think aloud


Post anything that's on your mind. This could be a question for the world.


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The Back Story to "Brethren Hollow"

Hi, I haven't posted anything on here in a while, and I thought instead of giving you another snippet from one of my short stories, I would give you a peek into the backstory behind my novella, Brethren Hollow. This is part of Read Furiously's One and Done series. It's actually number three. They're up to like maybe eight or something now, but you can see it's dinky. It's a little tiny cute little book, and you can stick it in your pocket and take it with you on your commute and read it in less than a day. So anyway, when I was living in New Jersey, I lived across the road from an abandoned little one-room church that had a cemetery behind it. And one day I was wandering around in the cemetery, and I found this tombstone way back in a far corner. And on the front was an etched portrait, a very realistic-looking portrait of the deceased, a young woman. And it had her name and her birth and death dates, and it also said underneath Beloved Daughter and Sister. So this is interesting. So I wandered around to the back of the tombstone, and on the back of the tombstone I was surprised to see the inscription shot in the back of the head by her husband followed by his name. And anyway, the entire story of Brethren Hollow came from that tombstone. So if you're interested to see what I did with that, pick up a copy. And anyway, thanks for listening.

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The Power of Lived Experience

Good morning, it's been quite a while since we've had a little conversation and so I thought based on what's been happening with me the last couple weeks that it would be prudent or it would be a good time for us to have a conversation. And so today I want to spend a bit of time just talking about the power of lived experience. And the reason for this particular topic is that I've been involved in a few conversations that deal with lived experience and sort of the definition of it or how it's being used. And so what I would like to be able to do is, number one, let's talk a bit about lived experience from the aspect of how we can leverage that for working with other people. And I've got an example of a young person that I worked with that I'll share with you. But the most, I guess the big thing for me is the definition of lived experience. So I come at that from the aspect of mentoring. And with mentoring, lived experience has a greater scope where some of the other help, peer support type sort of responses focus on lived experience with the idea in mind that you must have lived experience in that particular area. So as an example, substance abuse, based on the definition that I've seen, I wouldn't be able to provide value or work with somebody who is dealing with substance abuse because I don't have any lived experience in that regard. And if we flip that from a mentoring perspective, that's not the case, that from a mentoring perspective I am, because of my background and all of those things, that it's just as easy for me to work with somebody who is dealing with substance abuse as it is dealing with somebody who is dealing with an issue of being in the service industry, and by service I mean law enforcement, for example. I don't need to have that experience to be able to share how we can work together and how we can move forward. So there's some of that, but let me share just a little bit of a story with you that will kind of put some context around this. I was actually mentoring a young person in an industry and had been brought in because there was some concerns of performance and all that sort of stuff, and I was brought in to spend some time with that individual. So if you can just kind of picture us in a room, just the two of us, and I've been trying to get a conversation going with this individual, and in actual fact we spoke for close to 50 minutes in which it was me sharing my lived experiences that I felt were relatable to the situation that this individual was in. And at the end of our session, it was roughly an hour in duration, at the end of our session I asked the question, which I do always, is what was the value that you got from our conversation today? And I might add that I was the one doing most of the talking, and the response I got back from this young person was that they had this sudden boost of self-confidence, their self-esteem had been elevated, they could see themselves in the stories that I was sharing with them, the experiences and stuff that I had, and they felt that they could go back, leave that room and go back to work, and they could be a meaningful contributor for the next little while. It was a lesson for me in that we needed to shorten up the time of us being apart, because it was in that time period there, if I would have kept the sessions to probably about one every three to maybe four days tops, that there would have been a lot more growth, but as it was, there was still growth with this individual, and they were able to reach out at any given time to be able to tap into my lived experience, and I was more than willing to share that. So there's one other example I wanted to give, and that's dealing with the aspect of grief, and I'm involved in a number of bereavement support groups, and what I'm learning is that everybody grieves differently, every passing is unique, and it has to be dealt with in that sort of fashion, but the common theme is that we're all dealing with, in these bereavement groups, we're all dealing with each person having had the loss of someone or something in their life, and so they're struggling, they're dealing with that, and because I have, for the most part, walked in those shoes, that it creates that bond, if you want to, for lack of a better choice of words, creates that bond where we can support each other and be able to move forward, and by doing so, that has, your lived experience plays a small part in that, it's more so about having walked in those shoes that's more important. So I guess if I were to summarize all of this, it would be that you need to tap into the power of your lived experience, and from my perspective, it's, I think of when I'm mentoring, and I tell people all the time that when I'm mentoring, industry-specific experience is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have, and I'm going to suggest that lived experience is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have, although in a lot of cases, it is a need-to-have, you do need to have lived experience, but I think the differentiator is that it can be across multiple industries, if you want to use, we'll use the industry term, but it can span right across all that, it does not have to be specific to, say, substance abuse, like what we used as our example. So I hope I've been able to shed some light, and if you still have some questions and you're not sure, I'm doing a fair amount of research around lived experience and peer support mentoring and mentoring in general, so please feel free to reach out to me, and you can reach me by email, that's probably the easiest, and that's Doug.Lawrence, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E, at talentc, so the word talent with the letter C on the end, dot C-A, and we can set up a time to connect and have a conversation. And in the meantime, I hope you have a fabulous day, and God bless.

