Summary of “Alone: Lessons on Solitude From an Antarctic Explorer”

Fewer are familiar with another tale of Antarctic adventure, that of the almost five months Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd spent alone at the bottom of the world in 1934.
While Byrd’s journey was not outward but inward, his expedition to the farthest reaches of solitude covered a significant amount of ground, circumscribing the spirit of man and his place in the universe.
Why Byrd Decided to Spend a Season of Solitude at the Bottom of the World.
To address these yearnings, Byrd came up with a plan that aimed to kill two birds with one stone: during the long, dark Antarctic winter, he would man, alone, “The first inland station ever occupied in the world’s southernmost continent.” While the rest of his expedition team remained at the Little America base along the coast of the Ross Ice Shelf, Byrd would set up camp at Bolling Advance Weather Base on Antarctica’s colder, even more barren interior.
While Byrd discovered that a life lived in solitude offered many consolations, he was also very cognizant of its challenges.
While Byrd enjoyed two healthy, insight-filled months of solitude, thereafter conditions at Advance Weather Base unfortunately took a near-fatal turn, and cut short Byrd’s sojourn there.
If you plunged into a prolonged period of solitude and silence, away from every besetting distraction, what would happen to your mind? What insights would you discover? Would they be the same as Byrd’s? Different?
While most of us will never experience a state of silent solitude of the prolonged, all-encompassing kind inhabited by Richard E. Byrd, we can all find more pockets of it in our daily lives.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Oymyakon, Siberia: The coldest village on Earth where eyelashes freeze and temperatures sink to -88F”

The coldest village on Earth reached minus -88 degrees.
Eyelashes freeze, frostbite is a constant danger and cars are usually kept running even when not being used, lest their batteries die in temperatures that average minus-58 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, according to news reports.
Earlier this week, a cold snap sent temperatures plunging toward record lows, with reports as extreme as minus-88 degrees Fahrenheit.
The harsh cold climate permeates nearly every aspect of existence for the people who live in the area.
“Yakutians love the cold food, the frozen raw Arctic fish, white salmon, whitefish, frozen raw horse liver, but they are considered to be delicacies,” local Bolot Bochkarev told the Weather Channel.
Video taken during the cold snap showed a market, open for business on the snowy tundra, frozen fish standing rigidly upright in buckets and boxes, no refrigeration needed.
Depending on how cold the weather dips, people often trade off 20-minute shifts when doing work outside, according to news reports.
Chapple said saliva would freeze into “Needles that would prick my lips.” Shooting was no easier – his camera would constantly get too cold to shoot, he said.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History”

In another 15 years, illiteracy and extreme poverty will be mostly gone.
“Intellectuals hate progress,” he writes, referring to the reluctance to acknowledge gains, and I know it feels uncomfortable to highlight progress at a time of global threats.
Most of the world lived under dictatorships, two-thirds of parents had a child die before age 5, and it was a time of nuclear standoffs, of pea soup smog, of frequent wars, of stifling limits on women and of the worst famine in history.
What moment in history would you prefer to live in?
Professor Roser notes that there was never a headline saying, “The Industrial Revolution Is Happening,” even though that was the most important news of the last 250 years.
I also believe in stepping back once a year or so to take note of genuine progress – just as, a year ago, I wrote that 2016 had been the best year in the history of the world, and a year from now I hope to offer similar good news about 2018.
The most important thing happening right now is not a Trump tweet, but children’s lives saved and major gains in health, education and human welfare.
Every other day this year, I promise to tear my hair and weep and scream in outrage at all the things going wrong.

The orginal article.

Summary of “D.H. Lawrence on the Antidote to the Malady of Materialism – Brain Pickings”

