Joseph Heller, the author of Catch-22, once was at a party in the Hamptons. A guy came over to him and pointed at a young, 25 year old standing in the party who worked for a big hedge fund. Heller’s “friend” said to him, “see that guy over there? He made more money last year than you will ever make with all of your books combined.”
Joseph Heller said, “Maybe so. But I have one thing that man will never have.”
His friend was skeptical. “Oh yeah, what?”
Heller said, “Enough.”
- SWAT Teams carry Tyan Wedgie Doorstops in the front pocket of their tactical uniform, so that when they run through a door they can easily run back out. (via Penn Radio 06/02/2007)
- The first Space Shuttle Enterprise was originally called Constitution but was renamed after a letter-writing campaign by Star Trek fans. (via NASA Space Shuttle - Documentary)
- If you could fold a piece of paper 50 times it would be 70 million miles high. (via The Bryan Callen Show)
- An ant colony will divide into two when the total population reaches 80,000. (via The Bryan Callen Show)
- Both Steven Spielberg and Steven Soderbergh have never had a cup of coffee in their lives. (via Empire Magazine November 2015)
- When Nik Wallenda crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope in June 2012 he was required to carry a passport ready to present it to Canadian border guards on the Canadian side of the falls. (via SModcast)
- Richard Dawkins published his bicycle lock combination in a book and his bike has never been stolen. (via Penn’s Sunday School)
- The actual name for spats was spatterdashers. You fastened them over your ankles, to prevent the spatter dashing you according to P. G. Wodehouse. “It’s a shame when things like spats go out.” (via Paris Review)
- The term soft mouth is used by breeders and users of hunting dogs to refer to a behavioural tendency to pick up, hold, and carry quarry gently. (via Penn’s Sunday School)
- Bette Nesmith Graham was the inventor of Liquid Paper which at one time had 95% of the correction fluid market. She was also the mother of musician and producer Michael Nesmith of The Monkees. (via Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast!)
- Jerry Lewis developed an early version of Video Assist which allows a filmmaker to view a video version of a take after it has been filmed. (via Talkin Walkin)
- Slash is a huge dinosaur nerd. (via Nerdist Podcast)
- Bill Wyman, former Rolling Stones bass player, has his own Signature Metal Detector. (via Gweek Podcast)
- John Goodman bought his mansion in New Orleans from Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails. (via Empire Magazine January 2014)
- A camel is so efficient at conserving water that its dung can be used as fuel without drying. (via Wil Wheaton)
- Sir Terence Conran brought the duvet to Britain after sleeping under one with a girl in Sweden in the 1950s. (via Desert Island Discs)
- Laurence Olivier once taught Julie Goodyear how to vomit on cue. (via Desert Island Discs)
- London’s Black Taxi Cabs have a turning circle of just 25 ft (8 m) so that they can drive around the roundabout outside the Savoy Hotel. (via Top Gear)
- In the early twentieth century, piano tuners outnumbered members of any other trade in English insane asylums. (via A Romance on Three Legs)
- The word prepone is used by English speakers in India to mean “move forward in time”. (via Triangulation)
I signed up for James' newsletter and read Transform Your Habits.
Time for a little backstory. I’ve wanted to start developing iOS applications in my spare time. I have the equipment, the books, development knowledge, I sit in front of my Mac for hours and hours during any given week and never achieve anything.
In the morning I check email, RSS feeds, BBC News and Digg to see what has happened to the world while I was asleep. After work I sit on the sofa and read a book, but then I check email, RSS feeds, BBC News and Digg before I start making something to eat. After I’ve washed the dishes, when I should be writing applications in Xcode, I check email… well you get the idea. Time passes, one thing links to another, an hour later I’m thinking that there’s no point trying to start anything now I may as well look at Buzzfeed, watch a little TV then go to bed. So by the end of the week I have nothing to show for it.
It’s just a habit. I can break it. Just check email and RSS feeds once a day. The rest of the time do something constructive.
James also wrote that he set himself a task, to write for his blog every Monday and Thursday. That’s his habit, sit down and write.
With most things in life it’s best to start with small steps.
