What diligence is

I heard this at the end of a Dave Ramsey talk on saving for retirement and I really loved it:

“Diligence is excellence over time.”

Very simple, nothing special, but definitely a powerful thought.

The 20 best books I read in 2013

This is something I wrote at the beginning of 2014 for Medium. Since I started this blog I figured I could just migrate the stuff I wrote for Medium over here.

I always make it my goal to complete 20 books in a given year. For some reason (usually of my own doing, or not doing) I’ve never actually reached this mark…until last year.

Finally, with a few days left on the calendar, I closed the spine of my 20th book. Here they are, ranked:

1. Bringing up Bebe — A book on how the French parent by an American mother in the No. 1 slot? You bet.

Most of the best books I’ve ever read are thought-provoking how-tos wrapped in an entertaining story. This one was no different and changed the way I view parenting forever.

2. Someone Could Get Hurt — I rarely emit laughter while reading but I was like Jimmy Fallon under the influence of nitrous oxide with this book. The phrase “it’s funny because it’s true”? That pretty much sums it up.

3. On Writing Well — The best book I’ve ever read on writing. Granted, my collection is limited, but I could tell how serious the author was about not only writing but editing well — something I’m still struggling to grasp.

4. Why We Write — Another amazing book on writing and doing it well. Contains blurb-y chapters from nearly two dozen scribes on why they do what they do. The “because I can’t do anything else” excuse got old, but it’s still an idealists dream book.

5. Crimes Against Logic — Not so much for the author’s views but for how he teaches logically coming about those views. I love that folks with vastly differing opinions can share logic, it brings us together in that way.

6. An American Caddie — A really cool story that made me wish I was back in college. About a guy who travels to Scotland every summer to caddie at the Old Course. A coming-of-age read, really, and a great one at that.

7. Straight Flush — A breezy Ben Mezrich read on the folks who created AbsolutePoker.com. As with most Mezrich stories I’m sure liberties were had by all but that didn’t make me enjoy it any less.

8. Home Game — Malcolm Gladwell has called Michael Lewis the best writer of our generation and though I don’t agree I think he’s a pretty brilliant communicator, anyway. I’m impressed by how much he leaves out of his books — you can tell he cut the filler and only brought the goods. Appreciated.

9. David and Goliath — Speaking of Gladewell…this is my least favorite book of his I’ve ever read but that’s like notating your least-favorite Kevin Durant 40-point game. Still great.

10. Steal Like an Artist — I read this at the very beginning of 2013 and we’ve accumulated three kids since then so I don’t remember a lot of it but it includes a lot of great quotes like this one:

“If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.”

11. Divergent — I try to bang out one semi-teen drama series a year. Last year it was Hunger Games, this year it was the Divergent series.

I thought Divergent was less entertaining but more thought-provoking than Hunger Games which is probably a good thing.

12. Insurgent — I think the second half of the second book in a three-book series is probably the toughest part of the series to write. Veronica Roth nails it, though.

13. Allegiant — I liked book No. 3 in this series [searches for infinity key, can’t find it] better than the third Hunger Games book.

14. Humility — Tough read at times but maybe that’s because I’m not intelligent enough to decipher it. This was maybe the quote of the year for me:

“Yes, let us ask whether we have learnt to regard a reproof, just or unjust, a reproach from friend or enemy, an injury, or trouble, or difficulty into which others bring us, as above all an opportunity of proving Jesus is all to us, how our own pleasure or honor are nothing, and, how humiliation is in very truth what we take pleasure in. It is indeed blessed, the deep happiness of heaven, to be so free from self that whatever is said of us or done to us is lost and swallowed up, in the thought that Jesus is all.”

15. The Man Who Quit Money — Crazy story about a guy who lived decades without possessing a single monetary unit. Seemingly impossible but his tale has something everybody can take from it.

16. Start — Jon Acuff’s newest. He’s hurt by his prior success because now we (I) expect so much of him. This was good and I gleaned a lot, still. Like this:

“People are mistaken when they think chasing your dream is a selfish thing to do. As if perhaps being average is an act of humility. As if perhaps wasting the talents you were given is proof that you’re a considerate individual. It’s not.”

