Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Quotes: The Art of Living Treasure Chest by Wilferd A.Peterson (part 4/7)

The Art of BEING

The art of being is the assumption that you may possess, this very minute, those qualities of spirit and attitudes of mind that make for radiant living.

It is a philosophy of being today, instead of becoming in a tomorrow that never comes.

It is following the maxim of Shakespeare: “Assume a virtue if you have it not”…knowing that the dynamic power of habit can build it into your character.

It is being great now, being forgiving now, being tolerant now, being happy now, being successful now, instead of postponing positive and constructive living to some vague and indefinite future.

It is knowing that when we move into the future it becomes the now, and tat now is the appointed time!

It is facing the fact that your biggest task is not to get ahead of others, but to surpass yourself.

It is wasting no time dreaming about the rich life you may live next year, or ten years from now; it is beginning to live at your best right now, today.

It is heeding the wisdom of the ancient Chinese seer who observed: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and it is taking that step today.

It is beginning today to be the man you want to be.

It is developing an awareness of the infinite possibilities in each magic moment.

It is enlarging the now by poring into it intense creative energy.

The Art of READING

To practice the art of reading, develop a hungry, curious, questioning mind and then seek your answers in books…You open doors when you open books…doors that swing wide to unlimited horizons of knowledge, wisdom and inspirations that will enlarge the dimensions of your life…

Though books you can live a thousand lives in one. You can discover America with Colombus, stand with Lincoln at Gettysberg, work in the laboratory with Edison and walk the fields with St Francis….

Though books you can start today where the great thinkers of yesterday left off, because book have immortalised man’s knowledge.

Though books you can orient your life to the world you live in, for books link the past, present and the future.

Read, then, from the vast storehouse of books at your command!

Read several books at a time, turning from one to the other as your mood changes…a biography, a novel, a volume of history, a book about your business, a work of poetry.

Read with a red pencil in your hand, underlining the important passages, so you can quickly review the heart of the book.

Read something each day. Discipline yourself to a regular schedule of reading. With only fifteen minutes a day you can read twenty books a year.

Read to increase your knowledge, your background, your awareness, your insight…

The Art of SUCCESS

There are no secrets of success. Success is doing the things you know you should do. Success is not doing the things you know you should not do.

Success is not limited to one area of your life. It encompasses all of the facets of your relationships: as parent, as wife or husband, as citizen, neighbour, worker and all others.

Success is not confined to any one part of your personality but is related to the development of all the parts: body, mind, heart and spirit. It is making the most of your total self.

Success is not arriving at the summit of a mountain as a final destination. It is a continuing upward spiral of progress. It is perpetual growth.

Success is relative and individual and personal. It is your answer to the problem of making your minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years add up to a great life.


You hold in your hand the camel’s hair brush of a painter of Life. You stand before the vast white canvas of Time. The paints are your thoughts, emotions and acts.


Stay young by continuing to grow. You do not grow old, you become old by not growing.

Stay young by hanging onto your dreams. A philosopher writes: “There is not much to do but bury a man when the last of his dreams is dead.”

Stay young by forcing your mind out of old ruts. Remember that beaten paths and for beaten men. See new places, read new books, try new hobbies. Increase the depth of your life.

Stay young by remaining flexible, adaptable and open-minded. Do not permit your mental arteries to harden.

Stay young by taking inspiration from the young in spirit who remained creatively active all their lives: Goethe completing Fuse at eighty; Titian painting masterpieces at ninety-eight; Toscanini conducting at eighty-five; Justice Holmes writing Supreme Court decisions at ninety….

Stay young by keeping constructively busy. Set yourself new goals for achievement.

Stay young by tackling new projects. The man who planted a tree at ninety was a man of vision. Start ideas and plans rolling that will go on long after you are gone.

Stay young by keeping your heart young. “If it can be done,” wrote Carl Sandburg, “it is not a bad practice for a man of many years to die with a boy heart.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Quotes: The Art of Living Treasure Chest by Wilferd A.Peterson (part 3/7)


You can’t pursue happiness and catch it.

Happiness does not depend on a full pocket book, but upon a mind full of rich thoughts and a heart full of rich emotions.

