Areas of Skill, Hobbies, & Artistic Pursuits

Table of contents

Child pages

Related pages:


  • Examples of checklists I've created
    • 2008 - Movie-Making Checklist
      • As a senior in college I took a class called "Directing for the Camera" in which students learned how to create short films. Over the course of the semester I was involved in creating multiple short films (working on both my own films and other students' films), and I was repeatedly struck by 1) just how many things can go wrong when trying to make a film, and 2) how important it is to get everything right when you have a team of 5 people donating their time to your project. One thing I was careful to do was to explain WHY each step was important to follow; I would explain what bad thing could happen if you didn't follow that step. I sent the checklist around to my classmates and my teacher was very pleased.

        Here's a link to the checklist I created. ... CKLIST.doc
    • 2013 - Gym Checklist
      • In 2013 I began going to a gym again to lift weights and was repeatedly annoyed when I forgot one small item or another. For example, I might forget my deodorant one day (a minor annoyance), or I might forget Jojoba oil another day (a major annoyance since the skin on my face and scalp can get very dry after being blasted with water from a shower). Other days I would forget socks, or a new pair of underwear.

        Remembering "The Checklist Manifesto", I decided to make a checklist to ensure that I stopped having these problems. And to make sure I used it, I taped the list to the side of my bookshelf, where it would be easy for me to look at right before leaving my house.

        Here are pictures of the checklist taped to the side of my bookshelf: ... st%201.JPG ... st%202.JPG



The Five Pour Method

  • A Better 1 Cup V60 Technique
    • 1 Cup V60 Technique
    • General tips:
      • 15g Ground Coffee, 250g Water
      • Try to use best possible quality of water
      • Try to use water as hot as possible after boiling
      • Use swirling motion, aim for 5g/sec Pour rate
      • Try to keep spout close to surface
      • Nathan's tip: Add chocolate milk or Lindt dark chocolate.  It makes it taste way better
    • Step-by-step process:
      • Before the pour:
        • 1. Preheat and Rinse (Plastic) Brewer and Filter with Hot tap water (Hot to Touch)
        • 2. Dig a mound in the middle of the Ground Coffee (this helps evenly soak the coffee when doing the bloom)
        • 3. Zero/Reset Scale with Brewer and Ground Coffee
        • 4. Boil Water
      • The pour:
        • 0:00 : Approx. ~50g Bloom Pour
        • 0:10 - 0:15 : Gentle Swirl
        • 0:00 - 0:45 : Bloom
        • 0:45 - 1:00 : Pour to ~100g Total

        • 1:00 - 1:10 : Pause

        • 1:10 - 1:20 : Pour to ~150g Total

        • 1:20 - 1:30 : Pause

        • 1:30 - 1:40 : Pour to ~200g Total

        • 1:40 - 1:50 : Pause

        • 1:50 - 2:00 : Pour to ~250g Total

        • 2:00 : Gentle Swirl, Wait for drawdown to Complete

        • Total Brew Time: Approx. ~3:00, YMMV; Adjust Grind if necessary for Taste/Time

        • Too Fast/Acidic = Finer

        • Too Slow/Bitter = Coarser

  • Part 2, answering Qs (nothing big revealed):

Creativity (as a skill)

  • I'm finding that spending time lying down in a quiet place is a fantastic way for me to come up with ideas.
    • I find that my mind gets filled with all kinds of unimportant short-term stuff when I'm going through the day, and it's often only at the end of the day when I'm lying down and it's quiet that I actually start to think about things I think are really important.
    • I think Thomas Edison also did the same thing.


