Letter 62. On good company

We are deceived by those who would have us believe that a multitude of affairs blocks their pursuit of liberal studies; they make a pretence of their engagements, and multiply them, when their engagements are merely with themselves. As for me, Lucilius, my time is free; it is indeed free, and wherever I am, I am master of myself. For I do not surrender myself to my affairs, but loan myself to them, and I do not hunt out excuses for wasting my time. And wherever I am situated, I carry on my own meditations and ponder in my mind some wholesome thought.

When I give myself to my friends, I do not withdraw from my own company, nor do I linger with those who are associated with me through some special occasion or some case which arises from my official position. But I spend my time in the company of all the best; no matter in what lands they may have lived, or in what age, I let my thoughts fly to them.

Demetrius, for instance, the best of men, I take about with me, and, leaving the wearers of purple and fine linen, I talk with him, half-naked as he is, and hold him in high esteem. Why should I not hold him in high esteem? I have found that he lacks nothing. It is in the power of any man to despise all things, but of no man to possess all things. The shortest cut to riches is to despise riches. Our friend Demetrius, however, lives not merely as if he has learned to despise all things, but as if he has handed them over for others to possess. Farewell.

— Seneca the Younger

Old Pipe Organ

Detail of a pipe organ that was built into a mill in Zoar, Ohio.

The motion of the mill powered the airflow for the organ. How strange and beautiful to have music at the mill.

Archiving the Ephemeral: Twitter 12/1/13 - 3/31/14

My favorite Twitter conversations from earlier this year…

Society & Culture:

Samuel F. Merendino, Sr., 1928-2014

Harmony, East And West

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 4:
Take the shortest route, the one that nature planned—to speak and act in the healthiest way. Do that, and be free of pain and stress, free of all calculations and pretension.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Verse 8:
The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don't compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.
I love the philosophical similarities here.

New Photo, 'Depth of Place' Series

A new multi-layered photo I've been working on recently.

Great Twitter Conversations, 10/1/13-11/30/13

From the recent archives—my favorite conversations on Twitter from late last year. Thanks to everyone listed for making it so fun and interesting!

Media and Social Media:
Non sequitur:

"Hacker Spirit"

My definition of the "hacker spirit" is:
  • Exploration, playfulness, cleverness. 
  • Pushing the limits of a system (whether cultural, technical, or physical), but never in an illegal, harmful or immoral way.
  • Working smart, not just working hard; getting the most output for the least energy.
  • Being like water, which always finds the path of least resistance, and is not afraid to go into the low places.
  • Using all the tricks of the trade to your advantage.
One need not be a computer hacker to embody the hacker spirit.


Here's Esmé bounding at her second-grade ballet "final":

Love this girl.

Milemarker: Interesting Twitter Conversations, 8/3-9/30

Here are my favorite conversations from Twitter during August-September 2013. Thanks to all for making it so interesting!

Values, society, morality:
Arts & language:
Non sequitur:
Social Media:

Hiromi Arrives!

Hiromi, whom we met five years ago in Japan, is staying with us for three months while she studies English at Case Western University. We are excited to host—looking forward to learning from her, and showing her our corner of the world!

Fortune Favors Chaos

When I think of the Earth as something created by God, it is not impressive. Although it is beautiful, it is full of pain, suffering, destruction, defects. What god would allow such flaws?

However, when I think of the Earth as something that evolved by chance, it is an amazing, serendipitous place. Although it still contains pain and suffering, these are merely the result of an indifferent universe. And when I consider that the tremendous beauty of the world has largely come from chaos, that is when I realize how profoundly fortunate I am to be alive, to be a part of all of this.

Interesting Twitter Conversations (6/21 - 8/2)

Conversations I want to remember from my Twitter timeline from the past couple months:

Morality and values:
Non sequitur:

A strange dream

Last night I had a strange dream: My family and I attended some sort of non-denominational morning church service. There was a forgettable message, at the end of which a large screen slid down into the stage opening. We spent the last part of the service watching a film of various nature scenes, accompanied by symphonic music. It was a bit like Roth’s “going home” scene in Soylent Green. I whispered to my wife, “Well, this minister is taking a few shortcuts, isn’t he?” Another member of the congregation turned around and attempted to explain the purpose of the film, but his voice was drowned out by the music. Near what I thought might be the conclusion, the theater became disconnected from its moorings: the entire room tilted toward the stage, to about an angle of 60 degrees. Everyone held onto their seats to stop from sliding and falling. No one seemed particularly bothered by this.

Links 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Birthday Kids

Max just hit the double-digits, and Esmé is now seven. Where does the time go? 

Signpost: Interesting Twitter conversations, 4/28 - 6/18

I continue to enjoy the varied and deep conversations I have with people on Twitter.

Philosophy, Spirituality & Religion:
Urban Planning:
Politics & Economics:
Science & Technology:
Non sequitur:

Closing of "Space-Time" photography-video exhibition

"Space-Time" features photography from Jason Robert Carroll and a video installation from Elena Harvey Collins.

