One simple trick to wake up early

I’m terrible at waking up.

In the winter in Seattle, when the sun doesn't rise until nearly 9am, it's especially hard. I have a 10K lumen happy light, and it helps a bit. I highly recommend it. But I still hate mornings. I've tried other tricks, like writing down what you're grateful for (nope, doesn't help), putting Beyonce as my alarm (I ended up hating Beyoncé), and peppermint oil (bullshit). This trick won't make you jump out of bed, but it might at least keep you from hitting snooze.

Ok, here’s how to do it:
Drink a tall glass of room temperature water as soon as you wake up.

That's it. 

Unnecessary (Sobras)

I took the liberty of translating this piece from an opinion column in El Espectador by Fernando Araújo Vélez. It needed to be shared. The original title is Sobras

It was hard for me to pick an English translation for sobras. I went through the following synonyms:

Redundant, Superfluous, Unneeded, Extra, uncalled for, leftover, remaining, Surplus, excess, leftover, remnants, scraps, dregs, waste, one too many, Finally I decided that Sobras = Unnecessary.


We have unnecessary words for humility, submission and pardon, when these words come from those who benefit from them and for them, and we have had too much of their impositions and their deeds.


Their words and discourses are unnecessary, because they tend to be lies to deceive us, and we have superfluous variations of their tricks throughout history...


We have unnecessary texts that praise them, and we have hundreds of monuments which have perpetuated them so that we might follow their examples. We have unnecessary sell-outs who repeat history, and we have too many heirs who have conformed comfortably. We have too many tariffs, when they have been stained with blood and with death, and we have too much of the idea that money is the end, instead of the means.


We have unnecessary queens, princesses, prince charmings, aristocrats, vassals, exploiters and exploited. We have unnecessary dozens of thousands of people in uniform, because without having someone to fight, they invent and follow invented, invisible enemies so that they may continue to be indispensable. We have unnecessary uniforms, schedules, wars, and armies of those who are unable to talk and be convinced, and instead of dialogue they use force, which is to say, bullets.


We have unnecessary people who traffic in bullets, who traffic in drugs, who traffic in words, who traffic with man and who convert him into a tiny lunatic with immense gear created by them. We have unnecessary people who traffic in gods.


We have unnecessary geniuses, inspired people, who tell us what we should do and how, and disperse the idea that they are geniuses and walk around inspired so that the rest of us believe it’s impossible to be like them. We have unnecessary owners of the truth, judges of contests, and prizes. We have too many medals for heroism, and too much of the belief that heroes are those who give their life for the motherland, and we have way too many motherlands. We have unnecessary borders, parades, latest fashions and new styles. We have unnecessary estates, fences, walls, notaries. We have unnecessary goals, productivity, and perfection, because perfection is condemning ourselves to centuries of centuries of serving a patron, and all of the patrons are uncalled for.


We have unnecessary front men, their firms and their works, and all of the work of those who write for convenience. We have unnecessary fear, acting out of fear, and living for obligations determined by others, and being employed by those others. We have unnecessary employees, which is to say people who are used, and what’s more, we have too many people who want to be the employee (used person) of the year. We have too much naiveté of voting over and over again for the same people, believing for some reason that our education, our health and our life are somehow important to these people.


We have unnecessary learning and living to the letter of the law, and we have so many unnecessary things perhaps because we ourselves are unnecessary.

Link to original piece in Spanish.

Tonight my dog is still alive

Tomorrow she’ll be gone.

I love her so much. I love her like my sister, my daughter. I can’t bear it. I can’t bear her leaving me.

Everyone has a pet die. I lost my first pet, Little Red, when he was four years old and I was five. He was a guinea pig.
But you, you’re more than a pet. I love you like a sister, a daughter. I’ve never heard a story of anyone who lost her mind after she lost her dog. Maybe I’ll be the first.

We stood in the woods and I let her run through the knee high hay. I never wanted her to wear a leash. I didn’t even make her wear a collar when she ran away. We were equals and friends.

