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The Writer
Chicago, IL
Interests: Writing, Books, Baseball, and Personal Finance
Recent Activity
Mommy, I think you're just going to have to get a new pair of contact lenses.
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2009 on No title at Life Scoop Community
I reviewed it a while ago here, enjoy!
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Very nice metaphor indeed. I was positive your link was going to take me to "How We Decide" by Jonah Lehrer. I assume you've read that book as well?
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Man I miss DFW.
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This drives me nuts. Saying "we'll just make it go viral" is like saying you can bend the minds and wills of consumers. Not gonna happen, at least by a group of people who think virality can be cooked up almost as an afterthought. That's like asking someone how they're going to make a living as a writer: "Oh, I'll just write bestsellers."
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Awesome book! I loved it almost as much as Devil in the White City.
Toggle Commented Nov 23, 2009 on Books I Love: Thunderstruck at Brad Marley's Blog
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This was a pretty amazing read. I remember rooting for her throughout the whole book, hoping she would make it through unscathed.
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That is a great Wired article by the way. As a person who grew up speaking Spanish and English, I'd have to disagree on the last thing you said there. Of course it's easier for younger kids to pick up a language than adults. And by young I mean 3 years old. I have no memory of "learning" English even though I grew up in Guatemala. But I learned it the way we all learn our native tongue: by growing up around it. Trying to learn French in Paris was a little frustrating because you're right—you get the occasional giggle from the French that translates to "Oh you're so silly! Why would you ever say a phrase like that? Silly American!" Whereas in Guatemala it's all about understanding. If you understand the person, you're OK. No one will laugh at you (except me, I will).
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Funny that you've grouped reading and driving together. Whenever I'm in a creative-writing rut, the formula that always works for me is to read in the car, stare out the window for a bit, and then the ideas start coming like crazy. Of course, I need someone else to be driving or I need to drive the train. For more on "the formula," go here.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2009 on Budgeting Time to Think at Ben Casnocha: The Blog
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This point about liberty reminds me of a point Thomas Friedman touched on in Hot, Flat and Crowded. That lifting all these people out of absolute poverty is indeed a great thing, but is coming at a huge environmental cost. But is it fair to say to these millions of people, "No, you can't have the luxuries we take for granted because the environment can't handle it." Of course not, but we still have to save the environment, right? It's a tricky subject.
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A post about writing, DFW, and PW? You got me hook, line and sinker. I think it's like telling athletes to keep working hard. Will it matter? Sure, if you're one of those really talented athletes to begin with. As for writers, you can definitely get better, but I don't think finding your voice will help if you've got nothing to say or the skills with which to say it. Chris is right about finding voice through writing, that's why writing exercises like NaNoWriMo are so fantastic. That thing changed my like a few years ago.
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Thanks so much for this one Ben. It came at a time when I really needed a boost with some frustrations working on a new project at work. This and your self confidence posts are really coming in handy!
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Reminds me of Jamaica Kincaid's "The Ugly Tourist." That whole feeling of being disliked by the natives but also being needed for economic purposes depressed me when I first read it.
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Hey Ben, I'm curious what your take is on my post on being a more productive emailer at work. One person told me that my strategy was too time intensive...I disagree. Once you learn to write a good email, it becomes second nature.
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I like it, but my thinking is I'd like to see "habit" or "routine" in there in some way. You can't get back into the habit of going to the gym and you can't break the habit of not going. "routine procrastinflation"?
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I love surprises, and I've found that every time a birthday or anniversary pops up, the last thing I need to focus on is what to buy my wife, but how I can surprise her. Works every time and the look on her face is priceless.
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2009 on The Capacity to Surprise at Ben Casnocha: The Blog
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I don't know...I think that curiosity would be a virtue at a startup, no? Maybe there's no time for exploration or creativity, but if you're buried neck deep in it how are you going to find new, innovative ways of doing things? As the movie Pi taught us in the story of Archimedes, "Take a bath, Max!"
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Bitch, you ain't got no humor. But seriously, I totally agree. I'm a funny guy, but putting it out there in words is tough because you don't get to read their facial expression and push the joke a little further to make sure they "get it." It's funny when you try to be funny and bomb. But do that in writing and it just feels awkward. When I was growing up (in another country), I was hilarious. The class clown. Then I came to the US for college and the humor just didn't translate. I was like, "If I'm not the funny guy anymore, what am I?" It was a bit of an identity crisis. But fear not. As you can see, I've mastered the skill of being funny in English.
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I too know a fair bit about baseball, although I'm not a catcher. But I've been a pitcher for a long time and can provide some insight. Catching is, as Ben says, a unique position. I'd like to say that shortstops and pitchers are in the same boat, but it's totally different. Sure, pitchers are in "control," but catchers are calling the game. They can see the whole field, see the batter from up close, etc. I'd like to see which position is next on the list and if it's statistically significant or not. Typically you put your most athletic guy at SS, so maybe those players tend to have a big head or something. And pitchers are just an odd breed. I'll vouch for that.
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I bat left handed—does that count?
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I absolutely loved this book. Like you said, its brevity made it even more impressive. And the ending, I thought it was perfect too. I also envy that you're in Cartagena, a place I visited about 13 years ago as a young baseball player. The people are kind, the women are beautiful, and there's an energy there that is palpable. Enjoy!
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I just finished reading Lehrer's How We Decide, which I thought was very interesting. This downtime is actually a very important component of my writing. Without it, I'm doomed. I even put together a formula for writing and it's right smack in the middle of it.
Toggle Commented Mar 27, 2009 on In Defense of Downtime at Ben Casnocha: The Blog
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Not a fan of Black Swan then? Interesting...I was *this* close to reading it.
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Wow, that's amazing...Never heard it before. Thank you.
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This one has been on my list for a LONG time, so it's good to get a thumbs up from you on this. I actually have a first-edition hardcover copy of this book I've been trying to sell on Amazon as part of my "testing new incomes" project. No sale yet though. Ironic that after I do sell it I'm still going to read it. Probably check it out of the library though.
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