Michael Gracie

Something Thoreau wrote on November 20, 1857

“In books, that which is most generally interesting is what comes home to the most cherished private experience of the greatest number. It is not the book of him who has travelled the farthest over the surface of the globe, but of him who has lived the deepest and been the most at home. If an equal emotion is excited by a familiar homely phenomenon as by the Pyramids, there is no advantage in seeing the Pyramids. It is on the whole better, as it is simpler, to use the common language. We require that the reporter be very permanently planted before the facts which he observes, not a mere passer-by; hence the facts cannot be too homely. A man is worth most to himself and to others, whether as an observer, or poet, or neighbor, or friend, where he is most himself, most contented and at home. There his life is the most intense and he loses the fewest moments. Familiar and surrounding objects are the best symbols and illustrations of his life. If a man who has had deep experience should endeavor to describe them in a book of travels, it would be to use the language of a wandering tribe instead of a universal language. The poet has made the best roots in his native soil of any man, and is the hardest to transplant. The man who is often thinking that it is better to be somewhere else than where he is excommunicates himself. If a man is rich and strong anywhere, it must be on his native soil. Here I have been these forty years learning the language of these fields that I may the better express myself. If I should travel to the prairies, I should much less understand them, and my past life would serve me but ill to describe them. Many a weed here stands for more of life to me than the big trees of California would if I should go there. We only need travel enough to give our intellects an airing. In spite of Malthus and the rest, there will be plenty of room in this world, if every man will mind his own business. I have not heard of any planet running against another yet.”

A passport stamp is not incontrovertible proof that you were actually there.

MG signing off (in the midst of the not so mundane, and endeavoring to take it all in)

Breaks left

Can’t sit still when on the phone, and having worn a path through floor varnish from pacing around figured why not?

office putting green

There just wasn’t enough room for a casting pond anyway.

MG signing off (because he obviously can’t putt for shit either)

Something Thoreau wrote on April 2, 1852

“In the promulgated views of man, in institutions, in the common sense, there is narrowness and delusion. It is our weakness that so exaggerates the virtues of philanthropy and charity and makes it the highest human attribute. The world will sooner or later tire of philanthropy and all religions base on it mainly. They cannot long sustain my spirit. In order to avoid delusions, I would fain let man go by and behold a universe in which man is but as a grain of sand. I am sure that those of my thoughts which consist, or are contemporaneous, with social personal connections, however humane, are not the wisest and widest, most universal. What is the village, city, State, nation, eye the civilized world, that it should concern a man so much? the thought of them affects me in my wisest hours as when I pass a woodchuck’s hole. It is a comfortable place to nestle, no doubt, and we have friends, some sympathizing ones, it may be, and a hearth, there; but I have only to get up at midnight, aye to soar or wander a little in my thought by day, to find them all slumbering. Look at our literature. What a poor, puny, social thing, seeking sympathy! The author troubles himself about his readers–would fain have one before he dies. He stands too near his printer; he corrects the proofs. Not satisfied with defiling one another in this world, we would all go to heaven together. To be a good man, that is, a good neighbor in the widest sense, is but little more than to be a good citizen. Mankind is a gigantic institution; it is a community to which most men belong. It is a test I would apply to my companion–can he forget man? can he see this world slumbering?”

As applicable now as it was to the thinker back then, timeliness (or lack thereof) of his various predictions notwithstanding? Certainly some elements chime familiarity.

MG signing off (because in the battle for attention between forests and trees, the trees win way too often)

Rainy Day at The Masters

If the weather is crap (like it is right now in Denver), and you want to follow The Masters without planting yourself in front of one of those television things, you can easily follow the tourney online

The Masters

A most excellent live scoreboard implementation

MG signing off (because at the end of the day, only the score matters)

Something Thoreau wrote on December 2, 1853

“The skeleton which at first sight excites only a shudder in all mortals becomes at last not only a pure but suggestive and pleasing object to science. The more we know of it, the less we associate it with any goblin of our imaginations. The longer we keep it, the less likely it is that any such will come to claim it. We discover that the only spirit which haunts it is a universal intelligence which has created it in harmony with all nature. Science never saw a ghost, nor does it look for any, but it see everywhere the traces, and it is itself the agent, of a Universal Intelligence.”

He lived in an age when science was methodical, slow moving. Yet you can be sure much of the science then settled was later expounded upon or tossed in the rubbish bin. Nowadays, tools exist to accelerate study while enhancing the reliability of measurement, as well as engage in alternative hypothesizing at the flip of a coin. And yet the scientific method seems to have been tossed aside in favor of expediency, despite the obvious risks.

Was Thoreau telegraphing the resultant skeletons in the closet?

MG signing off (thinking “Universal Intelligence” is often deserving of critical review)

Fantastic [Final] Four

Kept my fingers crossed all weekend. Not for the Gators to beat Dayton, nor for settlement in the Arizona/Wisconsin matchup, but for UConn (7 seed) and Kentucky (8 seed) victories. And it worked.

final four 2014

MG signing off (because his fingers are kind of stuck crossed right now, which makes typing hard)

Texting with Finance Friends: An Introduction

I have some friends in the finance business – analysts, traders … that sort. We text, usually after the markets close. Sometimes the conversations are funny, sometimes not. Thought I’d post a few now and then, regardless.

The first, on modern culture, from a friend not quite yet fully in the throws of a midlife crisis …

FINANCE FRIEND: Do you have a tattoo yet? Seems like it is at least 55% penetration on adults under 40.

YOURS TRULY: I’ll take that as a compliment.

If I had said yes, I know someone who would have immediately run out and gotten tattooed.

MG signing off (since the NSA has all these texts anyway)

Something Thoreau wrote on February 19, 1855

“Many will complain of my lectures that they are transcendental. “Can’t understand them” “Would you have us return to the savage state?” etc., etc. A criticism true enough, it may be, from their point of view. But the fact is, the earnest lecturer can speak only to his like, and the adapting of himself to his audience is a mere compliment which he pays them. If you wish to know how I think, you must endeavor to put yourself in my place. If you wish me to speak as if I were you, that is another affair.”

Maybe those listening to Thoreau’s lectures were just too busy engaging in productive activities, such as liking selfies on Instagram, to be bothered comprehending what he said.

MG signing off (ok, maybe not)

Something Thoreau wrote on December 27, 1859

“All the community may scream because one man is born who will not do as it does, who will not conform because conformity to him is dread – he is so constituted. They know nothing about his case; they are fools with they presume to advise him. The man of genius knows what he is aiming at; nobody else knows. And he alone knows when something comes between him and his object. In the course of generations, however, men will excuse you for not doing as they do, if you will bring enough to pass in your own way.”

In other words, you could receive a pass as long as you brought something to the table. But what happens when the body politic starts jockeying for scraps?

MG signing off (because you can take the road less traveled, or build an entirely new one along with a tollbooth)


Simon Sharwood has ditched the smartphone in favor of a Nokia 110 …

A couple of weeks back, I ditched my Galaxy S4 and adopted a Nokia 110 as an experiment to see if modern life is possible without a smartphone. The premise for the test is that I’m worried I’m spending a bit too much time with my phone and could probably disconnect from the online world without.

A couple of experiences illustrate how things are going.

Read on as Mr. Sharwood uses his brain for everyday tasks.

MG signing off (to follow the story ’cause it ain’t over yet)