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Forest Trip

How I went to live in the woods for the weekend. Do you remember what it's like to spend time without the Internet? I realized that for the past couple of years I've literally been living in the telegram. Working from morning till night, only taking time off to eat, sleep or go to the city for my own business, but it wasn't really rest for my brain or myself. Sometimes I even have nightmares about the sounds of notifications in telegram, and I'm not kidding. All this has a very negative impact on my psychic, develops distracted attention syndrome and burnout. And after all of this, I decided it's time for social media detox for me. Last weekend I packed up with my girlfriend and went out of town for the weekend to such a horizontal apart hotel. It was super cool. For two days I spent only half an hour on social networks and we had time to go sledding, play billiards and board games. We made a snowman and walked in the pine forest and it was very cute. We also fed a cute kitty cat and wanted to take her home, but she decided that freedom is better than a warm apartment. After that I felt really rested, and even after working too much at the conference last weekend I wasn't too tired. After the trip I realized how addicted people have become to social media. Sometimes I wanted to get on my phone the same way a smoker wants a cigarette. So I decided to make taking a break from the internet such a regular practice. And I want to do it at least once a month. And I think I will go out into nature more often after that.

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Rethinking tech work

I've recently discovered a pair of interesting characters, or influencers, you might say, and I've been binging on their podcasts and blog content for a few weeks now. Their names are Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, and the two are... well, they're something else.

Okay, first, it's not really correct to say that I've discovered them recently, it's more like I rediscovered them. Both have been in my peripheral vision for years, and I had already read a book that they penned together. The book was called Remote, and I believe it came out about a decade ago, but I read it in 2016. So that's a few years already. Before that, they wrote Rework, which I haven't read yet, but which I think provided the bulk of material that I'm enjoying right now in podcast form.

Now, eight years later, I stumbled upon an interview Jason did with Lenny Rachitsky, who hosts a product management podcast, and this started a whole binge listening experience for me, finding other interviews Jason did, and by the way, a shameless plug, if you want to listen to someone's guest appearances on different podcasts, the tool you should use is Padverb, which I helped create. I'm going to put a link to it, but anyway, I digress.

So, Jason and David, what do they do? I guess it would be factually correct to describe them as entrepreneurs, although that wouldn't really do them justice, because they're more like practicing philosophers, and also because I think they would hate the very term entrepreneur, I think they prefer makers or something. On the business side, they jointly run a medium-sized company called 37 Signals, which they started, and which makes several group communication tools, products, the flagship product is called Basecamp.

The company supposedly posts eight-figure profits every year, and for a company that was bootstrapped without much in the way of investments, that's pretty freaking good, and that provides the first sort of talking point, or the first received idea that they attack, is that you need to have investors to launch anything successful in this tech environment. But there are other received ideas that they attacked, and that list is long, very entertaining, I enjoyed their reasoning and how they structure... how they tell their experience, how they structure their argument.

