The You That Your Friends See

Your friends don’t see the horrible story that your mind is telling you that you are. In fact: no one does. It is a habit of your mind to get you distracted from anything that threatens it’s paper tiger kingdom. When you give yourself a break you are really giving yourself a break from your mind. You will have a lot more energy for having done so, too.

The Opposite of Numb is Sense

I’ve got a favorite story. It has been for a long time. I’ve always wondered why and you probably will too once you hear it. I was born in Milwaukee, WI. My parents moved to Reedsville, WI to run a funeral home when I was a baby.

We lived in a wonderful old home. My parents had a station wagon. Eventually they had a Datsun Nissan Sentra hatch-back; the car with three names. The other one was a Family Vacation style station wagon.

What happened one day was that dad was driving, mom was in front, and I was in back. We got home and got out of the car. Not paying attention, I managed to get my fingers squashed between the car and the car door when my mom closed it. My mom didn’t notice though; because it didn’t hurt me. I stared at it wondering what was going on. I told mom and she opened the door. That is when the surprise came!

When the blood rushed back into my fingers I could barely make sense of it. It was confusing, and even exciting, all at once. It felt like suffocating, and then drowning, and then burning. My little mind said “Oh, OK, hmm…” and then things got really strange: then the pain came.

It enveloped by entire being; the prickly pain of a thousand tendrils of angry fire. The world stopped if only for a microsecond. Then it started again. Then the tears came. Mom hugged me. But, I couldn’t shake this one off. It took the rest of the afternoon to feel better. This is probably normal.

The reaction, I mean. It was all so sudden and the process was so quick. Little people have that strength of being able to go through the process in seconds or hours instead of years like big people. Big people can even end up forgetting what got them into that numb place so by the time they get back to sensing again it is even more baffling. The challenge is that all of the stages and feelings still come along with it. It can be baffling.

There you are happily plodding along in life as numb as can be and you start to feel the burning. It is shocking! Electric, truly.

The fun and glorious parts of the process get a lot of love and attention. Maybe these parts deserve some credit, too? Not to dwell on them, but maybe just recognize them as part of the process?

Being able to feel yourself take a great big breath of air, and exhale it, whenever you want, makes it all worth it.

Doing it for that little person version of yourself that is tucked safely away in the infinite space of your own heart so they can breathe easy makes it all worth it, too.

Prettifying Org-Mode Code Blocks for Presentations

Org-Mode code blocks are verbose and lovable for literate programming. Rasmus wants to use the raw literate document for a presentation though, so that verbosity won’t do. He explains here how to prettify code blocks. The value-add here is that he doesn’t have to weave (export) the document for it to look great in the presentation; it already does directly in the Emacs buffer.

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

is an important and challenging book. It is important because it deals with 80% of the toughest interpersonal aspects of a professional working environment that will pay off dividends in every aspect of both your career and the health of the organization. It is challenging because it explains everything by example. I don’t blame them. They tackle tough philosophical issues and make them approachable and even actionable. This book is at least life, professional life changing. Give it a chance. If you read it once, try it again in a three years. You will find that the book has changed as much as you have.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

is the solution to 80% of the less intense communication issues in both a professional and personal relationship. This book is concise and a valuable use of your time. Only share with someone that “they could have handled it better” when you can say “and here is how”. This book is the “how” part.

So, you’ve got a problem? That’s good!

So, you’ve got a problem? That’s good! Why? Because repeated victories over your problems are the rungs on your ladder of success. With each victory, you grow in wisdom, stature and experience. You become a better, bigger, more successful person each time you meet a problem and tackle and conquer it with a positive mental attitude.

– W. Clement Stone

Screencasting Practice & Feedback: 00003


  • Demonstrate lessons-learned about alternate input methods and redefinition of the Emacs interpretation of modifier keys
  • Utilize a lower-third instead of text-boxes
  • Talk louder



  • Pretend you are going to a job-interview, or on a date, that is recorded for everyone to see, forever
    • Perform all personal preparations that you normally would for example
      • Brush your teeth
  • Applied Revlon PhotoReady Prime + Anti Shine Balm Clear
  • Lights and camera and microphone
    • Set them up
    • Tested them
    • Hooked up camera and turned it on
    • Adjusted white balance
    • Set left light pointed at me; right light pointed at ceiling
    • Adjust left light to give face warmth (versus ghost appearance)
    • Microphone is on and input volume maxed out
  • Turn off HVAC
  • Mute Phone and Pushbullet
  • Close other applications
  • Verify microphone woks
  • Verify recording on correct monitor
  • Write rough script
  • Pour glass of water


  • Showed off Emacs mug and encouraged FSF support

Screencasting Practice & Feedback: 00002


  • Demonstrate how I like to quote content in Org-Mode
  • Learn how to use call-outs and text-boxes
  • Learn how to ad-lib content
  • Scripted out location of content and video-recording of presenter to make sense of what is appearing on the screen and where
  • Learn how to use content-music


  • Made video top right 100% of the top right corner
    • This means scaling it by 50%
  • Remove the dropshadow from the video
    • The video stood out enough already
  • Amplified volume by 200%
  • Added callouts interesting content
  • Added watermwark, 25% scale, 25% opacity, 10 key-presses from bottom and right edge
  • Include the word Screencast in announcement to distinguish between screencast and blog post
  • 6h of effort for 7m of content
  • Posted manually on Reddit
  • Blog published to social sites

Outcome & Feedback

  • Wrote a script; didn’t pay attention to it enough
  • After re-recording it six times, said I would never re-record it again. Instead made corrections using text-boxes positioned over my face.
  • Light was OK
  • Speaking volume was too quiet; content volume was too loud
  • Skin was shiny
  • Looping the banner and jingle at the end was a mistake
  • The 3m monologue about Braille displays was interesting to me and perhaps no one else so don’t include that. 3m is a long time.
  • Use a lower-third intead of text boxes
  • Redditers commented that a blog post would have been more concise and faster. What is the best of both worlds?