"Jason Carroll and Elena Collins explore the complexities of space, both physically and conceptually, taking long looks at some of our most abandoned, mundane, and subliminal spaces."

Closing: Friday, May 17, 2012, 5-11 PM
Location: Survival Kit Gallery - 1305 W. 80th Suite 303, Third Floor (Located in the W.78th St. Studios Bldg.), Cleveland, Ohio 44102

Click here for the event page on Facebook.

Interesting conversations, through 4/28/13

Memorable thoughts & conversations on Twitter over the past couple weeks:

Economics, etc.:
Gun control: "We need to dismantle the #NRA, and apparently also this Congress. Let's dismantle both, then re-build a new Congress." (@JoeG4Freedom @th3v0t4ry @osPatriot @Zionistchuck @demsforprogress @yulianagarcia @forgottentq @usernamenuse @BridgetteJohns2 @unclemiseryguts @ledfist @CriminySTFU)

The Internet: "A little help: there was an article circulating a while back about how viral internet stuff isn't really viral." (@kayaoakes @ChurchSnobTEC @malawijay @adamgurri)

"Space-Time" photography-video installation featuring Jason Carroll & Elena Collins opens April 19, 2013

"Space-Time" features photography from Jason Robert Carroll and a video installation from Elena Harvey Collins.

"Jason Carroll and Elena Collins explore the complexities of space, both physically and conceptually, taking long looks at some of our most abandoned, mundane, and subliminal spaces."

Opening: Friday, April 19, 2012, 5-11 PM
Location: Survival Kit Gallery - 1305 W. 80th Suite 303, Third Floor (Located in the W.78th St. Studios Bldg.), Cleveland, Ohio 44102

Click here for the event page on Facebook.

"With their intent gaze visually manifested through multiple exposures, and exhaustive film shots, they implore us to think twice about our assumed surroundings, digging past their immediate appearance and assigning them heightened significance. We are forced to consider our personal relationships with these spaces, as well as the histories of others there before us."

Interesting conversations for the week ending 4/6/13

You'd think that 140 characters would limit one's ability to carry on interesting discussion. Apparently not…read on.

Urban planning: "In Cleveland, philanthropic foundations, for christ's sake, help fund highway projects…Unbelievable." (@schmangee @thestile1972 @CLEstreetcar @thisismycle @chezrebellion @theGreaterMarin @lynnphares @danmoulthrop)

Gun control:
Photography: "Dilemma…trying to decide if I should print one of my photos on aluminum for my upcoming show. 90% chance of awesome…10% chance of big waste." (@RudyHellzapop @cheerbear34 @thomasatmyporch)

This week's interesting conversations, ending 3/30/13


I don't think I'll ever tire of the beautiful drama in J. M. W. Turner's paintings. 

Interesting conversations, week-ending 3/23/13


Antidesign is an inquiry into 'that which is not designed'—recognizing that design can sometimes obstruct or detract from function and beauty. It examines human constructions (and sometimes natural occurrences) that have zero focus on aesthetics.

Interesting conversations, week ending 3/16/13

  • Genetic modification, neo-feudalism & patents: "I got Monsanto to genetically modify me so that I produce my own caffeine." (link)
  • Non sequitur: "Suburban moms are worse. Throw SUVs at them." (link) - "I just made a regression of my relationships. In chronological order vs. length of relationship and the results are very very depressing." (link)
  • Racism, morality: "Albert Einstein called racism 'a disease of white people.'" (link) - "A liberal Muslim homosexual ACLU lawyer professor and abortion doctor was teaching a class on Karl Marx…" (link) - "If you lack empathy, then you are evil. It's just that simple." (link) - "properly implemented (ie no bias) eugenics is fully functional" (link)
  • Economics: "Free markets are excellent at allocating resources in the short term. But they fail miserably at steering society in beneficial directions." (link) - "Perfect example of why capitalism doesn't always work: Male baldness research gets more funding than malaria." (link)
  • Religion: "Francis totally needs to get laid // Preferably with an adult." (link) - "Right…Wing…Nut…Job…ALERT! - 'Society Never Gave Single People The Right To Engage In Sexual Intercourse'" (link)

Welcome, cats.

Introducing Hades (front) and Jiji, the newest members of our family.

Lin Yutang Quote #1

"The world I believe is far too serious, and being far too serious, is it has need of a wise and merry philosophy."
From The Importance of Living (1937)

Thoughts on RISK as one gets older

I just turned 40, and there is something I've been thinking a lot about recently: RISK. But perhaps not in the sense you might suspect. …

… I've been thinking about risk in the sense of 'opportunity cost'—one of the few useful philosophical constructs from business school. …

…At some point in one's life, it becomes more 'risky' NOT to take a risk, than to take a risk, start a business, pursue a passion, whatever…

… At some point, the opportunity cost of waiting around, forgoing your passion, overwhelms the potential risk from the venture itself.
Assembled from several of my posts to Twitter (1, 2, 3, 4)