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mike's web log/quotes

advice computers editing education funny general language laws music politics reading religion science sports technology working writing (all)

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You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.
-- Sam Levenson   advice | funny | education


Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
-- Mark Twain   advice | funny


Never trust someone who can't say sorry to a dog.
-- James Lileks   advice | general


Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.
-- Shakespeare   advice | general


Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.
-- Confucius   advice | general | education


I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
-- Mark Twain   advice | funny | education


I yam what I yam.
-- Popeye   advice | general | funny


I don't need time. What I need is a deadline.
-- Duke Ellington   general | funny | advice


My resolve at the age of 61 is to have more fun. Basketball and steam rooms are part of that plan. I am guilty of obsessive work habits, hunkered over a laptop, pushing, pushing, pushing, when a sensible man would know that an hour's break, shooting baskets, walking, steaming, would be good for him and good for the work. Why does one not learn this simple truth, even at the age of 61?
-- Garrison Keillor   advice


There is no one, no matter how wise he is, who has not in his youth said things or done things that are so unpleasant to recall in later life that he would expunge them entirely from his memory if that were possible.
-- Marcel Proust   advice | general


To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.
-- Hippocrates, physician   advice


Go off, you young people, and make a disgrace of yourselves. It will make you better citizens in the end.
-- Garrison Keillor   advice | funny


I don't believe any more than Spinoza did in the utility of denouncing vice, evil, and sin. Why always accuse, why always condemn? That's a sad ethics indeed, for a sad people.
-- André Comte-Sponville   advice | religion


The cure for the blues is to go to sleep and wake up in the morning. A good night's sleep can change everything. Don't base your life on what you think at 3:00AM.
-- Garrison Keillor   advice


Always go to the bathroom when you have a chance.
-- King George V   advice


Happiness is good health and a bad memory.
-- Ingrid Bergman   advice


Being good at anything is like figure skating -- the definition of being good at it is being able to make it look easy. But it never is easy. Ever.
-- Hugh MacLeod   advice | general


There's no point going into a discussion unless you assume that the person you are disagreeing with has a clue.
-- Charles Miller   advice


When there's a schmuck involved, you can't analyze a situation as if there weren't a schmuck involved.
-- Calvin Trillin   advice


Just because a question is asked does not mean it merits an answer.
-- Dear Prudence   advice


Have fun, and if possible take pictures.
-- One of my cousins   advice


I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different.
-- Kurt Vonnegut   general | advice


Most people are scared to be free. They want someone else to tell them how to be free.
-- Cornell West   general | advice


Getting lost can do wonders in helping one figure out how things actually work.
-- Jenny Berger   education | general | advice


Here's a piece of advice: if someone proposes a grammatical principle that is violated by the titles of two or more classic novels or stories, you should think twice before paying them money for further advice on grammar and usage.
-- Mark Liberman   language | advice


Of course, the real problem with software development is the users. It's unbelievable. They've caused problems with every program I've ever written.
-- Jeff Atwood   computers | advice


If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid with regard to external things.
-- Epictetus   advice | education


When doing botanical work in South America, steer clear of the monkeys: They will throw sticks at you with surprising accuracy.
-- Botanist, Tricks of the Trade   general | advice


Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.
-- Viktor Frankl   advice


Women can actually love us for ourselves, bless their hearts, even when we can't love ourselves.
-- Roger Ebert   general | advice


Ask yourself frequently, "Am I having fun?" The answer needn't always be yes. But if it's always no, it's time for a new project or a new career.
-- Stephen King   writing | advice


If you ever wonder if you will regret not having gone fishing with your dad, shut up and make it happen.
-- Dusty Scott   advice


Using the word accident tends to make people think safety is a matter of luck, and it isn't.
-- Motorcycle Safety Foundation   general | advice


Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
-- Hanlon's Razor   general | advice | laws


Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. [...] One of the signs of a damaged ego is absolute certainty.
-- Milton Glaser   general | advice | religion | politics


As for kissing on the first date, you should never date someone whom you would not wish to kiss immediately.
-- Mr. Blue (Garrison Keillor)   advice


When life hands you lemons, ask for a bottle of tequila and salt.
-- Richard Harter   advice | funny


Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.
-- Thomas Szasz   advice | education


Anything worth doing is worth doing nekked.
-- Graffito at the Tractor Tavern, Seattle   advice | funny


When I ask people what they regret most about high school, they nearly all say the same thing: that they wasted so much time.
-- Paul Graham   advice | general | education


