Friday Randomness, Vol. 39

Ben puts his arms up when he gets to the top of Baxter Pass

‘He’s a divisional vice president,’ I answered K when she asked if my friend Ben was a vice president. I had to catch myself. I almost said, ‘He’s just a divisional VP.’ So this week I want to call out the little innocent-seeming adverb, ‘just.’

On my random linguistic kicks, I’ve mused on the conjunction ‘but,’  adverbs in general, and the also-seemingly-innocent pronoun ‘they.’ As defined, ‘just’ can mean ‘exactly.’ So yes, Ben is exactly a DVP. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that using the word ‘just’ seems to, as the Hemingway Editor purports, weaken the word it precedes. Oh, he’s just a DVP. Not a fancy vice president. Wait. No, he’s a DVP. A damn fine one, at that. And an all-around wonderful guy.

It’s a thing of mine: catching myself when I’m about to say ‘just,’ or right after, and correcting myself. I actually can’t think of a time it’s all that necessary to use. Maybe in response to the question, ‘Do you want a coffee?’ Umm, yes that’s just what I need!

Friday Randomness, Vol. 38

HiHeyHello magazine

For some work I’m doing with Oregon State University’s pilot outdoor industry leadership program, I was chatting this week with Sierra Domaille. Earlier this year, she launched her magazine, HiHeyHello. Oh, and she was gracious enough to send me a copy of the first issue a few weeks ago. Before talking with her, I sat down to thumb through it.

It’s gorgeous. In her ‘Letter from the Editor,’ she tells the story of the magazine’s name:

Stopping to say ‘Hi’ is a small act of intention that can break down barriers and be kindling to conversation and change. It’s a first step to learning someone’s story.’

She’s right. For an introvert (umm, that’d be me), that can be tough. It’s a good reminder, I realized. So simple. Note to self: Just say ‘hi.’

Friday Randomness, Vol. 37

Discovery Pinnacle in Sequoia National Park

I was sitting at the airport in between flights reading (sigh) something political in the New York Times. A phrase buried in one of the comments stood out:

‘The known is always safer than the unknown.’

Is it really?

Granted, I was on my way home after hiking nine days through the southern High Sierra. It was tough. There were a lot of days we had no idea how we’d get to where we had pointed to on our map. No trails. Just up or down. We looked forward to those. It was cool figuring out where to turn, which route to take.

There were also days on trails. We looked forward to those, too. We could zone out, stare ahead of our feet, and just go.

What’s the point? I’m not sure. Sometimes one may seem safer than the other. Both are necessary. Maybe it’s just a good reminder for me to be careful using words like ‘always.’

Friday Randomness, Vol. 36

Dunbars number

British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar developed the idea that based on our brain size, 150 people is the maximum number of meaningful connections any person can have. This is the number of people you can reasonably keep up with—you know enough about them to ask about their family or their new house. 

Here’s another way to think of it: How many people could you run into somewhere and ask them something personal without feeling like you were being nosy?

ps – if you don’t want to read the whole Wikipedia article, maybe scroll down to the part about Gore-Tex under the ‘Popularization’ sub-head. Interesting stuff. Thanks again, Malcolm Gladwell.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 35

The Little Prince

This week I posted our floor jack and jack stands for sale on Facebook Marketplace (umm, who knew how popular those things were!?). In my notifications, I saw that a page I follow for the classic tale The Little Prince was doing a live reading with Kristen Scott Thomas (The English Patient has long been high on my list of Best Movies Of All Time – no judging!).

She had just finished up reading. Bummer. I quickly scrolled through the comments while being pinged to death by folks interested in our floor jack. This one grabbed my eye. It’s true.

‘The magic of a good story is that while it initially speaks for the author, each reader finds their own story to take away.’

ps – speaking of good stories, if you haven’t read The Little Prince, I’m judging you like you judged me for liking The English Patient. Read it. You won’t regret it.