Happiness does not depend upon what happens outside of you but on what happens inside of you; it is measures by the spirit in which you meet the problems of life.

Happiness is a state of mind. Lincoln once said: “We are as happy as we make up our minds to be”.

Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.

Happiness comes from keeping constructively busy; creative hobbies are the keys to happy leisure hours and retirement years.


To be a friend a man should strive to lift people up, not to cast them down; to set an example that will be an inspiration to others.

To be a friend a man should not attempt to reform or reprimand, but should strive only to make others happy if he can.

To be a friend a man should be himself; he should be done with hypocrisy, artificiality and pretense, he should meet and mingle with people in quiet simplicity and humility.

To be a friend a man should be tolerant, he should have an understanding heart and a forgiving nature, knowing that all men stumble now and then, and that he who never made a mistake never accomplished anything.


It is putting this first, doing one thing at a time and developing the fine art of concentration.

It is breaking big tasks down into their smaller parts, simplifying the complex, finishing the big job one step at a time.

It is not being a slave to the system but making the system a slave to you.

It is making notes and letting pencil and paper remember for you.

It is using Kipling’s “six honest serving men” – What and Why and When and How and Who and Where.

It is weaving the cables of constructive habit so that right action will become automatic. In sport and in business, good habits market the champion.

It is guiding your life instead of drifting.

It is organising your personal life for efficient living in all the important areas: work, play, love and worship.


Modern man must learn to break the tensions of modern living or the tensions will break him.

He first relaxes his mind b y thinking thoughts of peace, quietness and tranquillity. He mentally pictures the placid pool amidst the whispering pines and puts himself in tine with nature’s calming mood.

He exercises – walks, stretches, works in the garden, play golf – knowing that physical tiredness invites relaxation and sleep.

He knows that confusion is one of the chief causes of tension so he organises his work, puts things first, does one thing at a time, avoids hurry and develops a spaciousness of mind.

He takes time for meditation.

He recognises that relaxed living is a way of life and strives to manage body, mind, heart and spirit as efficiently as he manages his business.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Quotes: The Art of Living Treasure Chest by Wilferd A.Peterson (part 2/7)


It is developing the deep sensitivity through which you may suffer and know tragedy, and die a little, but through which you will also experience the grandeur of human life.

It is following the philosophy of Albert Schweitzer who teaches “reverence for life” from ants to men; it is developing a sense of oneness with all life.

It is keeping mentally alert to all that goes on around you; it is being curious, observant, imaginative that you may build an ever increasing fund of knowledge of the universe.

It is searching for beauty everywhere, in a flower, in a mountain, a machine, a sonnet and a symphony.

It is enlarging the scope of your life through the expansion of your personality.

It is through growing awareness that you stock and enrich your memory…and as a great philosopher has said: “A man thinks with his memory.”


He recognises his sovereign control of his own mind and decided what will enter his Mental Kingdom through his sense gateways; he thinks for himself, considers the evidence, seeks the truth and builds his life upon it.

He keeps an open mind, observing, analysing, considering, questioning – looking for the hidden key which will unlock the problem.

He thinks of his mind as a factory and gives it the raw material, the facts and the data, from which his ideas are fashioned.

He strives to develop a mature mind without losing the simplicity of childhood.

He creates ideas with humility knowing that behind the idea that he calls his own are the thoughts and efforts of many men.

The Art of FAILURE

He who hopes to avoid all failure and misfortune is trying to live in a fairyland; the wise man realistically accepts failures as a part of life and builds a philosophy to meet them and make the most of them.

He does not set for himself the impossible ideal of always being successful in everything.

He does the best he can and then with a serene spirit accepts what comes.

He recognises that although he cannot always control what happens to him, he can always control how he responds to his failures.

He rises to the challenge of failure as did Mark Twain when he wrote, “A few fly bites cannot stop a spirited horse.”

He keeps on keeping on.


When he has the daring to open doors to new experiences and to step boldly forth to explore strange horizons.

When he is unafraid of new ideas, new theories and new philosophies.

When he has the curiosity to experiment…to test and try new ways of living and thinking.

