Keep Two Thoughts

Personal essays

Times like these - Essay from Newsletter 3

This morning a friend tweeted “What day is it?”

I wasn’t immediately sure.

Times like these

A lot has been made about what Isaac Newton or other’s accomplished during times like these.

Newton didn’t live in times like these.

Cherry picking historical figures and looking only at their accomplishments is the long-term version of looking at your “friends” posts and pictures and being envious of the fantastic life they lead and the amazing food they are preparing and eating.

It’s not as if I’m going to post a real-time video of me sitting in my chair working for fourteen hours.

During those moments when I stand and go to the kitchen, I take my camera along to take a shot of the sourdough that’s just come out of the oven from just the right angle.

Last week Maggie and I made Churros from the Disneyblog recipe. In the last batch she made one in the shape of a heart.

I put it in a little square dish we have and pulled out my phone to take picture.

“Wait,” she said, and lifted the heart shaped pastry out of the dish and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on the dish before carefully placing the heart back on top.

I took my picture while she complained that I was way too close.

I posted it and she pointed out, rightly, that it wasn’t even in focus.

So she posted a picture of the heart taken beside a plate filled with the regular Churro nuggets.

Newton didn’t live in times like these.

Newton didn’t have to worry about earning a living and he certainly didn’t worry about getting or preparing food.

Sure he “discovered”, codified, and wrote about many important areas of science and mathematics, but as Stephen Hawking wrote in “A Brief History of Time”,

“Isaac Newton was not a pleasant man. His relations with other academics were notorious, with most of his later life spent embroiled in heated disputes.”

Oh wait, there’s more.

As warden of the mint, “he used his talents for deviousness and vitriol in a more socially acceptable way, successfully conducting a major campaign against counterfeiting, even sending several men to their death on the gallows.”

(The full bio is reprinted here)

There is a challenge of how we should spend our time.

Should we pick up new hobbies? Tackle a project we’ve put aside? Learn a new language?


But it’s ok to not. It’s ok to take care of yourself with all that’s going on around you.

In a few minutes I’m presenting a talk at a conference.

The talk was to be in Philadelphia at the Philly Emerging Tech conference. They’ve taken the conference online and many are presenting on Zoom. I’ve been uncomfortable with the security problems Zoom is having lately so I uploaded my 30 minute talk as a video.

200 slides in 30 minutes with 48 minutes of audio edited down to 32 minutes. It took days to prepare the video on top of the work to prepare the material.

My daughter’s school is now entirely online. Everything changes.

If you feel that you have energy left and would love to do something creative, that’s great.

But really - no pressure.

Certainly not in times like these.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 3. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

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