Sometimes they go a little far, sometimes, I totally agree that you don't need so many meetings and Zoom calls, I totally agree that working in physical proximity is not critical, but they've attacked in a kind of entertaining way the whole concept of the MVP, even the sacred cow of agile methodology, the two-week sprint.

One thing I sort of felt they were going too far with, or rather David was going too far with, is the attack on static typing in programming languages. I'm not going to go into technical details, but there is a reason why most languages do have static typing, because it saves a lot of work later after a product is launched. And of course, David comes from Ruby, which doesn't have static typing, it's a dynamic language, so he carries with him this kind of, this sort of philosophy of "just winging it." Anyway, I'm going to leave that discussion aside for the moment.

But here's the thing. I really.. Like I said, I've been enjoying their stuff, I've been binging on it, mostly agreeing, except the above thing, but I recently started sort of analyzing my agreeing with it, and I kind of came to the conclusion that maybe there's like a slight logical fallacy there. Because if you boil down their whole argument, it's basically that they are these guys that are commonsensical, normal, very much like the listener. They started this company by themselves, no investors, with all their.. you know... way of doing stuff that is, like I said, commonsensical. And they succeeded to the level that is beyond what most people even dream of, let alone, you know, can realistically achieve. And therefore, they say, you don't have to follow all these kind of standard practices. Instead, you can go with their approach. Of course, it doesn't guarantee anything, but it's kind of like, we did it, so why can't you?

Well, you know, suppose this is all true, and I mean, it is all true. But the catch is that they did it at a certain point in time. And also, who are exactly they?

So Basecamp, their flagship product, their cash cow – it's a very successful software as a service type business with over 100,000 paying customers. 100,000 or probably more, way more, but 100,000 is a good ballpark.

That company is led by Jason and David, who, you know, who sold way more than 100,000 books. I think it's actually closer to a million or maybe more than a million. They've been blogging not just for years, but for decades. They've done interviews, talks, presentations. My guess is their total audience is at least in the millions.

But in addition, David, as I've only recently found out, is the very person behind a very popular framework called Ruby on Rails, which I'm highly unlikely to ever try. But given how many people use Ruby on Rails, I would venture to guess that even a small fraction of them would be a huge, if not decisive, audience for Basecamp. Even a small fraction of them decided to subscribe to Basecamp, you know, that alone would make it super successful.

So is it possible that their success as "tech makers" and philosophers is partly due to the fact that they're famous, somewhat famous, to the tune of millions, in the perfectly targeted crowd of potential customers, which by itself almost guarantees that they're successful?

Does this strike you as a logical fallacy to think that their advice could be applicable to others? I'm not sure. I'm just asking.

So yeah, it's a question. What do you think? Asking for a friend.

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Influences and Influencers

None of us were born with preconceived ideas as to who we are and what we will become. It is the influences and influencers in our lives that help mold us and establish how we think, decide, and act. We have all had great influencers in our lives. These people have helped us with our education, career, and life in general. They show us that we are not expected to know everything about everything. Together we can rely on others for help when needed. The trick is choosing the individuals right for you to rely on. This book, Influences and Influencers, is about how I, Peter Christian, a veteran business consultant and mentor, became who I am through the influence of others. This book is a reflection on what great mentorship is, what happens when it's absent, and how leadership shapes our lives. Wherever you are in your life and career, the wisdom shared in this easy-to-read book will help you to go further. I have worked for and with over 300 companies and many individuals throughout my 40-year career. I have helped them to earn or save millions of dollars and create and retain thousands of jobs. While doing so, I learned many things, both positive and negative, that helped me to form my professional approach and philosophy. In my book, Influences and Influencers, I share with you what has had an impact on my professional career and my approach to life in general. By reading and learning from my experiences, you can be what and where you want to be and whom you can depend on to help to get you there. You can find this book on Amazon or any of the other book sites. Order it today and get ready for a great read.

