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Lessons learned

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Last month, game designer Elizabeth Sampat took to Twitter to share some life lessons she’d learned. Perhaps you’ll find some of them as interesting and useful as I did.

The maximum amount of work you can ever possibly do in a relationship is 50%.

When someone says they can’t do something, 75% of the time it means “There are things not worth sacrificing to make this happen.”

Never feel bad for dropping people from your life. Friends, family, whoever.

Don’t rely on a single person for all your emotional needs, even if monogamous. It’s not a poly thing, it’s a diversification of assets.

Brussels sprouts and spinach are delicious, it’s just that your mom couldn’t cook.

Mallory Ortberg’s “what an odd thing to say!” is the world’s best polite response to someone saying something insulting.

You can’t self-control your way out of sadness.

Tags: Elizabeth Sampat   lists
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1 day ago
I'm all about this list. Heres my contribution:

Hold your covered coffee with the little hole facing where your fingers are not.
New York
2 days ago
Glad to have read and agreed with them all except for the 1 hour dish soak. 24 hours is a fine soak.
The Haight in San Francisco
2 days ago
New York, NY
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1 public comment
1 day ago
These are worth reading.
Boulder, CO

The dashboard river will keep you up-to-date in real-time

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This is a seriously cool feature and I’m glad it’s ready to launch. The dashboard river, the real-time stream of the top five stories of All Site Stories, is now on the dashboard of the web app.

After testing this feature for the past few weeks I now realize that I could not live without it. By having the latest stories always loaded and instantly ready to go, I leave NewsBlur open and just take a quick glance to see if the top of my list is interesting.

It also loads instantly, which means that if you see a story you want to read, clicking on it brings up the text without taking a single moment.

One big change that this necessitated was the handling of the Text view when reading by folders. Used to be that a folder got its own feed/text/story view and every feed had to stay with the same story view. But on iOS and Android it’s different. Every feed gets to keep its own feed/text/story setting.

This is now how it works on the web. If you read on feed by its Text (extracted original text) view and another by its Feed view, then you are automatically switched between the two views. Quite a bit of logic had to accomodate scrolling (you don’t automatically switch, since that would throw you from one scroll viewport into another) and switching between stories.

Enjoy the dashboard river. And if you look closely you might even see the next big feature that itself is about to launch soon.

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10 days ago
This is one of my favorite new features. I didn't realize how much I've come to rely on it, because now the first site I check is newsblur.

Real-time is the best and I'm thinking of bringing it to iOS and Android next.
The Haight in San Francisco
8 days ago
Yes! Thanks for this great one and can't wait to see it on iOS app too.
8 days ago
Would be nice to be able to leave specific/certain feeds out of the stream. I use RSS to catch some sports news and sometimes don't want to see spoilers.
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1 public comment
9 days ago
NewsBlur is the best... but we all already know that.
Philadelphia, PA
8 days ago
This is nice. Thank you, Samuel. I'm proud to support this site.

Thor Harris on self-sufficiency

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How does exercise fit into your life and help with your creativity?

I got really addicted to exercise when I was 15. I didn’t realize what a profound effect it had on brain chemistry. I didn’t know anything about brain chemistry then. I lived with depression, and probably had it my entire life, but something shifted when I started doing push-ups, running, and doing sit-ups. I didn’t even have weights. I started this job as a roofer in Texas. So it was hot and hard manual labor all day long. Something shifted when I started doing exercise. Touring, of course, dictates that you’re sedentary a lot, just because of the travel. So I have to come up with weird ways to get exercise. Walking certainly is a really good one. It’s just a huge part of my survival as a human now.

There are all these companies where neurologists work to develop these puzzles that supposedly slow down the atrophy of our brains as we get older. That’s great. Brain exercises are great, but those people will openly admit that the best thing you can do for brain health is physical exercise. It seems like the people who don’t have anxiety are few and far between, and exercise is so good for that.

When you’re touring, what would be an example of exercise? You said walking, but is there also the mindset of “I’m going to do push-ups in the hotel room,” or whatever?

For a while, every time the van stopped, me and Jonathan Meiburg, the main dude in that band Shearwater, would get out and do 25 push-ups. Without something like that, you just go into this coma. We would make deals like that.

Our bodies are so amazing. A machine will get tired from overwork, and it will get worn out and stop working. Our bodies respond by making themselves stronger so they can accommodate the work. By expending energy, you end up with more energy, which is kind of counter-intuitive. I do try to sometimes run while I’m on tour. There isn’t always time or space.

