Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The end of the beginning

The last day of January is upon us.  Instead of the usual "that went so fast" or "where has the time gone" type comments, I wanted to concentrate on the month.  I've been enjoying finding two or more quotes that help expand the ideas behind these posts.  The first is just a fun one to help daydream and the second is a bit more introspective.  Although it was meant for the start of January, I think it is powerful to read and think about now.

“To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June” - Jean-Paul Sartre

“Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past." - Henry Ward Beecher

So how has your January been?  Have you taken a walk in June or have you faced the front?


Monday, January 30, 2012

That tune in your head

There are times when music can get stuck in your head or can arouse a swell of emotions.  It can set the mood or alter it.  Music in one form or another is all around us.  Whether it be the sound of cars going by or the air vent in your office, a tune is being created.  And since I had a great soundtrack on the way to work today, the quotes below revolve around melody.

“Not every end is the goal. The end of a melody is not its goal; and yet: if a melody has not reached its end, it has not reached its goal. A parable.” - Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (1880)

“Life is like a beautiful melody, only the lyrics are messed up.” - Hans Christian Andersen

Is your melody helping towards your goal?  Do your lyrics match the music?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

To your health

Some friends, co-workers and I have been fighting various illnesses this winter.  At the office, different cold strains seem to get passed around.  Sniffles, stomach bugs, headaches, sinus pressure, the usual winter ailments.  I know some people who will go to great lengths to stay healthy, and others that would rather enjoy life.  It made me wonder what some people in the past have noted about health.

"He had had much experience of physicians, and said "the only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd druther not." - Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

“Anguish of mind has driven thousands to suicide; anguish of body, none. This proves that the health of the mind is of far more consequence to our happiness than the health of the body, although both are deserving of much more attention than either of them receive.” - Charles Caleb Colton

How much of illness do you think is just in your head?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

See-food diet

While eating at a restaurant today, a woman nearby was holding a conversation with the man accompanying her, with her mouth full.  She was turning, looking around while talking so most of the restaurant could see what she was eating.  And therefore sparking today's quote about manners.  I found two that I think make good points.

“A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

What lack of manners have you done lately?

Friday, January 27, 2012


Just a light, philosophical quote today.  Didn't want to make things too heavy going into the weekend.

"It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards." - Søren Kierkegaard, Journals and Papers, (1843)

Do you understand more of your past as you go forward?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Always have a backup

I had an event happen to me this morning that I planned to write about with a quote to go along with it.  I couldn't find the right term to characterize what happened.  I thought I did, but the quotes weren't coming up to match.  So I'm falling back on one of my favorite "authors."  He's really a cartoonist.  If you don't recognize his name, go ahead and do some research.  His work can be taken at what ever depth level you want to take it at.

"We're not really taught how to recreate constructively. We need to do more than find diversions; we need to restore and expand ourselves. Our idea of relaxing is all too often to plop down in front of the television set and let its pandering idiocy liquefy our brains. Shutting off the thought process is not rejuvenating; the mind is like a car battery— it recharges by running." - Bill Watterson, Kenyon College Commencement Address (1990)

How do you relax?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All a man has

Sparked from yesterday's quotes, I wanted to do a day on laughter.  Sometimes it does seem to be all a person has and I've seen it turn people's days around.  While hearing people laugh at you can be hurtful, a joyful laugh by yourself can create wonders.  If anything, I hope you get a smile from these, if not a laugh.

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” - E. E. Cummings

“Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” - Mark Twain

“Laughter is an interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable.” - Ambrose Bierce

 When is a time you laughed so hard that your stomach hurt?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Turn one into another

The anger and frustration of some friends is still going on, so today's quote was going to be about frustration.  But after I found the first quote, I thought I'd make this into a transition post.  From frustration to laughter.  From anger to joy.  From cold to warm.

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning to do afterward.” - Kurt Vonnegut

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” - Victor Hugo

Have you recently had an experience where laughter turned your feelings around?

Monday, January 23, 2012

What uncertainty breeds

I've been around a fair amount of people lately who have a lot of uncertainty in their work.  People who don't seem to know anything get promoted while the people who believe their talents are being wasted look to leave their company.  What I've noticed while talking to these people is that a lot of anger is bred from the unknown.  Anger against co-workers.  Anger against bosses.  Anger at little things.  So today I tried to find a few quotes on anger that looked at it from different angles.  The three below are also in chronological order based on the time the author lived.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” - Buddha

“There was never an angry man that thought his anger unjust” - St. Francis de Sales

“Anger is a great force. If you control it, it can be transmuted into a power which can move the whole world.” - William Shenstone

Do you gravitate towards one of these quotes most?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Not ego-centric

I believe this is the earliest quote I have found to date about learning from the past. Cicero lived 106BC - 43BC. I did not mean for this project to focus so much on repeating the past or learning. But I'm excited to find these and from such different times.

