This week's Tungsten Hippo post is on how short ebooks can function like a taster flight of beer (or wine, if that's more your thing), allowing you to compare different samples of similar things, and thereby notice aspects that you might have missed without the comparison.
It was also going to be the first blog post on Tungsten Hippo to include an image, but I ran out of time. To make that happen, I need to install several new Drupal modules and a client side WYSIWYG editor. This makes me simultaneously appreciate blogging software and miss the simplicity of the hand-editing HTML days. However, learning the ins and outs of Drupal was part of the point of the Tungsten Hippo project, so I will eventually finish this off and enable pictures in my blog posts over there. The Tungsten Hippo project, though, is reinforcing something that I already knew about myself- I enjoy tech challenges, but I'm really all about the content. So I decided not to let this particular tech thing get in the way of my posting schedule and put the post up without a picture.
Therefore, the 20 or so people who read Tungsten Hippo and not Wandering Scientist will miss out on this picture:
Anyhow, I've used the same image of a beer taster flight before, in a blog post here. That post was about careers and interests, and being a "scanner." One of the insights I'd gained from reading a couple of books about people who have a lot of different, diverse interests is that we can benefit from viewing our interests as a taster flight. I continue to apply this idea in my life, and it has stood the test of time.
As useful as the idea of the taster flight is, I'm still struggling to get the balance right in my life. I can spiral into unhelpful self-doubt about how I feel like my career is floundering- which made it nice to read this article from Brian Featherstonhaugh about "career rocket fuel" and the stages of a career. Although I feel like I'm too old for all of this soul-searching nonsense, in his formulation I'm hitting that phase right on time: I'm 15 years post-PhD, which is when my career really started. Even the three possible paths he listed as an example for his imaginary second phase person sort of fit.
Of course, I still have to do the work of figuring out where I want my career to go, but maybe I can stop beating myself up for not already knowing!
I was also really struck by this excerpt from the book "Happy City," by Charles Montgomery. There are a lot of really good, thought-provoking ideas in that excerpt, but the section that really made me sit up and take notice was the section on the effects of a long commute, and particularly this quote:
"Stutzer and Frey found that a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40% more money
to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office."
So maybe I should stop beating myself up for hating my new commute, too. People try to convince me it is not that bad, but the new routine effectively doubles my commute time, and I spend an hour every day just commuting. That is not good.
There are two bright spots to my new routine: the fact that it made me start walking Pumpkin to and from school, and the fact that it made me try out podcasts. I'm still collecting a good list of reliable podcasts. I'd like to branch out from the usual NPR ones (although those are good, and I listen to some and love them). One of the less well-known podcasts that I've stumbled across and enjoy is Launch Yourself. I am enjoying hearing all of the interviewee's different stories about what they decided to launch and how they did it. If you are at all tempted to try to launch something- even just as a side project, I recommend checking it out, particularly if your inner PR person is as stunted as mine is!
That's like a taster flight of things to make you think about how you've organized your career and life. There's lots we could discuss in the comments- whether you have a taster flight of interests, where you are at in your career path, what you think about long commutes, whether you've ever launched anything and what you thought about the experience... so have at it!