Quit waiting to die

It occurs to me that the title of this post might sound like an encouragement to suicide. It's not. I promise. It's a call to quit sitting idle, waiting for your time to be up.

This is the main focus of Duncan Trussell's conversation with musician Emil Amos.

Go give it a listen. While you're listening, make a list of all the things you think – or thought – you'd might like to do someday. Everything. It's a 2-hour discussion. Then go check one thing off the list.

It’s incumbent upon us to keep creating

How did you feel when you learned David Bowie had stretched his last limit?

When you learned Hunter Thompson had penned his last story?

When you heard Tupac was out of rhymes?

Jeff Buckley could give us no more love?

George Carlin's wit would no longer bite?

How about the death of Kurt Cobain? Or Robin Williams? Heath Ledger? Michael Hutchence? David Foster Wallace? Lemmy? Mitch Hedberg? Jean-Michel Basquiat? Bill Hicks?

Did you cry for these people — these people you'd (probably) never met? For their families, whom you'd also never met? Or did you cry for you, for the end of the art?

It's that last bit — the end of the art — I get worried about. We need to remember to keep creating. No matter how much genius passes before us, no matter how much of it falls away, it's incumbent upon us to keep the legacy of art alive for our contemporaries and for our future generations.

Create.

“Tonight I will be in my bed”: Chris Sacca on getting through today

Venture capitalist Chris Sacca took some time to answer listener questions on Tim Ferriss' podcast recently, and one thing really struck me.

A listener asked about an Ironman Sacca completed recently (for the not-so-inclined, that's a triathlon that includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mike bike race and wraps with a full marathon). How did he make it through? He kept repeating to himself, "Tonight I will be in my bed."

No matter how much pain he put himself through, at the end of the day, he'd find himself in his bed.

The pain doesn't have to be extreme athletic adventure. It really can be anything.

Bad traffic? Tonight, you will be in your bed.

Beating yourself up over a lost client? Tonight, you will be in your bed.

Lost a loved one? Tonight, you will be in your bed.

You can get through anything. Just know that tonight, you will be in your bed.

Running goal 2016: 1,000 miles

It's a new year, and we're looking ahead to a new challenge. Miss J and I started the year with a walk/run of the Color Vibe 5K, which was a lot of fun, and then I took a much-needed week off from running and the gym. Believe me, it wasn't easy.

Fun morning at #colorvibe5k #savannah

A photo posted by Josh Shear (@joshuanshear) on

But I got back at it pretty quickly; as soon as that week off was over, I went out for four miles and thought about a new goal. We're going to shoot for 1,000 miles this year.

With a week off, that means I can average 20 miles a week and still get another week off, or I can average 25 miles a week for 40 weeks and not force myself if it gets really hot (and if this winter has been an indication, we could be in for a hot, humid summer).

At any rate, there's a widget on the site (on the right side if you're looking on a desktop or tablet) with a marker. I'm using Runkeeper to track mileage and time, and I won't count anything I do on a treadmill. And if, like it did last week, Runkeeper goes wacky and thinks I did a three-minute mile, I'll try to map it out and round down.

What are your goals for the year?

David Bowie and Charles M. Shulz: Life’s work and legacy


"Look up here, I'm in heaven I've got scars that can't be seen / I've got drama, can't be stolen / Everybody knows me now" — David Bowie, "Lazarus"

David Bowie died Sunday, two days after turning 69 and releasing a new album, which includes the song "Lazarus." The track is a farewell. Bowie was fighting cancer and knew he was making his last record. The Telegraph did a nice piece on it.

I'm not going to post a bio or history. If you don't know who Bowie is, go do some Googling. Listen to some music. Watch some movies. His career was long and varied. It was also very creative and very intentional. He almost passed up working with Bing Crosby because he didn't think "Little Drummer Boy" was the right song for him. So, he and Crosby did the now-famous "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" a month before Crosby died.

Bowie was able to do something a lot of us should aspire to: go out having said a recent goodbye, his legacy speaking for itself.

It calls to mind the death of "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, who died hours before the final comic appeared in papers.

My friend Matt, who is both a musician and cancer survivor, has an interesting take on mourning musicians we've never met, and on Bowie's death, specifically.