You don't have to wait to be an adult. There's no switch inside you that magically flips when you turn a certain age or graduate from some institution. You start being an adult when you decide to take responsibility for your life. You can do that at any age. [...] The only real difference between adults and high school kids is that adults realize they need to get things done, and high school kids don't.
-- Paul Graham   advice


If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.
-- John Perry   general | funny | advice


90% of success lies in returning phone calls, not being late, following up, and finishing the job on time.
-- Dusty Scott   advice


I am so convinced of the advantages of looking at mankind instead of reading about them, and of the bitter effects of staying at home with all the narrow prejudices of an Islander, that I think there should be a law amongst us to set our young men abroad for a term among the few allies our wars have left us.
-- Lord Byron   advice | general | education


Anyone who does research knows you have to to stay focussed on your topic and not go down every interesting avenue you pass, or you will end up wandering aimlessly in attention-deficit limbo.
-- Ian Frazier   advice | writing


Try a thing you havent done three times.
Once, to get over the fear of doing it.
Twice, to learn how to do it.
And the third time, to figure out whether you like it or not.

-- Robert Evans   advice | education


Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
-- Mary Schmich   advice | funny


To stay young, To save the world, Break the mirror.
-- Nanao Sakaki   advice


A person almost always burnishes his reputation by shutting up: I learned that as a boy.
-- Garrison Keillor   advice


The secret to a satisfying career is to make only projects you believe in.
-- Robert Altman   advice


Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you think, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.
-- Douglas Hofstadter   general | advice | laws


goodnight you cats
Now is the time for all good cats to go to sleep
there are things to do tomorrow
And you can do them then
but now its time to sleep
and you can dream

-- martha the cat   writing | general | advice


Vocations which we wanted to pursue, but didn't, bleed, like colors, on the whole of our existence.
-- Honore de Balzac   advice | general


The inconvenience of office moves brought me to a realization. When you're young, you want to have as much stuff as possible. "The kid who dies with the most toys wins." As you grow older, you realize that material goods are a burden and you try to get rid of them in order to simplify your life.
-- Raymond Chen   general | advice


A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it.
-- Samuel Johnson   writing | advice


If you have two choices, choose the harder. If you're trying to decide whether to go out running or sit home and watch TV, go running. Probably the reason this trick works so well is that when you have two choices and one is harder, the only reason you're even considering the other is laziness. You know in the back of your mind what's the right thing to do, and this trick merely forces you to acknowledge it.
-- Paul Graham   advice


Look and you will find it--what is unsought will go undetected.
-- Sophocles   advice | education


The rule of thumb to remember is that your own desire to believe something or your own opinion about how great the belief is will not convince anyone else. To do that, you need logic and evidence.
-- "How to Win Informal Arguments and Debates"   advice


If if you want to know your past, examine your present circumstances.
If you want to know your future, examine your present thinking.

-- Tibetian saying   advice


Here's a good rule of thumb: For every spelling error you make, your apparent IQ drops by 5 points.
-- John Scalzi   advice | writing


Sure, anger has its bright moments -- you haven't really lived until you've known that special joy of hurling a chair across the room -- but it's also quite time-consuming.
-- Aaron Swartz   general | advice


If it's crap, just change it.
-- Testy Copy Editors   writing | editing | advice


One of the best ways to get to know someone is to look at their bookshelf.
-- Kathy Sierra   general | advice


Stress is directly proportional to the delta between who you are and who you are projecting to be.
-- Jnan Dash   general | advice


The time-tested way to overcome language problems - the approach I used to learn French in the first place - is of course to find a volatile girlfriend who is fluent in the language. There is nothing like hysterical weeping over the phone at 3 a.m. to really flex your listening comprehension.
-- Maciej Ceglowski   language | funny | advice


If you don't know whether you're a bad manager, then you're a bad manager. It's the default state, the start-state, for managers everywhere. So just assume you're bad, and start working to get better at it.
-- Steve Yegge   general | advice


We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.
-- Frank Tibolt   advice


A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt   general | advice


The real reason I want to go to a University -- and the reason, when you get right down to it, everybody else seems to be interested in as well -- is the people. I want to go to a place filled with people like me, but smarter; a place where you can't help but learn.
-- Aaron Swartz   general | advice | education


To be unacquainted with what has passed in the world, before we came into it ourselves, is to be always children.
-- Cicero   general | advice


It is characteristic of all deep human problems that they are not to be approached without some humor and some bewilderment.
-- Freeman Dyson   general | advice


There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.
-- George Washington   general | advice | politics | education


