May 2022

😀 Updates since last month

Updated: May 1, 2022

📗 Books I’m currently reading

📕 Book I finished reading last month

🎸 Music I’ve been listening to

🎧 Podcast episodes I thought were interesting

🎥 Videos I thought were worth watching

Quote I’ve been thinking about

…we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

– Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address

The President and the Freedom Fighter

Author: Brian Kilmede
My Rating: 4/5

In some ways this was just a biography of two men – Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass – especially at the beginning of the book. It alternated chapters – Lincoln’s beginnings, Douglass’s beginnings – and so on. This was actually fine for me because I’ve not read a biography of either of these men. So it was nice to get a little background.

As the book went on it highlighted the events leading up to the Civil War and how both Lincoln and Douglass contributed to the outcome. I was very surprised at how unsure Lincoln was. I think we think of him as a confident, decisive man – but this book portrayed him as unsure and also willing to change his mind.

Douglass came across as incredibly brave – to escape slavery, to do all the things he did – speaking, newspaper, etc. – and then to go on to influence the President of the United States of America – that took guts. I also liked that Douglass wanted Black Americans to stay in America and be Americans.

We are American by birth and education, and have a preference for American institutions Why, oh why! may not men of different races inhabit in peace and happiness this vast and wealthy country?

This book did a good job showing that these men were not simple men. They were complex. They were willing to change their minds, when they were convinced. They were willing to speak their minds, even when it wasn’t popular. I believe American has a lot to owe to these two men.

I think the author to a good job of summing up this book and America in general in the introduction,

…America is a truly exceptional nation – not because we are perfect, but because we try to be.

The Color Purple

Author: Alice Walker
My Rating: 4/5

This is another book that I’m glad I didn’t watch the movie before I read it. I really enjoyed reading this book.

I knew this was a heavy book, but still the first page took me by surprise. It just punched you in the gut right away. After that, I kind of expected that for the entirety of the book — but that wasn’t the case, either — the punches did keep coming, but it wasn’t all bad.

After getting in the flow of the dialect used in the writing, it was an easy read. It moved fast and didn’t waste much time on unimportant details.

“The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Terrible do it for most folks, I think.

My wife asked me what I thought the title meant – The Color Purple. Celie, the main character, mentions it when she’s shopping for dresses – she wanted a purple dress, with maybe some red in it too. They can’t find a purple dress and she’s told her husband wouldn’t want to pay for red – she can choose brown, maroon or navy.

I think the color purple represents Celie’s wants and desires — and maybe her happiness, maybe her peace. She searched for it for most of the book and I think she got close a couple of different times, even some of her poor circumstances – but something usually disrupted it. Maybe teaching us that happiness and peace are fleeting.

The Killer Angels

Author: Michael Shaara
My Rating: 4/5

I liked this book. It was the first book I’ve read about the Civil War. I didn’t feel like it was one-sided and it seemed to explain a few things to me about the war and how people were thinking at the time. Especially the South’s point of view. Having not known anything about him, it was interesting to read about General Robert E Lee and how admired he was. James Longstreet was another admirable character from the South, who seemed to just continually get his spirit beat down… which I guess is what war is.

But, the obvious hero of this story is Colonel Joshua Chamberlain.

This is a different kind of army. If you look at history you’ll see men fight for pay, or women, or some other kind of loot. They fight for land, or because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we’re here for something new. I don’t … this hasn’t happened much in the history of the world. We’re an army going out to set other men free.

It was fun to read about the Battle of Gettysburg and how the soldiers thought and how they fought. Joshua Chamberlain was a former college professor who volunteered for the war. He was inspirational to his men and he was a tough soldier. When the Confederate soldiers were coming up the hill trying to out flank the Union, and Chamberlain was left with no other choice, he ordered his men to “fix bayonets” and charge down the hill toward the Confederate soldiers. It worked.

April 2022

😀 Updates since last month

Updated: April 1, 2022

📗 Books I’m currently reading

📕 Book I finished reading last month

🎸 Music I’ve been listening to

Quote I’ve been thinking about

“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts.”

– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

🎧 Podcast episodes I thought were interesting

🎥 Videos I thought were worth watching

Getting Naked

Author: Patrick Lencioni
My Rating: 4/5

This was a very easy read – it was a fictional story with some lessons to be learned from it. There was a list of principles that the main character learned from a fictional consulting company. There were 3 categories:

For me personally, I could relate very easily to the Fear of Being Embarrassed. This category contained 3 principles:

These were things that I realized I’ve been hesitant to do. After reading this book, I was able to quickly put these principles into action – and with success, also.

My favorite quote came from the Introduction,

Without the willingness to be vulnerable, we will not build deep and lasting relationships in life.

I like this style of business book – fables that you can learn from.

Attending a Jordan Peterson lecture

My wife and I recently drove down to Des Moines, Iowa to watch Jordan Peterson’s lecture earlier this week. I was pretty excited for it – I’m a fan of a lot of his ideas. I think he might be the best thinker of our time.

I found that most of the audience was annoying – which I kind of knew going in. There were the people that dressed up – they were annoying, but so were the people that came in cut-off shirts and mud on their shoes. The drunk lady was annoying. The guy behind me who needed to blow his nose was annoying – but so was the guy next to me that turned around and said something about it.

That probably says a lot more about me and about the other people than about Jordan Peterson’s lecture – but the problem was that I had to try and watch, listen, and pay attention while all that stuff was happening between me and Jordan Peterson. That was difficult.

Usually when I listen to Jordan Peterson, it’s on my headphones on a walk – it’s more intimate and personal. So I was very happy I chose to illegally record the lecture and be able to listen to again afterwards, on my headphones. It was actually very good!

Why do we like Steve Jobs?

People love Steve Jobs – he was a visionary. He revolutionized several industries. He invented the Macintosh which changed our entire lives. He invented iPhone which changed our entire lives. The list goes on.

But he also was not a nice person.

I read the Steve Jobs biography back in 2018, before I started taking notes on books, so I don’t remember my thoughts on it. But I rated it 5 stars on Goodreads, so I must’ve really liked it.

I recently watched the documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine and also the movie, Jobs.

After watching these, I started thinking that we certainly give Steve Jobs the benefit of the doubt. Most people who behaved that way to their friends, family, employees, etc. would not get that same benefit. I wonder why we give it to him?

We know he was not a nice person, but we think highly of him anyways. Maybe he was that good that we’re able to look passed it?

Start With Why

Author: Simon Sinek
My Rating: 3/5

For some reason, I thought this book would be more from an individual perspective rather than an organizational perspective. However, it was the opposite – it was about companies starting with Why. The premise is that most companies start with What they do and might talk about how How they do it, to differentiate themselves. Very few ever talk about Why they do what they do, besides money. The argument is that the great companies start with Why and end with What, when communicating to the public and to their employees.

So it basically talked through a lot of the iconic companies – especially with leaders with big personalities:

This book seemed to think of Apple as the ideal company and used it too many times as an example — but, all of these companies were successful because their leaders started with why. Then their leaders were able to communicate their why to employees and customers.

The best example in the book was Apple’s marketing… if Apple started with What, they’re marketing message could be:

We make great computers.

They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.

Wanna buy one?

instead, it since Apple does start with Why, they’re marking message is:

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.

And we happen to make great computers.

Wanna buy one?

This was interesting and a good point.

I was really hoping for more discussion on how to discover your Why. But, I do think this idea could be taken from a personal point of view as well – but the struggle is discovering your Why.

March 2022

😀 Updates since last month

Updated: March 1, 2022

📗 Books I’m currently reading

📕 Book I finished reading last month

🎸 Music I’ve been listening to

Quote I’ve been thinking about

“‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in the world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.‘”

F. Scott Fitzgerald; The Great Gatsby

🎧 Podcast episodes I thought were interesting

🎥 YouTube videos I thought were worth watching