Wisdom on Writing

Scott Adams, author of Win Bigly and How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, as well as the creator of the Dilbert comic series, shares his insights on writing.



Ikigai is a Japanese word that refers to the intersection of your mission, passion, profession, and vocation (see below). Héctor Garcìa and Francesc Miralles investigated a village in Okinawa which has the highest number of residents over the age of 100.


Their secrets to longevity and quality of life are useful, but the book as a whole could easily be edited down to an article. The authors travel to Japan and interview several active, healthy centenarians but all that’s shared are a few conversations and a list of quotations along with a description of 10 common qualities of these vibrant centenarians and explanations of how they implement them into their daily lives:

  1. Never retire – always participate in meaningful, helpful activities
  2. Take it slow – no need to rush which makes people stressed.
  3. Don’t eat till you’re full – stop eating when you’re 80% full or fast a day or two a week. One trick is to eat on very small plates, perhaps the size of a saucer and don’t pile food up.
  4. Keep moving through light exercise. You don’t need to do contact sports or run an marathon. Keep it simple.
  5. Surround yourself with friends. Have several relationships so if one ends, you have back up.
  6. Smile
  7. Reconnect with nature.
  8. Give thanks.
  9. Live in the moment.
  10. Follow your ikigai.

The trouble I found with the book was the meandering. I think there were 10 qualities just because ten is a round number. In addition to information about ikigai, there’s a lot of fluff about yoga, tai chi, Csikszentmihalyi’s flow. They also add paragraphs that should have been deleted about their trip from the airport and such banalities. The ideas about flow, tai chi, etc. were from the authors and not from the Japanese elders.

I’d hoped that this would be like The Little Book of Hygge, but it lacked the wit and the tone of the book. I think I’d rather read such a book written by an insider. Someone from Japan would be able to add insights two outsiders couldn’t.

So this is a book to get from the library and skim. then go out and find that passion, make more friends, smile and eat till you’re just 80% full.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Weathered


Zhujiayu, Ancient Town in China


Shrine, Zhujiayu


Pekanbaru, Indonesia


Pekanbaru, Indonesia


At the British Museum

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Wednesday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Just a few wonderful posts:

Social Media Gaffs Cost Jobs

This was in my textbook on Project Management:

Ninety-three percent of employers check social media profiles of prospective hires. According to Money magazine here are the 10 most common reasons a candidate’s blunders on social media cost the person a job:

  1. Posting something embarrassing on the corporate Twitter feed.
  2. Sexual oversharing
  3. Revealing company secrets
  4. Blowing your own cover*
  5. Talking “smack” about a job you haven’t accepted yet
  6. Making fun of clients or donors
  7. Making fun of your boss or team
  8. Posting while you should be working
  9. Complaining about your job
  10. Drinking in a photo — even if you’re over 21

So you’ve been warned. I’m sure the sexual oversharing is not going to help anyone in the post-Harvey Weinstein-era, and it shouldn’t.

*Unless you work for the CIA, I’m not sure what’s meant by “Blowing your own cover.” Comment below if you do.


Poppick, S. (Sept. 5, 2014). “10 Social Media Blunders that Cost a Millennial a Job–or Worse. Money Magazine. Quoted in Information Technology Project Management by Kathy Schwalbe, Cengage Learning, 2015.


A friend has a friend who’s considering changing careers and teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. My friend wants me advise her friend and we’ll meet on Tuesday.

I have enjoyed all the students I’ve worked with — from kids in Japan to university students to college professors in Indonesia to adults on up to 90 years old in Japan. Like a lot of teaching work, you get to connect with interesting people and to be creative. However:

  • There are only a few countries where American’s can get jobs without to much difficulty: South Korea, China, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. Japan has become hard to find work in. Europe requires an EU passport. South America has few opportunities.
  • It’s not a job that welcomes older people as you near 60, as we all do, no country I’m aware of wants you.
  • In the US most jobs are part time. The place to work and have job security and decent benefits is the K-12 realm. If that’s not your ballgame, you’ll be stuck stringing together a few part time jobs.

    Adjunctivitis has become the norm and it’s exploitive.

That’s the reality. I pity friends who went and got Masters degrees thinking EFL would be a second career for when they get older. It isn’t.

