out of place if done or said by the other Doctors. The words are the same, but the person saying them has changed. The 13th Doctor isn't divorced from her past, but neither is she bound by it. And Ms. Whittaker is clearly more than up to the task of making the role her own. Her portrayal clearly has the core of the Doctor; that central personality made up of optimism, compassion, and rock solid wisdom largely hidden by a whimsical face. But she's also clearly added her own new touches, just as every other Doctor has done.


Is pretty much impossible some nights. I've found a few things that help:

  1. NO Caffeine. Mostly because it screws up my sleep schedule and means I will be exhausted again tomorrow, and the next night...until I crash completely on the weekend. So it's tempting, but I try to keep it as a “break glass in case of emergency” choice.
  2. Video Game Soundtracks. If you think about it, they're perfect. They are designed to be peppy, energetic, moody, and engaging, but also to fade into the background while you do something else.

Some Favorites!

Just Check out this Cover! So AWAKE!

Anything by Jake Kaufman, aka “Virt”. But if I had to pick one it'd be the Mighty Switch Force 2 Soundtrack. Especially the tracks Exothermic, Got2BAStar, and Credits(Rescue Girl)

Lazers! Ryderz!

The Lazer Ryderz Soundtrack Technically this is a board game soundtrack, which I didn't realize was a thing. But it's perfect for the game, and great study music as well. Except for Twist Your Mind which always distracts me because the lyrics are a perfect 80's tribute/parody.

I only vaguely remember this game, but I think this all makes sense in context

Ben Prunty! At this point I have bought more Ben Prunty soundtracks than I have games that feature Ben Prunty soundtracks. The Gravity Ghost album won't keep you awake, but it'll help you have better dreams. The Into the Breach OST works when you're grimly determined to finish your homework before you sleep.

I just love this album

Dream On Isn't a video game soundtrack. I just love this album so much. It's always good listening.

I'm waiting for a presentation I just recorded with my school team to upload. I just cut it all together in iMovie, talking about a merger that went down sixteen years ago. But that's okay, it's part of the process. We're getting our MBAs, we're getting educated. A lot of education is about just doing the work, getting through, getting by.

So at six minutes after midnight I have an uploaded video. I send the link to my team so they can do all the team things and get it submitted on time. We're pretty early this week; we did good work and bought ourselves a day with less homework tomorrow.

Or, well, today. Since it's seven minutes after midnight.

Thank you, the English Language, for all you've done for us, but it's apparent your services are no longer needed here.

It's interesting how much cultural background goes into making this nightmare of an advertisement communicate exactly what they were meaning to say to people like me.

#pictures #travesty #marketing

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