When he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, travelling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and taking up new viewpoints.

When he considers life a constant quest for the noblest and the best.

The Art of SELLING

Selling is not limited to people called salesmen, for we all have something to sell, and that includes you!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Quotes: The Art of Living Treasure Chest by Wilferd A.Peterson (part 1/7)

The Art of GIVING

Emerson said it well: “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself”

We give of ourself when we give gifts of the heart: love, kindness, joy, understanding, sympathy, tolerance, forgiveness…

We give of ourself when we give gifts of the mind: ideas, dreams, purposes, ideals, principles, plans, inventions, projects, poetry…

We give of ourselves when we give the gift of words: encouragement, inspiration, guidance…


Travel expectantly. Every place you visit is like a surprise package waiting to be opening. Untie the strings with the spirit of high adventure.

Travel hopefully. “To travel hopefully”, wrote Robert Louis Stephenson, “is better than to arrive.”

Travel humbly. Visit people and places with reverence and respect for their traditions and ways of life.

Travel with curiosity. It is not how far you go, but how deeply you go that mines the gold of experience.  Thoreau wrote a big book about tiny Walden Pond.

Travel fearlessly. Banish worry and timidity, the world and its people belong to you just as you belong to the world.

Travel patiently. It takes time to understand others, especially when there are barriers of language and custom; keep flexible and adaptable to all situations.


By flooding the dark corners of fear and superstition with the bright light of reason and knowledge, thus mapping the unknown, overcoming fancy with fact, dispersing hobgoblins of the imagination and revealing the truth that sets man free.

By finding inspiration in the words of Cardinal Newman: “Fear not that your life shall come to an end but rather that it shall never have a beginning.”

By willingly taking the risk of enriching adventures tinged with danger, knowing the sheltered and protected life misses much and that as the Bard of Avon expressed it: “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.”


Champion the right to be yourself, dare to be different and set your own pattern; live your own life and follow your own star.

Respect yourself, you have the right to be here and you have important work to do.

Don’t stand in your own shadow; get your little self out of the way so your big self can stride forward.

Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny spark of possibility within you into the flame of achievement.

Follow the advice of Socrates: Know Thyself; know your strengths and your weaknesses; your relation to the universe; your potentialities; your spiritual heritage; your aims and purposes; take stock of yourself.

Create the kind of self you will be happy to live with all your life.

Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.


Remember the old proverb: “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest man”

Guard yourself against the gloomy outlook by recalling the wise statement of Henry Ward Beecher: “A man without mirth is like a wagon without springs…he is jolted disagreeably by every pebble in the road.”

Most of all, learn to laugh at yourself, meet each day with a sense of humour.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book: The Art of Living Treasure Chest by Wilferd A.Peterson

I cannot recall what made me break my vow not to read “improving” books like The Art of Living. Whatever the reason, I am glad for the override, because The Art of Living is a special book that deserves to be read widely. Unlike so many other books that belong to the 'self-improving' genre, this inspirational book does not pretend to be letting the reader in on life’s secrets. Reading it felt more like sitting down with a wise old man who is speaking from a lifetime of experience, sharing the essential knowledge on key aspects on living a measured, fulfilling live. It is a reminder of what we know already, but sometimes that which we know deeply needs to be brought to the surface.

At first, I felt a little cheated because the “essays” turned out to be little more than ten or twelve sentences, spread over two pages. And then I appreciated that each line had been carefully considered and that the clean, unfussy, presentation forced me to slow down and deliberate over the points.  The Art of Living is a resounding success.

I will collate and present my favourite quotes in future posts.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Quotes: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Moonwalking With Einstein was reviewed earlier here. Here are some notes and passages from the book, copied out for posterity .... because I can't remember them without writing them down : S The scanned pages at the very end include some details on the various techniques used by memory experts.

“In a sense, the elaborate system of externalised memory we’ve created is a way of staving off mortality. It allows ideas to be efficiently passed across time and space, and for one idea to build on another to a degree not possible when a thought has to be passed from brain to brain in order to be sustained.”