In August on our vacation in Maine I stared into her eyes and I saw more than what I’ve been taught that ‘animal’ should be. She looked at me with eyes that were perfectly knowing, perfectly capable of understanding. There’s a reason our dogs aren’t at eye level. We could never treat them the way we do, as our subordinates, if we had to stare in their eyes constantly.

I felt uncomfortable staring at her, realizing that she was so much more than I expected. And the strangest thing was that I could tell she was feeling the same emotion - discomfort at realizing that I, also, was able to understand her in a way that she’d never known I was capable of understanding. At first she looked away, awkwardly, and then she held my gaze and we stared at each other placidly for a long time.


“She just don’t look like a normal dog to me sometimes when I look inside there. “- Rocky Balboa on his dog

On a sunny day in November, Mungo ran across a field and I followed lazily with footsteps crunching on the frost. She turned and waited and gazed at me, her eyes exactly what a narcissistic human needs; to feel needed, wanted, loved.

I hugged her more than I've ever hugged any human. I gave her affection knowing that she could never pay me back in material things, but only with the things that mattered, like licks and tail wags. I made her wear a Santa hat at Christmas and she indulged me for a few seconds.

She was a tiny thing once, and I could hold her in one hand. The morning, nine years ago, when we drove her home from the farm where she was born, she got carsick and threw up on the seat. She didn’t know how to wear a leash. She was so adorable. I set her photo as the background on my flip phone and showed her off to my new friends from college.

Last summer she discovered toads. At nine years old she discovered toads. She ran away for the very first time to catch the toads in the creek.
I let her run away because I wanted her to enjoy life while she could. When I found her she looked at me with guilty eyes and muddy paws, but she didn’t even come when I said “come.” She just wagged her tail. She was enjoying life like only a dog can enjoy life. As Walt Whitman said of animals, “they don’t lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins. They don’t make me sick, discussing their duty to God.”

Carefree as she sometimes was, she wasn’t without emotions and loyalty. Last spring she stopped eating. She stopped eating after Dad died. You can say it’s not connected but I know it is.
Once, years before, she peed herself because she was so happy the day Dad got home from a long trip. She never did that for anyone else. For some reason she adored him more than the rest of us.

Maybe it was because they both knew how to live a good life. They both knew had to put others first and love everyone and somehow be happy doing that. That’s why they got along.

Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 21.29.30.png

The secret of Oz - a rambling review

Despite the low budget, this film was engaging. The main thing I took away from it, which was shocking to me, is that banks just make up trillions of dollars to ‘loan’ to the federal government, and then the government owes them billions in interest. So banks are making money by doing nothing, leaving taxpayers in debt. 
Call me stupid, but I had never realized this before. In 2015, the U.S. spent $223 billion, or 6 percent of the federal budget, paying for interest on the debt. That’s absolute bullshit. They have to pay interest on money that the banks MADE UP to lend them in the first place. What a fucked up system.

But honestly, I don’t know. I know NOTHING about our financial system, to be honest. I know a bit about bitcoin, especially the slightly more technical parts. But I know NOTHING about banking, or the history of banks, or the history of finance. A lot of things that I watch or read leave me wanting a lot more information, and feeling like I’m only getting part of the story. 
Here’s this article, about how congress was bouncing their checks and not getting fees, and their constituents complained about it:
Why should congress get hit with fees when the fees they have to pay come out of OUR pockets? This is an absurd article on an absurd site. 
Oh, nevermind, it was their personal checks that weren’t getting charged. Not a big deal, but I’m glad they fixed it. 

Taking Macroeconomics freshman year of college, I immediately knew that the professor was oversimplifying things, and that his graphs of supply and demand were honestly just plain useless. 

I think the myth of the free market is a lie people tell themselves because they want to *feel* free. 

