A Gift From Me

Each Tuesday (OK, most Tuesdays) I’ll continue to deliver a taste of what I’m reading, watching, and thinking about, right to your inbox. Here is your Taste of Tuesday.

June 25, 2024

Note: If you’re a TL;DRer who gets dizzy after one paragraph, please head over to this one-question form I created to answer one (1) question and potentially win a prize. You can read the rest later. If you have Jedi-level focus and you can follow along for a few minutes, have a look at What I’m Thinking below to get some context.

💡 What I’m Thinking —

A while back in this space I mentioned the Netflix show Atypical, which my whole family enjoyed thanks to my daughter (who turns 15 this week – happy birthday, sweetheart!) recommending it. The show focuses on Sam, an 18 year-old on the autistic spectrum whose search for love and independence make us viewers reflect on what it really means to be “normal.”

I’m thinking about Sam right now because of his love for penguins. When he gets anxious, Sam recites the four types of penguins like a mantra: Adélie, Chinstrap, Emperor, Gentoo. And he often reflects on penguin behaviors as he tries to learn about people.

It turns out that we can learn a lot from the way penguins approach relationships – penguins mate for life.

So I wasn’t surprised to learn that people have made pebbling a thing. When a Gentoo penguin has a crush on another penguin, he or she will show their affection by giving the other penguin a rock. Antarctica is full of rocks, so you don’t have to be an expert on elasticity of demand to see that just picking up any old rock and handing it over isn’t itself exactly a grand gesture. To make the desired impression, the Gentoo has to carefully select, polish, and present just the right pebble – the one true pebble that says, “There are many pebbles, and many Gentoo penguins, but this one is meant for you.”

We humans also express our affection by giving gifts. With the advent of the internet, many of those gifts have become digital. Likes and follows changed the internet. They also changed our brains. Web 2.0 allowed us to interact with what we saw in ways that were observed and felt by the creators of that content.

We also started shipping around terabytes of memes, GIFs, and other email attachments.

However, sending gifts (digital or otherwise) doesn’t make a person thoughtful. I get a lot of dumb crap in my inbox. It’s still the thought that counts. Thinking of others, and what they might care about or find funny/inspiring/heartwarming… that’s what makes a person thoughtful.

I’d like to take this train of thought(fulness) a step farther. I’d like to give you a pebble. A gift. It might be a meme. It might be a GIF. If I have your mailing/shipping address, it might also be a physical artifact that shows up in your life and proclaims (cue Pinocchio falsetto), “I’m a real pebble!”

Why am I doing this, you ask? Two reasons: 1) I care about you, for real; and 2) I want to help people all over the world reconnect care and value with learning. I want to demonstrate ways people can create and receive value through learning in real time. Sharing is caring.

So, for starters, if you haven’t yet, please head over to this one-question form I created and satisfy my curiosity. Teach me something. I will be right here, looking forward to learning from you and waiting to reward you with a digital pebble – and one lucky respondent will receive a t-shirt that I designed in a size, color, and composer of your choice.

Thank you!

🥵 What I’m Hot About —

I have devoted my career to helping people learn. My theory and practice are built on the idea that people want to survive and thrive. Which is why I don’t understand our ongoing indifference to our environment. It’s obvious that heat is killing people from Mecca to Massachusetts, but what’s becoming more apparent is that heat destroys our ability to reason and get along with each other. This is especially true for children. From How Heat Affects the Mind: “The physical consequences of heat, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, are well-known. But heat has psychological consequences as well—consequences ranging from irritability to impulsivity to trouble concentrating. The impacts can put already-vulnerable people in crisis during heat waves but may also lead to general mental health impacts and increased friction within society.” We can all do something about this. Compost, call your representative, don’t buy single-use plastic products… just don’t do nothing. Doing nothing is giving humanity a fever.

🚫 What I’m Not Googling —

Wouldn’t it be great if you could defeat all of Google’s AI-generated garbage to get the information you’re looking for? While we can’t completely turn back the clock to the glory search days – too much SEO to undo – it turns out you can add a URL parameter to your search that strips off a lot of the junk. Does One Line Fix Google? “The results are fascinating. It’s essentially Google, minus the crap. No parsing of the information in the results. No surfacing metadata like address or link info. No knowledge panels, but also, no ads. It looks like the Google we learned to love in the early 2000s, buried under the ‘More’ menu like lots of other old things Google once did more to emphasize, like Google Books.”

📺 What I’m Watching —

Way back when, a friend of mine went to see Schindler’s List. He said going to the movie felt more like a moral obligation – homework, even – than entertainment. It was exhausting because it reminded us of family members who lived through the Holocaust, and those who didn’t. I just started watching We Were the Lucky Ones, an apt term and a show about a Jewish family in Poland during World War II that invites us to care about almost every character. It’s also exhausting, and extremely rewarding. From Vanity Fair: “Created by Erica Lipez and directed by Thomas Kail, We Were the Lucky Ones is based on the bestselling 2017 novel by Georgia Hunter, who also serves as co-executive-producer on the project. Hunter’s debut book was inspired by the actual story of her family. “There were over 20 survivors in all, including my grandfather and his siblings, parents, cousins and in-laws,” she writes in a blog post on her website. “Together, they accounted for nearly 7% of the total number of Jewish survivors in their hometown of Radom (the city’s thriving prewar population of 30,000 Jews shrank to fewer than 300 after the Holocaust).”

🤔 Quote I’m pondering —

"You have to be someone."
― Bob Marley

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to reply to this email. Which bite is your favorite? What would you like to see more or less of? Any other suggestions?

P.S. If this edition of Taste of Tuesday was forwarded to you, you can join the list here.

David Preston

Educator & Author


Latest book: ACADEMY OF ONE

David Preston

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