Van Halen Destroys the 7th Floor of the Sheraton Inn

The VHND just posted an account of one of rock's most infamous moments of pure destruction.

On my "book tour" for The Van Halen Encyclopedia in 1999 I made a point of staying at this hotel in Madison, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, I was not allowed on the 7th floor (VIPs only). I did get to meet Susan Masino from this article and we did an hour on the local rock station promoting the book.

 Me (in the middle) in 1999 on Madison radio. That's Ron Higgins to my right (Van Halen historian and all-around good guy).

Me (in the middle) in 1999 on Madison radio. That's Ron Higgins to my right (Van Halen historian and all-around good guy).

 Logan, the host. You can tell this is a midwest radio station, overalls included.

Logan, the host. You can tell this is a midwest radio station, overalls included.

 Susan Masino with a few copies of The Van Halen Encyclopedia, an issue of Inside magazine and the original article mentioned in the VHND story.

Susan Masino with a few copies of The Van Halen Encyclopedia, an issue of Inside magazine and the original article mentioned in the VHND story.

Getting More from Your Calendar

Chris Bowler at The Sweet Setup writes this week about the benefits of using a calendar to manage your life:

“While most people still stick to the use of task or project management tools, there is a growing community of people who are turning to the calendar. The value of using one is that it forces you to consider the limited resource of time. You only have so much of it (the same as every other person on the planet).”

Most of the article is great (as usual from Chris — here’s his newsletter), but I disagree with this statement:

“It’s tempting to hyper-schedule — to fill in every available 30-minute increment of the waking day — but that is folly and only leads to burnout and the desire to throw everything out the window.
What is needed is spontaneity and time to do things you enjoy. A calendar that is full of colored blocks is a problem. When I see my week getting too full, I pull back and re-evaluate. Leaving some empty spots that give you the freedom to do whatever feels right at the time is downright peaceful.”

I hear this sentiment a lot, but I think this is the wrong way to approach scheduling (and, sorry David Sparks, I just hate the term hyper-scheduling). If your week is full of work blocks in your calendar, then it’s up to you to add blocks for play. In fact, if I don’t schedule fun things in my life, they never happen. Blank spaces on my calendar tend to make me revert to the couch, or worse, the couch + Twitter.

Schedule date nights, field trips with your kids, vacations, meditation time, photography hikes, real rest, or whatever defines play for you. Make them repeating entries so you don’t have to think about scheduling them in the future. These appointments are more important than work and should be treated at least as seriously on your calendar.

Productivity Addiction

“I’m sorry if I got you hooked on productivity stuff. I think I was good at what I did. I think 43 Folders was a very good site and most of what I posted was pretty good. With that said, I did know that it was addictive. The exact kind of tick and personal deficit that leads you to need all of these lifehacks is same thing that’s going to keep you from ever knowing when to stop.” — Merlin Mann

Facebook is Delusional

Moira Burke, Facebook Research Scientist, via No Agenda:

“People are often surprised to learn that we have a large group of researchers here at Facebook with backgrounds in fields like social psychology, communication, and anthropology.”
“Writing a comment on a friend’s post or sending each other messages, these are the kinds of actions that can boost well-being. It’s a lot like being at a party. You can’t just sit in the corner. You need to interact with people that you care about in order to have a meaningful experience.”

This is how you justify using your degree in psychology to keep people coming back to a website that makes them miserable.

The Book Hiding in Your Blog

Patrick Rhone:

"Derek Sivers is writing a book about surviving in the music industry right in plain sight. Every post he’s made to his blog in the past several weeks is a chapter around this topic. 
I not only have done this as a writer but I support it as a reader. I love the idea of being able to purchase a nicely curated and packaged collection of ideas. I don’t have to dig through a blog’s archive or skim through a category to get to the stuff I want. The author has done if for me and that is work worth paying for."

Obviously, this is also what I do, but not in the same way. I don't think in chapters. Some people do, and maybe it's a skill I could learn, but most bloggers I've seen who try this end up posting structured, formulaic chapters that look like chapters for a book (not self-contained ideas). Derek, Patrick, and Austin Kleon don't have that problem. They are the exceptions in my experience.

Here's the struggle as I see it: If you think in short posts, like I do, there's an enormous amount of work to do to piece together a book from all the random thoughts. The upside is that your readers will tell you which of your ideas resonates with them. Just look at your stats once in a great while. It's throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks.

I recently spent six months thinking about a post, drafting several versions, and finally posting it. It got a spattering of replies, but most of my audience yawned and moved on to a post they loved that took an hour to write. You never know what they'll love until it's posted, so it's become important to me to get all those ideas out there as quickly as possible. I wasted six months on that lousy post!

Posting in chapters makes the end product very easy to create, but if it doesn't resonate with the reader, no one will buy your book or your buy into your message. It's a riskier model, with the potential for burn out (single topic blogging can do that) or wasted time (time taken from projects you care about that would resonate with readers).

I don't think there's a right/wrong path here, though. As long as you're creating something, you're doing better than the majority. Try both, see what fits, then do the other anyway. It's just blogging, and it's not going to hurt anybody. You might even like it!


I wrote this in 15 minutes. But I don't see it going in any book. Was it wasted?

A Free Mini Scheduling Course

"As soon as I have a schedule, I can fail."

Amen. This is the best reason/admission I've ever heard from someone scared about scheduling. It's also the best reason I've ever heard to make scheduling a part of your life.

Francis Wade turned me on to this series of videos on time management for ADHD sufferers. I don't have ADHD, but I found a lot of answers to basic questions about scheduling I often see in my email.

This Quote Scares the Hell Out of Me

"Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” — Carl Jung

This quote freaks parents out. Google it and read about heads exploding. Parents love to beat themselves up about their choices. Couple this with the book everyone is talking about right now Lost Connections, and it's renewing the entrepreneurial longing in me.

I first got this advice from Patrick Rhone in person years ago (in his own words) and I didn't follow it. I'm doing something about it this year, and I'm doing it on deadline (with real accountability), so I have no choice.

Being Accountable for a New Habit

I wrote at the beginning of the year about establishing habits instead of making resolutions (you don't hear much about resolution anymore do you?). I wrote that because I started a habit back then and wanted to see if I could keep it going six weeks.

Why six weeks? I was misinformed about how long it takes to establish a habit. I thought it was six weeks before it becomes a habit that's hard to break. It's probably longer. But six weeks is a good start.

My habit was to ride a bike 10 miles a day. It's a stationary bike — this is winter in Chicago after all.

The goal wasn't see if I could, over the six weeks, increase the speed or decrease the time. It was just to ride a bike 10 miles every day. No other restrictions.

The overall objective wasn't really even to ride the bike. It was to make a break in the day to be more active and healthy, which can have a cascading effect on the rest of your life. But the activity itself had to be clear and measurable, or I couldn't hold myself truly accountable.

There's all kinds of schemes about how to keep yourself accountable while you're establishing habit. The most popular seems to be tracking in apps like Streaks

I decided not take that route. Instead, I took a photo every day as the bike crossed the 10 mile mark and texted it to my wife. Sometimes she would send back encouragement. She even promised a dinner at my favorite restaurant if I made it a month.


Here I am at the end of six weeks and I haven't missed a day.

There's just something more real about allowing human interaction to keep you accountable. Apps have never done it for me, but this worked. Here's to another six weeks!