In Swans, the way you played percussion was very physical. You weren’t sitting on a chair. You were standing up and just pounding things.

In Swans I quickly learned that I couldn’t lift weights and play that show. That was just too much for my joints to bear. The show’s two and a half hours. Especially starting in 2010, when we came back after the 14-year break, if I did that 2-hour marathon show, it was so violent and brutal that I didn’t really need to [exercise]. That was like an aerobic workout for two and a half hours, every single day. The fact that it was so physical was a huge part of the show. It wasn’t a piano recital. It was a ritual kind of beating. I think that’s why people responded to it so well.

I was, of course, also loading a ton of gear—a shitload of gear—every single day with [Swans bassist] Chris Pravdica and [Swans guitarist] Norman Westerberg. Those guys sort of got into it. I have a sort of religious ritual about loading gear where it’s part of the job. A lot of musicians kvetch about it. It’s really not that hard of a job, compared to roofing or plumbing for 10 hours a day. You only have to work a few hours a day, and I want to be involved in that part of it. It’s one of the few exercise opportunities.

In the new band, Thor & Friends, is it a stand-up kit or are you sitting down?

I play marimba and vibraphone. I’m standing up. I’m not playing drums yet at all, but what I want to have happen is… The core of the group is just three of us. My girlfriend, Peggy, this lady named Goat, and me. If we get kind bored of just marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, clarinet, then I want us to switch to playing drums. Peggy is a punk-rock drummer. When I met her, she was playing in this band that kind of sounded like Lightning Bolt. Spastic thrash kind of thing. I want us to eventually totally switch instruments and do a totally different thing.

The reason I even thought of talking to you about exercise: Once when I was in Austin for SXSW, you showed me your house. We walked through, and then we got to the backyard. There was a weight bench there and weights. It got me thinking about physical labor and physicality in general. You built your house. You lift weights in your backyard. Maybe you could talk about that process, or building a house, and the physical energy that goes into that.

I recommend it to anyone who has any inkling. It isn’t hard to build a house. I’ve messed with tools for my entire life. You can learn all of that stuff, nowadays, on YouTube videos, how to do plumbing. I want to start making some videos: like, here’s how you fix a toilet. If your toilet’s making this noise, this is why. Because I love those. I’ve gotten instruction on fixing cars through that.

So much of our world is not physical these days, which is amazing. The fact that we’re so much more connected and information is so much more available. It’s easy to bitch about the fact that we’re stuck in front of these screens, but it’s also, not to forget, a miracle that information just flies around the world so fast.

It’s getting impossible to be oblivious anymore. On the other hand, doing some physical job like carpentry or plumbing… that’s the trouble with touring. That’s part of why I didn’t do the 18-month Swans tour this year. It really forces you to do one thing all the time. For my brain to feel healthy, I need some degree of the tactile smoothing plant fibers in the wood shop, or soldering pipes together so that the water system works. This is just hugely satisfying, and in its own weird way, creative.

My brother doesn’t think of himself as a creative person, but man, if you ever need a guy to figure out a design problem in building a house, that guy can do it. That’s certainly creativity. I just don’t believe that there are people who just aren’t creative. There are people for whom it’s hard to go against the rules. That can really hinder creativity. I think that’s why all kids are creative. They’re not trampled by rules.

Your brother, did he do the electrical work on your house, or you did it yourself?

I did it myself. I just called him. I would call him, or I would get him to show me. For years, I’ve said to people, “If you have one guy you can call that can tell you, ‘Okay, you’re looking at a black wire and two white wires, and a red wire.’ If you have one guy you can call who can talk you through it, you can do it.” But now that there’s YouTubes of so much of that stuff, we all have the guy that can talk us through that stuff. For everyone, it’s just a balance of living in the physical world and the information world. We happen to be the generation that this information explosion is… we’re sort of like the pioneers of it. I’m 51, so there’s a huge… I’m trying to learn a new language with computers. It is not easy. Fortunately, there are young people around.

You wrote “How To Live Like a King for Very Little,” which explained how to live a less expensive life, essentially. A lot of that was learning how to fix things yourself, and how to do things yourself. Is the takeaway that people should learn to do more on their own, or rely less on hiring someone else to do something? Is becoming more self-sufficient the ultimate goal?

On end of the spectrum, you get specialized in one thing. Brain surgery, let’s say. You get so good at that that you can pay someone else to do everything else in your life. On the other end of the spectrum, you never work a job, and you make everything you use, or you grow it, and you become sort of like a jack of all trades. Most of us live somewhere in the middle. Most of the people that I know can’t afford, nor is it necessarily convenient, to always hire somebody else to do everything. I have to hire people.

