Always Stop When You Know What Happens Next

Ernest Hemingway:

“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.”

What’s fun is, this logic works with other arts as well. It works with crafts and it works with markets and it definitely works with code.

Many times, working on a project, it’s been 7 or 8 o’clock at night and I’m at a point where I know just what I need to code next. I could push on into the night. But I know that if I do, I might end up somewhere where I don’t know what happens next. And if I leave it there, then I’ll lose more in getting started tomorrow than I’ll gain by working tonight.

Always stop when you know what happens next.

24 Hours Of Gluttony

Jesse and I like to get together once or twice a year and do a food crawl. We pick a city. We walk around. We eat, we drink, we indulge. He calls it 24 Hours Of Gluttony.

The funny thing is, except for the rare times when I’ve gotten a little too exuberant it’s not really gluttony in the traditional sense. I enjoy eating. I enjoy drinking. But what I really love is the exchange of ideas. Understanding viewpoints. Food and wine (and coffee and beer) are great ways I’ve found of doing both. What is a dish but an expression of a chef’s idea about ingredients and place? What is a bottle of wine but a collaboration of viewpoints, these grapes on this hillside in this year blended in this way?

This time around, Jesse came here, and we crawled Portland. We did food carts, oysters at Eat’s new Pearl venture Parish (I can’t believe how good the Netarts Bay oysters are this year), we watched a Timbers game at Bazi (best game of the year so far), we had dinner at Accanto (Roman style tripe stew might have been the best tripe I’ve ever had, better even than Batali’s at B&B Ristorante).

So yeah, we do a lot of eating, and a good amount of drinking. But you know what? What sticks in my mind from our semi-annual get-togethers, even more than the food and drink, is the ideas I absorb and the ideas I get just listening to my friend talk about what he’s working on.

I can work for months on the ideas I get from just one weekend of talk.

So maybe Jesse’s right. Maybe it is 24 Hours of Gluttony that we do. Only I’d suggest it might be ideas that we’re really being gluttonous about.

Hugo The Tweeter, Hugo The Texter

Watched Les Mis last night. Not the 2012 version, based on the musical. The 1998 version, based on the original novel. Liam Neeson’s tender Jean Valjean and Geoffrey Rush’s superb Javert.

The book was published in 1862. 150 years ago. I picked up my copy this morning and thumbed through Part 1, up to Waterloo. I’d forgotten how the writing is. Punchy. Single sentence paragraphs. Active-voice action. Contemporary! Many paragraphs read like tweets, or at least would fit the 140-charecter limit.

Also, there’s this: Apparently Hugo was on vacation when the novel was published. He sent a telegram to his publisher with just a single character:


His publisher, aware of how well the book was selling, sent back a single charecter telegram in reply:


Don and Dante


I cracked up laughing at the opening scene of the new season of Mad Men – Don reading Dante, the two ideas that have been in my head lately. I found it interesting that his copy was just The Inferno, rather than the entire Divine Comedy. Taken by itself, the Inferno seems a bitter pill to swallow – like watching the violent prison scenes in Shawshank without seeing the rest of the movie, or skipping the parts of John about the miracles and the resurrection, and just reading the Passion.

Then again, knowing Matthew Weiner, he’s telling us something here: Two seasons left. This one is going to be hell. In the last one? Maybe, we might just explore the other possibilities.

They Really Do What They Say They Do

One thing about websites and social media: They make it very easy to over-promise. How hard is it to write “Yeah, we do this, we do that”, bullet point it out, enclose each one in a styled-up ul tag and publish it on the web?

A: It isn’t the hard part.

Delivering is the hard part.

One thing I’m really proud of, looking back on my work with LifePro: LifePro actually delivers. And more.

Often I wanted to write, underneath a series of bulletted claims: “Hey! Look! All this stuff on the website? We actually do all this! We really do train, mentor and coach. We really do want to help people succeed in a VERY difficult business . We really do work hard for the extraordinary success of our clients, of their clients, AND our vendor partners!


But you can’t say all that. You can’t vet the truthiness of your own claim by placing the claim in bold. Or by using extra exclamation points. Or by making another claim “It really is true, believe me”.

Ben, the CMO at LifePro, is a brilliant guy, and I’m honored to have spent my formative years working next to him. “Underpromise and overdeliver” is a phrase I heard come from his mouth a thousand times, without really hearing it. It’s only from the distance of a relative-outsider that I can look back and see the force of those words.

There’s a powerful thing that happens when you find out, Hey, those guys really do do all that stuff they say they do. And more!

It feels like home.

Roger Ebert On Joy

“I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
Roger Ebert, from his 2011 essay ‘I do not fear death’

Port Orchard This Weekend

Port Orchard this weekend. It’s a small town and that guys at the next table talk way too loud in the coffee shop, but they’re Navy veterans so I leave’em alone. Little old ladies throw it in reverse without looking and nearly back into you in the farmer’s market parking lot, but they can’t hear me honking anyway, so why bother yelling?

And what are you going to do anyway? It’s a small town. And it’s Spring. I work in the morning, then I mow the lawn. Mom and I plant parsley and strawberries in the yard. I make gnocchi from scratch. I grill us some steaks, artichokes and asparagus and sunchokes all sharing shotgun.

216. View From Whiskey Gulch