A photograph taken by Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition to the South Pole, before they perished on their return journey. 
I admit it: I’m guilty of this, and I think it mostly resides in the fact that I don’t think I’m doing nearly enough to be successful, when—in fact—I’m doing quite a bit. One of the keys that I think about this—that I have trouble with—is in saying no. Then I read posts like Charles Soule’s and immediately feel like a lazy sack of shit, which is wrong, and is not the point of Soule’s post—it’s about being more essentialist and getting done what you need to get done to have a happy life, and cutting out unnecessary stuff. It’s about making decisions and long term process plans. So I’m going to try a few of these things over these three months:
1. Schedule a personal quarterly offsite. Companies invest in quarterly offsite meetings because there is value in rising above day-to-day operations to ask more strategic questions. Similarly, if we want to avoid being tripped up by the trivial, we need to take time once a quarter to think about what is essential and what is nonessential. I have found it helpful to apply the “rule of three”: every three months you take three hours to identify the three things you want to accomplish over the next three months.
2. Rest well to excel. K. Anders Ericsson found in “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” that a significant difference between good performers and excellent performers was the number of hours they spent practicing. The finding was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell as the “10,000 hour rule.” What few people realize is that the second most highly correlated factor distinguishing the good from the great is how much they sleep. As Ericsson pointed out, top performing violinists slept more than less accomplished violinists: averaging 8.6 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
3. Add expiration dates on new activities. Traditions have an important role in building relationships and memories. However, not every new activity has to become a tradition. The next time you have a successful event, enjoy it, make the memory, and move on.
4. Say no to a good opportunity every week. Just because we are invited to do something isn’t a good enough reason to do it. Feeling empowered by essentialism, one executive turned down the opportunity to serve on a board where she would have been expected to spend 10 hours a week for the next 2-3 years. She said she felt totally liberated when she turned it down. It’s counterintuitive to say no to good opportunities, but if we don’t do it then we won’t have the space to figure out what wereally want to invest our time in.
While I don’t personally care for the economist terminology—what the hell kind of business-speak is “quarterly offsite”?—this is good advice, so I got this book through Interlibrary Loan.
Over the next three months, I want to make sure I’m planning my lesson plans a week ahead of time, have a second draft done of the novel I’m working on, and do some form of exercise three days a week. The second thing is to get eight hours of sleep a night, read for one hour, and make sure I write 500 words a day. An expiration date on new activities: I’ve expired from my time as a swim coach, because of budget reasons, and now I can spend more time on other things, like beating this novel into shape and submitting it. This week I said no to helping get movies for the Lake Placid Film Forum series, because it doesn’t really add anything to my life other than yet another thing on my plate that prevents me from doing the things that are more essential to my life—teaching and writing. I also tossed out some worn out clothes and socks that had no point in being kept. I threw out some leftover files from my desk that are just clutter. The expiration date I’m putting on for these three months is to have the ADK Mogul Crew Database done. At least the research end. It feels good to remove things from my life that are just not that important to me anymore.
This, on the other hand, was exactly what I was looking for. It was like Guardians of the Galaxy, Serenity and Star Trek. Of course you could probably interchange all of those movies for each other and not really see much of a difference. It was really great fun that went on longer than it needed to, but was—at the end of the day—good, fun science fiction.
Darwyn Cooke’s December DC Variant Covers
I love these, but the one that I really dig that wasn’t featured in this post is Superman/Wonder Woman:
I love this one because I’m a softie.
Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delany:
I thought it leaned a little too much on politics rather than telling a story, and I had a hard time reading it. I’m of the belief that a story should be a story, and not exclusively a vehicle for an author’s politics though sometimes that’s what makes good science fiction. That’s true for Battlestar Galactica. I’ve said before that I think good science fiction comments on current cultural issues set in a fantastic world not our own, but this book relies too heavily on this idea and it bogs down the story, the writing, and Delany. Though, of course, I shouldn’t speak for him. I think it’s good that he does this kind of thing, but when I started reading this was a little too much for my taste.
I liked this more than The Fault in Our Stars, mostly because it wasn’t really trying to beat you over the head with stuff about death. I felt like it was a little forced in that book, where this seemed more natural. Stuff happens and you feel responsible for it.
Students in my English classes get to choose their main book for the semester, because I think telling students what to read, because the teacher likes it is a great way to make sure they don’t read. Nothing is more alienating than telling someone they have to read something for a grade, but telling them not to read isn’t an option. I have a textbook too, but this choice book is a big part of their final paper. Letting them pick a book that they like, have an interest in also gets them to participate. They can pick anything: comic book, science fiction, memoir, literary fiction or 50 Shades of Grey (and some have picked that book and come up with some great papers about women in the workplace and other things.) They pick the book; we work through some literary criticism worksheets—like formalism, reader-response, and feminism—and come out with a cultural issue to talk about from their book in a research paper.
Last semester, a student did Saga and ended up writing a research paper about mixed race marriages. It also works as a kind of book club and gets me reading things that I normally wouldn’t. So this semester I’m going to use Looking for Alaska, because I think it’s relatable for quite a few freshmen in my composition classes. The characters are away from home for the first time, there are girls, booze, pranks, and responsibility, but most importantly it’s about selfishness—of only thinking about yourself when you’re away from home. It’s a great book to talk about for my English 101.
— Jack Kirby, via Ales Kot.
Tom Swift was my so my thing in sixth grade. While everyone else was off reading Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew—that generic pre-teen stuff was too tame for me. I wanted something more: teenage genius inventor. I have the entire set of the last series and spent hours at the library reading the 1960s adaptations. I flipped out when Young Indiana Jones—now on Netflix (!!!)—was reading a book from the above era, and I had to have it. At home, I have three of them: Tom Swift and his Motor cycle, motor boat, and airship.
How about this nostalgia trip.
Archie Goodwin’s profile at ComicVine, by an artist I should know, but I’m drawing a blank. Can any of you jog my memory so I can slap myself upside the head?