10,000 Hours of Practice

It takes 10,000 hours of practice to be good at something. When I played WoW, I remember one character having over 200 days logged in. Now, some of that time wasn’t actually playing, but I am sure most of it was. 5000 hours on a single game. 5000 hours of sitting at my computer.

To be fair, I learned a lot in that time. I spent some time organizing and leading. I coordinated 25 people on raids as a raid leader, as well as a vitriolic 21 year old could expect to lead. I cut my teeth on my social skills in online games. I remember when I was ‘getting out’ I specifically tried to transplant my online social skills to in person. I am not sure if transplanting my social skills was successful as such, but it did give me a starting point on how to go wrong about it. To some extent, that is the learning process as well.

10,000 hours? I have tens of thousands of hours of practice playing games. Ancient games of skills. Card games. Board games. Video games. Big games, small games. Single player, online, one on one, and team games. 

I play cosmic encounters, the precursor to magic, with a group on Tuesday nights right now. I playing with other people reminds me of how in tune with the ‘feel’ of the game you have to be, for any game really. I am sure lifetime musicians also have the same feeling. Cosmic is a game with an endgame push. You build up capital and then, on your turn, you try to overcome the combined forces of the other players.

Obama gave his inauguration speech early this week. He spent nearly two minutes on climate change. Up until this week, I had been evaluating the climate change debate as a game that matched this feel, build up your capital, sometime there will come a moment to enter the endgame. If a second term president decides to bring to bear the weight of a legacy into play, I’m not sure if my previous metaphor holds up any more.

10,000 hours of practice. Keep writing.


23 Rules for Dressing

If you forget everything else, remember this. Wear clothes that fit.

1. Be identifiable unless you are doing something that requires you to blend in. Notice. Unless your everyday involves eavesdropping or other clandestine behavior, this is largely every time you leave your house.

2. Good pieces of clothing often fight with you. The first time you put them on, you are going to be want to be doing your thing and it is going to be pulling you in a different direction. This is a good thing. A good piece of clothing has character, and likely you are going to wrestle with it before you get onto the same wavelength. These always end up being the best garments.

3. Wear clothes that fit. If you are a adult American male who doesn’t put much thought into these things, you probably need to go down a size. What you really need to do is seek guidance from a friend.

4. Finding jeans that fit may be a nightmare. Keep looking.

5. The salesperson is not your friend, especially if they make commission.

6. Avoid being a billboard. Your clothes advertise you, not Banana Republic. That North Face logo looks trashy.

7. You wear glasses on your face. You wear them all the time. Buy glasses that look good on you.
7a. If there is exactly one place where you should spend an extra dollar on apparel, it is your glasses. You do yourself no favors by being seen in awkward glasses.

8. Be careful about loud prescription glasses, especially if you are on a budget. You need a personality to back up loud glasses day in and day out.

9. Tennis shoes generally have color accents. You need to not ignore these. My new balance sneakers are black and white with red accents. This red needs to match, complement, or contrast something else, preferably between the knees and neck.

10. Keep a wide variety of colors to wear, especially in springtime. These clothes provide you with tools to match other colors during all the other seasons.

11. Don’t be afraid to wear white indoors out of season. It needs to be clean. It needs to be done tastefully.

12. Keep a pair of black dress shoes. They don’t have to be the most comfortable thing around. I personally like a sole that clacks when it hits a hard surface, it reminds me I am dressed up for a reason.

13. Worn dress shoes have extra character if they are still shiny. It means you have been wearing them properly, at events that they don’t get dirty.

14. Any regular use shoe needs to be chosen for comfort. If you can’t find a shoe that provides comfort yet looks halfway decent, go the $30 wal-mart route and wear them out in 3 months. I’ll go through a good pair of $120 shoes in 12-18 months. I will not again buy $100 stylish everyday shoes that I intend to take the distance and get home day after day with hurt feet. I’ll just wait.

15. Finding acceptable shoes may be a nightmare. Keep looking.

16. Don’t wear jeans that advertise that you sit at a computer all day. The calves of people who sit all day have no curvature. If you have calves, you can wear skinny jeans. No calves? No skinny jeans. I don’t care if you look like a hipster, just don’t look like a worthless hipster.

17. Something above your knees needs to match your hat.

18. Something below your neck needs to match your shoes.

19. Hat-Belt-Shoes is a solid combo.

20. Notice how a vest also meets both criterea, and has the added bonus of softening the heavy effect that a long sleeved shirt has.

21. Your backpack is part of your outfit.

22. Change with the seasons.

23. Break any of these rules occasionally, with the exception of the glasses. You wear them on your face.

Gabriel’s rules for hats coming soon!

Sunday’s Blog Entries

On Sunday, I wrote two entries. One did not come up. I have deleted the other one as it doesn’t really make sense without context.

