Friday Five – May 20

Happy Friday! It’s monsoon season in San Antonio, which seems cruel and unusual after the Spurs were eliminated by, of all teams, the Thunder. But that won’t stop me from posting another roundup of the stuff that kept me busy during the week.

What I’m listening to: A brand new Brand New song.

Another indicator that one of my favorite bands is close to releasing a new record, which would be their first since 2009. I’m not counting the demos that were released earlier this year; those were recorded in 2006. Those demos were unfinished versions of songs meant for Brand New’s third album, but someone leaked them onto the internet first. The band wrote new songs that became The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me, the album that fueled my passion for new music. The demos are a fun listen for Brand New fans; you can hear bits and pieces of songs that ended up on Devil And God.

What I’m watching: I haven’t been able to share my hockey-related thoughts in awhile. I’ll do so now in bullet-point form.

  • Death, taxes, and the Penguins beating the Capitals in the playoffs. C’est la vie.
  • Cliches aside, there is good reason for optimism in Washington. The key players are all signed through next season. With a few tweaks and improvements, next year could finally be the year.
  • I didn’t get a chance to make my conference final predictions, so I’m going off the picks I made back in Round 1.
  • First, please note that I correctly predicted all 4 conference finalists (ignore that I picked against one of them in Round 2).
  • I had to point that out because, after 3 games each, my picks to win each conference are on life support. San Jose has dominated 2 straight games against St. Louis, and Pittsburgh is up 2-1 on Tampa Bay. The hockey gods appear to have cursed the Lightning–Anton Stralman returns, but Ben Bishop gets injured. And still no sign of Stamkos.

Who is inspiring me: Pavel Tsatsouline is a badass. He trained Soviet special forces. Now he works with U.S. military and law enforcement. Pavel’s best known contribution to the world is the kettlebell. He didn’t invent it, but the kettlebell’s popularity as a training tool is widely credited to him. Listen to Pavel on Tim Ferriss’s podcast if you want some simple, actionable, and distinctly Russian training and life advice.

What I’m reading: Thanks to last week’s trip, you’re getting a double dose of book updates.

The first book is Predictably Irrational (Amazon) by Dan Ariely. It’s another so-called pop psychology book like Stumbling on Happiness (which I also recently finished). Ariely looks at the ways in which we all deviate from the theory of rationality–why we get excited for free stuff, how the value of something changes depending on whether or not we own it, and much more. There is a lot of overlap between this and Happiness, and while I enjoyed both, I think I would have liked Irrational more if I had read it first.

I also finished Becoming Steve Jobs (Amazon), the unofficial biography of the Apple founder. The primary author is a reporter who met Jobs right after Jobs’ exile from Apple, and covered Jobs for 25 years. All I knew of Jobs was his myth in popular culture–the “half-genius, half-asshole” whose products captivated the world. I went into this book like I do with all non-fiction: looking to gain some insights that add value to my life. What I found was a very human story about rise, fall, and redemption. It captures the nuances that the myth of Steve Jobs can’t, and in the process shows how the lessons learned from failure can be the keys to future success. I highly recommend this book.

What I’m thinking about: I keep what’s known as a commonplace book. As I read, I write down any quotes or passages that I think might be useful. The Kindle is great for this; I can highlight anything I like, and copy it to Evernote later for easy access wherever I am. With physical books, I write my notes in a composition book, later transcribing them to Evernote.

If you’ve made it this far, you probably enjoyed some of what I’ve written. As a way of giving back, I thought I might share my book notes on the blog (see Derek Sivers for an example of what I’m proposing). While I encourage everyone to read these books, some of you might not have the time. Think of it as a way to get a summary of the big ideas. Feel free to let me know if you think this is really cool, terrible, or a cheap way for me to add content without extra effort.

Have yourself a wonderful weekend.

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