I'm a huge fan of Daniel Suarez's sci fi (see all my prior posts), so it was a real treat to be able to host him for an Authors at Google event when his new book INFLUX launched. We got to talk about lots of fun topics including quantum computation, antigravity, self-driving cars, and the process of researching and writing science fiction. I'm excited to keep up with Daniel and see what he works on next.
A few years ago, I read Richard Feynman's Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and really liked it. So I knew I wanted to check out his follow-up book of stories, What Do You Care What Other People Think. The title is a big lesson that I think I could really internalize, so I was intrigued.
Like the previous book, I found this one filled with funny and thought-provoking stories from Feynman's "adventures." I really like how he writes about facts, direct observations, and doesn't do a lot of judging or philosophizing in the middle of the stories. He leaves it to the reader to decide for him or herself. There are parts of the book where he expresses his love of science and why he thinks it matters (like in the "The Value of Science"), but even in these he gives lots of stories and arguments that are persuasive and give the reader a really nice inside view into how he thinks.
I was intrigued by the stories of his childhood, how he got interested in science, and the role his dad played in inspiring his curiosity and getting him to keep asking tough and stupid questions that others were afraid to do and to seek to really understand what some word or concept really means with respect to the world directly around him. I liked when he described the real world and nature as so amazing and mysterious that there is no need to seek anything more amazing outside of the physical world.
I like how he enjoyed exploring the world, visiting parts of the city that are off the beaten path, talking directly to engineers and workers instead of managers, and preferring asking questions and solving problems over worrying about politics and bureaucracy.
Overall, I found his stories intriguing and the way he approached the world (and writing) has many elements I'd love to incorporate myself.
2013 was a very busy year. I read a lot of interesting books and had a lot of brand new experiences. I wanted to briefly capture the spirit of the year and mention some of my favorite memories.
1. Antifragile: Eye-opening combination of philosophy, classical wisdom, biology, finance, and entrepreneurship. It now colors how I look at everything.
2. Fooling Houdini: Really fun read for a magician and fan of psychology.
3. The Big Short: Interesting back stories and great inside peek at a lot of the mortgage meltdown craziness.
There is so much mystery and magic in the world around us. There is no need for something supernatural or out of this world to impress or inspire; just look around you at people and nature, and that will be the greatest source of awe. I love how magic can recreate this experience of awe and wonder in a controlled setting and reignite curiosity in others.
When I went dolphin watching in Moorea, I learned how fascinating these beautiful creatures are. My mind was blown when I learned that dolphins breathe totally consciously and need to sleep one hemisphere of their brain at a time as they continue to consciously swim and breathe with the other hemisphere. Now if that doesn't show you how freaking cool science, nature, and reality are, then I don't know what will.
I also learned how critical practice and diligent craftsmanship are to creating the results you want for yourself. I want to take pride in what I do and produce, and that comes with really hard work and lots of practice doing things that are not very glamorous.
Things that were good
I tried lots of new things and opened myself up to tons of new experiences. That was really fun for me. I also achieved a number of my goals, like successfully ramping up with Google and passing my Castle audition.
Things that were bad
I slacked off in some of my relationships and could've done better to keep in touch with close friends. I also overstretched myself and didn't go deep enough in the areas that showed promise. I also rushed myself too often and failed to stop and smell the flowers sufficiently. I also failed to push forward my exercise and physical training regimen as much as I would've liked.
Focus on a few critical areas. Time to go deep. Set some ambitious goals in a couple areas and work towards them. No excuses on health-related goals. Invest the time to build and strengthen some new friendships I've been starting to cultivate. Do a few things that will let me find myself and my next big projects in life.