Useful feedback

Useful feedback has one or both of two characteristics –

(1) The giver hones into the exact trade-offs that the presenter/receiver is struggling with and adds insightful perspective that helps them navigate it

(2) The giver adds a new dimension that the receiver didn’t consider and thus changes how the receiver views the problem

And, generalized truths/”principles” (often misused – more on this another day) tend to fall into the true-but-useless category.

Rare health conditions

Every once in a while, I hear the story of someone with a rare health condition that prevents them from having a regular life.

Some of these require regular hospital visits, others involve allergies to foods whose availability and consumption we take for granted, and others mean dealing with life threatening situations frighteningly often.

Every time I hear such a story, I’m reminded of the impact dumb luck has in our lives. Being able to worry about things outside of our health – our careers, our hobbies, and the like – is a luxury that is only made possible by good health.

And, if we’re blessed with that luxury, we have much to be grateful for.

The Hymn of Hate

I read about a poem that was taught in German schools at the turn of the century. It was called “The Hymn of Hate.”

Here’s the last the paragraph of the (translated) poem:

Take you the folk of the Earth in pay,
With bars of gold your ramparts lay,
Bedeck the ocean with bow on bow,
Ye reckon well, but not well enough now.

French and Russian, they matter not,
A blow for a blow, a shot for a shot,
We fight the battle with bronze and steel,
And the time that is coming Peace will seal.

You we will hate with a lasting hate,
We will never forego our hate,
Hate by water and hate by land,
Hate of the head and hate of the hand,

Hate of the hammer and hate of the crown,
Hate of seventy millions choking down.
We love as one, we hate as one,
We have one foe and one alone–
(Here’s a blog post from Connie Ruzich with the full poem)

German school students used to recite this hymn in school – that in turn helped the government recruit students for World War I.

The writer of the poem Ernst Lissauer, a German Jewish poet, went on to regret writing it as the effects of the poem lasted well beyond the war.

As Connie details in her post, the story took another tragic turn in the years following World War I. Germany, the country he so loved, rejected him as a Jew and accused him of “fanatical hatred” that was “utterly un-German” and “characteristic of nothing so much as the Jewish race.”

Poignant. Sad. Pointless.

Lessons about the futility of war and hate are lessons we don’t seem to want to learn from the past.

Intermittent fasting update – 7 months in

I started intermittent fasting in the new year. I shared an update 2 weeks in – it was looking positive.

7 months in, I think intermittent fasting (or IF) is here to stay. I have fallen in love the simplicity of eating one fewer meal and feeling healthier.

3 weeks ago, we made a slight change that resulted in a large improvement to an already great experience.

For the first 6 months, we ate roughly in the 8 or so hours between 1 and 9. I say roughly because there some variability in the evening depending on when our kids went to bed. As they’ve been gradually staying up well past 8pm, our dinners gradually got later too.

So, we decided to test eating between 830am-430pm instead.

This has turned out to be a masterstroke as it accomplishes a few things at once. First, it ensures we finish our last meal well before we sleep. We’d attempted to do this by doing our dinners with our kids. With a 3.5 year old and a 2 year old, those experiments turned out to be a bit of a farce. :-) So, after a few attempts, we concluded that we’ll have to wait a couple years before family dinners become a reality.

Second, we get a nicer variety of food as breakfast becomes one of the two major meals. That somehow changes the equation vs. lunch and dinner.

And, finally, we’ve unlocked an extra hour of sleep.

It is amazing how tiny habit changes can unlock so much daily happiness (and productivity). This is definitely one of them – a keeper.