“The externalisation of memory not only changed how people think; it also led to a profound shift in the very notion of what it means to be intelligent. Internal memory became devalued. Erudition evolved from possessing information internally to knowing how and where to find it in the labyrinthine world of external memory. It’s a telling statement that pretty much the only place where you’ll find people still training their memories is at the World Memory Championship… What was once a cornerstone of Western culture is now at best a curiosity.” – In Ancient Rome, memory training was on par with grammer, logic and rhetoric as a key skill.

“For normal humans, memories gradually decay with time along what’s known as the “curve of forgetting”. …No matter how many times he (German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus) performed the experiment on himself, the results were always the same. In the first hour of after learning a set of nonsense syllables, more than half of them would be forgotten. After the first day, another 10 percent would disappear. After a month, another 14 percent. After that, the memories that were left had more or less stabilised - they became consolidated in long term memory – and the pace of forgetting slowed to a gentle creep.

The secret to success in than names-and-faces event – and to remembering people’s names in the real world – is simply to turn Bakers into bakers – or Foers into Fours. Or Reagans into ray guns. It’s a simple trick, but highly effective.

One of the many mysteries of memory is why an amnesic like EP should be able to remember when the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima but not the much more recent fall of the Berlin wall. For some unknown reason, it’s the most recent memories that blur first in most amnesics, while distant memories retain their clarity. This phenomenon is known as Ribot’s Law…it suggests something profound: that our memories are not static. Somehow, as memories age, their complexion changes. Each time we think about a memory, we integrate it more deeply into our web of other memories, and therefore make it more stable and less likely to be dislodged.

But in the process, we also transform the memory, and reshape it – sometimes to the point that our memories of events bear only a passing resemblance to what actually happened. …How this works at the level of neurons is still a mystery.

Though chess might seem like a trivial subject for a psychologist to study … (De Groot) argued that expertise in “the field of shoemaking, painting, building [or] confectionary” is the result of the same accumulation of “experiential linkings”. According to Ericsson, what we call expertise is really just “vast amounts of knowledge, pattern-based retrieval, and planning mechanisms acquired over many years of experience in the associated domain.” In other words, a great memory isn’t just a by-products of expertise; it is the essence of expertise.Grand masters literally see a different board.

Chunking is a way to decrease the number of items you have remember by increasing the size of each item. Chunking is the reason that phone numbers are broken into two parts plus an area code and that credit card numbers are split into groups of four. …The classic explanation of chunking involves language. If you were asked to memorise the twenty-two letters HEADSHOULDERSKNEESSTOES, and you didn’t notice what they spelled, you’d almost certainly have a tough time with it. But break up those twenty-two letters into four chunks…and the task becomes a whole lot easier.

The principle underlying all memory techniques is that our brains don’t memorise all types of information equally well.

The me who exists today and the me who existed then, if put side by side, would look more than vaguely similar. But we are a completely different collection of molecules…What binds this me to that me, and allows me to maintain the illusion that there is continuity from moment to moment and year to year, is some relatively stable but gradually evolving thing at the nucleus of my being. Call it a soul, or a self, or an emergent by-product of a neural network, but whatever you want to call it, that element of continuity is entirely dependent on memory.

The ancient and medieval way of reading was very different from how we read today. One didn’t just memorise texts; one ruminated on them – chewed them up and regurgitated them like cud – and in the process, became intimate with them in a way that made them one’s own. As Petrarch said in a letter to a fried, “I ate in the morning what I would digest in the evening; I swallowed as a boy what I would ruminate upon as an older man. I have thoroughly absorbed these writings, implanting them not only in my memory but in my marrow.”  - Foer discusses how the religious texts, and classics such as Homer and the Iliad were most likely remembered by memory. Apparently Peter of Ravena, author of “Phoenix”, would read books that he stored in his memory and boasted memorisation of some 20,000 legal points along with 200 of Cicero’s speeches and 300 sayings of philosophers, amongst many more things.

It is hard to feel as though a tremendous devolution has taken place between that Golden Age and our own comparatively leaden one. People used to furnish their minds. They invested in the acquisition of memories in the same way we invest in the acquisition of things. But today, beyond  the Oxford examination hall’s oaken doors, the vast majority of us don’t trust our memories. … How did our culture end up forgetting how to remember?