As Max Weber says, bureaucracy helps the economy because it slows things down to a predictable and manageable pace. I think he’s right - I think more people are better off when we have a predictable market with red tape and socialism and a large middle class and state controlled funds. Better off financially though. Mentally, they might feel trapped and frustrated, so they might be worse off overall. In which case, the free market would IN FACT be better. Is it better to be fair or to be free?

Why don’t people talk about the history of finance the way they talk about the history of war, or the history of politics? 
People are interested in hearing stories of people, and the history of finance is largely anonymous. Probably this is because bankers don’t want people to know or understand what they’re doing. J.P. Morgan - who was he? Chase? What about Charles W. Morse?

Oh wow, J.P. Morgan merged my great great uncle’s electric company with Edison Electric! He had a lot of the same interested as me. philosophy, electricity, teaching, science:

Life goal - have a wikipedia page as good as Edwin Houston. I feel very close to him - as if I shared his genes (I do). Maybe I should do a series of blog posts about him.

WOW. Old J.P. was a fascinating character. I started out the article convinced that I would hate him, and ended up liking him quite a bit. What a life!  He was the vision of the protestant work ethic - doing work to stay busy and make things more efficient, not necessarily to get rich. Charles Morse was his antipode, doing things just to get rich quick, and failing in everything. It’s funny that he has his own wikipedia page when he was such a giant fucking failure.

Although suffering ill health, J. P. Morgan testified before the Pujo Committee and faced several days of questioning from Samuel Untermyer. Untermyer and Morgan's famous exchange on the fundamentally psychological nature of banking—that it is an industry built on trust—is often quoted in business articles:

Untermyer: Is not commercial credit based primarily upon money or property?
Morgan: No, sir. The first thing is character.
Untermyer: Before money or property?
Morgan: Before money or anything else. Money cannot buy it … a man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom.

1873 there was also a panic I think...

Ok, I have quite a bit of reading to do about finance.

I wish someone would write a copy of this article with cartoon illustrations: Maybe that's my next project.

Had it not been for those pesky Borromeos,

...the Pope might still be holding orgies. I’ve had a fever all afternoon, so I stayed in bed part of the afternoon instead of going to CES, and I’ve learned some amazing things.

The Borromeos were one of the ruling houses of Italy during the Renaissance, and several of their most prominent members were Cardinals in the Catholic Church. Carlo Borromeo in particular was a noted reformer. He became the Archbishop of Milan, and reformed the whole city. He tried and found some of the Jesuits in the area to be guilty of "unnatural offenses" (coincidentally, they also happened to be his political enemies). He also helped to organize the council of Trent. Overall, he was a pretty cool guy - he helped lots of poor people and fed the hungry. He also burned 150 people alive for practicing witchcraft. That's not very cool. 

Carlo happened to have a nephew, Gesualdo, who he encouraged to become a monk. Gesualdo was a prodigy, and probably insane as well. He was something of a rock star in his day. His fame was cemented when he murdered his wife and her lover with a knife and mutilated their corpses. He was never charged for the crime (after all, it was just his wife). Later in his life was rumored to keep attractive young maids and manservants around that he forced to submit to his sadistic whims. Also, he made beautiful church music. 


Having a fever has opened up delusions in my brain. I’m listening to Gesualdo’s madrigals right now, and they are taking on a 3D appearance. Sometimes a voice darts out from the piece as if it were in the room, speaking to me. It’s frightening. Part of me enjoys it and part of me wants it to stop. It makes my stomach roil.

I started listening to Gesualdo because I am reading Aldous Huxley’s “The Doors of Perception,” and he mentions Gesualdo’s madrigals being a bridge back to humanity.
Look at that sculpture of the Veiled Christ? Does it give you chills? Huxley also talks about the universality of billowing robes in artwork. This is the perfect example of that. He talks about how much he enjoys the wrinkles in his grey felt pants. I get that.

I really wish my dad were around so I could call him right now. I would have him listen to Gesualdo’s music. I would send him this video of Thomas Tallis’ music: