The Weekend Miscellaneous #11 (Grilled Fries, Elon on AI, Atomic Habits, Sunday Run)

This last weekend was my family's seventh consecutive weekend sheltering in place in rural New Jersey. We have found that around the six or seven week mark it has become more difficult to keep count. If it had not already, this quarantine period seems now to have earned itself recognition as its own chapter. It looks like it will be over soon, this first chapter of an unfamiliar and unpredictable era at least. I am optimistic that it will be for the best that we begin to go on offense now for a bit.

Bill Gates predicted this pandemic five years ago in a TED Talk called "The next outbreak? We're not ready." He seems like one of the better combinations of smarts, good intentions and the power of money and influence that we have in this world. I imagine we will be following his lead more than ever now that he has stepped down from the board of Microsoft and is focusing the attention of his foundation exclusively on this pandemic for the foreseeable future. The man who has been the richest in the world for most of my lifetime once famously said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” In the face of this global crisis, we must be urgent, yes, but also patient. The world may not emerge from this as quickly as most of us would like it to, but when it does, it may be stronger than most of us could have imagined.

Without any further ado or anything extemporaneous, here is the weekend review which I call The Weekend Miscellaneous.

Grilled Fries - It was another nice weekend of "anything goes" eating after another successful week on the "hardly anything goes" program. I tried my hand at making french fries Friday night to compliment the burgers that my brother cooked up nicely on the grill. I cut two large potatoes precisely into fine and skinny slivers that I hoped would come out crispy once cooked. Next, I added four tablespooons of olive oil with an extra drizzle at the end for good measure. I thin-sliced two cloves of garlic from a fresh bulb while pretending I was Paul from Goodfellas like I do every time I slice garlic. Finally, I added a healthy amount of salt and pepper and a little onion powder before dumping them on some tin foil on the grill. Next time I would cook them in the oven to maintain the separation of fries and increase overall crispiness, but the grilled fries were mighty tasty nonetheless.

Elon on AI - I listened to a great podcast during my run on Saturday. Elon Musk was the guest on a show called Artificial Intelligence with Lex Fridman. When people ask me for podcast recommendations, I generally point to these Monday posts which do a better job recollecting some good ones than my momentary memory does on its own. I also tell them that I find great episodes just as often by searching for people I want to hear speak as I do by depending on specific shows that I have saved. That was how I found this one on Saturday. I simply searched to find a podcast with Elon Musk. I am honestly blown away by his intelligence every time I hear him speak. In just 30 minutes on Saturday, he changed my perspective on Tesla, the human brain, and Earth itself. I expect to write more on these subjects soon.

Atomic Habits - At the recommendation of my buddy, McNulty, I started reading a book called Atomic Habits this weekend. It is about building small habits that can have large impacts. McNulty's recommendation was serendipitous as I had coincidentally discovered the book and its author, James Clear, on Twitter the day prior. I am a little less than 100 pages into it and since I am all about habits I am finding it to be as interesting as any book I have read in the last few months. Granted, I have not read very many books this year. The truth is, I have never been an avid reader of books. One thing I am doing now in an effort to try to change that is to read without taking any notes, highlighting, underlining, or anything of the sort. My new approach stems from one of two good tips I learned from Naval Ravikant on reading. The first was to read what you love until you love to read. The second was specifically not to read for the purpose of learning, but rather, to simply read for the purpose of reading. Growing up, I rarely ever read books that were assigned for school or otherwise because the reading that was assigned was so significant and most of the books were not particularly interesting to me. Once I figured out I could succeed in class simply by following along with the discussion, I had no incentive to read books. Listening to and considering different people's different perspectives on something was generally more interesting to me than the thing itself anyway. I did not like having to read and I did not need to read to succeed, so I didn't. For some time now, I have been hoping to change that. I have read some books in the last three years, but I hope and believe that I have many more ahead. Now I am reading books I want to read because I want to read them, not because I have to. I have intentionally abandoned any efforts to retain information for the purpose of learning. Instead, I am trusting the process. I am reading to read.

Sunday Run - I figure it cannot hurt to end this edition of The Weekend Miscellaneous with something slightly uncomfortable that some people might find funny at my expense. Yesterday, I ran for a little over an hour in an old cotton t-shirt outside in the pouring rain. When I got home and took my shirt off to get in the shower, I noticed a bit of pain and couple of unfamiliar stains. Sure enough, I looked down and found my nipples were bleeding. Avoid this if you can. It was as unfamiliar a site as it was unpleasant a sensation. Sufficed to say, I have learned my lesson about running in a cotton t-shirt in the rain.

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