The Disease of Busyness

I found a great post on busyness over at by Omid Safi titled The Thief of Intimacy, Busyness. Safi argues that we lose intimacy by being so busy:

So what’s the price we pay for being busy? It’s not that being busy makes us more stressed, or less efficient, or less pleasant. It’s that we miss out. We miss out on an extraordinary amount of time, of being present, of living in intimacy with the people we love the most. The price we pay is… intimacy.

So, so true.

Teaching Grit

I was thinking some more on my common core math post from the other day. Specifically the viral social media posts we see on Facebook, like the frustrated parent (an electronics engineer with an extensive study in “higher math applications”) who cannot figure out a pretty basic math problem, then writes a snarky letter to the teacher.

What exactly is that teaching their child? That it’s OK to give up and not even try? To instead rely on snark and excuses? They obviously took some time to come up with the idea for the letter and write it down, so why not take that time and put effort into figuring out the question? It isn’t that hard and even if it was, I’m sure heading over to Google and searching for ‘math number line’ would have come up with some resources to help them figure it out.

Anyway, this led me to start thinking about grit.

courage and resolve; strength of character.

Also known as tenacity, endurance, fortitude, mettle, determination, and toughness. In my opinion, one of the most important traits of successful people and one of the top traits us parents can teach our children.

As a parent, I imagine the example above went down like this: they came home from a long day at work. Their child asks them for help with a math problem. The parent takes a quick look, figures out the answer to the equation very quickly, but given how easy the equation was, they don’t understand why the question is even necessary. So that sets off the need to make an example of this new fangled math. The focus changes from the child’s homework to the parent’s problem.

But I think it’s more commonly this, from a post in The Atlantic called Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail:

The stories teachers exchange these days reveal a whole new level of overprotectiveness: parents who raise their children in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, children destined to an anxious adulthood, lacking the emotional resources they will need to cope with inevitable setback and failure.

This overparenting “is characterized in the study as parents’ misguided attempt to improve their child’s current and future personal and academic success.”

As a parent, the right thing to do is not insuring a low stress educational career or manipulating situations to improve your child’s success or going out of our way to make sure our kids never fail. It is this: teaching them to persevere through failure, to keep trying, to keep learning & growing, to be curious, to be problem solvers. Those skills will set your kid up for a lifetime of success.

Facebook usage affected by metrics

People realized when the numbers were gone, they had been using them to decide whether to like something. I certainly didn’t expect these tendencies of people saying, ‘I literally don’t know what to do [without knowing the metrics].’

Ben Grosser created a browser extension (used by 1000s of people) that removes the numbers from Facebook like/friend/share counts and also recently published a paper examining the impact of metrics in the journal Computational Culture.

via How Numbers on Facebook Change Behavior – The Atlantic.

The Myth of Read it Later

I think Read Later was always a fantasy. The Read Later app genre definitely sustained that fantasy in my mind far longer than it should have.

A post over at Practically Efficient sparked something for me tonight. My Instapaper inbox keeps growing infinitely — well beyond my ability to keep up. I’ve committed Instapaper bankruptcy a handful of times and even scheduled time to make a dent in it, with very little success. Time to stop pretending I will ever get to these articles.

I’ve read this post a couple of times now and can’t help but agree. My Instapaper inbox keeps growing infinitely — well beyond my ability to keep up. I’ve committed Instapaper bankruptcy a handful of times and even scheduled time to make a dent in it, with very little success.

That ends now. No more pretending. I will be making a quick pass through my account and then delete the app from my phone. I am sure it will feel liberating.

via Read Later is dead — Practically Efficient.


Serial is a podcast where we unfold one nonfiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. We’ll stay with each story for as long as it takes to get to the bottom of it.

If you aren’t listening to the Serial podcast, the new podcast from the folks behind This American Life, you are missing out.

Return of the Blog

Blogging is coming back. Many OGs are starting to re-visit the craft, including Gina Trapani who’s Short-form blogging post has her “new rules for blogging”:

  • If it’s a paragraph, it’s a post.
  • Negotiate a comfort zone on two axes: personal and public
  • Traffic is irrelevant. Don’t even measure it.
  • Simplify, simplify. No comments.
  • Ask for trusted collaborator feedback.
  • Have fun. Blogging is not your job.

I am in… which means this site will likely start to include subjects you aren’t used to seeing here. I hope you enjoy the ride, but in the end this isn’t my job and it’s my personal site. (And yes, I am back to WordPress.)

via | Short-form blogging.

The Itinerant Printer

Over the past few weeks I had the pleasure of helping Chris Fritton, a good friend of over 30 years(!), on his next project: The Itinerant Printer. Over the last bunch of years Chris has helped build WNYBAC into a local treasure, as well as create/run/one-man-show the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair.

In 2015, Chris will be traveling around the country, visiting letterpress shops, building community, and documenting his journey via prints, postcards, blog posts, pictures, and much more. To do this, however, he needs our support!

In exchange for your donation, you can become a part of the project! As a supporter, you will be on the receiving end of his output on the road — receiving unique postcards or prints created with each shops unique collection. It will certainly make visits from your local mail person that much more exciting!

For more information, check out his teaser video below, then head over to or donate to his Indiegogo campaign.


Common Core Math Explained

You’ve all seen those viral posts on Facebook or Twitter: a frustrated parent writing to a math teacher about Common Core math. On the face of it, the math problems and methods seem ridiculous. We (adults) all learned math a certain way and we’re comfortable dealing with that method. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?!  The problem is, as points out in the linked article below, American adults are horrible at math. has an excellent explanation of the how and why behind Common Core math.

 One goal of the Common Core math standards is to make American students better at applying math in real life — a skill that’s crucial for science and technology jobs, but one at which American students are particularly weak compared with peers around the world.

My three daughters will, most likely, know nothing but this “new math” during their educational career and I am grateful for that — I believe it fosters a deeper understanding of math concepts and problem solving. Both are things we very much want for them.

There’s plenty that they can improve about Common Core, but the new way to teach math isn’t one of them.