Technical difficulties.

The upshot is that I took a bunch of notes to write a Sunday article and then realized that notes that sit on the desk get stale. It was a fortuitous lesson. Hopefully, the blog and opinion page learn to work together and mutually reinforce each other.

Direction of Blog

I am pondering the direction of the blog.  On the one hand, I want to have a well thought out essay, interview, or article once a week on Sundays.  I have much to learn from the act of having a weekly publication that I hold to a high standard.  That is going to happen.  On the other hand, a well thought out essay usually takes some time and rigor.  I either don’t want to put that into my everyday posts, or I don’t want to attempt to make quick little everyday posts.

I expect the first few months to be full of navel gazing, and that is going to make for a terrible blog that attempts to run alongside a weekly editorial.  However, it may be more useful in the long term to go though those motions publicly rather than privately.

Krugman has a blog and weekly editorial.  I think that is what I should be going for.  Let the blog flounder, make sure the essays are as strong as your can make them.  Keep putting words on page.  One step at a time.

Awl Gossip (continued)

More stuff about advice over at the Awl. I’m going into writing as this man is leaving it. His reflection causes my reflection. He sounds like the way I sounded when I left food service.

Why do I want to write?

The writers high. I love it. I’m chasing it. I’m looking for that next hit of clever turn of phrase. I’m looking for that next provoke. I’m looking for the next moment when I look into myself and speak honestly. It is there that I find truth.

I don’t know if I am capable of ‘making it work’ with a word and a page. I want to follow water. I want to see what perspective that brings. I want to keep putting words on page one at a time and see if they ever start to be beautiful. By following water, I hope to find work that pays enough to keep writing.

I am sad because this post has no cleverness. No substance. No life.  I didn’t even bother quoting him. I wonder if I should even post it at all. 

The Path to Sagedom

Maria Bustillos talks wisdom.

Anybody who supposes himself wise is already demonstrating the reverse. Therefore the cleverest, most beneficial advice must always come disguised as something else. Because who can ever really believe that he knows better?

This is wrong. There is a path to sagedom. There has to be. We can see the trails. The sages left trails. Wise old people leave trails.

I dunno. At a glance, she looks like she at least made it out of crippling pride and petulance. I hope to. I gotta try. It is going to involve more shutting up which is hard for me because I like the sound of my own voice.

So how about this instead:
Anyone who supposes himself wise may become so despite himself.

It’s really something I need to be true. I don’t trust people who believe what they need to be instead of what is. I don’t know if you should either. But I can be foolish enough to offer my advice.

By the way, I really identified with this passage.

“Why are you doing this? Why are you interested in it?”

The speeding train of my babbling was here forced to make the sudden acquaintance of a brick wall. I realized at once that this was in no way a bullshittable question. Blood pounded in my ears. This guy! Clearly didn’t like me, had never liked me, why would he? Ugh! This cold fish, this Blifil! Okay then think fast, answer the question. Why are you doing this?

You know when you are in a car accident or something and time is moving so very, very slowly, and you have time to think a million thoughts, it was like this; something shifted so deep in my head, a subtle lever barely touched and I realized that this wasn’t an attack, but a most serious question, indeed the only really Platonic question I would ever be asked by a teacher, devoid of performance or convention or ego or cant or anything but itself. Please understand that in my ignorance I flew straight past the significance of this event, even as my opinion of Van Luchene underwent an instantaneous reversal. What I’d thought of all year as coldness I now dimly understood as gravity in the service of a higher purpose. This was a very damn good question, I thought. In fact it was the question.

Stopping the tide of my hoped-for eloquence. A child, wildly overindulged, told far too often that she was so smart, persuaded, sure, that no door was or would ever be closed (thank you, I am very grateful) but encouraged also to suppose that excitement and pleasure in ideas was enough in itself, a child, in love with the sound of her own voice. Books, ideas like a whirl of confetti, purposeless, ornamental, without flavor or sustenance, like plastic fruit.

Supposing herself wise. Or pre-wise, I thought probably. Among those, I believe, who also thought themselves wise. And that is just what Plato is not about; he is about making yourself completely transparent so that the truth has a way in (and out). It’s the least showy person, perhaps, who quite often has the most to say to us. You only have to know to listen.

What the hell was I going to say? This silence had been going on for an alarmingly long time. Many seconds, an eternity. I must speak. And a sudden joy overtook me, for I knew I was about to tell the truth, equally devoid for once of performance, ego or cant, for almost the first time, maybe, in that tiny little life of the mind. A staggering epiphany.

“I don’t know.”

I want to be a sage.  It is not a well defined career path. I seek wisdom. I’ll settle with wit. Both are elusive enough that you just gotta be happy when they visit.