Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for June 2007

More Montenegro Shots

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Charity posted yesterday some fun shots of E’s balcony last night. As you can see from the photos we’ve spent a good bit of time reading and journaling, talking and eating on the balcony.

The constant presence of balconies is something I really enjoy about the Balkan architecture, especially with the compliment of grape, trumpet, kiwi, and wisteria vines growing over them on arbors. Orange, lemon, and elderberry trees grow near by shading as they can and day lilies and fantastic hydrangeas bloom in the yards. Wild oleanders blooming wild in the hillsides and seemingly on every street corner mixing with these very large aloe like plants.

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Written by furthermusings

June 17, 2007 at 2:37 am

Posted in Pictures

From a Far Away Land

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As many of you have surmised from the fact that this post is here I’m blogging from the city of Herceg Novi, Montenegro. Charity and I arrived safely late Sunday after a frantically improvised route to the airport, a series of very long lines in DC and Frankfurt and a quick detour through Paris once we arrived in Frankfurt. We’ve safely and settled into my sister’s apartment and have enjoyed 3 days of amazing weather: mid-upper 70s each day with crystal blue skies to match the clear, clear water.

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Herceg Novi impresses. It’s set on a bay which opens out the Adriatic, both of which are visible from the balcony just 20 feet away. Since arriving late at night we’ve seen many, many mountains which are rocky, steep and immediate, dropping straight into the sea. As E and her friends say, “the bay, the mountains, and the water are ‘the perks.'”

overtheadriatic.jpg I’ve also enjoyed the snorkeling. It turns out that the Adriatic is considerably clearer than the Bay so I hope to make it over there again this trip. The flippers have turned out to be a good choice (thankfully). I was a little worried when the box they arrived in was bigger than the suitcase they were destined for . . . but it’s been worth it to be able to cover more ground and to be able to chase the fish with a little more gusto than before.

It’s also been good to see E’s new life: a new apartment, a new walking street, new grocery stores. It’s been good have several days of rambling conversation interspersed with the swimming, reading and drives spent peering out the windows at the mountains.

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I’m not sure how much more I’ll post this trip but I thought it would be fun to show a few pictures.

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Written by furthermusings

June 14, 2007 at 2:36 am

Posted in Pictures

The Black Swan

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Tonight I finished The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I tried to describe this book to a friend the other day and ended up describing it as one part wisdom literature, one part psychology, one part applied finance and one part polemic statistician against social science. I know that description doesn’t lure everybody in but I liked the book a lot, not least because it had some interesting critiques of academia.

But rather than give an extended review I thought I’d quote passage that struck me as particularly wise and relevant, at least to me. Given his premise that people are terrible at estimating how likely things are to happen and how much our lives are shaped by rare events I thought this advice in this section was apropos:

Seize any opportunity, or anything that looks like opportunity. They are rare, much rarer than you think. Remember that positive Black Swans (ie unpredicted, very rare events) have a necessary first step: you need to be exposed to them. Many people do not realize that they are getting a lucky break in life when they get it. If a big publisher (or big art dealer or a movie executive or a hotshot banker or a big thinker) suggests an appointment, cancel anything you have planned: you may never see such a window open up again. I am sometimes shocked at how little people realize that these opportunities do not grow on trees. Collect as many free nonlottery tickets (and those with open-ended payoffs) as you can, and, once they start paying off, do not discard them. Work hard, not in grunt work, but in chasing such opportunities and maximizing exposure to them. This makes living in a big cities invaluable because you increase the odds of serendipitous encounters – you gain exposure to the envelope of serendipity. The ideas of settling in a rural area on ground s that one has good communications “in the age of the Internet” tunnels out of such sources of positive uncertainty. Diplomats understand that very well: casual chance discussions at cocktail parties usually lead to big breakthroughs – not dry correspondence or telephone conversations. Go to parties! If you’re a scientist, you will chance upon a remark that might spark new research. And if you are autistic, send your associates to these events.”

The Black Swan pg. 208-209

Written by furthermusings

June 2, 2007 at 11:51 pm