Category: The Zone

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

The Zone will take a break for some time while I’m working on my book. I found that I cannot afford the distraction of finding the material and compiling these weekly posts, at least not at the quality level I wish.

It’s not really goodbye, because The Zone will be back, maybe sooner than you think. It depends on how much I miss it; it was great fun working on it.


The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Neil Postman’s life advice, Sauron’s eye (really??), Seth Godin talking books with Neil Pasricha, and much more in The Zone No. 16.

  • Neil Postman’s Advice on How to Live the Rest of Your Life. I have always admired Postman and was delighted to find his life advice list online, compiled by his former student and colleague, Janet Sternberg. A few favorites:
    • Do not watch TV news shows or read any tabloid newspapers. Life is terrifying enough. Only a fool would expose himself to an exaggeration of the danger.
    • Establish as many regular routines as possible. The point is to reduce the number of decisions you have to make about trivial matters.
    • Carefully limit the information input you will allow. As a general rule, do not take in any more information after seven or eight o’clock at night. You need protection from the relentless flow of information.
Close up of a sun spot
  • Ear Candy: Víkingur Ólafsson is a pianist from Island and an exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon. I find myself listening to two of his albums, Philip Glass Piano Works and Johann Sebastian Bach, almost daily. And I mean really listening to the music, and not using it as background when I’m working. I’m not sure whether it would work that way; the music forces you to abandon whatever you were doing and start paying attention.

Complaints about too many books predate printing, including the biblical lament “of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) or the thirteenth-century prologue in which Vincent of Beauvais complained of “the multitude of books, the shortness of time, and the slipperiness of memory” that motivated him to write a compendium of all knowledge


My Zone

A Quote I’m Pondering

There is, I hope, a thesis in my work: we may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. That sounds goody-two-shoes, I know, but I believe that a diamond is the result of extreme pressure and time. Less time is crystal. Less than that is coal. Less than that is fossilized leaves. Less than that it’s just plain dirt. In all my work, in the movies I write, the lyrics, the poetry, the prose, the essays, I am saying that we may encounter many defeats—maybe it’s imperative that we encounter the defeats—but we are much stronger than we appear to be and maybe much better than we allow ourselves to be

Maya Angelou

From My Photo Archives

Lidingö Winter

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The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Milton Glaser’s 10 Rules for Life & Work, the Library Explorer, radiators and the pandemic (true story), a squirrel getting tipsy, and much more in The Zone No. 15.

Another Thursday, another Zone! Are you ready? Here goes!

  • Milton Glaser‘s 10 Rules for Life & Work. Difficult to pick any favorites, but I’ll give it a try.
    • Some people are toxic. Avoid them
    • How you live changes your brain.
    • IT DOESN’T MATTER.
  • Internet Archive, the non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, music, websites, and other treasures, offers now a thrilling way to browse their library shelves in 3D through their Library Explorer.
Layers and exposed bedrock on Mars
Still photo from Spirited Away (2001)
  • You’ve probably guessed how much I enjoy Studio Ghibli movies; it seems Studio Ghibli is one of the standing points in The Zone. Here’s a good introduction to the Japanese animation studio.

My Zone

A Quote I’m Pondering

Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.

Maria Popova

From My Photo Archives

The Angel Musicians, sculptures by Carl Milles. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
The Angel Musicians, sculptures by Carl Milles at Millesgården, Stockholm.

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The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Kevin Kelly on making life count, new books, Studio Ghibli artist Kazuo Oga’s painting process, porcupettes (say what?), and much more in The Zone No. 14.

The snow is gone, and the gray is back, but who cares? It’s time for The Zone!

