in: Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends: February 23, 2024

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. When I was 16 or 17 years old, I read Man’s Search for Meaning after seeing a reference to it in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book blew me away the first time I read it and was my gateway into existential philosophy. I printed off quotes from the text, framed them, and gave them as gifts to friends. The big takeaway from Man’s Search for Meaning is arguably life’s most important lesson: there is one freedom that no one can ever take away from you, and that’s the freedom to choose how to respond in any given circumstance. If a man can choose to be happy while imprisoned in a concentration camp, as Frankl did and was, then a man can choose to be happy in any situation. This radical autonomy is what makes us human.

Roman Household Spirits: Manes, Panes and Lares. When we think of ancient Roman spirituality, there’s a tendency to think of the big Roman gods that the Romans worshiped like Jupiter and Mars. But, as I recently learned in stumbling upon this surprisingly fascinating encyclopedia entry, the Romans’ world was chock-full of smaller spirits that intertwined with their daily lives. A few of these smaller spirits dwelled in the household, and how well your household ran was determined by how well you treated these household deities. You had the Panes, who were the spirits of the pantry and kitchen. You had to have a statue of a Panes on your dinner table while you ate and set aside a portion of the meal to them. The Genius was the “spirit of manhood” in the home. It enabled the pater familias to do what needed to be done to run his home effectively. 

AllTrails App. Last weekend, we took a backpacking trip in Oklahoma’s Ouachita Mountains for Kate’s birthday/Presidents’ Day. On that trip, I was reminded of my appreciation for a tool that has served us well in planning past outdoor excursions: the AllTrails app. It’s perhaps diminished some of the romance of trying to find and navigate trails all on your own, but I’ll be danged if it isn’t enormously handy. It gives you a full rundown on trails for hikers, backpackers, and mountain bikers in every area of the country. Whenever we take a trip somewhere, we use it to pick out local hikes to take during our stay. You can search based on things like the trail’s difficulty and mileage and whether it’s an out-and-back or loop. Each trail has reviews from people who have navigated it previously, and these are quite handy, not so much for their ratings (there are people who both love and disdain the very same trail), but for their reports on trail conditions, where to find water, the best campsites, etc. There’s a free and premium version. I recommend the premium version so you can get features like finding trails by distance from you and the ability to download trail maps for offline viewing — this proves quite clutch when you lose connection!

The Bellroy Hide and Seek Wallet. This has been my go-to wallet for awhile now, and it’s still going strong. The Hide and Seek is slim and lightweight, but holds an enormous amount of stuff. On top of that, it’s darn handsome. You can read my in-depth review of the Hide and Seek here

Quote of the Week

If we want more brotherhood and goodwill, more intelligence, more clear thinking, more honesty and sincerity, more tolerance and human understanding, we must concentrate upon cultivating these qualities within ourselves. There is a natural progression in social advancement from the individual spirit to the family, to the community, to the nation and to the world at large. The line of progress can move in no other direction. There is no substitute for personal integrity.

—Howard W. Hintz

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