“Gene, an accomplished guitar player, sent me a long email on the subject of motivation, with some ideas I’ve never seen before. Condensed excerpt:

To master any truly difficult skill it’s not enough to just want it; you have to be obsessed. If you have to force yourself to pick it up you’re screwed; if you have to force yourself to put it down you know you’re on the right track.

You told me that the only thing you’ve ever had to force yourself to stop was video games. Ask yourself: why exactly are video games so addictive? Of course it’s because of the constant reward system. Every thirty seconds you get a reward of some kind. The next question is: how can I duplicate this experience in other areas?

When I was learning to play, I always broke any challenge down into it’s smallest possible chunks. A fast lick might seem impossible taken as a whole, but how difficult is it to play the first three notes? If I play those three notes over and over for ten minutes, always keeping it down to a tempo at which I can play it correctly at all times, will I be able to work them up to performance tempo in those ten minutes? Assuming you haven’t chosen something way beyond your level, the answer is probably yes!

By doing it this way, you’re creating a lot of very small, quick successes for yourself. If you set yourself a goal to bring those first three notes up to performance tempo and you succeed in just a few minutes, the flush of success releases endorphins in the brain. If you continue to duplicate that experience every few minutes you get addicted to practicing.

Talent is an intuitive grasp of rapid learning. Fortunately you don’t really need that intuitive understanding… that’s what a teacher is for! Unfortunately most teachers haven’t analyzed their own formative years sufficiently to understand the ingredients of their own success as players. I have consistently found that students who listen to me and practice as I described above will progress ten times faster than anyone else.

It’s also true that these are the students who become obsessed. I’ve believed for years that they listened to me and practiced in this way because they were obsessed, but since I’ve come to believe that I had cause and effect confused. They become obsessed because they practice this way!”

http://ranprieur.com/, Sept 1, 2014

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Filed under addiction, mentoring / apprenticeship, talent vs skill, teaching, video games

on social media and the future…


“The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.”

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Filed under freedom, future, futuresafe, social media

Exposure and/or Passions

“A simple maxim: don’t expose and don’t look for passions; just listen and make good suggestions”

“I have found over the years that things that make me angry give me a passion to fix them.”

“… They should be passionate about getting a job someday.”

– Roger Schank



See also: “Forget Following Your Heart – Follow Your Heartbreak”


See also: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/08/turning-passion-on-its-head.html

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Filed under education, jobs, kids -- freedom and responsibility, meaning of life, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, work

3 years and going, and still our fruits and veggies in MA are often from CA! “If You Think the Water Crisis Can’t Get Worse, Wait Until the Aquifers Are Drained” http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140819-groundwater-california-drought-aquifers-hidden-crisis/

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Filed under erik-green, food, food and farming, future, futuresafe, globalization, green, water

20 green “strange thing” gotchas when building a custom green house (or, how I learned why things end up costing so much)

Most of these can be avoided if one chills out and builds 90% of a green house, or perhaps by working with a very experienced green architect (or ideally I think?) a design-build company that gets both sides.

Some strange things include:
1- no-VOC products
2- TJIs used in walls
3- dealing with innie or outie windows in superinsulated walls
4- unusual windows with R-5 or R-6
5- HRV systems and proper balancing and inside placement of intake/exhaust vents
6- sizing and choosing placement of inside heads in a minisplit system
7- custom design & specs instead of stock plan
8- insulating properly behind a bathtub on an exterior wall
9- how to add interior light block shades to outie-windows (it’s problematic, take my word for it!)
10- foundation brine loops for pre-heating/tempering HRV air
11- exterior framing and sheating all flush (no overhangs) and taped. overhangs applied after air-sealing
12- hot roofs
13- worrying about orientation (solar south) (too much)
14- things that people are used to which might be missing in your design (a fireplace/mantel, a basement, a garage, a formal dining room, a master bathroom, a paved driveway)
15- composting toilets
16- cellphones and radios and TVs might not work well in a house with foil-faced PolyIso insulation
17- not having a furnace or boiler that can very quickly heat or cool the house if setback temps used (usually with minisplits, they are slow to catchup, so best to not use nighttime setbacks)
18- you maybe found land in a weird spot farther away from things
19- smaller than typical houseplan with things like:
open plan, limited wasted space like hallways, no loops for kids to run-around, big furniture
20- big windows in awkward spots (and none in others) if trying especially hard to do passivhaus
21- special parts that take a week to order to repair a strange thing
22- strange things that are difficult or expensive to repair or troubleshoot
23- strange things that are done (products used or designs) to save money (but don’t or else else cause other side effects that undo the savings)

Who is affected by your stange choices?
– the building inspector has to approve of strange things
– the builder might have difficulty in sourcing products and/or pricing labor effort for strange things
– beware a builder who is not used to or doesn’t like doing custom projects rather than spec houses
– the contactors who have probably not done strange things or used strange things
– you (the owner) not having lived with strange things
– difficulty in finding contractors nearby to repair or maintain strange things (for instance, a radon removal system for potable water) or redo work they did on strange things that weren’t done properly in the first place.
– the future buyer when you move — they won’t appreciate the strange things as being awesome, just different, and maybe even annoying.

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Filed under erik-green, green, hindsight is 20-20

Global warming and house design

In upcoming years you will be hearing more and more about how climate change and global weirding changes what kind of houses we build. Issues that come to mind based on my own experience living in houses in New England for a few years now:

1. downpours — more and more we get rain in extreme events. No rain for a long time, the a downpour where it rains 2 inches per hour. Implications include inadequate gutters, more people wanting to store roof runoff for lawns/gardens.

“The Northeast has experienced a greater recent increase in extreme precipitation than any other region in the U.S.; between 1958 and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70% increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events).”

–the regional Northeast report from the National Climate Asssessment in 2014


2. tornados — it is becoming a common occurrence that we get storms with tornados. I am not sure what that means for home design, but probably something. hurricanes too will probably be more likely, which combined with general sea level rising means it’s getting a little crazy to live on the coast.

3. snowstorms — I believe I’ve read that over the next few decades that precip (including snow) will be above average. Combined with events like the “polar vortex” events that are also happening more (due to shifts in the artic) then this means that we will likely have more and more periods with deep snowpack — weeks where it snows, stays cold, snows again, stays cold, etc. So the amount of snow on roofs will pile up and we’ll have to deal more and more with roofs collapsing and ice dams.

4. heat — more and more we get very hot weather and it doesn’t cool off at night, which means for miserable sleeping if you don’t have AC and/or ventilation in each room. All sleeping rooms (especially) need ventilation air directly in the room. Otherwise (in my direct experience) what happens is the house thermostat might be set at 77 or 78 (typically comfortable in summer clothing) but the bedrooms will get warm when the doors are closed and there are bodies giving off heat, making the room warmer.

We have experienced this both in our traditionally insulated home and our superinsulated home in spring and summer.

What am I forgetting?

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Filed under erik-green, future, green


ALQUIST: It was a crime to make robots.
HARRY DOMIN: No, Alquist, I don’t regret that even today.
ALQUIST: Not even today?
HARRY DOMIN: Not even today – the last day of civilization. Was it a crime to shatter the servitude of labor, the dreadful and humiliating labor that man had to undergo? Work was too hard. Life was too hard. And to overcome that -
ALQUIST: Was not what the two Rossums had in mind?
HARRY DOMIN: It’s what I had in mind.
ALQUIST: How well you succeeded! How well we all succeeded. For profit, for progress, we have destroyed mankind.

FROM RUR — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.U.R.

As heard here:


Transcript here:


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Filed under future, tech, work