I make zines now, too. In the old days, I would go make them in the copy store. Now, I want them to look a little bit better. I have to get somebody to help me with layout and stuff. I’m just not good at that, the computer programs. I’m working on a zine now. It’s going to drive up the price of it, a little bit. There’s this guy, Max Koch in Austin. He does letterpress. He’s just so good at that. We want to still be inter-reliant on each other.

I certainly still want to be part of the economy, but the more things I can fix for myself, the less over the barrel I am when I can’t afford something. I know that people are really afraid of their houses. Like, “Oh my god, what if I have some plumbing problem, and it costs me $10,000.” Well, that’s understandable, because it certainly could. In my case, when I didn’t have $10,000, it was like, “Well, you better figure that out.”

My dad died when I was 10. It was sort of like, “Well, there’s just me and my brother now. Mom is a teacher. Let’s figure out how to fix the car. We only have $500 to last until the end of the month.” My brother was really good at figuring stuff like that out, and just accumulating information. My brain is kind of sieve. I can look at things and figure them out. I have good mechanical aptitude. Everybody loves learning. That list was just about life in the outer net. Life outside of our devices. Though the devices can certainly help us, too.

When you were touring with Swans, in these long, long tours, did you end up being the default person, if something in the car busted, you would fix it?

This is a true story. A lot of the time I think of my brain as kind of crappy, and sort of a piece of junk, but when something goes wrong, it actually works really well. We were recording that record, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. We were in this basement studio, and this pipe broke. It was January and I think it was raining in Brooklyn. We were in this old rifle factory. There was some kind of roof drainage system that went right through the room we were recording in. This pipe, the joints just moved apart from each other, and freezing cold water started spewing down into this dungeon where we were recording. My brain was like, “This is going to be okay. If I can get up there with duct tape, even though everything’s wet, I know duct tape sticks to duct tape.”

Then I climbed up this 16-foot ladder to where the joint was, and duct taped it back together. The water still dripped a little bit, but I am the person, when some physical or mechanical thing went wrong, who would handle it. Other dudes were pretty good at that stuff, too. A lot of that is just confidence and, “Well, okay. This has to be fixed, and it probably is going to be me, so figure it out.”

There is an important balance between having the ability to ask for help and self reliance. Being willing to do things for yourself. I’ve always wanted to keep that in check, my own sense of entitlement. Also, and it’s easy to talk shit about America, but what we’ve at least tried to do is get rid of the class system here. We really innately believe, or at least a lot of us, that we’re all on the same level. We don’t have a royal family here. I’m not entirely comfortable being served, or having servants. I want to be part of the workforce.

Thor Harris recommends:

  1. The Necks (a band)
  2. Steve Reich - Music For 18 Musicians
  3. Boren and der Club of Gore - Piano Nights (record)
  4. Weight Lifting - so good for body and mind.
  5. bicycle whenever possible
  6. vegan diet - best for earth
  7. Darkness Visible by William Styron
  8. planting trees

We are Better Than This!!!! And some of us will survive by Thor Harris

  1. Organize. Go to protests. Our numbers matter. When we are in the streets or on the Capitol steps, they know we are watching them. Protests are super fun, too! Smart foxy people shouting in the streets. It will restore your faith in humanity. I went to tons of them in the Bush years.

  2. Republicans in the House and Senate are going to fucking hate him. Why? Because he is stupid and got the job they always wanted. Call them! Tell them you think his racist, xenophobic, misogynistic ideas are fucked. Call them often. Get them fighting amongst themselves. When they get nothing done, we are safe.

  3. Talk to your Republican uncle. Tell him how this is a different kind of overt fascist. Make him uncomfortable with his complacency. Encourage him to sit out Election Day if he doesn’t fully understand the issues. Maybe he should smoke more and eat fatty foods.

  4. Talk to your friends who think “fuck it” and don’t vote. Tell them they are why we are here.

  5. Make art! Creativity and kindness are the opposite of what the Republican Party has come to stand for. Theirs is a path of Fear and Other.

  6. Read! New York Times, Democracy Now, NPR, Reuters, BBC, economist, etc. Just don’t waste your time with crazy conspiracy theorists. Dipshits like Alex Jones helped him get elected. You need to know about specific policies that are being pushed and by whom.