You know, admittedly I sometimes feel a little silly to feel so personally affected when a famous artist or musician...

Posted by Matthew Larsen on Monday, January 11, 2016

In addition to firming up their legacy right up to the time of their deaths, both Bowie and Shulz worked their respective crafts right up until the end of their lives. We should all be so lucky.

I think my friend Seth says best how you can honor Bowie. He wanted this work out in the world, and it's out. Listen to it.

Legends with caveats: Keep showing up

On a recent podcast, Joe Rogan calls Lance Armstrong "a legend with a caveat," putting him in the same category as Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson was a highly productive, highly influential writer with one helluva daily drug routine.

I recently re-watched Alex Gibney's Thompson biopic, "Gonzo." I was having a bad day. Maybe it was more of a bad week. I needed a reminder that even the great ones slip sometimes. Sometimes, they slip far. They make mistakes. Things don't always go as planned. But if you keep showing up, things turn around.

So, I decided to keep showing up. I guess if it worked for Thompson, who finally quit this world when his body wouldn't let him show up anymore, and if it's working for Armstrong, who might have been a cheater but he was the best of the best at it for a long time (I bet if you took away all the cheating, he'd probably still be the best of the non-cheaters over that same period), it can work for a bad day. Or week. Or month. Or year. Or decade, it seems.

I think I like this concept of "legends with caveats." It brings to mind the image of the flawed hero — also important in that everyone has flaws — but without the pressure of being a hero. A legend? We should all be remembered. And we should all have caveats.

The best way to be remembered? Keep showing up.

Parsing Oregon

The takeover of a remote federal facility in Oregon by a group of white guys with guns is monumentally weird.

I spent a long time the other night helping put together the collection of stories at the bottom of this post via the social aggregation tool Storify. I got to see even weirder stuff than what actually made the list. And there's some more stuff circulating on Facebook. I'm sure you've seen it.

This is the biggest thing to learn from this, I think.

This is a good piece to read for some background, but basically what you have is a couple of ranchers who were convicted of arson for fires they set while waiting impatiently for the government to do some controlled burning. A court ruled they were sentenced too lightly, and were sent back to prison. A group of armed white guys calling themselves a "militia" traveled to the county the ranchers are sentenced in, and took over a building on a federal wildlife reserve in the middle of nowhere, demanding the land be privatized. (Seriously. It's in the middle of nowhere. You have to drive 220 miles over the Idaho border to find a decent-sized town.)

The re-sentenced ranchers don't want them there. The local police don't want them there, but don't seem to be taking much action. The media love the story.

The most interesting part of this for me is that it's like Waco for a new generation – a generation with immediate access to news, social media and the sort of access to records that shows us when a guy who claims to hate government intervention benefits to the tune of a few million dollars from it.

Anyway, just. So. Strange.

Happy New Year: Highlights from the blog

Last year I wrote a fairly epic post wrapping up what was a fairly chaotic year.

This year was much less chaotic and much more growth-oriented. Last year, we landed in a new city in December. We've had a year to explore the city and move to an apartment that better suits us as people. I got a small ebook out to the world. I ran my first half marathon.

And 2016 is going to be a great year, if things go as planned. Yeah, we're so planning that we're not talking about anything. So there. Here are some of my favorite posts from 2015 – posts that I need to come back to every now and then to remind myself. Maybe they'll be useful for you, too. Happy new year.

You CAN control your next step
Bring conversation back into your life
Know what you're good at, know what you're bad at
Stop looking for what's next
Love people, even if you think they're wrong
Perform life as an act of love
Be your own cause
You have a right to work hard. It doesn't entitle you to anything

Christmas family activity: Tim Ferriss talks to Jamie Foxx

Looking for something for everyone? Take a few hours, sit around the computer, and listen to Jamie Foxx on Tim Ferriss' podcast. Listen to it at normal speed, too, or large chunks will be lost on you.

Foxx talks about networking before social media, how to imitate Kermit the Frog and how to slide from Kermit to Sammy Davis Jr., and, most important in today's world, being adopted at seven months old by a grandmother who, as a religious black woman from south of the tracks in a rural Texas town, taught tolerance and how to cross lines. He also talks about fear and controlling your own narrative. There's so much in it.