  • factors to consider when evaluating a hobby
    • the cost of the hobby
      • flying planes, sailing boats, and riding horses are expensive hobbies. soccer, skateboarding, and yoga are relatively cheap. aside from equipment, you should also consider other costs, like transportation and medical costs: e.g. having to drive 40 miles to go swing dancing is an added cost; breaking bones as a snowboarder is an added cost.
      • it may be better to choose cheap hobbies that produce thrills rather than expensive hobbies that produce thrills. ex: I recently heard an ex-helicopter pilot say that he prefers powered-paragliding to flying a blackhawk, which was the complete opposite of what I would have expected (it really caught me off-guard). it made me remember that driving a car on the highway was a huge rush the first few times i did it, but soon became routine. the same pattern seems likely to show up with flying a plane/helicopter, but those will cost me a lot of money per moment of excitement. so it may be better to do something cheap that also produces thrills (e.g. stand-up comedy or acting). i haven't made up my mind, yet, though.
    • the excitement from the hobby
      • excitement can come from acceleration (cars), fear of pain (skateboarding), other in-born fears (climbing/fear of heights), strenuous effort combined with competition (soccer). more excitement seems to often make for a more enjoyable hobby. the big trade-off seems to be with danger; more excitement can often mean more danger. [connection: in "the 4-hour workweek" the author talks about how you should primarily seek excitement in your life]
    • the number of people near you who do the hobby
      • people feel better after interacting with other people, and hobbies are a good way to get that interaction. but if no one around you shares your hobby, you won't enjoy that benefit and may want to consider adopting a second hobby.
    • the likelihood that you'll become the best at the hobby
      • hobbies tend to be more enjoyable when you're the best at them among those you hang out with, because the other people who have that hobby will tend to treat you well.
    • the culture of the hobby
      • if your hobby involves getting together with other people, pick a hobby that will bring you together with people you will enjoy spending time with. for example, rapping tends to have a particular culture even though that culture is not essential to the actual skills they use (e.g. weird al's "white and nerdy" is a great rap song). if you're an asian baptist who wants to start a death metal bible band, you may have trouble finding a crowd to practice your hobby with.
    • the skills you're developing from the hobby
      • animals play around to practice skills they'll need later in life (like how to fight). bill gates played monopoly and risk as a kid and his family held competitive team events; presumably this gave him some great experience with cutting deals, being aggressive, and working as part of a team.
      • even hobbies that may seem useless to many people can serve as valuable analogies for analyzing other aspects of your life
        • example 1: for a time in high school i played a computer role-playing-game called Diablo 2 in which you control a character who fights demons and gradually learns different fighting skills. the majority of your time playing the game involves clicking furiously on monsters to kill them; in hindsight the game seems pretty repetitive, but I gained a valuable insight into the relationship between your time and your skills: the game was set up so that you couldn't learn every skill to the maximum degree possible; in fact, you could only fully develop a small subset of the abilities open to you. if you developed your skills in an inefficient manner (e.g. partially developing every possible skill, including those you wouldn't likely use as much), you wouldn't have as powerful a character as some other player who chose to develop their skills in a more thought-out manner (fully developing several skills, and only developing those skills that they would be using). to bring the analogy back: most people spend their lives dabbling in many different hobbies, jobs, and interests, and so they never really excel in any one area. the guys who get all the attention are the ones who've been dedicated solely to a single pursuit for a long time (mozart, tiger woods, michael jackson, warren buffet, etc). of course, the question remains: is it better to have that recognition or is it better to experience the variety of many different pursuits? I'm honestly not sure yet what the answer to that is, but at the very least it seems worth being aware of this trade-off. One of the reasons I stopped playing videogames is that I noticed that I wasn't really making any cumulative gains: I would become proficient at one game, but when that game went out of style all of those hours I had spent learning to play it seemed suddenly useless (or at least less useful). I didn't like that.
        • example 2: Mark Cuban was an avid stamp collector as a teenager and learned a lot of useful business skills from his hobby. he has a post about that I need to track down.


General thoughts

  • Thoroughly learning a language requires a huge investment of time.  I think the #1 mistake people probably make is not understanding how much it's going to cost them to learn the language.
  • I think the best reason to learn a language is as an investment to earn/save money in the future:
    • To earn more money: To get access to lucrative work opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise (i.e. customers who don't speak a language you already know).  For example, learning English as a citizen of a non-English-speaking country to be able to get work from customers in the United States and Europe.
    • To save money: To be able to live in an area where the people whose services you'll want to use won't speak a language you already know.  For example, moving to Central/South America or Southeast Asia as a US citizen to save money.
  • It seems inefficient (to put it generously) that people spend thousands of hours studying languages in school without any thought as to whether the investment of effort will pay off or not.
  • If you regularly trade messages (like on Facebook) with someone who speaks the language you're trying to learn, ask them to only write in that language, and when you send them messages, speak with that target language into Google Translate, make sure the English translation is what you want to say, and then send the text in the target language.  So the entire conversation history is in the language you're trying to learn.  This is obviously best used when you're already at an intermediate level (like, you will generally be able to say what you want to say without needing to look up every single word and grammatical rule).
  • In my experience, by far the fastest I've ever learned a language was when I had a girlfriend who only spoke that language with me.  The experience reminded me of that of a child with his mother, as I started by learning basic phrases and unable to have in-depth conversations, but slowly built up my vocabulary until I could have more interesting conversations with people.