  7. Protect the vulnerable. Tell your mayor to make your city a Sanctuary City. This means that the cops don’t turn undocumented folks over to be sent back. This is a waste of our tax dollars. Give to Planned Parenthood and the NRDC and ACLU.

  8. Don’t tolerate any bullying of anyone ever. Lots of micro-penis white power types have taken this as a call to bully brown people, black people, queers, etc. But most humans are by nature compassionate. We outnumber assholes by a lot.

  9. Don’t stop ‘til we have a government you trust. The days of ugly, old, hateful white men running our country are coming to an end. Not a moment too soon. The liver spot train to Hell is leaving. Get the fuck out!

  10. Boycott most things! Yep. Now is a great time to cripple the economy and learn to live more lean. Don’t need it? Don’t buy it. Fuck consumer culture. It’s how we got into this mess.

  11. Talk about politics with anyone any time, but don’t insult them. Know a Trump voter? Tell them what he is doing to screw working Americans.

  12. I’m sorry. I wish this list were more funny like my others. Now get out there and fight those cowards.

  13. Remember! Never, ever, under any circumstances, have sex with a Republican.

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10 days ago
Great interview if only for the lists at the end.
The Haight in San Francisco
3 days ago
Haha...the article went a bit sideways on us.
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Smuggler’s Cove Goes Worldwide, and More A.M. Intel

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Five things to know this morning

Smuggler's Cove and Whitechapel have partnered with Virgin Atlantic

After a year of accolades for tiki mainstay Smuggler’s Cove and its partner gin bar Whitechapel, owner Martin Cate has teamed up with Virgin Atlantic to serve Smuggler’s Cove cocktails and Whitechapel food at the airline’s Upper Class Clubhouses around the world. The SFO lounge will have six drinks and Whitechapel food, and one drink at the other locations.

The Dungeness crab strike is over

The month-long Dungeness crab fisher strike is officially over, thankfully. Strikers were fighting for higher prices, and settled on $2.87 per pound for their crab (they wanted $3, and were initially offered $2.75), the Chronicle reports.

Ichi Sushi is back

Ichi has reopened in its original, more petite location, following health problems from chef/owner Tim Archuleta. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Lunch will soon start weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The Cavalier redecorates

Fresh for 2017, The Cavalier has a new look. Design extraordinaire Ken Fulk and Big Night creative director Jake Mogelson teamed up to redecorate the British brasserie, following sister restaurant Marianne’s remodel earlier this year. The Cavalier is sporting a proprietary new plaid wallpaper and 40 new pieces of artwork. To match the new digs, chef Jennifer Puccio added some dishes to the menu, such as smoked chicken soup and beef pie, as well as daily “Sunday roast” options. To top it all off, Big Night will start selling the plaid wallpaper, plus the Leo’s Oyster Bar floral pattern and Marlowe cow paper.

The Organic Coup announces more locations and a Whole Foods partnership

Organic fast casual fried chicken chain The Organic Coup continues on its speedy track to fast food domination with announcements of new locations at 4 Embarcadero (to open January 25 in the old Coffee Bean & Tea space), as well as the Oakland location arriving January 16. Come this summer, the brand will expand to Seattle, and in the meantime, its sweet roll is now available at all 43 Northern California Whole Foods locations.

Airbnb invests in reservation app Resy

Online travel service Airbnb has invested $13 million in reservation app Resy, allowing Airbnb users to book tables through the app come February. Read all about the deal here.

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12 days ago
If there was ever a need to give NewsBlur a "Post to Group" feature, this story is it. If you're in SF and like cocktails and you aren't regularly going to both Smuggler's Cove and Whitechapel, you're missing out.
The Haight in San Francisco
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"We think we know what we are doing. We have always thought so. We never seem to acknowledge that we..."

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“We think we know what we are doing. We have always thought so. We never seem to acknowledge that we have been wrong in the past, and so might be wrong in the future. Instead, each generation writes off earlier errors as the result of bad thinking by less able minds - and then confidently embarks on fresh errors of its own.”


Michael Crichton (Prey)

(via ninjaruski)

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20 days ago
The Haight in San Francisco
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Teardown of Apple AirPods | @Mindtribe


Did you get a pair of AirPods for Christmas, or just because? This is what they look like on the inside:


Freddie got an early morning start to the line at the Apple store today and got his hands on some AirPods.

After about thirty seconds of evaluating how to set them up, hearing their audio quality, and experiencing the nice little features like auto-pausing when removing from your ear, he determined it was time to tear them down and see what they’re made of.

Read and see more here.

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21 days ago
The Haight in San Francisco
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