Half a century before Carson and Fromm, and decades before the golden age of consumerism, the English poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and painter D.H. Lawrence pressed his prescient fingers against the pulse-beat of culture to limn the malady that would define the century to come – the greed for power and material possession that would give rise to numerous dictatorships, exploit vulnerable populations, and deplete Earth’s resources – and envisioned a remedy it is not too late for us to implement.
Just before his thirtieth birthday in the summer of 1915, while escaping the tumult of World War I at the English seaside resort of Littlehampton, Lawrence contemplated the relationship between the increasingly artificial human world and the immutable authenticity of the natural world in a letter to his friend Lady Cynthia Asquith, found in The Letters of D.H. Lawrence.
Also over the river, beyond the ferry, there is the flat silvery world, as in the beginning, untouched: with pale sand, and very much white foam, row after row, coming from under the sky, in the silver evening: and no people, no people at all, no houses, no buildings, only a haystack on the edge of the shingle, and an old black mill.
For the rest, the flat unfinished world running with foam and noise and silvery light, and a few gulls swinging like a half-born thought.
Half a century before E.F. Schumacher made his elegant anti-consumerist case for “Buddhist economics,” Lawrence contrasts this living Paradise with the human-made inferno of materialism – an inferno whose blazing fire of greed and fuming brimstone of ownership have only intensified in the century since.
Lawrence, who was a vocal opponent of militarism despite how unpopular and downright anti-patriotic this rendered him in wartime Britain, no doubt saw the causal relationship between humanity’s growing hunger for material possession -the ultimate end of power – and the first truly global war that had just engulfed the world.
One feels a sort of madness come over one, as if the world had become hell.
Complement this fragment of the immeasurably beautiful Letters of D.H. Lawrence with Alan Watts on money vs. wealth, Henry Miller on how the hedonic treadmill of materialism entraps us, and E.F. Schumacher on how to begin prioritizing people over products and creativity over consumption, then revisit Whitman on what makes life worth living.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Modern life too much for you? Maybe a tiny box in the woods is the cure.”

In each of its markets, outside New York, Boston and Washington, Getaway’s houses are booked solid on weekends, and in early 2017, the company, founded by two Harvard graduates, raised $15 million in venture capital funding, which suggests that a tiny house campground may soon be coming to a forest near you.
Now, in tiny houses that no one will acknowledge are honestly just what we used to call cabins, it’s called “Escaping.”
For the suburban families who have made “Tiny House Hunters” an HGTV hit, tiny houses are an alternate reality, an incredible stretch of the imagination.
Having only recently moved up from a series of 350-square-foot tiny houses called studio apartments, I know what it’s like to live with no doors.
We struggle “Our whole lives to work hard enough so we can relax,” says Amy Turnbull, president of the American Tiny House Association, a relatively recent creation with 400 members nationwide.
It’s no wonder that the tiny house, off the grid in fact and in spirit, appeals.
And other tiny house rentals, such as Caravan in Portland, Ore., or Austin’s Tiny Homes Hotel, can give you a taste of the tiny-house life.
In an early marketing video, one of Getaway’s founders spoke of tiny houses as yet another millennial reaction to their parents’ whole lives.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Walt Whitman on What Makes Life Worth Living – Brain Pickings”

“Do you need a prod?” the poet Mary Oliver asked in her sublime meditation on living with maximal aliveness.
“Do you need a little darkness to get you going?” A paralytic prod descended upon Walt Whitman in his fifty-third year when a stroke left him severely disabled.
Like all of our unexpected brushes with mortality, the stroke had thrust into his lap a ledger and demanded that he account for his life – for who he is, what he stands for, what he has done for the world and how he wishes to be remembered by it.
As nature nursed him back to life in her embrace, Whitman found himself reflecting on the most elemental questions of existence – what makes a life worth living, worth remembering? He recorded these reflections in Specimen Days – the sublime collection of prose fragments, letters, and journal entries that gave us Whitman on the wisdom of trees and music as the profoundest expression of nature.
I go around in public almost every day – now and then take long trips, by railroad or boat, hundreds of miles – live largely in the open air – am sunburnt and stout, – keep up my activity and interest in life, people, progress, and the questions of the day.
The principal object of my life seems to have been accomplish’d – I have the most devoted and ardent of friends, and affectionate relatives – and of enemies I really make no account.
Specimen Days remains a kind of secular bible for the thinking, feeling human being.
Complement this particular fragment with Dostoyevsky’s dream about the meaning of life, Tolstoy on finding meaning when life seems meaningless, and the forgotten genius Alice James – William and Henry James’s brilliant sister – on how to live fully while dying, then revisit Whitman on why literature is central to democracy and his timeless advice on living a vibrant and rewarding life.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Her six-hour commute each day seems crazy, but her affordable rent is not”