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Logan's Run

I had it in mind to record something about democracy and how the people who are crowing loudest about how they desire to defend democracy from all threats are the ones most intent on preventing a certain candidate from appearing on Republican primary ballots in states that are controlled by Democrats. But instead of that, and instead of the other topic I was thinking of, which was news of Mark Zuckerberg's, I think, $250 million bunker complex in Hawaii, and the fact that the very same people who tell us that artificial intelligence and advanced technology are about to usher in utopia are all preparing for Mad Max, you know, collapse. But instead I think I'll talk about the novel and the movie, Logan's Run. I believe the novel is from 1967, the year before I was born. I read it as a teenager. I saw the film as a child, but I think I was too young to really remember the film that well. I do remember watching the TV series. I then saw the film again as an adult, and it does not hold up. It's not all that good. But, you know, I've read a whole lot of science fiction novels, and the science fiction novel of Logan's Run is interesting, but it's not a classic. It's not amazing. If you haven't read it, you're, you know, you're not missing out on all that much. But you know, it is a film that made a lot of money in the 1970s. It's a film that has iconic imagery that is still recognizable to this day. And so, of course, it is an obvious candidate for a remake or a reboot of some sort. And people have been trying to do that throughout the 20-teens. And yet, it can't get made. Now, in the novel, it's a society that seems to be either run by AI or just sort of, it's just kind of automated. Most of the people, I mean, all of the people in it are under the age of 21. When you hit 21 years of age, you're done. You are put to death. In the movie, they bumped that up to age 30 so that they could have popular stars in the film who, you know, would not pass for teenagers. And the novel centers around a sandman who is a police officer or bounty hunter who is assigned to make sure that everybody who has lived their full 21 years goes quietly or, you know, goes in one way or another. But he himself, you know, when his time comes, he decides to run. That is an interesting premise. In the novel, it's not executed all that well. There's a sequel novel as well, which is, again, not all that great. I listened to that on audiobook just a couple years ago. And then the movie, it's got some iconic images in it, but it's also kind of dumb. Now, when the Hunger Games movies were hitting big, and then that other series starts with Divergent, I think, which as far as I know, like the last film got broken up into two installments in the second installment, like never hit theaters. Or if it did, it hit with such a whimper that it was like a straight to streaming sort of thing. But, you know, there was a hot minute where it seemed like, yeah, a film about how, you know, a dystopian film starring all young people could work. And particularly with the success of the Hunger Games, they decided they were going to, you know, gender swap the lead and make Logan a woman. So it would be a female-led, young adults, dystopian sci-fi novel. But it didn't happen. And, you know, a lot of why it didn't happen is just Hollywood politics and just the sort of quirky functioning of the Hollywood system. But I think part of it is the zeitgeist. The idea that the world is only for kids and that as soon as you hit 21 or 30, depending on which version of the original Logan's Run you want to go with, the novel or the movie, by the time you hit 30, you know, it's all over for you. That just doesn't resonate today. Because today, the kids are the ones who've got it rough. The kids are the ones who can't really get their lives started because they can't make enough money to get houses and cars and get married and basically do what their parents did. And so they're kind of stalled out. So, you know, a movie that says, yeah, the old people are being kicked off and everything's about the youth, it just does not resonate with our current moment. Our current moment, it's the old people who are living large and it is the young people who are scrounging. And so Logan's Run in 2023 or 2024, I just don't see it. Not without some conceptual transformation that would make it relevant. All right. That is all. Happy New Year.

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Top comments

so at first i thought i'd have a very difficult time commenting on this post because i haven't watched the movie i haven't read the novel and nothing really spoke to me as far as you know its plot or characters but then i actually went and read your substack article on this topic and i realized that the things that puzzled you the things with the decor and the sort of overall aesthetics of the movie they were really familiar to me and the reason why they're familiar is because i spent roughly a quarter of my life or at least more than a decade in a city called montreal a city that incorporated a lot of that very same aesthetic that you're describing and i think it's not a coincidence that montreal hosted the 1976 olympic games for which it embarked on on a massive project of urban development and many of the buildings that were constructed during that time seem to incorporate exactly the look that you're describing and you seem to be baffled by if you're curious just look up montreal olympic stadium and or the habitat building by Moshe Safdie and you'll probably recognize the parallels