A Whisper to a Newly-Married Pair, Part 1

From Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1860
A Whisper To The Husband On Expenditure

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 11.18.01 PM

“You give your wife a certain sum of money … I really cannot see the necessity of obliging her to account to you for the exact manner in which she has laid it out. Pray, do allow her the power of buying a yard of muslin, or a few pennyworth of pins, without consulting the august tribunal of your judgment whether they shall be quaker-pins or minikins. ”

“In pecuniary matters, do not be penurious, or too particular. Your wife has an equal right with yourself to all your worldly possessions. “With all my worldly goods I thee endow,” was one of the most solemn vows that ever escaped your lips; and if she be a woman of prudence, she will in all her expenses be reasonable and economical; what more can you desire? Besides, really, a woman has innumerable trifling demands on her purse, innumerable little wants, which it is not necessary for a man to be informed of, and which, if he even went to the trouble of investigating, he would hardly understand.”

“You give your wife a certain sum of money. If she be a woman of prudence, if your table be comfortably kept, and your household managed with economy and regularity, I really cannot see the necessity of obliging her to account to you for the exact manner in which she has laid it out. Pray, do allow her the power of buying a yard of muslin, or a few pennyworth of pins, without consulting the august tribunal of your judgment whether they shall be quaker-pins or minikins. ”

“How often is a woman grieved by the foolish extravagance of her husband! Among other absurdities, will he not sometimes give for a horse, or a dog, or spend at a tavern or a club, a sum of money absolutely wanted for the necessary comforts of his family; thus squandering, in a moment of simple folly, what perhaps has cost his wife many a hard effort to save.

“When once a man has entered the marriage state, he should look on his property as belonging to his family, and act and economize accordingly. I remember being acquainted with a gentleman who was constantly saying, “It is true, my property is large, but then it belongs not to myself alone, but also to my children: and I must act as a frugal agent for them. To my wife, as well as these children, I feel accountable either for economy or extravagance.” Another gentleman of my acquaintance, who was in stinted circumstances, was constantly debarring himself of a thousand little comforts, even a glass of wine after dinner, sooner that infringe on what he used to call his children’ birthright.”
Continue reading

Affordable Higher Ed

Here’s an interesting article from the Chronicle of Higher Education. The author argues that if teachers taught more, then the cost of college would greatly reduce — by as much as half!

Teaching Loads and Affordability: The University of Texas Data

May 23, 2011, 1:19 pm

By Richard Vedder

A recently released Pew/Chronicle survey of American attitudes towards colleges shows that 75 percent disagree with the proposition that “college costs…are such that most people can afford to pay for a college degree.” A majority (57 percent) think that college these days is either “only fair” or ‘”poor” as a value. In that light, more effort is being made to control college costs and enhance the value proposition.

The quintessential battle is now raging in Texas. Governor Perry appropriately wants higher productivity and lower costs, calling for a degree costing only $10,000 in tuition fees. New data suggest that goal is within reach at the state’s most prestigious public university, the Austin campus of the University of Texas.

Pressured by reform groups like the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the University of Texas has released a 821-page document on faculty at that institution: their salaries and benefits (and sources of funding them), teaching loads, research awards, tenure status, and in some cases grading and student-evaluation data. UT begged people to not engage in analysis of the data, saying it is preliminary. But the numbers are so compelling that a team of Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) associates headed by Christopher Matgouranis and Jonathan Robe has started analyzing that data, and CCAP has issued a preliminary report of findings.

As with earlier data from Texas A & M (also released reluctantly), the UT data show huge disparities in salaries between disciplines, campuses, alternative tenure status, levels of research involvement, and the like. Professors with $300,000 salaries are working alongside those making a small fraction of that amount. A surprising number of faculty teach large numbers of students (a few teach as many as 1,000 students annually), for low per-student costs, while others teach literally a single-digit number for huge salaries. We found, among full-time staff, that the 20 percent of faculty with the highest teaching load taught 57 percent of all student credit hours, and accounted for 28 percent of faculty costs, while the lowest 20 percent classified by teaching load taught a paltry 2 percent of the total but accounted for 9 percent of the cost.

for more

I agree. The whole “publish or perish” challenge sounds daunting to those outside academe since most people don’t have to publish to keep their jobs in accounting, secondary education, sales or what have you. Publishing isn’t that hard. When I taught in the summer, I worked the same hours that tenure track professors work and it was like a vacation. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

We should adjust our publishing requirements anyway. In many fields it just encourages spurious work anyway. Society doesn’t need information clutter.

Yes, there’s prep time, but that’s not an insurmountable challenge. Have lower paid new teachers teach less. Once a prof has taught History 101 or History 305, she can tweak it, but it’s not like she needs to start from scratch every year. As one gains experience, one can take on more and get compensated accordingly.

Yes, some may whine that they have committee work. Well, so do people who want to take on leadership or other roles within their companies and organizations. It’s nothing unusual.

Sabbaticals should go or be changed as well.