“To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

What have you learned from the past that will help you in the future?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tie, not loafers

Didn't think I'd repeat Mark Twain so soon, but I like this one.  A friend is shopping for shoes, and I enjoyed this visual.

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes” - Mark Twain

What lies can you think of that have spread and been hard to retract?

Friday, January 20, 2012


I'm seeing an old friend tonight.

“Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” - Francis Bacon

Have you been in touch with any old friends lately?

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I think it was in middle school when I was introduced to Edgar Allan Poe.  He has stuck as a favorite author of mine since then.  Today would have been his 203rd birthday, so today's quotes are from him.  Three quotes for the three roses the Poe Toaster would have left on his grave.  The contrast between the tones in the first and last quotes are just a glimmer of the pain he said he felt through the end years of his life.

"I shall remain in Philadelphia perhaps for a year — but Richmond is my home, and a letter directed to that city will always reach me, in whatever part of the world I may be. " - Edgar Allan Poe, in a letter to George Washington Poe (1839)

"If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered." - Edgar Allan Poe, "Marginalia" in Democratic Review (1844)

"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." - Edgar Allan Poe, in a letter to George W. Eveleth (1848)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Remake the remake

Today's quote was picked for two reasons.  One, with all the news about the cruise shipping running aground in Italy, I wanted to find an Italian author. And two, with all the remakes Hollywood and other art institutions keep creating, I wanted to find a quote that showed frustration there.  I did not expect to find something from a poet who wrote in the early part of the 1800's.

“There are some centuries which - apart from everything else - in the art and other disciplines presume to remake everything because they know how to make nothing.” - Giacomo Leopardi

What remakes have you heard about or seen that you cannot believe?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Murky water

The ego, or "I," is an amazing thing/word. It gives power and takes it away. It forms unions and creates catastrophes. It is the foundation for understanding and miscommunication. Although the quote below is from a letter helping to describe a play, I think it pointedly depicts the cause of numerous issues in everyday life.

"There are no 'good' or 'bad' people. Some are a little better or a little worse but all are activated more by misunderstanding than malice. A blindness to what is going on in each other’s hearts... Nobody sees anybody truly, but all through the flaws of their own ego. That is the way we all see each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, competition – all such distortions within our own egos – condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions in our own egos, the corresponding distortions in the egos of the others – and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other. That’s how it is in all living relationships except when there is that rare case of two people who love intensely enough to burn through all those layers of opacity and see each others naked hearts. Such a case seems purely theoretical to me." - Tennessee Williams, in a letter to Elia Kazan (1947)

How cloudy does your ego make you glass?

Monday, January 16, 2012

All in a name

With it being Martin Luther King, Jr. day in the United States, I figured a quote of his and a quote from Martin Luther were in order. I was surprised to find two that seemed so opposite to me.

"Blood alone moves the wheels of history." - Martin Luther

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Which one do you believe?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Slay time

No theme today. Just a great quote by Faulkner.

"Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life." - William Faulkner

Have you wielded your power of time lately?

Saturday, January 14, 2012


It was garbage day yesterday and plenty of houses were throwing out their Christmas trees.  Made me think of what other people consider trash.  And I mean beyond the whole "other man's treasure" idea.  I found this one instance from George Orwell.

"Prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash but constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feeling whatever." - George Orwell Confessions of a Book Reviewer (1946)

What was in your garbage this week?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cycling through the past

Of all the movies I can remember that bring historical figures into the current time, the people from the past are always amazed at current technology.  And the movies tend to poke fun at that.  But going through quotes from all time, I'm amazed at how similar everyday thought is.  I've noted before how we seem to keep repeating ourselves (even though we try not to repeat the past).  Today's quote reminds me of that again.  It is also inspired by today's date...Friday the 13th.

"Superstition is a part of the very being of humanity; and when we fancy that we are banishing it altogether, it takes refuge in the strangest nooks and corners, and then suddenly comes forth again, as soon as it believes itself at all safe." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe (1819)

 Two questions today.  What are you superstitious about? Do you see yourself repeating your past?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Something catchy

One of the quotes I found for yesterday's post was by Alfred North Whitehead.  I'll leave out the details, but at least point you to information on him at wikipedia.

I know and have worked with a good amount of entrepreneurs.  Most, if not all, tell people who want to start a business or create a product that they will fail at some point, but that they have to learn from it and keep moving forward.  I think the quote below is the most succinct way of putting that, and it involves all aspects of the world, not just business and innovation.