Bitcoin afterlife

I'm 72 years old, like elderly, so I shouldn't really care about Bitcoin. During the pandemic, I put a little bit, bought a little bit, and it's more than I can afford to lose. And it went down, and now it's kind of on its way up, so I'm going to hold on to it. But I'd like to quote a bumper sticker or some quote from Satoshi Nakamoto. Maybe you haven't heard of it, and it's relevant. He supposedly said, "Lost coins only make everyone else's coins worth slightly more. Think of it as a donation to everyone."

So [let's] compare what happens to Bitcoin held in a Coinbase account. When the person passes away, if he hasn't withdrawn it or spent it, that's just a donation to Coinbase. And if the person withdraws it to their own wallet, and they have their own private key, then they can spend it at any time. And if they don't, and they don't have anyone to give it to, it'll make the value of everyone's Bitcoin go up [when the aforementioned keyholder dies]. So it's sort of like a donation to something that you might believe in. And I believe Bitcoin's a good thing because it allows people to control their own money. But you've heard that before. Anyway, take care and stay well.

Historically, this question was raised in 1970s, when the Soviet Union failed human race to the moon, and they changed the concept that only automatic robots to be sent to the moon. The approach was quite successful. They never managed to send a man, but it was much easier to send a robot, and all the information and samples required have been returned from the moon to the earth, and Soviet space program was focused on robots since they failed in human race to the moon to the United States.

All right. Can one abstain from social media for a day? I should hope so. For many people, the answer will be no, but for many people, the answer to the question of can you go one day without drinking alcohol is also no, and I think that it's a similar situation. One has just become very dependent on a particular means of feeling good. Something that other folks have not mentioned, I mean, I certainly agree that social media is largely a waste of time, and it saps your productivity. Energy spent there could be spent elsewhere doing something that will be beneficial to your life, but for me, the main harm of social media is the tribalizing effect. You post to social media, you want people to approve of what you've provided, so you'll look to see who likes what, and if you say something that gets a lot of likes, well, the temptation is to say that, you know, some variation on it or to do something similar again, and the social dynamic that this drives is polarization. I mean, just saying something which is obviously true but not controversial, nobody is going to reward you for doing that. To get the reward, the social reward, the neurological reward, you have to push out to the extremes. And I've noticed here in the United States that people who consider themselves to be progressives or on the political, it's weird to say on the political left because they're not really leftists, they're mostly just mainstream liberals, but they see themselves as liberators of the oppressed. And they have become very, very intolerant of any dissent whatsoever, to the point where they will do anything in their power to punish you. Now, you know, if you express something that is not to their liking, this has actually worked in my favor in that I said something in a large group on Facebook a few years ago that somebody didn't like, and they took advantage of the fact that I wasn't using my given name as my screen name on Facebook, and they reported me for impersonation. And Facebook kicked me off. And no other social media platform has taken Facebook's place in that time. So I do have a Twitter account, and I will mostly just repost things, or I'll post AI-generated images, things like that, or I'll post links to things that I've posted on my Patreon. But I'm not, I don't go there, certainly I don't go there obsessively, I will go days, sometimes weeks at a time, without even looking at Twitter. And I don't get into arguments with people there, that's the most important thing. What I find valuable about not being on social media much is that I'm just not pressured to have an opinion, or to voice an opinion on a lot of things. There are topics that I feel passionately on, and I get angry about. But if I'm going to argue with somebody online about those things, or if I'm going to champion a point of view, I'm pushing myself further in the direction of extremism. And I don't want extreme beliefs to rule my life. Here in the US, the idea of being a normie is an insult. You don't want to be normal, you want to be exemplary. You want to be special, you want to be above and beyond the herd. But sometimes it's better just to not, to be normal. To be normal is fine, it shouldn't be an insult. Anyway, I could go on and on, as I tend to do. I'll stop there though.