Welcome to another installment of Bennett’s Bulletin! Apologies for the delay this week. This Bulletin is different, because it’s the first Bulletin sent with TinyLetter. Please let me know if y’all have problems with formatting, readability, or anything else.
Let’s get down to it. Here’s your weekly dose of interesting stuff:
- The head of Ralph Lauren vintage: This is tangential to my point two weeks ago about fashion, but I thought this post on The Sartorialist was so cool I had to share it. A reader sent it to me this week. This guy’s job is to travel the world looking for cool vintage stuff for Ralph Lauren’s stores. Reminds me of Keith Johnson who became semi-famous as Anthropologie’s buyer and host of a show on Sundance TV. Finding clothing/décor that is unique and meaningful is a full-time job, and expensive. No wonder I’m having a hard time of it.
- Music: This week I relistened to John Legend’s whole Get Lifted album for the first time in a long time. As a teaser, listen to Used to Love U. Then, go listen to the whole album. I can’t help be disappointed in his latest album, especially “All of Me.”
I’ve also been enjoying Young Fathers. Check out “Shame” from their 2015 album White Men are Black Men Too. Their 2014 album, Dead, won Britain’s Mercury Prize (the same prize that launched Alt-J to fame in 2012). The band is from Edinburgh, Scotland, and they’re at the intersection of rock, pop, and hip hop.
- Book I’m reading: As a kid, I remember reading Ender’s Game with my dad. I definitely recommend it if you like sci-fi, or politics, or military strategy, or psychology. Anyway, it turns out Ender’s Game is part of a whole collection of books about the Ender universe. I just finished Ender in Exile and now I’m starting Speaker for the Dead (along with Sean). These seem to be the perfect books to turn my mind off at the end of a long day and decompress. They’re easy to digest. The story moves along, and I blow through pages quickly. It’s helpful to have something to occupy my mind and let stress/fatigue take a back seat. (That link has fiction recommendations if you’re looking to get into reading for pleasure/release.)
- Spacewalk selfie: Commander Scott Kelly took a selfie on his first spacewalk. He’ll be spending a year on the ISS. Blows my mind that somebody can be in outer space and tweet about it. For those interested the hashtags are #SpaceWalkSelfie and #YearInSpace.
I get NASA’s image of the day everyday, so that’s how I found this. The universe is amazing.
- Nature and the mind: I went home to the mountains of North Carolina two weekends ago. The fall foliage was on point.
Eden and I drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway, spent a night camping by a stream, and hiked the next morning. It felt great to be out in the woods, and coming back to Washington I felt better than when I left (even though I destroyed my left ankle on the hike down – we’re talking softball-sized ankle swelling).
The day I got back, I read an article on working and thinking outdoors from one of my favorite authors. Being in the woods facilitates deep creative thinking, and for me at least it also has the effect of mental housekeeping. My thoughts feel tidier and stress seems more manageable after time spent outdoors. What impressed me most about the article, though, was how quickly the author got results from the outdoors. Just a few hours in a park with no distractions was enough to help him break through a tough creative problem.
As I dug deeper into this idea of the woods being creative/restorative, I found that this effect has actually been studied scientifically (here, here, and here for those interested in some journal articles). This is where I geeked out a little, the process is known as Attention Restoration Therapy. The mechanism by which nature impacts the mind isn’t entirely understood, some think it has evolutionary roots, but the effects of nature are measurable and statistically significant. In the first and most famous experiment, Roger Ulrich compared recovery times for gall bladder surgery patients. Some had views of nature through their windows in the recovery rooms. Others did not. On average, those with a view of nature spent fewer days in the hospital (7.96 vs 8.70 days [z=1.965 p=.025]) and they had fewer complaints while in the hospital (3.96 vs 1.13 avg negative notes [z=3.49 p=<0.001]). The results seem to indicate that merely seeing nature is restorative and calming. The Atlantic has a great primer that goes into more depth so I’ll stop geeking out now. Suffice it to say that nature is awesome.
Michael reminded me that I would be dumb not to quote John Muir (the BAMF in the picture). He’s been preaching this stuff since he founded the Sierra Club in 1892:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
I can’t say much more than that.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories about nature. Also, I wonder how you like these longer bullet points. I enjoy writing them, and I hope you enjoy reading them.
Finally, now that the Bulletin is on TinyLetter, new people can join. Here’s the link if you know somebody who would like to receive it: http://tinyletter.com/bgarner
That does it for this week’s Bulletin. If something in here made you think of something cool (link, photo, idea, memory) or if you have questions send them to me!
As always, let me know your suggestions! Do you want more or less of something? You can just reply directly to this email.
Have a great week!