Archives for September 2007

Heroes: Randy Pausch

Recently, I have been very inspired by a video of “last lecture” given by a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Last Lectures typically involve a retiring professor who condenses his or her decades of accumulated wisdom and experience into one final blockbuster talk, but this one is different because the professor, Randy Pausch, is only 46 years old but has terminal cancer: he will be dead in a few months, he tells us, and he will leave behind a wife and three young kids. Pausch’s Last Lecture, on how to achieve your childhood dreams, contains much useful information, but it is his courageous joy and vital energy in the face of a crushing personal fate that has really affected me. It has made me determined to feel more joy in my own daily existence, even the mundane or disappointing parts of it. The video is here - it’s around 90 minutes long, and if you want to skip the intros, just go to the 8 minute marker and start there. … [Read more...]

"Countdown Clock" May be Scary, but It Can Also Keep You Focused

Wired magazine founder Kevin Kelly writes here about the "countdown clock" he created on his computer to remind him of how much (or, more to the point, how little) time he has left on the planet and that he shouldn't waste any. He's 55 years old, he says, so anticipates he's got about 8,500 days left, assuming he makes it to the U.S. male average for his age set of 78.63 years. He reports that his friend Stewart Brand (founder of the Whole Earth Catalog), uses another approach: "Brand, who is now 69, has been arranging his life in blocks of 5 years. Five years is what he says any project worth doing will take. From moment of inception to the last good-riddance, a book, a campaign, a new job, a start-up will take 5 years to play through. So, he asks himself, how many 5 years do I have left? He can count them on one hand even if he is lucky. So this clarifies his choices. If he has less than 5 big things he can do, what will they be?" If you're tempted to set up your own countdown clock - and I am - then … [Read more...] reviews The Lifelong Activist

From Cary Tennis,'s advice columnist : "Anyway, that sort of reminds me about how hard it is to make social change when many of us feel unrepresented by the major political parties, do not belong to labor unions and must figure out for ourselves how to make activism a part of our complicated little private lives of comfort and ease. So along came this book called "The Lifelong Activist" by Hillary Rettig. It is about how to arrange your life so that even though you have to work for a living and pay bills and raise a family or whatever, you can avoid getting sucked into the utterly life-draining mess that is the typical consumer lifestyle. So you can find time to pursue your art or change the world or both." "Now I admit to having all the typical biases against anything that might smack of self-help. This book is not about finding your bliss. I mean, you might find your bliss along the way. But that is not what this book is about. It is about becoming more useful and effective as an activist or … [Read more...]