You cannot persuade someone to consider an idea by debating them into submission.
-- Reg Braithwaite   advice


He who gets his users past the suck threshold and into the kick-ass zone the fastest wins.
-- Kathy Sierra   advice | computers


Making mistakes is inevitable, but repeating the same ones over and over doesn't have to be. You should endeavor to make all-new, spectacular, never-seen-before mistakes.
-- Jeff Atwood   computers | advice


Recognizing your shallowness is perhaps the most profound act of your intellectual life. It's the recognition that you're mortal, that you're busy, that you've got to survive in a cruel world, and that there's more to read, more to write, more to think about, and more to solve, than you could ever possibly manage in your lifespan.
-- Grant Campbell   advice


There's no point improving the implementation of a bad idea.
-- Raymond Chen   advice | computers


Top tip, spend time in front of your wife for some more analog experiences ;)
-- "Jimmy"   advice | computers


Making it easy to do good stuff is obviously goodness; thinking about how to make it hard to do bad is actually more important.
-- Eric Lippert   computers | advice


When your abilities are modest, always hire smarter people.
-- John McIntyre   advice


Why don't you go read about it and write a blog entry summarizing what you've learned?
-- Raymond Chen   writing | advice


If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.
-- Charles Kettering   general | advice


I learned that you cannot follow the entire Bible. It's impossible. You must pick and choose. Everyone does it, whether they admit it or not. Otherwise, we'd end up stoning adulterers on the street. Some call this "cafeteria religion," and it's meant as a disparaging phrase. But I say: There is nothing wrong with cafeterias! I've had some great meals at cafeterias. The key is to chose the right dishes -- the ones about compassion and tolerance, and leave the ones about hatred and intolerance on the side.
-- AJ Jacobs   religion | advice


Greatness is far too difficult, too abstract, too daunting. Being good-- consistently good-- is the real goal, and that takes hard work and discipline. Being good-- that's something concrete you can roll up your sleeves and accomplish.
-- Jeff Atwood   advice


I'm happy to explain that you can still be a freak and a gainfully employed grown-up.
-- Jillian Venters   general | advice


Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time ... The wait is simply too long.
-- Leonard Bernstein   writing | advice


You have to do it yourself. Nobody one else will do it for you.
-- Mistress Krista   advice


"Does this break a rule?" is the first question and "Does it work?" is the second question. If "Does it work" outweighs "Does it break a rule," then it's OK to break the rule.
-- Merrill Perlman   writing | editing | advice


Learning and mastery are not states you get to by accreting years of service. You learn by doing, so go do something.
-- Kent Sharkey   advice | education


Be not too hasty to trust or admire the teachers of morality; they discourse like angels but they live like men.
-- Samuel Johnson   general | advice


Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
-- Michael Pollan   advice


The days are long, but the years are short.
-- Gretchen Rubin   advice | general


What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
-- Gretchen Rubin   general | advice


You don't have to be good at everything.
-- Gretchen Rubin   general | advice


Learn to fail with pride — and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error — by mastering the error part.
-- Nassim Nicholas Taleb   general | advice


Once you figure out what you draw value from, why not drop the rest of the cruft and start doing it?
-- Steve Spalding   advice


When the rhythm isn't steady, no one will start to dance. No one will start to smile. No one will start to cheer. Because that's your task when you play in front of people, or when you play for yourself ... you don't smile to yourself if the groove isn't there as you like it to be.
-- Siggi Mertens   advice | music


I've shaken things up with a redhead. I learned my lesson.
-- "Don Draper"   general | advice


Make a habit of enjoying whatever it is that you do. It's really easy to hate your life, but why should you? There are plenty of people out there more than willing to do that for you.
-- Steve Spalding   advice


When you try to measure people's performance, you have to take into account how they are going to react. Inevitably, people will figure out how to get the number you want at the expense of what you are not measuring, including things you can't measure, such as morale and customer goodwill.
-- Joel Spolsky (summarizing Robert Austin)   general | advice


I think that a 35-hour workweek should be the goal for any person who wants a decent life and that by the time you're 50 you should be carving that down to around 30. Shoot me but it's true.
-- Garrison Keillor   working | advice


Get something wrong. Do something badly. Achieve nothing and make certain to fall short of your goal. [...] No one brings it up but in business and in life failure is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal, if you know how to use it.
-- Steve Spalding   advice


Associating yourself with groups that do not actively question their goals and objectives, or consider opposing views, will in the long run close your mind, rather than open it.
-- "How to Think For Yourself"   advice


