At the Quackadero

Learning As I Go # 0016

Hello again. We’re enjoying a sunny, cool spell before the temps creep into the low 80s by next weekend.

About half the links for this edition came from emails Liz and I sent to each other, based on whatever was flitting through our minds, inboxes, or web browsers at the time.

This edition’s images come from The Public Domain Review’s collection The Art of Ornamental Orange Peeling (1910). If you’re peeling oranges to create decorative centerpieces, then you’ve been in quarantine for too long.

Jigsaw progress

This is where Liz started about a month ago:

Action shot from the April 12th newsletter

This is where the puzzle is today:

Related: a great New York Times piece on jigsaw puzzles. A quote:

Each puzzle piece must be uniquely shaped, to avoid one accidentally fitting into the wrong place. That means 1,000 different shapes for a 1,000-piece puzzle, each drawn by hand by workers.

“Fig. 5 shows a fancy piece of carving in the form of a Japanese house-boat, and is more difficult to make than the preceding designs.”

Standing desk & ergonomics

Liz converted a small letter-writing desk to serve as a temporary standing desk. When she wants a break from sitting, she can easily carry her laptop downstairs and stand to vary her posture.

I wrote a blog post back in 2015 that compiled quick research I did on standing desks. Bottom-line: Variety is the spice: mix standing and sitting, don’t do too much of either, move regularly.

I’m so tall, it’s difficult for me to jerry-rig* something like this. So I rely instead on ergonomic apps to remind me to stand and move around.

  • On my locked-down Windows laptop from work, the only app I can safely install is Workrave. The UI is rough, but it works. I set it to remind me to move every 45 minutes; my break lasts for 6 minutes. As the linked article suggests, you can also use it to double as your Pomodoro Timer.

  • On my iMac, I use Rest Time set to 45-minute interrupts.

Both programs are easy to subvert, of course; the challenge (or the game) is to stop what I’m doing when the alarm sounds, walk away from the computer, and give my mind and body a rest.

[*Merriam-Webster provides useful history on the differences between jury-rig, jerry-rig, and jerry-built.]

“Fig. 7 shows the human face, which is quite a simple design to make, and the only parts added are the ears.”


The economics behind Grandma’s tuna casseroles. They had good reasons for the foods they picked and the choices they made.

I look for any reason at all not to cut the grass. This reason is better than most: “Not mowing in May results in more flowers and nectar all summer long for struggling pollinators. Wildlife organization urges us to leave lawnmowers locked up until June.”

Liz caught the following earworm last week: Peter Sarstedt’s 1969 folk hit “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?” that is prominently featured in Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. She found a page digging deeper into the lyrics:

(Although I must say listening to this reminds me of Flight of the Conchord’s parody song “Rambling Through the Avenues of Time.”)

The honking, one-note saxophone solo being hailed as the worst solo of all time. (The headline calls it a “jazz” solo but that is wrong.) The article concludes: “Consider this song a gift, then: a morale boost that should convince you to forge ahead with your confidence first, and your skill set second.” The song is here, queued to where the solo starts.

Zoom fatigue is real. A theory I find plausible: you’re being seen all the time, so you’re hypersensitive to your facial expressions and whether your face is in view of the camera. The result is you’re monitoring yourself constantly to make corrective decisions and that is tiring.

Guided meditation sound files from Duke Integrative Medicine.

Liz played the word QUASI in Words With Friends and was reminded of a surreal animated film (~10 min) from back in the ‘70s: “Quasi at the Quackadero.” Prepare to have your eyeballs and logic centers seared to cinders. (Wikipedia)

My YouTube Channel

As part of my accountability coach training, I felt moved to create daily Monday-Friday videos. I posted them to my YouTube channel and shared them out to LinkedIn and Facebook.

The videos tend to be short, about 3-5 minutes, and focus on some of the self-help and self-coaching topics I wrote about on my blog. I also talk about what I’ve gotten from the coaching I’ve received and the value I think it provides.

I’m not sure I had a real goal in mind here apart from getting over my discomfort of being on video and being seen. Although, if I want to make coaching a business, then that means being out in front, contacting people, and making the case. And discovering that my head won’t explode or I won’t be cast into outer darkness forever if I post a video of myself talking.

Feel free to subscribe to the channel and you’ll get notified as I create more of these ditties.

“Fig. 10 shows a realistic and a life-like design in the carving of a serpent which is made by the pulling away of the strips after they have been cut.”

Coming Up

The second accountability coach training ends this week, I think, and I will likely sign up for a third tour of duty. This time of lockdown, uncertainty, and reset expectations is as good a time as any to dive deep and see what I can or want to create in the coaching line. Never let a crisis go to waste, as they say. My goal in the next round will likely be creating a group program of some kind and seeing how a coaching sideline will fit into my life.

Bull City Commons has a new unit available (690 sq ft). I’m working on the next newsletter plus learning about Facebook ads and diving deep (again) on marketing and copywriting.

“Fig. 15 shows the third picture of the pyramid [centerpiece for a table decoration] and its progress.”

I’m Michael E. Brown. One of my goals with my website and this letter is to keep in touch with friends and correspondents.

Learning As I Go is published on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month with the least stress on myself that I can manage to not exert.

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