How I'm learning Spanish

  1. I had the advantage of my father being a native speaker growing up, so while he never spoke to me in Spanish, I at least learned the accent / sounds from listening to him speak to others.  I've had people think I'm a native speaker from my pronunciation, despite my extremely limited vocabulary and knowledge of the grammar.
  2. I studied the language in middle school and high school.
    1. This left me with a basic understanding of / familiarity with the grammar and vocabulary after accounting for everything I forgot.
    2. I think the huge flaw with how the language was taught in school was that we spent most of the time learning grammar and doing exercises instead of actually using the language in conversation.  I think an immersive classroom (where the teacher only speaks the language) could have been better but I feel like it helps to have the teacher use simplified grammar / vocabulary when you're just starting out, and I feel like in the US school system the teachers would probably feel pressure to always use "real" grammar / vocabulary (i.e. not dumb it down at the beginning), which would make it harder.  And the fact that there's only one teacher 
  3. I'm currently using Duolingo for ~3-5 minutes per day and finding it by far the best way to learn Spanish that I've encountered.
    1. I love how they've been giving me consistent practice with the preterit and imperfect tenses.
    2. The time required each day is so little that I always find myself thinking, "Eh, it's just 3 minutes, I can do it."  Whereas if it was even just 15 minutes, I'm sure I'd end up stopping at some point ("I don't have time today"), and then I could end up going for months or years before starting again, as often happens with other projects.
  4. I think the next step beyond Duolingo would be to get into a situation where I actually need to use the language, like if I had a girlfriend who only spoke Spanish or moved to a Spanish speaking country and was interacting with people on a daily basis.  When I'm around my father or brother, I end up just using English because it's easier.
    1. I think also something like my "Let's Play" idea would work, where I'm playing games with someone who only uses that language.


How I'm learning Thai

  1. The first few years:
    1. For the first few years, I didn't put any effort into it at all, I just absorbed the few words I needed.  I did note down at one point the list of words I could remember off the top of my head and the order in which I learned them.  But basically I just picked up words without putting conscious effort into learning.  I probably learned maybe around 50-100 words.
    2. One big thing that I was passively learning the first few years was the phonemes and tones used by the language; I was learning the accent, even without knowing what people were saying 99% of the time.  These years helped me with my pronunciation when I later got more serious about learning, because I had a sense of whether how I was talking sounded "right" or not.
      1. I learned that some people's pronunciation of certain letters sometimes encompasses or falls between two different English phonemes.  For example, some people pronounce the 'ch' sound as 'ch', 'sh', and/or halfway between them (sometimes varying depending on the word), without distinguishing between any of those sounds, where in English there is a strong distinction between 'ch' and 'sh'.  The same thing for 'l' and 'r' when saying 'know'.
  2. Going to Thai school for six months:
    1. This was actually very helpful for giving me an overview of the language and getting me started at knowing how to read.  They moved so quickly that I didn't end up remembering a lot of the vocabulary / grammar / pronunciation rules I learned, but it made me unintimidated to go back later over the next few years and really memorize all the stuff I had been shown in that period of time.
    2. They put a lot of time into teaching the tonal rules / different classes of consonants.  I forgot probably 90%+ of what they taught.
  3. Learning on my phone:
    1. I then spent a couple of years just studying on my phone.
    2. I put time into learning new vocabulary with Ling (an app), but IMO the vocabulary they had me learning had not been chosen well; I was learning uncommon vocabulary like "lawyer" while not being taught very basic vocabulary like how to say "for" or "about".
    3. I used the "Thai Alphabet" and then the "Write Thai" apps to build a solid memory of the alphabet, which really helped me to learn new words.
  4. Having a girlfriend who only speaks Thai:
    1. This really took my Thai to the next level.  I was learning phrases and words that are actually useful in day-to-day life.
    2. This really gave me the confidence to start talking more to random Thai people in Thai, which further helped me build my vocabulary and confidence with the language.
    3. I think this was a very similar experience to being a child who has their mother speaking to them in the language: you start with very basic interactions / vocabulary, and then gradually add more vocabulary and a deeper understanding of the grammar.
    4. I think it was key that she only speaks Thai (or very limited English) because if her English is better than my Thai, it will be easier to just switch to English much of the time, which will prevent you from improving.
    5. When talking to people, if I'm not sure I said something correctly, I ask them if I'm speaking correctly.  This helps me catch situations where Google Translate is teaching me uncommon ways of saying things.  This is a great way to get better at the language.  I see a lot of people learning languages who don't ask this often enough when in conversation with native speakers.
    6. 2023.09.29 - For ten months I'd been communicating via FB messenger in English with her, but I'm now switching to speaking in Thai to Google translate, double-checking that the meaning is correct (by looking at the English translation), and then sending the Thai.  I'm now going to do this with every Thai person I trade messages with.
  5. Improving my grammar:
    1. I started studying a little grammar every day with "Thai: An Essential Grammar", a great book I found on Amazon.  I bought the digital version and would keep it open on my phone and would try to just study a single rule (basically a page of the book) every day that I can motivate myself to set aside a few minutes to do it.
    2. I think this helped me a lot to learn rules that I would not have been able to learn easily through conversation with my girlfriend or referring to Google Translate.