"Error is the price we pay for progress." - Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929)

What errors have you recently made that have helped you make progress?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Zero, zilch, nada

My personal inbox reached zero (0) today for the first time in at least two years.  I'm really not joking.  At one point I was up to 1,000 unread emails.  It started when I was laid off and I was looking for a new job.  I started to signup for various groups and job searches.  Then I started to research things and send articles to myself so I would read them later... which I never did.  So today I have clean everything out.  If I have not read it, but want to, it has been tagged "to read" so I will one day get back to it.  Maybe that will be my next challenge.  For now, here are a couple quotes about "zero."

“When one's expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” - Stephen Hawking

"The point about zero is that we do not need to use it in the operations of daily life. No one goes out to buy zero fish. It is in a way the most civilized of all the cardinals, and its use is only forced on us by the needs of cultivated modes of thought." - Alfred North Whitehead

How often do you reference the number zero?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The machine walking in front of me

On my walk to work this morning I saw a woman swinging her arm with extreme precision.  Each swing matched the previous.  She was walking as if it were a predefined motion.  It made me think about machines making precise movements.  I could not find an quote to fit my exact thoughts, so I found two of interest instead.

"No one knows where he who invented the plow was born, nor where he died; yet he has done more for humanity than the whole race of heroes who have drenched the earth with blood and whose deeds have been handed down with a precision proportionate only.” - Charles Caleb Colton

"The tendency of philosophers who know nothing of machinery is to talk of man as a mere mechanism, intending by this to imply that he is without purpose. This shows a lack of understanding of machines as well as of man. " - Arthur Young

Monday, January 9, 2012

Swift judgement

For how much we try to keep history from repeating itself, I find it amusing to see what we consider history not worth repeating versus human nature.

"This evil fortune, which generally attends extraordinary men in the management of great affairs, has been imputed to divers causes, that need not be here set down, when so obvious a one occurs, if what a certain writer observes be true, that when a great genius appears in the world the dunces are all in confederacy against him." - Jonathan Swift, Essay on the Fates of Clergymen (1728)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The confusion of time

Some think that time is imaginary.  Some think time can bend.  Time seems to act differently in different places and for different people.

"I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sunday." - W. C. Fields

Ever have a day that went by fast or seemed to take forever?

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I wonder what range of quotes about lounging or relaxing I could find.  I realized "chillin" was not a word often used in the great past.
“Reading and sauntering and lounging and dosing, which I call thinking, is my supreme Happiness.” - David Hume 1767
What do you consider to be Happiness?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Work, work, work

Three co-workers left today. One on his own accord. One was given two months notice. The last was just told this morning.  To go with that, I'm posting three quotes about work from three different times.
“What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation?” - Marcus Tullius Cicero
“Avoid idleness, and fill up all the spaces of thy time with severe and useful employment: for lust easily creeps in at those emptinesses where the soul is unemployed and the body is at ease; no easy, healthful, idle person was ever chaste if he could” - Jeremy Taylor
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas A. Edison
Do any of these match your thoughts for work?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Talking with the past

It's been suggested that I start to read before bed.  Years ago its something I used to do and was a nice way to wind down at night.  I stopped because I wasn't paying attention anymore to what I was reading.  After reading the quote below, maybe I was reading the wrong types of books.

"The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries who were the authors of them, nay a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts." - Rene Descartes

What conversations have you had recently with your books?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fire from the heavens

There was a meteor shower early this morning. I was awake late at night, but the light pollution from the city kept me from seeing anything.
I did find this quote though.

“Great men are meteors designed to burn so that earth may be lighted.” ― Napoleon Bonaparte

Do you think earth basks in the glow of great men?

Note: I saw a version of this quote where "men" was changed to "people."  I'm trying to keep with the original translations and not make them politically correct. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A special birthday

It is a close family member's birthday today.  In her honor I decided to go with a birthday related quote.  I also think this quote has an intriguing outlook.

"We advance in years somewhat in the manner of an invading army in a barren land; the age that we have reached, as the saying goes, we but hold with an outpost, and still keep open communications with the extreme rear and first beginnings of the march." - Robert Louis Stevenson, "Virginibus Puerisque II," Virginibus Puerisque, 1881

Have any of your communication outposts gone down?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Science on the brain

A few thoughts about science popped in my brain today, so I let that steer this post.  While I wanted to find one about the periodic table, I found this to be quite poignant.

"Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house." ~Henri Poincaré, Science and Hypothesis,1905

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Quotes to ponder

My last few attempts to complete a 9 week challenge have not unfolded as I would have liked.  Due to that,  I'm going to dial back my grand aspirations for a little while.  I'm also going to hide my old posts for now.  This round I'm going to post some quotes that may force you to ponder the world.  Some quotes will relate to the day (as today's does), will be ones I think fit the world's events or they just open my eyes.

Today's quote interests me because of its timelessness.  It is 149 years old, but still holds true.

"New Year's Day--Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion."
 - Mark Twain, Letter to Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, January 1863 

Have you made a resolution this year that you know you're not going to keep?