I mess up all the time. It's how I know things.
-- Carol Fisher Saller   general | advice


But though I am much against too much spending, yet I do think it best to enjoy some degree of pleasure, now that we have health, money and opportunity, rather than leave pleasures to old age or poverty, when we cannot have them so properly.
-- Samuel Pepys   general | advice


Being an adult can be a very stressful way of living.
-- Seventh grader   advice | general


As a college instructor, I am long past thinking that students will heed my advice. God knows I've tried. So with each new class I limit myself to one saying, the most useful one I know: "Eighty percent of success is showing up." What most students don't know is that showing up will be the hardest part about college.
-- Brian Burrell   advice | general


While it may seem counter-intuitive, teaching is an amazing way of learning -- I learned more about programming by teaching it to others than I did by actually writing code. Different developers have different (sometimes way different) ideas about what is good code, and by discussing it with them, you grow (even if you were right in the first place). It also helps solidify your own arguments by forcing you to actually think them through and explain them in ways that others can understand.
-- Kent Sharkey   advice


The only way to learn anything at all is to do it over and over again until your brain is too annoyed at you to forget it.
-- Steve Spalding   advice


Para gozar lo rico
Tienes que conocer
Lo bueno y lo malo
Y lo que te dé placer

-- Javier Garcia   advice


The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.
-- Jessica Hische   advice | general


Earn a reputation over time through excellent work. This is much more powerful in commanding attention than intellectual prowess.
-- Jason Crawford   advice


Most people are so worried about looking good that they never do anything great. Most people are so worried about doing something great that they never do anything at all.
-- Derek Sivers   advice


You don’t get healthy self-esteem from constantly telling yourself how great you are, or even from other people telling you how great you are. You get healthy self-esteem from behaving in ways that you find estimable.
-- Gretchen Rubin   advice


Learning from experience is the worst possible way to learn something. Learning from experience is one up from remembering. That's not great. The best way to learn something is when someone else figures it out and tells you: "Don't go in that swamp. There are alligators in there."
-- Clay Shirky   general | advice


We must be very careful when we give advice to younger people; sometimes they follow it!
-- E. W. Dijksrta   advice


If you're [practicing something], beware of too many successes. If the exercises make you "look bad", you're probably headed in the right direction.
-- Chad Fowler   advice


The secret to a successful life is hardly a secret; it requires you to be 

self-centered as all fuck, is all. So long as it’s not at the expense of others, make yourself the center of your universe. You only get to do this ONCE, so try to take as much stress out of the process as you can.
-- Kevin Smith   advice


Disappointment is educational.
-- Jonah Lehrer   advice


Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise.
-- David Brooks   advice | general


It's ok to head out for Wonderful. For on your way to Wonderful you're going to have to pass through All Right. And when you get to All Right, take a good look around and get used to it, because that may be as far as you're going to go.
-- Bill Withers   advice


If it's possible to do something, then it's possible to do something wrong.
-- Raymond Chen   computers | advice


When I see what makes me happy as a designer, the easiest answer, of course, is is to do more of the stuff that I like to do and much less of the stuff that I don't like to do.
-- Stefan Sagemeister   general | advice


You can say a lot in four minutes, you know, if you get your metaphors straight.
-- Ry Cooder on songwriting   advice | music


I get plenty indignant. But I don’t let it escalate to outrage. If you get outraged, you never learn anything.
-- Nathan Jurgenson's father   politics | general | advice


If you want rapid adoption, keep technology simple.
-- Graham Atkinson   general | advice | technology


Do not fear the unfamiliar: learn.
-- The Spaceage Portal of Sentence Discovery   advice | general


If you have a deep-seated need to be loved and admired every day, you shouldn't be in politics. You should go work at a pet store.
-- Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia   politics | general | advice


If you look at that blank canvas and say, "Now I’m going to create a masterpiece" — that's just foolhardy. You just have to make the best painting you can, and if you're lucky, people will get the message.
-- Susan Kare, designer of many of the Mac's original icons   general | advice


Never label anything "Miscellaneous."
-- Gretchen Rubin   advice


It is far superior to have decent judgments about useful matters than to have precise knowledge of useless things.
-- Isocrates   advice


The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.
-- Sidney J. Harris   education | advice


Speak properly, and in as few Words as you can, but always plainly; for the End of Speech is not Ostentation, but to be understood.
-- William Penn   advice | writing


It is a much greater act of soul to be clear about how necessary every small and even menial task is to the whole than to think: "This work is too low for me. I am called to something higher."
-- Rudolf Steiner   advice | working

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