17. Into the Wild — You’ve likely seen the movie (I haven’t) about the kid from Georgia who moved to Alaska to get away from the madness of life. A tragic ending but a fun, thoughtful read.

18. The Power of Half — It kept feeling like this should have been an amazing book but it never really got there for me. Good premise — give away half of what you make — but the execution never hooked me.

19. The Art of Being Unmistakable — I liked how short it was but it felt like a mishmash of every “do what you love” book and article I’ve ever read. Not enough originality.

20. Dead Solid Perfect — A novel from Dan Jenkins. I expected to be “wowed” and I was just “oked.” It wasn’t bad, and it was certainly a fast read, but not my favorite book of the year, for sure.

Why I’m starting to hate Twitter (but not really)

This is something I wrote in summer of 2013 on Medium but I figured since I started this blog I didn’t have a real great use for Medium anymore. This still applies, by the way.

This is not a post about the pitfalls of Twitter or why it’s spammy underbelly is slowly stealing the will of people to go on living.

Nor is it a post about how I don’t get Twitter or a complaint about how all my friends do is post silly photos of their hoity-toity ALL NATURAL hamburgers and $6 Dove chocolate milkshakes.

No, quite the opposite actually. Twitter is why I have my job. Twitter has changed the way I consume news and think about the world.

Twitter, as simply beautiful as it is, has killed Facebook for me (I no longer have to figure out whether or not I have to sell my pigs to get coins so I can send messages to people — GLORY!)

I’m starting to hate Twitter because it has become my main event online.

I used to get on my computer and write and think and write some more and maybe pick up a book or photoshop a picture for a blog post. If I wasn’t productive I was at least moving forward.

I wasn’t toiling circularly.

Now though, I have succombed to the scrolling feed. It consumes me. I don’t mean that it consumes me in a way that takes me away from my wife and kid (that’s probably a separate post which I will write and my wife will dictate to me at gunpoint), just that it soaks up all my time set aside for work to the point that I no longer know what it feels like to get lost in a great album and a lengthy blog post.

That’s why we do this thing in the first place, isn’t it? I mean besides all the fame and fortunes that come with sports blogging, obviously. Don’t we get online and write and think because, somewhere and in some way, it changes who we are and who we want to become.

I don’t know what that feels like anymore because all I do is spend my days letting other people (the people I “follow” is what Twitter calls them) tell me what I think and who I should be.

There is a sweet spot that evens the scales, I know there is. There has to be. But I am nowhere near it — I am closer to defeating Usain Bolt in the 200 meter dash than I am to finding a balance between work and Twitter.

There are times (yesterday’s Aaron Hernandez murder news was one) when we’re supposed to be riveted as a Twitter community. I didn’t feel bad about being locked in at all. But the incessant and mindless scrolling of my feed to find out that Alex Rodriguez is not as intelligent as we thought or that President Obama will be speaking for 14 minutes in wherever, USA. It has to stop.

The problem is, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that to be a good blogger and to find the Aaron Hernandez moments, you kind of have to have it on all the time. There is the idea that you can take a two-hour break and come back to find out what you missed. But two hours on the Internet in 2013 might as well be two years.

So I’m at a loss (if you have any thoughts on this post I guess, uh, tweet at me).

So as you can tell I don’t actually hate Twitter but I do plan on turning Twitter off more in the future if only so I’m reminded of why I once fell in love with her in the first place. But I don’t know what the happy medium (NOT A PAID ADVERTISEMENT) is.

I plan on reclaiming my own thoughts and reinvigorating some original ideas. I plan on being changed less and changing more.

I plan on reading 140 pages of a book instead of 140 characters of a tweet.

I plan on digging up some super-hipster albums on Spotify (I have to find someone who’ll teach me which ones are “super-hipster” and which are just “uhh, that’s weird, bro” first, I guess) and getting lost in some work.

Because, like I said, that’s the point.

The Pale Blue Dot

Somehow I just now found this:

This phrase was crushing to me:

“Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.”