Waltz of Winter, illustration by Jahna Vashti
Jahna Vashti, Waltz of Winter
  • Jahna Vashti is one of my favorite artists, and I just bought this illustration, Waltz of Winter, for my home office. I had it on my wish list for years, and I decided it was time to act.
A glowing green aurora seen from the International Space Station. Photo by NASA Flight Engineer Jack Fischer.
Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer shared photos of a glowing green aurora seen from the International Space Station.
  • A baby porcupine is called a porcupette!
  • Let’s stay in Japan: teamLab‘s new immersive art installation at the Kairakuen Garden is, of course, breath-taking. I’ve seen teamLab’s Planets during our 2018 Japan trip and I would have loved to see this one. Covid-19 put a stop to it. Fingers crossed for the next one.
Close up of a red squirrel eating a peanut. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Red Squirrel
  • January 21st is the Squirrel Appreciation Day. Here’s a squirrel for you! We have several squirrels visiting our garden (read: raiding the bird-feeders), and this one is the bravest. She’ll tolerate me and my camera within a couple of meters, but only if nuts are exchangins paws.

My Zone

A Quote I’m Pondering

Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance

James Baldwin, Paris Review Interviews II

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The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Creativity as a simple three-step formula, a free streamable Hayao Miyazaki documentary, the importance of music in movies, and much more in The Zone No. 13.

We finally got some snow, yay! It’s colder now, and it seems that the fine weather will continue if you’ll forgive me the pun. (I love Pink Panther, see it if you haven’t). Anyway, SNOW!

A red squirrel hiding nuts in the snow.  Photo by Mihaela Limberea
A red squirrel in my garden, hiding nuts in the snow.
  • The Key to Creativity? Jootsing, meaning “jumping out of the system.” (Douglas Hofstadter coined the term). Philosopher Daniel C. Dennett breaks down creativity into a simple three-step formula:
    • Understand a particular system and its rules, for instance, painting.
    • Step outside the system and look for something that undermines those rules.
    • Create something new based on the findings.

For example, Picasso had started learning drawing and oil painting as a seven-year-old, tutored by his father, and studied at prominent art schools in Barcelona and Madrid. Then he broke the rules and created Cubism.

Creativity, that ardently sought but only rarely found virtue, often is a heretofore unimagined violation of the rules of the system from which it springs.”

Daniel C. Dennett, Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking
  • Pablo Picassos complete name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Mártir Patricio Ruiz y Picasso. That’s a mouthful (23 words).
View of Houses in Delft, Known as ‘The Little Street’ by  Johannes Vermeer, 1658.
View of Houses in Delft, Known as ‘The Little Street’, Johannes Vermeer, c. 1658.
Stars in the outskirts of the dwarf galaxy Caldwell 18 (NGC 185) as well as distant background galaxies (which appear as extended patches of light). Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Ferguson (University of Edinburgh, Institute for Astronomy); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)
The dwarf galaxy Caldwell 18 (NGC 185) and distant background galaxies (which appear as extended patches of light). Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Ferguson (University of Edinburgh, Institute for Astronomy); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)
  • NASA has released 30 new space photos to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Hubble telescope’s launch, and they are awesome.
  • The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a site and YouTube channel (and a forthcoming book from Simon & Schuster) that “defines neologisms for emotions that do not have a descriptive term.” The site’s creator, John Koenig, makes up the words but partly bases them on “research on etymologies and meanings of used prefixes, suffixes, and word roots.” A few examples:
    • aftersome adj. astonished to think back on the bizarre sequence of accidents that brought you to where you are today—as if you’d spent years bouncing down a Plinko pegboard, passing through a million harmless decision points, any one of which might’ve changed everything—which makes your long and winding path feel fated from the start, yet so unlikely as to be virtually impossible.
    • flashover n. the moment a conversation becomes real and alive, which occurs when a spark of trust shorts out the delicate circuits you keep insulated under layers of irony, momentarily grounding the static emotional charge you’ve built up through decades of friction with the world.
    • exulansis n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it—whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness—which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.
  • Jack Pierce is a musician and movie and TV composer based in London. His video about how music affects characters or scenes in movies is short and to the point. Very educational.
Cat with tie and glasses

My Zone

A Quote I’m Pondering

There is only one time that is important— Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.

Leo Tolstoy, What Men Live By and Other Tales 

From My Photo Archives

Close up of deep blue sea. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Deep Blue Sea

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The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first edition of The Zone this year! New Year’s Resolutions, Adam Grant on procrastination, new books & movies, the ultimate e-mail structure, and more in The Zone No. 12.

  • Tom Whitwell’s list of 52 things he learned in 2020 is so interesting! Some of my favorites:
    • When Ibn Battuta visited China in 1345, facial recognition was already in use. All visiting foreigners had their portraits discreetly painted and posted on the walls of the bazaar. “If a stranger commits any offence… they send his portrait far and wide” [Ibn Battuta]
    • Euro English is an evolving pidgin English used by EU administrators, for example: using ‘Handy’ to mean mobile phone (from German), ‘Non?’ to turn any sentence into a question and unusual plurals like ‘expertises”. [Lindsey Johnstone]
    • In Warsaw’s Gruba Kaśka water plant there are eight clams with sensors attached to their shells. If the clams close because they don’t like the taste of the water, the city’s supply is automatically shut off. [Judita K]
Coffee mugs and cinnamon rolls on a wooden table. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
Take a break!

Dear Person I am Writing To,

This is an optional sentence introducing who I am and work for, included if the addressee has never corresponded with me before. The second optional sentence reminds the person where we met, if relevant. This sentence states the purpose of the email.

This optional paragraph describes in more detail what’s needed. This sentence discusses relevant information like how soon an answer is needed, what kind of answer is needed, and any information that the other person might find useful. If there’s a lot of information, it’s a good idea to separate this paragraph into two or three paragraphs to avoid having a Wall of Text.

If a description paragraph was used, close with a restatement of the initial request, in case the addressee ignored the opening paragraph.

This sentence is just a platitude (usually thanking them for their time) because people think I am standoffish, unreasonably demanding, or cold if it’s not included.

Closing salutation, Signature


My Zone

A Quote I’m Pondering

Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.

Elizabeth Gilbert

From My Photo Archives

A horned ghost crab on the beach at sunrise, Fregate Island, Seychelles. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
A horned ghost crab on the beach at sunrise, Fregate Island, Seychelles.

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The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Welcome to this special, end-of-the-year edition of The Zone! Banksys perfect illustration of 2020, various ways to exorcise 2020, books of the year picked by Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and others, the lost day of Kiribati, and more. Happy New Year!

I think we all agree that the most merciful thing you could say about 2020 is that it is over. There were glimpses of light and moments of joy, of course, and those we should cherish. Here’s the last list of the year. Have a wonderful weekend, stay safe, and be kind to one another. I’ll be back next year!

  • How to exorcise 2020. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about exorcism these days. I’m tempted to use the Colombian tradition of burning the “old year” (año viejo). It seems fitting, somehow.
  • The most striking images of 2020, selected by BBC Culture. It’s fascinating how one year can be gone so quickly and so slowly at the same time. We happened to be in Australia during the devastating bush fires, and we believed that would be our most dramatic memories of the year. All that seems to be so far away now; bush fires merely an inconvenience.
  • 1,273 People Share Their Best Life Lessons from 2020. From Mark Manson’s excellent newsletter Mindf*ck Monday. He asked his subscribers: “What have been your biggest lessons from 2020?” And 1.273 people answered. It’s fascinating reading. I found that the best blogs and newsletters (and Manson has both) have great readers, and very often, their comments are as interesting as the article.
  • Austin Kleon and Seth Godin‘s end of the year book lists. These men are responsible for many of my book purchases. It’s a good thing. Austin Kleon has a great newsletter, too, by the way.
  • The Smithsonian Magazine‘s editors picked 25 favorite articles from the year we’d rather forget.

My Zone

Most Popular Posts in 2020


A Quote I’m Pondering

Yes, I’ve always been a dreamer, and yes, I have always tried. And dreams are special things. But dreams are of no value if they’re not equipped with wings and feet and hands and all that. If you’re going to make a dream come true, you’ve got to work with it. You can’t just sit around. That’s a wish. That’s not a dream.

Dolly Parton, in an interview in Bust magazine


From My Photo Archives

Red and blue reflections on ice. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

The red walls of the Lidingö Boat Yard reflected on the ice.


Winter collage by Mihaela Limberea

I wish you a very, very Happy New Year! May 2021 bring you and yours much joy and happiness!



The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Another way of measuring performance, the best Christmas album, crown shyness, herding cats, and more in The Zone No. 10.

Christmas tree decorations. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Martin Place Christmas Tree, Sydney 2019. A world ago.
  • Ear Candy: the best Christmas album of all time is Frank Sinatra‘s The Christmas Album, without any doubt. I listen to it on repeat from the first advent to Christmas. A new favorite this year is Ingrid Michaelson‘s Songs for the Season. It sounds like a classic album from the 1940s, maybe the soundtrack to an old black and white Hollywood Christmas movie – but it’s from 2018. The album, inspired by Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, has a nostalgic touch that is wonderful!
  • While we’re still on the subject of 2020: bad sex award canceled as public exposed to ‘too many bad things in 2020.’ 
Tree crowns showing the crown shyness phenomenon. Photo by Dag Peak.
Dag Peak, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Still on the subject of trees: have you heard about crown shyness? It’s a phenomenon observed in some tree species, in which the crowns of fully stocked trees don’t touch each other, forming a canopy with channel-like gaps. Their version of “social distancing?”
  • Tsunami from Heaven: an amazing rainstorm time-lapse captured by photographer Peter Maier in Austria.
  • Tuesday was the Cat Herders Day! The whole of 2020 has felt like an enormous exercise in herding cats.

My Zone

A Quote I’m Pondering

As I see it, not everyone who publishes a book is an author. They’re just someone who has published a book. The best way to become an author is to write more books, just as a true entrepreneur starts more than one business. The best way to become a true comedian, filmmaker, designer, or entrepreneur is to never stop, to keep going. They hustle, they keep creating. Very few of us can afford to abandon our gift after our first attempt, convinced that our legacy is secured. Nor should we. We should prove to the world and to ourselves that we do it again…and again.

Ryan Holiday

From My Photo Archives

Close up of red amaryllis flowers with a decorated Christmas tree and fairy lights in the background. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Red Amaryllis

NB: There won’t be a Zone post next week as it’s Christmas Eve. You shouldn’t be surfing the web then, even for such great content as this. Take care, be safe, and don’t forget to laugh!

The Zone will be back on December 31st with a special year-end edition.


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The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

The Map of Doom (say what?), Cal Newport on technology improving productivity, The Queen’s Gambit, and more in The Zone No. 9.

  • The Map of Doom: A 20 minutes summary of all the threats to mankind, ranked. All right, apparently still on annus horibilis. Let’s move on to less gloomy subjects, shall we?
Harry Potter inspired ASMR – Hogwarts Library
A picture of Hippocampal mouse neuron juxtaposed to a picture of a  Cosmic web to show similarities in structure.
One of these pictures is the brain, the other the universe. Which is which?
  • The Tom & Jerry movie is coming to theaters 2021. Yay! I grew up with Tom & Jerry cartoons, so I’m looking forward to it; the trailer looks promising.
A picture of the NK department store in Stockholm, Sweden with a huge Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling. The scene depicts a book signing by author Maria Varga Llosa in 2010, the year he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
Mario Vargas Llosa signing books at NK in 2010.
  • First Nobel Peace Prizes were awarded to Red Cross founder Jean Henri Dunant and peace activist Frederic Passy on December 10th, 1901. I would look forward to the Nobel Prize ceremonies (literature only, to be honest) and the usual book signing by the Nobel literature laureate in the NK department store every year. Alas, not this year. Everything is digital. Fingers crossed for next year. Hope dies last as they say.

A Quote I’m Pondering

Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. Every great idea I’ve ever had grew out of work itself. 

 Chuck Close

From My Photo Archives

Close up of white Christmas roses or Helleborus in full bloom. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
Helleborus in full bloom. I know it’s called a Christmas rose, but it usually blooms in March here. Normally we would have a lot of snow between November and February hence the March blooming. But not this year. It seems everything is different this year.

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The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Best books of the year, productivity hacks, Earth’s new mini-moon, cute squirrels, and more in this week’s installment of The Zone.

  • I’m sure Merriam-Webster’s word of the year wouldn’t make any best of-lists. Based on a statistical analysis of the words people searched for in their online dictionary and a significant year-over-year increase in traffic, the word of the year is (suspenseful pause)… pandemic! Says Merriam-Webster: “Sometimes a single word defines an era, and it’s fitting that in this exceptional—and exceptionally difficult—year, a single word came immediately to the fore as we examined the data that determines what our Word of the Year will be.“ With Coronavirus in the first place, quarantine in fifth place, and asymptomatic on the eighth, 2020 has been the pandemic year, indeed.
  • For those times when you feel like you live in a catastrophe movie: watch this video in which a former NASA engineer builts an epic obstacle course for squirrels. It’s about 20 minutes long but well worth the time, trust me! It takes a whole new meaning since we started feeding the birds in our backyard. But we ended up with a different solution (scroll down, please).
  • The 10-3-2-1-0 Formula to Get More Done.
    • 10 hours before bed – No more caffeine.
    • 3 hours before bed – No more food or alcohol.
    • 2 hours before bed – No more work.
    • 1 hour before bed – No more screen time (turn off all phones, TVs, and computers).
    • 0 – The number of times you will hit the snooze button in the morning.
  • Did you know that Earth picks up a new temporary moon now and then? They’re usually pretty small – we’re talking about a few meters in diameter – and can hang around for a few years before they drift away. They contain the oldest material in the solar system. They haven’t been studied much as they are hard to detect. A new one has been recently discovered and baptized 2020CD3 (CD3 for short).
  • Speaking of moons: NASA’s 4K visualization showing the Moon’s phase and libration at hourly intervals throughout 2021 is awesome. This one is viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, and there’s one for the Southern Hemisphere too. NASA creates these simulations of the moon phases every year, with no practical purpose in mind. They are very instructive, though, as so much as NASA does. Universe Today has a good article about the nitty-gritty details if you’re into astronomy like me. I, of course, have an iPhone app to check moon phases (free). There are plenty of them in the app store; I used this one for years and I’m pretty happy with it so I never looked for others.
Starfish cling to rocks as the tide comes in off the coast of Greymouth, New Zealand. Photo by Stanley Loong
  • Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George H. W. Bush declared the Cold War over on December 3rd, 1989. Living in Romania at the time, I remember thinking bitterly than nobody told Ceaușescu. But three weeks later, he was dead.
  • Tomorrow is Friday and cookie day, yay! I know what I’m going to do. If you thought baking cookies, you’re wrong. Eating them is more like it.

A Quote I’m Pondering

Heaven and hell are not separate places but are already here among us on earth. What separates and protects us from hell is a surface layer that could be called civilization. A surface layer that we have realized this year is much more fragile than we thought. Dystopias are alarm clocks. *

 Jan Gradvall, Swedish journalist in Dagens Industry Weekend magazine

From My Photo Archives

Close up of a red squirrel. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
We gave up protecting the bird feeders and set up a squirrel feed station instead. Now there’s peace in the backyard.

* Here’s the original quote in Swedish:

Himlen och helvetet är inga separata platser utan finns redan här bland oss på jorden. Vad som skiljer och skyddar oss från helvetet är ett ytlager som man skulle kunna kalla civilisation. Ett ytlager som vi detta år har insett är mycket bräckligare än vad vi trott. Dystopierna är väckarklockor.


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