4 lessons from Sherlock Holmes

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I used to love mystery novels as a child. I tore through Hardy Boys books, through Agatha Christie novels, and basically whatever I could get my hands on.

I spent much of this year reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Complete, as in Arthur Conan Doyle's novels and serials about the detective over a course of 60 years — he wrote about Holmes, mostly from the point of view of the narrator, Watson, a young doctor back from military service in Afghanistan, from 1867 to 1927.

Here are a few lessons, good and bad.

1. Be observant. Holmes gets most of his information from just paying attention to little details — the scuff on a sleeve, the mud on a boot, the ash from a cigar, the shape of a toe on a footprint. We'd all do well to be that observant, though maybe without bragging about it.

2. Do what you love. Holmes rarely takes money, other than expenses, for handling a private case, and typically lets police take credit for crimes solved. He does the work for the love of a challenge.

3. Be better to your friends. Holmes abuses the hell out of Watson. He once let the doctor think he was dead for several years. Other times, he tricked him into playing a part in solving the crime, putting the work above his friend. I can only guess Watson sticks by Holmes because Doyle needs him, and this is fiction, after all.

4. Be better to your readers. One thing I remember loving about mysteries as a child is the whodunit aspect — I got to play along and see if I could solve it. But Holmes often has some crucial piece of information the reader only finds out at the reveal. We never really get to play along; we just get to wait and see how it ends.

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Archive: The Bearded Brain email newsletter

Below is the collection of weekly email newsletter versions of The Bearded Brain. They constitute about a year of links to interesting things and podcasts. This now publishes at a collection of links every Tuesday, available here.

Sept. 1, 2015
Aug. 25, 2015
Aug. 18, 2015
Aug. 11, 2015
Aug. 4, 2015
July 28, 2015
July 21, 2015
July 14, 2015
July 7, 2015
June 30, 2015
June 23, 2015
June 16, 2015
June 9, 2015
June 2, 2015
May 26, 2015
May 19, 2015
May 12, 2015
May 5, 2015
April 28, 2015
April 21, 2015
April 14, 2015
April 7, 2015
March 31, 2015
March 24, 2015
March 17, 2015
March 10, 2015
March 3, 2015
Feb. 24, 2015
Feb. 17, 2015
Feb. 10, 2015
Feb. 3, 2015
Jan. 27, 2015
Jan. 20, 2015
Jan. 13, 2015
Jan. 6, 2015
Dec. 30, 2014
Dec. 23, 2014
Dec. 16, 2014
Dec. 9, 2014
Dec. 2, 2014
Nov. 25, 2014
Nov. 18, 2014
Nov. 11, 2014
Nov. 4, 2014
Oct. 28, 2014
Oct. 21, 2014
Oct. 14, 2014
Oct. 7, 2014
Sept. 30, 2014

First half marathon diary, Week 14

Happy Monday, friends!

Well, two things have come to my attention this week. One is that I enjoy three-to-four miles and long runs and I really don't like those middle distances — in that 5- and 6-mile range. I think that's even where i started to have to get past it on my 10-miler this week.

The other is that I need to give myself a little more credit. Looking back over the week, I ran a full three miles farther this week than last, and only took five more minutes to do it in.

So, I guess the countdown's really on. Nine weeks until race day. Onward!

Links

Me on Runkeeper
More running diary
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 28.28
Time logged last week: 5:26:15
Weeks until race: 9
Weight: 158

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

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Love, even their faults

sunset-hands-love-woman

This conversation first came to me in the context of Freemasonry, but I think it will translate well to lay terms.

The question posed to me was, at its essence: If people are doing something they believe is right but is diametrically opposed to my principles, how do I make them see the light?

My response was this: It's not your job to bring others to your view. It's your job to bring yourself to love people, even if you believe they are wrong in their thinking.

I think we'd all do well to attempt to uphold that ideal. It's not easy, and it never will be, but I think it's important.

First half marathon diary, Week 13

Happy Monday, friends!

Back running in Savannah, it's tough getting used to the humidity again, but it stayed somewhat cool out. I got back on schedule with my mileage, but I mixed the locations up so that we're not in danger of getting bored. Wednesday's six-miler was at the beach, which was nice, since I got to go for a swim afterward to cool off, but on the other hand, the sand (and possibly running in a combination of minimal sneakers and barefoot) changed my form so that my quads were sore for a couple of days. Actually, that's probably not a bad thing.

I also went out to the McQueen's Island trail for my long run of the week, but found half of it closed for repairs, so I ran 9 miles on a 3-mile trail. The last couple of miles there was actually the first time I had to run in the rain in all this training. I'm sure I'll get plenty of that this week with the remnants of storm Erika coming through. Also, this week, we start four weeks of peak distances – 28 miles per week.

