Good Reads, Summer in Berlin Edition

Everybody I meet here agrees on two things: Summer in Berlin is marvelous, winter in Berlin is horrible.

While I have no intention to confirm the latter, I’m certainly happy to confirm the former: Berlin is a wonderful summer city! So when not writing or reading, I enjoyed exploring the German capital during the last couple of weeks. Among other things, I…

  • Danced with the Mexican band Molotov and hundreds of fans in SO36.
  • Had beers and played ping-pong at the Landwehr Canal.
  • Attended my first Berlin rave festival with my dear friend Philipp; dancing inside an old factory building through the night, and then open-air from sunrise til noon. (To be sure, the party continued for another 24 hours after that. I felt a bit like a loser to leave so… ehem… early.)
  • Walked and biked through a dozen different neighborhoods, tasting diverse food, seeing parks, places and friendly people; and of course enjoying many architectural highlights, ranging from the Berlin Cathedral to the Mies van der Rohe house, to the plattenbauten in Lichtenberg (well, the latter, not so much).
  • Visited ((Opposed to: Participated in…)) the half marathon at Schönefeld airport – needing more time to get there from my house via S-Bahn and shuttle bus than my good friend Max needed to actually finish the run! (Way to go, man!)
  • Had a barbecue with Danica and my idleness mentor Franck; met up with mate-fueled branding genius Mars Dorian; shook hands with Tom Hanks (well, almost!); saw friends from all over Germany, Panama, Colombia; and so on…

All in all, plenty good reasons to neglect work – but I also managed to get quite a few things done! As it turns out, my mobile productivity has improved quite a bit since last year. One key for me is having a basecamp here in the city, where I can leave my stuff, work, cook and sleep. Definitely hub travel just the way I like it – thanks a ton to my friend Daniel, who is housing me!

Without any further personal ado, let’s jump into the links to some interesting, thought-provoking or simply entertaining things I read and saw online during the last couple of weeks!


The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything:

It’s sad, but it’s also … great, really. Imagine if you’d seen everything good, or if you knew about everything good. Imagine if you really got to all the recordings and books and movies you’re “supposed to see.” Imagine you got through everybody’s list, until everything you hadn’t read didn’t really need reading. That would imply that all the cultural value the world has managed to produce since a glob of primordial ooze first picked up a violin is so tiny and insignificant that a single human being can gobble all of it in one lifetime. That would make us failures, I think.

Such a smart post. Found it via Kottke.


“I run out of ideas every day!” This is old, but it’s so great. Ze Frank on how he certainly doesn’t want to be addicted to brain crack.


Looking back on it now, the first time I truly felt the need for a note-taking app was when I started researching note-taking apps. I was just looking for a simple tool to save ideas about upcoming articles or jot down an occasional to-do list.

Stop. Do not send me your pick for best note-taking app.

I can’t take any more options. I’ve already spent weeks comparing sets of features I’m pretty sure I’ll never need. I tried out at least fifteen applications on my desktop, phone and on the web. I was completely overwhelmed by choices. The process began to take over my life. I spent hours in front of my laptop, I’d demo various features for my wife and kids, and my quest quickly became the only topic I could focus on when interacting with friends.

They say failure is not an option. But everything else is.

Oh, more options! Don’t we all love them?


I love Kirk Tuck, because he’s passionate about what he does, and he has an extremely well-tuned bullshit detector. And it’s precisely in this passionate and no-bullshit manner, that he defends art and reading fiction:

Maybe while I’m walking around just letting images come to me by some sort of inefficient osmosis all those left brain people out there have drawn up matrixes and ven diagrams, plotted their “creative development” out on graphs and have measured their “artistic” productivity on a scale I can’t imagine, all the while chilling out with a glass of chardonnay and a good book on The History of Iron or Understanding C++ Compilers or Nuclear Remediation for Dummies.  But I may have it even more incorrect than I first supposed.  Perhaps people who don’t read fiction don’t drink wine either.


Passions and profits? Not so easy. Here’s a free guide to get you started. ((Affiliate link. There’s nothing to sell directly, but I might get a commission in case you buy something from Jonathan in the future. Disclaimer: I have worked with him and can recommend Jonathan’s services and products wholeheartedly.)) The thing that follows, is actually doing the work. This is where it gets harder. But it’s worth it, I believe.


Why I’m biking through Berlin instead of taking, say, the subway? Here’s why:

Yes, the bicycle is a stunningly efficient machine of transportation, but in the city it is so much more. The bicycle is new vision for the blind man. It is a thrilling tool of communication, an experiential device for the beauty and the ills of the urban context. One cannot turn a blind eye on a bicycle – they must acknowledge their community, all of it. Here lies the secret weapon of the urban renaissance.


Harvard dropouts from the class of 1969:

“I knew I didn’t want to do city planning, to play in that bureaucratic world,” he continues. “I also knew that if I stayed another semester they would hand me a diploma, and that diploma is going to open a whole lot of doors that I don’t want to go through. And I know that I am not real strong, and if I have that key, at some point I’m going to be seduced and want to go through one of those doors. So by not having the diploma, I will remove the temptation. That actually worked out very well, because I was tempted, more than once.”

The big lesson? Prepare your escape throroughly, then go!
Again via Kottke, whom you should probably read anyway so I can spare you his links!

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