Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson 2

Finished reading the biography of Leonardo Da Vinci. May be the first time for me to spend time on the biography, life and achievements of Leonardo. As all of us, I was aware of discoveries, drawing, paintings, but never spend the time to read and understand more about the life of Leonardo, creation process and legacy.

Which leads me to the surprise I felt reading the book. Walter Isaacson keeps referring to Leonardo Da Vinci as a “Genius”, praising the achievements and self study process. But also he mentions very clearly that.

  1. No Scientific legacy – Leonardo actually did not publish any significant publication of his studies and discoveries
  2. No Scientific progress – Relates to (1). In some investigations Leonardo was wrong, at some correct and at some he discovered and concluded much earlier than anyone else. But(!), not sharing it, not giving it to the public to review and contest buried the discoveries until someone else discovered the same.
  3. Marginal artistic contribution – we all know the “Mona Lisa” and “Last Supper” , but actually Leonardo did not complete many art works and was infamous of not being able to deliver on time, or at all. The “Last Supper” was drawn in a process that was wrong, which meant that most of the drawing was damaged very badly and what we know and see today is very different from the original drawing.
    Leonardo’s apprentices and followers did not leave a mark on the world of art

So, how come we think of Leonardo so highly. Why do everyone know his name, but less familiar with Scientists and Artists who worked in the same period and contributed more.

This is not that puzzling for me, as even in our times we usually remember the people who make more noise, who are more in the news, rather than the people who work around the scenes and make more contribution.

We are familiar with famous artist names, but do we really have the tools to evaluate their art?
We are familiar with Scientists in the news, Noble prize winners, which are usually anonymous until the day of the announcement. Most of the discoveries and contribution to Science was done BEFORE the prize. The prize is usually a late recognition to contribution to Science . Which means there are MANY Scientists out there who contribute a lot, but will stay anonymous for the rest of their lives.

Conclusion: Not sure there is, but maybe personal marketing, creating your own brand, is as important as actually doing something.

Expressing Anger in public

Japanese usually do not express emotions or anger in public, but I sometimes encounter situation which remind me that they would actually like to do it.

In a very busy train, as usual, going back home, a guy stepped on a woman’s foot. He did not face her, so probably did not notice he stepped on her, and could not see her facial expressions.

It hurt her, very badly, but the interesting part was not that pain, but her facial expressions after that. She needed to express anger, so it was like watching Pantomime of expressing anger. She was actually very expressive, but without a voice. I guess she would not have done it if he was facing her.

Watching your smartphone behind your back

As it often happens in very busy trains, people sometimes watch other people smartphones behind their back. Sometimes it is just out of curiosity, sometimes it is an event or something of interest.

I wish I could take a photo of this, but obviously I did not. A woman next to me was watching “Terrace House” on her smartphone, and I suddenly realized that two other women are standing behind her and watching with her. Obviously, they cannot watch it very well, but they were very interested in it. It looked like the best Commercial for Netflix.

A while back, I noticed a similar scenario with men watching a live feed of Japan National soccer team. About 3 men were doing extra effort to stay around a guy which had a live feed on his smartphone.

合コン - Goukon

Obviously have never attended one, but I sometimes witness these matchmaking meetups (dinner/lunch…) from a nearby table.

Today, I was unlucky enough to be next to a “large scale” 合コン (Goukon) of about 12 people (6 men, 6 women). It was loud, it was annoying. Each of the men trying to be funny and loud and show how great he is with the women doing the same. Does it really work ? probably it does. When going on a date (after the goukon), one can see the real character.
But what do shy introvert people do ? Change their character for a day, or just lose the girl they like.

At some point, I wanted to go to the next table and tell the men how lame they look from aside, but obviously I did not. They can be lame, loud, try to impress the girls and hope for a date with the girl they like.

Good luck!

Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Would like to write later more about the book and my take, but wanted to start with Walter Isaacson’s summary.

Some points he mentioned are very relevant to today, but some of his points may have been good to Leonardo 500 years ago, but definitely do not today’s life style and knowledge.

  1. Be Curious, Relentlessly Curious
  2. Seek Knowledge for its own sake
  3. Retain a childlike sense of wonder
  4. Observe
  5. Start with the details
  6. See things unseen – Do not understand this one
  7. Go down rabbit holes
  8. Get distracted – ???
  9. Respect facts
  10. Procrastinate – I would rephrase this to take some time off, let your mind wonder
  11. Let the perfect be the enemy of the good
  12. Think visually
  13. Avoid Silos –
  14. Let your reach exceed your grasp – do not get this one
  15. Indulge Fantasy
  16. Create for yourself, not only for patrons – Not only for your company
  17. Collaborate – YES!
  18. Make lists
  19. Take notes, on paper
  20. Be open to mystery

On Nibs

A while back I learned that very few watch manufacturers have their own mechanism, the rest buy the mechanism and design a fancy case. So basically what most people pay for is the design and brand.

And today I learn that it is also true for most Fountain pen manufacturers.
Not sure where is the source of information, but found two links with same information: Nib1 Nib2 . It actually seem like the same source as the user name in Link2 is identical to the first source.

Shockingly, most “brand pen” like Montverde, Visconti and more are actually using Bock.

So glad my current collection has: Pilot, Platinum, Parker and Montblanc. All are in-house nibs.

Machiavelli on staff

While reading for the second or third time, the paragraph “CONCERNING THE PERSONAL STAFF OF PRINCES” made me think.

How come I read over and over about “how to hire”, the need for a strong staff, when Machiavelli wrote about it 500 years ago. Is it that we ignore and need a constant reminder, or is it that human nature has basically not changed and we need the reminder.

Machiavelli wrote :

The choice of staff is very important to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. The first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his capability, is by observing the people he has around him. When they are capable and faithful, he may always be considered wise because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise, one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.

Pilot Custom 823

As my old MontBlanc was leaking a bit, I decided to replace it. Researched, tested and decided on a Pilot Custom 823 M nib, transparent.

The nib is great, the pen is amazing. Takes time to adjust to operating it, but it is worth it. An amazing pen, and the transparency also adds to it.

Female Photographers

Went to Tokyo Photographic Art Museum and enjoyed “The Time of Photography” very much.

While in the exhibition, I noticed I like better the works of female photographers. Now, I do not know if selection in the exhibition was better, if I have a bias towards female photographers or if they are just better.

First time (that I remember) to see works by Taguchi Kazuna (田口和奈) and Yoneda Tomoko (米田知子). And always enjoy to see works of Kawauchi Rinko (川内 倫子). I also recommend her instagram page.

Soba Tamawarai 玉笑 

Had lunch at 玉笑 and felt obliged to share my experience.

Maybe I should start with the food. Ordered only おろしそば , which tasted great. I regret not ordering more side dishes, but I really wanted to finish lunch quickly.

I fully understand the “slow food”, but there is “slow” and there is “too slow”. 玉笑 is definitely too slow.
Arrived just before 11:30 and luckily there were not many people on line. Then the staff started to call in the customers, slowly. Although there was definitely space, I had two wait about 20 minutes after getting inside. Why? The 6 customers that went inside before did not start eating yet, but just had tea and finished ordering. 20 minutes to take an order and server tea?

Ordered a 天せいろ, but was told that it was “sold out”. Did not see anyone else eating, so I guess it was “sold out” before they started. Why not tell me or mark it as “not available”?
So I ordered a おろしそば and had to wait another 20 minutes to get it. Are they so understaffed that they cannot serve 6 customers at the same time? Ate it and rushed out first. (6th in, first out).

Food was definitely good, but I will not go there again. Can just imagine what happens when it is “really busy”.