Owning pets


Feline panleukopenia

  • Wikipedia - Feline panleukopenia
    • Once contracted, it is highly contagious and can be fatal to the affected cat.
    • Feline panleukopenia requires aggressive treatment if the cat is to survive, as this disease can kill cats in less than 24 hours.
    • Most panleukopenia deaths are due to secondary infections or dehydration resulting from diarrhea. This is because the virus affects the infected cat's immune system, leaving it vulnerable to secondary infection.
  • AVMA - Feline panleukopenia
    • Infected cats may even show signs that resemble those seen when a cat has been poisoned or has swallowed a foreign object.
  • 2015.01.24 - YouTube - Cat with panleukopenia
    • Comment: I'm so glad this kitty was on the road to recovery. My friend's little clan was destroyed by panleukopenia. I had kittens dying in my car on the way to the vet. Out of a litter of seven kittens, two survived with CH (both passed not long just died and the other fell down stairs). It also killed the kittens' mother and other cats in the household. This isn't something to mess around with.

Pest Control (Mosquitos, Mice, etc.)


Politics (as a skill)

Related pages

Pranks / Practical Jokes


  • Oprah / Over 9000

Sequels (General Principles)

Eminem - Kim

  • This is probably one of the best "sequels" I've ever seen done.
First song: '97 Bonnie & Clyde
Sequel: Kim
What it does right:
  • It's stylistically very different from the original.
    • The original is characterized by Eminem's unemotional / playful tone, as he's talking to his daughter.
      • The originality comes from the contrast between his low-key delivery and the situation he's describing.
    • The "sequel" is characterized by an extremely emotional delivery.
  • It shows the next-most-interesting moment to describe, rather than just thoughtlessly assuming it needs to cover something that happened after the first song.

Throwing a party

Related pages

How to do it well

  • You must vet the people trying to enter the party.
    • Mood
      • If someone's in a bad mood, they're going to bring down the general mood at the party.

Examples of good parties

  • 2017.03.12 - YouTube - hurfyd - CoastDream - Soft Moon
    • Awesome, just awesome.
    • It reminds me of the big bicycle events in DC / LA that John would always talk about.
    • I think DC also had some kind of walking event, but I don't remember what it was.
    • This is also like the floats in the Pride parades.
    • It may be worth noting that–apparently–the dancers in the video were not dancing to the song that is featured in the video. And the video is (obviously) an edited-down depiction of what it would have been like to be present at that event. So the video may not be conveying the actual feeling of being at the party.
    • Cool things they did:
      • Costumes
      • Good dancers
      • Cool lights on the truck
      • They rented a huge 16-wheeler(?) to hold everyone in.
      • It was totally improvised / not part of a big bureaucratic event.
      • The dancers were doing crazy stuff like hanging upside-down off the outside of the truck with their heads just above the street.