On Walking

It was already 0800 when I left the flat for a walk. It was still under 70° and the high temperature would be 87° this afternoon. Now or never. I walked through the familiar streets of the immediate neighborhood and then took a turn, crossed a street I hadn’t crossed before. I followed my nose down a street that offered shade from trees planted in the middle. How I love tree-lined streets. Then I turned here and there and started thinking about walking. There is walking for exercise and there is walking for the pure enjoyment of walking. Walking for exercise CAN be accomplished on a treadmill or by walking around a circular course, but walking for pleasure is an art. I do believe one can walk for exercise AND pleasure and from this combination one derives more benefit than from exercise alone. There is the wellbeing of muscles and then there is the wellbeing of the entire human. While walking for pleasure one’s eyes are allowed to roam, while walking for exercise alone requires one’s eyes to remain on the goal — the distance and speed to be achieved. The roaming eyes find rhythm and harmony, lines and color, and the mind is allowed, encouraged even, to relate by creating mental connections.

I noticed that the unfamiliar street connected to a familiar one and that a cafe, which I had wanted to try but was always too crowded for me to bother, was located up ahead. When I arrived it was 0903 and the cafe was nearly empty, having opened at 0900. I ordered a cortado and sat down outside to write this post.

Monday in Seattle

While the others went home yesterday I decided to get to Seattle a few days little early. It rained when I arrived, it rained in the evening, but this morning the sun came out and I took a long walk.


Last week, while driving from Phoenix to Tucson, Jon and I talked about 80’s music. Another friend had mentioned to me that his children all love music from the 80’s. Indeed, there is something very creative about the music of that decade. Maybe it was because there were more dilettantes in pop music than at any other time. Drum machines became available in the early 80’s and step sequencers enabled not-musicians to make music. If you had something to say you could figure out a way to perform music. For Jon and me, the 70’s are the preferred music decade, but we both admire the freshness of the music from the 80’s.


I heard that Ai Weiwei lives in Lisbon now.


Finished reading “The Housekeeper and the Professor” by Yoko Ogawa and started “1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows” by Ai Weiwei


A hundred years ago many people thought that smoking wasn’t only NOT unhealthy but it was in fact good for us… we may find that the volume of data we consume today is just as dangerous as cigarettes, and not just for our health and wellbeing but also in the sense that it keeps us occupied and detracts from really pressing issues like the climate and democracy. I have more thoughts about data/information and how it relates to sugar, salt, and fat…

Speed

Speed thrills and speed kills. Feeling connected to the world, and finding out about every new event that happens anywhere right away, is certainly thrilling. It also feels overwhelming, it’s too much, too much at once as well as too rapid. It’s the speed AND the volume. I imagine a street. It’s a two lane road lined with trees and houses. If one person drives very fast, and no other car is on the road, perhaps they can negotiate all of the turns, remain in control of the vehicle, and arrive safely. But when the road is chockfull of cars, each going as fast as it possibly can, crashes WILL happen with absolute certainty.

To me it feels like that is what’s happening with our lives. Speed by definition remains shallow, because depth requires time. Driving through a landscape at 75 miles an hour is a very different experience from walking through the same landscape. We are essentially rushing through our lives.

In one of his books Neal Stephenson describes agencies that filter information for their clients. A client profile is created and, with the use of AI and human selection, the information that is delivered to the client is filtered down from an avalanche to a manageable trickle.

Scientist have looked at how quickly topics change, I read in “Stolen Focus”, by Johann Hari. At first they looked at trends on Twitter and discovered that while topics stayed in the top fifty most discussed subjects for 17.5 hours in 2013, they only lasted for 11.9 hours in 2016. Well, that’s Twitter, perhaps it was an outlier. After studying Google Books, which has scanned millions of books, and analyzing the content, they discovered that the same curve that was found on Twitter, has in fact existed for more than 130 years. For all of that time, between the 1880s and today, topics have come and gone faster.

That’s the speed part, but what about the volume? Johann Hari uses the example of reading a 85-page newspaper. In 1986 all of the information coming from TV, radio, and reading, amounted to 40 newspapers a day. By 2007 that number had increased to 174 newspapers per day. I shudder to think what that number is in 2022.

Somewhere, perhaps also in Johann Hari’s book, I learned that our speech has been accelerating, too. We apparently talk much faster than our grandparents. That makes sense to me: if the data input flows heavier and faster, so will the output.

No wonder we feel like we are being hurled through life. Speed is addictive, too, like a sugar rush, so part of our brain wants to keep going. Let’s face it, our brain doesn’t often KNOW what’s good for us. For that answer we will have to turn to our heart and gut brain – let’s call those the body-brain as opposed to the head-brain.

That reminds me, time to meditate. There will be more on this subject, I am sure. Take it easy, take it slow… :-)

It’s Tuesday

I finished reading “Americanah” by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Since I liked the book very much, I continued by reading her collection of short stories “The Thing Around Your Neck”, also very good.
Next was “Stolen Focus”, by Johann Hari, which I listened to before but couldn’t finish before the book became due. I highlighted so many passages! I think it is an important book for our time.
I was reading “Stolen Focus” when I came across the name Jason Hickel, who is an economic anthropologist. Hickel wrote a book called “Less Is More”, which I want to read next.
During my walk this morning, I listened to a couple of different versions of the “Concierto de Aranjuez” for an upcoming DMT post. Next came a podcast interview with Jason Hickel that I found. The podcast is by a German but is in English. Hickel also has a blog.
I have written before (for example in 2021 and in 2008) that I don’t believe in permanent economic growth. The idea is impossible in the first place, because a planet has finite resources, and now is the best time to slow that rat wheel and make the craziness stop.
Look at this loveliness! A recently aquired air plant decided to bloom today. I took this photo and then left for the airport to fly to Phoenix.
IMG 6133

Voting

Friday 29 April 2022 – The Monocle Minute | Monocle:

The case for compulsory voting:
Almost 30 per cent of the French electorate declined to vote last weekend, while a projected 90 per cent of voters will turn out for Australia’s federal elections later this year. The difference is compulsory voting.

In Australia your failure to vote results in a $55 fine. Failure to pay that fine within 28 days results in the fine going up to $120. I think compulsory voting may work but wonder whether Americans would prefer a different method. What if voters received a payment for voting, or a tax deduction?

Public Works

I was thinking about large scale public works and whether they would get off the ground in today’s political and cultural climate. The public library system, NASA, or public health initiatives like iodine in salt and fluoride in the water, or even mandatory smallpox or cholera vaccinations. Why? What has changed? If social media had been around in the Seventies, would there be a public platform now? Would social media be like public roads or a postal system?