We read and read and read, and we forget, and forget and forget. So why do we bother? Michel de Montaigne expressed the dilemma of extensive reading in the sixteenth century: ‘I leaf through books, I do not study them’, he wrote. …He goes on to explain how ‘to compensate a little for the treachery and weakness of memory,’ he adopted the habit of writing in the back of the book a short critical judgement, so as to have at least some general idea of what the tome was about and what he thought of it.’

 “…They did away with rote memorisation and replaced it with “experiential learning”. …Schools have deemphasised raw knowledge (most of which gets forgotten anyway) and instead stressed their role in fostering reasoning ability, creativity and independent thinking. ..But is it possible that we’ve been making a huge mistake…the fact is facts still matter. If one of the goals is to create inquisitive, knowledgeable people, then you need to give students the most basic signposts that can guide them through a life of learning. And if, the twelfth-century teacher Hugo of St.Victor put it, “the whole usefulness of education consists only in the memory of it” then you might as well give them the best tools available to commit their education to memory.

…perhaps Daniel Tammet exemplifies an even more inspiring idea: that we all have remarkable capacities asleep inside of us. If only we bothered to awaken them.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Apple and the 4th generation shuffle .... finally

I have a love-hate relationship with Apple. Their itunes software is infuriating when trying to sync podcasts between multiple devices; the battery on my ipod wasted away to render it worthless due to the fact that I didn't charge it on a regular basis (thanks for letting me know about this, Apple!); and I can't charge my ipod from my ipad, which is extremely annoying as it means I am forced to install itunes on my pc, and due to the first problem, my Apple ecosystem is completely disjointed.

On the upside, I can't find an MP3 player for gym use that comes close to the ipod Shuffle, a solid little square that is ultra reliable. For me, the key problem with the old 2nd generation shuffle was that if you have both podcasts and gym music on the device, everything is uploaded as a single playlist which means that you have to scroll through to get to what you want, which gets annoying. But what is this, I see the new Shuffle (4th generation) has added playlist functionality, so switching between podcasts and music will be a doddle. This will be forty odd quid well spent, even if it does pain me to work with itunes - I previously found the software so annoying that I left my playlist unchanged for some three years!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book quote: The Doctor and the Soul by Viktor Frankl

Here is my favourite passage from Viktor Frankl's book, "The Doctor and the Soul":

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Fonts: Is Gotham the new Helvetica?

At first, I called it the 'Inception' typeface, but really I should have called it the Obama campaign typeface, since this is probably when the font really entered into the public consciousness. It started off as a commissioned typeface for GQ magazine but these days can be found everywhere you look, particularly when it comes to movie posters. It is a beautifully simple font, and its decluttered, authoritative yet retro feel has the same vibe as my blog header typeface, but Gotham is blitzing the media like a virus, and I haven't even had a chance to put it to use!

An observation ... if you write a blog post in the woods and there is no one around to read it

...does it exist?

So I have replaced my dead Thinkpad X32 with its evolutionary successor, the X200, which is a rather nice machine with a full sized keyboard that will make blogging a little bit easier. X200s can be picked up on ebay, with 4GB of ram, for just over £100, and represent very good value indeed. My machine needed some superglue around the screen, but beyond this glitch it still feels as sturdy as a rock.

After a three week absence from blogging, I logged in to my account today to discover that the number of readers today was around 330, which is no different to what it was when I was actively blogging. It's my own little Turing test from which I can deduce the main core of my readers comprise software scripts that scour my pages, looking for keywords like a drunkard scrambling around in the dark looking for his lost keys, submitting interesting but completely incoherent spam marketing comments. We will play this game for a while longer, my wild abandoned children of the ether.

This is good news because it means that I can flood my blog with content of personal relevance, without any view to playing to an audience. Be warned though, cherished humans and bots alike, for there will come a time when this blog goes off line, although by the time this is ready to take effect it was have hopefully morphed into something that is so recognisably non-blog that my meat-based readers will have long deserted. If I am successful, the go-dead date will be 13th September 2015, marking a decade of incoherent ramblings.

: )