Two examples stick with me from his grandmother, and I'm paraphrasing because it's been a while since I listened to it and I'm too lazy to actually look up the quotes.

(1) When a pastor, in the 1970s, preached "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," she stood up and said, "Hold on. Stop with that. God makes sissies, too." She ran a daycare, and forget the word that you might consider unenlightened, look at the sentiment: Homosexuals are also God's children. That's radical in some communities now. Imagine what it was 40 years ago.

(2) This is an extension of the first. Foxx described asking her, 10 years later, what she meant. She said you have to open the umbrella of religion all the way. If it's raining and you only open the umbrella a little bit, you only keep yourself dry. If you open it up all the way, you can keep more people dry. Same thing with religion. You can either accept a few people under the umbrella of your worldview, and you suffer from that. Or, you can open that umbrella up and let everybody come under the love.

I'm going to steal some notes from Ferriss' show highlights.

• What is automated dialogue replacement (ADR)? [08:13]
• How did Jamie break into music? [09:32]
• How did a then-unknown Jamie Foxx got into Puff Daddy’s parties? [09:57]
• Before social media, Jamie had a unique way of staying connected with people, which involved comedy shows, cue cards, and text messages [11:59]
• Why nobody leaves Jamie’s house without performing [16:56]
• How Jamie learned the nuances of performing on both sides of the tracks (literally and metaphorically) when he was a kid [23:59]
• Life lessons Jamie learned from his grandma [33:38]
• Jamie’s parenting style [41:27]
• What Ray Charles told Jamie was possible if he could play the blues [43:15]
• What’s on the other side of fear? [50:42]
• Why do some standup comedians lose the ability to make people laugh? [01:17:15]
• Jamie talks about how social media has taken away the power to control our own narratives [01:34:51]
• What would Jamie teach a class of 9th graders? [02:07:22]
• Advice Jamie would give to his younger self. [02:15:04]
• The time Jamie told Mike Tyson jokes but didn’t realize Mike was in the audience. [02:23:55]

There's so much more in there. Give it a listen.

Scam alert: Craigslist sale items

I wanted to tell you about this Craigslist scam someone tried on us. We ended up losing a little bit of money on the sale item, but didn't end up losing any actual cash or getting involved in much legal stuff (we wound up sending everything to the local police, but didn't need to get involved beyond sending them our records).

I'm providing this as something to watch out for, especially as some people start to clear out old stuff after holiday presents and clean out old stuff as they make their resolutions.

So, here goes.

We listed a washer/dryer on Craigslist for $200. We had little luck and finally agreed to let a purchaser send a check; he said he'd send a bank check with a little extra money for his movers, who would be in touch to arrange pickup.

When the check arrived, we found that it wasn't a bank check – it was a printed check drawn on a business account in New York. The check had been mailed from Florida, and was for $1,450 – fully $1,250 more than the asking price for the appliances. I looked up the business, and it was listed as a property restoration firm with $120,000 in annual sales.

It was immediately evident to me that it was a counterfeit check. While the business name and address on the check matched the listing and the routing number matched the bank the check was drawn on, no one is entrusting strangers with over 1% of their annual intake.

After receiving the check, I sent a message to the "purchaser" to say that the check was received and that I wasn't comfortable with the amount, and that I would return it. He said not to worry about it, that was fine.

That's when I knew for sure it was a scam, and I tucked the check in a drawer and cut off communication with the "purchaser."

He tried to get us over the next couple of days, saying that he got confirmation from the bank that the funds had cleared from the deposit, then that the mover would like funds through Western Union as an advance (he named an individual in Chicago) and then finally a couple of messages to say that the check had cleared and he was suspicious that I hadn't returned his messages.

I learned through a mutual LinkedIn contact that the person listed as owner/partner of the business listed on the check had had both his email and LinkedIn accounts hacked over the past couple of years, and his contacts regularly received spam messages.

Officers with the fraud department at Savannah-Chatham Metro PD assure me this is a common scam, and I've turned over all the info I have to them. Good luck with your Craigslisting this season.