The train leaves at 4:43 a.m. and Cherry, 60 years old and a couple of years away from retirement, rides it all the way to the final stop, more than two hours away.
Cherry then hustles to the Red Line, pops out of the ground at the Civic Center station, crosses Hill Street and reports for duty as a clerical worker at the L.A. County auditor controller’s office by 7:30.
“It’s usually 8:15 or 8:20 when I get home at night,” says Cherry, who has been doing this merciless long-distance commute for 16 years, getting by on just 4½ hours of sleep each night.
Carolyn Cherry has been doing her merciless long-distance commute for 16 years, getting by on just 4½ hours of sleep each night.
“It’s two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a backyard and amenities I wouldn’t be able to afford in Los Angeles on my salary,” says Cherry, who makes less than $50,000 a year as a tax services specialist after 25 years on the job.
Cherry looked into making a switch to Riverside or San Bernardino counties, but says the pay was significantly lower, even taking her $400 monthly commuting costs into account.
No financial stress, but commuter stress…. “I have no financial stress, whereas if I was in L.A. I’d live paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t want to live like that and I didn’t want my kids to see us living like that,” Cherry says.
It’s not so bad, says Cherry, once you program yourself to the routine and look forward to seeing the members of your commuting family, including a best friend from junior high who usually boards in Riverside.

The orginal article.

Summary of “25 Books Everyone Should Read, According to TED Speakers”

In preparation for the holidays, the organization asked its speakers for more recommendations for books to either give or enjoy this winter.
The first installment in a detective series set in ancient Rome, “This book will make you realize crime, corruption, cops, and crime fighters are not a new concept,” notes industrial engineering manager Julio Gil.
If most of your reading these days is done with your kids, here’s a suggestion from information designer Giorgia Lupi, who calls these books “The best bedtime books you’ll ever read. They will help girls – young and old – to dream bigger, to be confident, and to be inspired.”
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg “This is one of those books that I’ve continuously thought about and quoted to people ever since I read it,” relates actor, writer, producer, and activist Naomi McDougall Jones.
The book is a “Well-researched and provocative look at the history of romance, courtship, and marriage, putting into context the fantastic amount of pressure that our current ideas have put on our own love lives and partners. It’s a must-read for anyone who is dating, married, or thinking of ever doing either.” So, everyone then.
If you want to read about the end of the world over the holidays, this is the book for you.
Rare praise for the readability of a book about math from computer scientist Roger Antonsen: “I recently picked up Foolproof at a local bookstore in San Francisco, and I simply couldn’t put it down! In this wonderful book – using sudoku, Hilbert curves, chaos, π, and much more – Hayes shows us the colorful, creative, and imaginative side of mathematics.”
Have to see your most self-involved relative over the holidays? Prepare yourself with “This incredibly insightful book” that “Details the underlying motivations and behaviors of those with narcissistic personality disorders,” suggests executive Susan Robinson.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Seeking the Lost Art of Growing Old with Intention”

Seventy years ago, long before Bernd Heinrich became one of history’s fastest ultramarathoners, and ages before his scientific studies on ravens made him a leading naturalist, he was a skinny, impoverished kid living in a hut in the forest of Hahnheide, in Germany.
Bernd’s father shoveled manure to survive, and the family lived mostly off forage-nuts, berries, mushrooms, and also trout, which Bernd caught with his bare hands.
Once when Bernd was five years old and collecting beetles, he found a prized rare specimen at the base of a stump, and his father confiscated the insect to punish him for being “Overstimulated,” as he put it, when the boy leaped for the bug.
Bernd Heinrich is now 77 years old and the author of 21 books.
Bernd lives three hours northeast of me, half a mile off a country road and up a hill on a path that in winter can be negotiated only on snowshoes.
A wooden chest that Bernd made in the eighth grade sits in the living room, and upstairs there’s a battered thermometer screwed to an exposed beam.
Ravens can live more than 50 years in captivity, and over time Bernd apprehended a Shakespearean intricacy in their social lives.
“I’d see two birds displaying their feathers at once. I’d see one bird chasing another, trying to get rid of it.” It was a love triangle, probably, but however it resolved, Bernd has not seen the pair since 2014, and he’s left only with questions: “How long do ravens stay together? What about jealousy?” Even now, Bernd finds himself scanning the woods in vain.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Tell Me What You Did Today, And I’ll Tell You Who You Are”

How close to your values and goals are your living?
If you are to really accomplish your goals and dreams, how much differently would your regular day need to be than today was?
What activities must happen daily for you to live exactly how you want to be living? You may have several things in the way of your ideal day right now, but are you getting closer?
If you were to consistently live your ideal day, where would you be in one year from now? Where would you be in five years?
Self-evaluation: determines how well we are performing comparative to our goals.
Self-reaction: determines how we think and feel comparative to our goals.
Loads of research has sought to determine: How do you keep people striving for a goal when they’re struggling to stay motivated?
How you spend each day is a clear indicator of who you are and who you will become.

The orginal article.