It’s been a while since our last twirl through the depths of ye olde internets, so let’s get movin with some interesting links:
The Serendipity Engine – Dude quits his job to go on a “serendipity break”:
The concept of taking a serendipity break is based on my belief that luck doesn’t exist and that new, unexpected opportunities can be the result of feeding the Serendipity Engine. …
The Serendipity Engine works just like an internal combustion engine and, like with a high performance muscle car, you need to feed it with the right kind of propellant. In this analogy, the fuel is made of different activities, skills, and conversations. In my case I select them so that they are deliberately out of or tangential to my current professional domain. The engine also requires maintenance and fine tuning via iterations and changes to the activities or skills I become involved with.
I’ve been thinking about serendipity lately because social media used to be a good way to traverse obscure depths of the internet, but has lately become moribund medium. I will grant that maybe I’m no longer following the right people, but that’s also become more difficult. Speaking of this subject:
A Q&A with Rob Walker, Author of The Art of Noticing – This guy has written a book about observation skills and includes lots of exercises. This interview features a couple of good ones:
KPG: If you were going to a new city or destination, which exercises would you recommend trying as a way to better explore a new place?
RW: One would be Get There The Hard way. At least once during your trip, go to some destination without taking directions from your phone. Plan out a route in advance—you can consult a paper map if you want, or written directions, just don’t rely on your phone—and if you get confused, ask someone for help. Be engaged with the space you’re in and the people you’re around, find your way, and be open to discovery as you go.
The other is Eat Somewhere Dubious. Have one meal at a restaurant that you didn’t find on Yelp or through any sort of recommendation and that doesn’t even look trendy or hip. First you’ll have fun keeping an eye out for it: “Is THAT our dubious restaurant?” Second, even if you have a mediocre meal, you’ll have an unpredictable experience! And this, by the way, is how the best food writers make discoveries and find the places that later get hot on Yelp. So maybe you’ll get lucky.
I did a hike recently where the trail wasn’t especially well marked and my phone wasn’t much help. This just underscores how dependent we’ve become on our phones for stuff like directions. The “Eat Somewhere Dubious” idea actually sounds like a lot of fun, and I will have to try it out. I’ve definitely done something like “Drink Dubious Beer” before (i.e. Vermont Beer Roulette or Belgian Beer Roulette), and it’s always been fun, even if I didn’t much care for the beer.
The ’70s Independents Who Took on the Mafia – Overview of 70s gangster/cop flicks from Mike Malloy, who clearly knows his stuff. Naturally, this vid lead me down a rabbit whole of other Malloy videos, notably this one:
I Don’t Need to Ever Read Another F*cking Word About Sergio Leone – Malloy takes on the glut of books about Sergio Leone (and Sam Peckinpah). Unlike a lot of people complaining about this sort of thing, he puts forth examples of other “tough guy” directors who could use some scholarly treatment…
A Theory of Hot Sauces, with Recommendations – I enjoy hot sauces just fine, but I’m always fascinated by posts like this where someone just talks about their favorites. This guy has been using his pandemic lockdown to explore hot sauce:
OK, so one thing I’ve been doing during pandemic era is trying out hot sauces. Like a lot of hot sauces. Like a really unbearably large number of hot sauces. Like setting up hot sauce tastings where lunch is me making sad fish tacos out of my toddler’s abandoned day-old fish sticks but there are 15 different hot sauces to try with it. Like, when I got the new dream job, I was like, “I need to celebrate!” and… immediately went to an online hot sauce store and bought ten new hot sauces. This is apparently how I pandemic when I’m cut off from exploring restaurants and stuff.
As usual when it comes to hot sauces, the grand majority he lists are things I’ve never heard of (again, not an expert here, but still). Incidentally, I’ve been enjoying Hank Sauce; recommended if you’re in the market for reasonable hot sauces (i.e. tasty but not going to burn your face off).
And that’s all for now. Despite the serendipity explorations above, finding links for posts like this is harder than it used to be… We’ll have to work on improving that.