Button’s hit an entertaining part of acquiring language: possessives and connections.

It started when he was at his sister’s soccer game and showed he didn’t want his hat, but his grandfather’s:

“No! Jim hat.”

Yes, he’s on a first-name basis with Grandpa.

From there he’s started to get a giddy joy out of pointing out when he knows that certain things relate to other people or belong to them. Identifying which cup at the table belongs to which person. Pointing to one of his plaid shirts and saying “Papa!” because it looks like the kind of shirts he sees his Papa wearing.

Today I needed to run an errand and he heard me say I was heading to the car. He picked up a windbreaker and followed me. “Dada vroom!” I started to leave without him and he got cranky, until I asked him “Do you want to go with Dad in the car?” He nodded. Dada vroom.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the way to write or say things. Looking for the best ways to put words together to communicate something unambiguously. And here’s Button doing the same thing, but with a smaller palette.

He can’t rely on his words or syntax being persuasive, so he needs to rely on our desire to interpret him.We know that some of it may sound like noise, but that there’s signal trying to break through. He doesn’t need vocabulary or craft to persuade us to listen.

Recent daily affirmations

Something I picked up to add to my daily journaling from the Tim Ferriss book Tools of the Titans: Starting off with some daily questions and affirmations. Asking myself to write down things I’m grateful for, ways to make today a good day, and then answering the prompt “I am ______.”

Today’s response felt like one worth sharing:

Excuse my handwriting. I’ve given up working on it.

It ties in a little to a recent thought I shared on Twitter:

Delete App/Remove from Home Screen/Cancel

In ridding ourselves of the courthouse and marketplace we do not rid ourselves of the principal worries of our life. Ambition, covetousness, indecisiveness, fear, and desires hardly abandon us just because we change address. They pursue us into the monasteries and schools of philosophy themselves. Neither deserts nor caves nor hair shirts nor penance can extricate us from them. That is why it is not enough to remove oneself from people, not enough to go somewhere else. We have to remove ourselves from the habits of the populace that are within us. We have to isolate our own self and return it to our possession. We carry our chains within us. We are not entirely free. We keep returning our gaze to the things we left behind.

Stephen Batchelor reading Michel de Montaigne for the Tricycle podcast

Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be transferred or transformed from one form to another.

The first law of thermodynamics

Sometimes I’ll delete Instagram from my phone for a while. Or set up blockers to keep me from looking at the web version of Twitter (since Tweetbot does a pretty good job of keeping me from falling down rabbit holes).

The other day I put Instagram back on my phone for a moment to check a message someone had sent me there, and within a few taps I inadvertently opened a video with spoilers for the new season of The Owl House.

At which point my brain kicked over to “In for a penny, in for a pound” and I fell down a rabbit hole with the app for several minutes.

The little lifehacks and quick fixes don’t work for me. There are plenty of others who feel the same:

Because bad habits provide some type of benefit in your life, it’s very difficult to simply eliminate them. (This is why simplistic advice like “just stop doing it” rarely works.)

Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new habit that provides a similar benefit.

James Clear

I haven’t found the right replacement for some of the habits that don’t actually bring me any real joy (even if they bring me dopamine). Maybe that’s because I haven’t adequately figured out what need they’re trying to fulfill.

An app or a social network isn’t designed for an individual, but for a broad sense of what humans need and desire. When I let idle moments default to distraction, I lose definition.

I’m no longer here, in this space, doing and thinking and being. Instead I’m riding a current of other people’s decisions and thoughts. Surrendering to it.

And it’s not enough to try to run and hide from it.

You can only win the game you’re playing

Sprout’s soccer season is over. We made it!

She was playing on an Under-8 team: 4-on-4 with no goalies. It was her first team of any kind, and the first time I ever coached a sport.

My qualifications? Glad you asked:

  • I was a parent of a child in the league
  • I have successfully directed one youth theater production
  • I played more than one full season of FIFA 64 when I was in high school
  • I was willing to do it

So I did some homework on drills and strategy. Asked other parents for advice. Quickly watched Ted Lasso. Bought some colorful cones for practices.

Then we lost every game.

Don’t act surprised.

After those first few losses, I felt like I was doing them a disservice. The other teams were punishing. And some of the coaches encouraged their kids to rub it in our faces.

I wasn’t about to go down that road and try to respond in kind. The world has too many toxic sports parents already, thanks.

I stopped attaching my sense of success from the win-loss record, and it got easier to focus on what could help them.

If I only pushed them to win, it would’ve meant the only way to have fun would be to win.

There was no Gordon Bombay moment coming. I stopped looking for it.

Instead, I motivated them to get back up when they fell. To line back up as fast as they can if the other team scores a goal. To care more about the next point than the final score.

Here’s how we ended the season:

  • The team had fun
  • The parents told me they were glad their kids had a nice coach this year who kept things positive instead of the jerks they saw coaching other teams
  • Several players had their best performances in the final games, even when we were losing
  • Sprout actually wants to play again next season

So no, I’m not going to get any offers from the Premier League. I played the game that made sense to me, and it turned out pretty well.

What to do with a blog

When it comes to a(my) blogging method for writing longer, more synthetic work, the traditional relationship between research and writing is reversed. Traditionally, a writer identifies a subject of interest and researches it, then writes about it. In the (my) blogging method, the writer blogs about everything that seems interesting, until a subject gels out of all of those disparate, short pieces.

Cory Doctorow, The Memex Method

This post got me thinking about sharing more on the blog and less on social media. If I’m interested enough in something to want other people to see it, it makes sense to post it somewhere it will stick around and connect to other ideas.

It also reminds me of two quotes I keep in Highlighted:

“Talking to yourself can be useful. And writing means being overheard.”

Zadie Smith, Intimations

You can’t put a tweet on a shelf. Things stick around for a reason.

Jonathan Safran Foer

It also gets me thinking about Bean Dad (sorry to remind you about that).

How does the tool address the task? What do I accomplish sharing something on social media instead of here?

It’s all got me thinking.