- When film director Stanley Kubrick purchased a Dymo label machine he labelled one draw THINGS. This was later changed to IMPONDERABILIA as part of the Kubrick classification system. (via Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures)
- The nickname “Bunk”, given to Detective William Moreland in The Wire, comes from the military meaning your bunk mate. (via Maxim)
- The “Naughty. But nice.” advertising slogan for cream cakes was the creation of Salman Rushdie, before he became an author. (via Desert Island Discs)
- Cutting paper with fabric scissors can blunt them. (via Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project)
- When Ernie Wise met Eric Morecambe for the first time, Ernie was taller. (via Desert Island Discs)
- The chances of someone shuffling the same pack of cards the same way twice are 1 in 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000. (via QI)
- Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, the Tasmanian Devil and many other cartoon characters has the phrase “That’s All Folks” on his gravestone. (via Radio Lab)
- James Mason wanted his luxury item to be the gold Snoopy that he wore around his neck when he appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1981.
- Tom F. Wilson, Biff Tannen in the Back to the Future movies, carries his own personal FAQ to hand out to inquiring fans.
- The voice of Woody, the Toy Story doll, isn’t Tom Hanks it’s his brother Jim. (via Wittertainment)
- Forensic psychotherapist Dr Gwen Adshead wanted to take the Top Gear team on to the desert island as her luxury item. Not surprisingly Kirsty Young wouldn’t allow it. (via Desert Island Discs)
- Roald Dahl is credited with using the word gremlin outside the Royal Air Force. (via Desert Island Discs)
- David Bailey was allowed to take Nelson’s Column to his desert island. As long as he promised not to climb it. (via Desert Island Discs)
- Philips and Sony based the diameter of the inner hole of a CD on the size of the Dutch dime. (via Tech Hive)
- On April 1, 1974, local prankster Oliver ‘Porky’ Bickar flew into the dormant Mount Edgecumbe volcano in Alaska and ignited 100 old tires in the crater. The residents of Sitka, Alaska were convinced that the volcano was erupting. (via QI)
- Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
- Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn
All these years and I now find out that I’ve been ruminating. Previously I always called it ‘grumbling’. An incessant internal dialogue that could last for days or longer, where conversations, questions, responses, problems, what I said and what I should have said, would churn around in my head. Doing that would only make things worse, I’d just get angrier, my heart would race and I always felt that my blood pressure must be off the charts. I could do all this at a moments notice, no matter what else I was doing. Some problems would be forgotten about within a few days, others, maybe longer. There are things that happened years ago that when I think about them today still have the power to irritate me.
I had read Mindfulness in Plain English years ago but had never thought that it covered depression. Not that I really consider myself as depressed, I just thought that there must be a way to feel happier. In the past, whenever there has been some problem, either at work, personally or even some driver on the road, I’d be miserable about it for a few days but a week later I’d wonder what all the fuss was about.
Just reading the first chapters of the book I recognised myself immediately in the pages. Halfway through I was reading an example of someone who had a problem at work and I was doing the very same thing myself.
The book says that this is just ruminating, the more you do it, the worse it gets. If you don’t think about the problem then the problem goes away and you start to feel happier. They are just thoughts. To get this negativity out of your head you have to have something positive to replace it. So you focus on what is happening to you now. Don’t go through life thinking about something else. Feel the chair against your back and the keys beneath your fingers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they’re asking you frolic barefoot through a summer meadow, like the movie version of a hippy. Just bring your mind back to what is happening now. After all they are just thoughts, nagging and irritating they maybe, but just thoughts. You can let them go.
…a whole life of lost moments is a whole life lost.
- Clay shooters in the UK call “pull!” because in the good old days the live pigeons were released from their basket by pulling a string. Nowadays you could say anything as the machine operates via an acoustic release. (via BBC Olympic Oddities)
- The Mycenaean Greeks are thought to have invented the safety pin, or fibula, in the 14th Century BC to fasten garments together. (via BBC Olympic Oddities)
- The Indian statue by the door in Cheers was called Tecumseh. (Cheers Season 8, Episode 21)
- Frederick Crane’s first word was ‘Norm’ but is pronounced ‘Mommy’. (Cheers Season 9, Episode 7)
- Frank Skinner spent £11,000 on a shirt worn by Elvis Presley. Frank wore it once for a TV appearance so that he could claim it as ‘wardrobe’ for tax purposes. (via Desert Island Discs)
I travel with a 1DS Mark III which is actually walking-around-the-city-with-a-damn-cinder-block-around-your-neck so I use the more stealthy, very capable, 5D Mark II. And my favourite lens is the 16-35, it’s a wide and it forces you to get a portrait by basically going right up to someone, getting up close and personal and saying “Hello, my I take a photo of you”. I don’t like to be anonymous taking photos I like to meet the people I’m photographing. I tell people, when they ask me, “Why I don’t take more landscape photographs?”, I always say, “Landscapes don’t hit back”. I like to take pictures of people, because the human experience is the one that’s most fascinating to me.