Links

Me on Runkeeper
More running diary
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 25.77
Time logged last week: 5:21:27
Weeks until race: 10
Weight: 157

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

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Performing life as an act of love

This guy right here is a mixed martial arts fighter named Justin Wren.

This is also him.

Filming with Beyond Creative in Missouri today for a national Anti-bullying campaign in schools 🙂

A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on

And if you need a size comparison, he's the dude in jeans here, picking up that other giant fighter.

He's 28 years old, and is now fighting professionally for the first time in five years. That time off? It wasn't an injury. It wasn't a suspension. It was a time of building a life of love.

Let's look at more pictures. Like one of him tickling pygmy children in the Congo.

It's pretty easy to be the tickle fight champion when it's 2-1 #FightForTheForgotten

A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on

Or showing the pygmy people photos of themselves for the first time.

Seeing pics of themselves for the FIRST time! #fightfortheforgotten

A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on

Or having his hair done.

That's fun. Let's see video of that.

Or as long as we're sharing videos, how about the first time the people he's helping saw a white guy?

Wren quit fighting through what probably could have been his strongest years — his mid-20s — to start a nonprofit to help the Mbuti Pygmy people get clean water. Fight for the Forgotten and its partner, Water4, dig wells to draw clean water for a people who are enslaved. Workers go to the fields for oppressors to earn two bananas a day to share among families of four — it's just enough food to keep them healthy enough to work, and it keeps them coming back to work because they need the food.

These are people who are still using army ants to stitch wounds — they have the ants bite the wound, then break off the body, leaving the fangs in to act as staples.

Wren has suffered malaria, parasites and other tropical diseases. His organization employs 17 people full time, but has dismissed more than that to find the right people — people who can survive dense jungle for a month or two at a time, return to the U.S. for a couple of weeks to recover, then go back.

He's back to fighting so that he can raise further awareness, and he's a partner in a documentary on his journeys.

He was on Joe Rogan's podcast this week (he's been on before), and around the one hour, 20 minute mark, he renders Rogan pretty much speechless. It's really amazing listening to Wren talk with such passion and humility, especially while Rogan explains to him that in a few generations, he's going to enter tribal mythology. As a giant, white, hairy myth.


From Wren's Kickstarter campaign.

If you're looking for more love, you should also listen to Kevin Rose's discussion with Scott Harrison of charity:water, which I've mentioned before here.

Now, the question I pose to you is: Could you love anything this much?

First half marathon diary, Weeks 11-12

Happy Monday, friends!

Well, Week 11 was kinda crappy to start. On Wednesday, I was scheduled for five miles and gave up after 4.3. On Thursday, I was scheduled for four, but ran three — though I did average under 10 minutes per mile for those three. After 16 hours in the car Friday, though, I did eight strong miles in Central New York.

Week 12, I was lucky enough to do five runs in four different cities, and I shuffled the days and mileage. I was scheduled for four miles Tuesday, six Wednesday, four Thursday, nine Saturday and a recovery run Sunday. Instead, I ran four Monday in Western Massachusetts, nine Wednesday in Central New York, six Friday in Charleston and four Saturday back in Savannah, with my recovery run also in Savannah.

Most impressive in all that, apart from running on vacation food and lots of travel, is that I ran nearly two full miles longer than I did in Week 10, adding only two minutes to my time. I'm sure the pace will slack this coming week, putting me on the road longer, since I'll be running in 80-plus degree weather with 90-plus percent humidity instead of the 65-degree temperatures and 30 percent humidity I ran in up north. But onward we go.

Links

Me on Runkeeper
More running diary
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 25.47
Time logged last week: 4:38:57
Weeks until race: 11
Weight: 158

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

2015-08-15 09.24.58

First half marathon diary, Week 10

Happy Monday, friends!

Normally the first time I do a distance it's a struggle, I'm unsure about how it's going to go. I wind up slugging through with my pacing all over the place and hopefully not feeling awful. This week was different. Eight miles for the first time went smoothly (if slowly), with the fastest and slowest miles being 52 seconds apart (compare that to last week, when the difference between my fastest and slowest miles over a seven-mile run was about 3:20). I'm excited to be traveling next week. I'm not sure what my time Internet access will be like, so if there's not a Week 11, all the numbers will come in the Week 12 diary.

Links

Me on Runkeeper
More running diary
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 23.6
Time logged last week: 4:36:18
Weeks until race: 13
Weight: 161

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

2015-08-08 13.04.41

First half marathon diary, Week 9

Happy Monday, friends!

It was a great week! No walking at all, slightly higher mileage than last week but almost 20 minutes less time on the road. It's great that, as a beginner, the improvements seem to come quickly and are quite large.

Links

Me on Runkeeper
More running diary
Rock 'n' Roll Savannah
Training schedule

Stats

Miles logged last week: 21.3
Time logged last week: 4:05:58
Weeks until race: 14
Weight: 162

Sweaty Josh picture of the week

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