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The Minimalists

I can’t believe I never posted about The Minimalists on here before – I guess I just kept it to Facebook + IG. I just saw they’re coming out w/ a brand-new Netflix documentary, Less Is Now – available on 1.1.2021. ✨

In the meantime, their 2016 documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, is still currently available to stream on Netflix.

I really don’t remember how I stumbled upon them in the first place, but I know I started reading their books back in 2014, although unfortunately (very much in the spirit of minimalism), I lent out most of their books, which haven’t been returned to me, so am currently only in possession of a few. 😅

I’m also in a Minimalist Facebook group + attended a meetup + discussion a few years back at an IL suburban library, which was a great opportunity to connect w/ some likeminded people. 🤓

I was lucky enough to meet them at the premiere of their first documentary in Chicago at the Portage Theater. (+ I’m still very proud of myself for being the first to stand up + ask a question during the Q&A portion of the event!)

They also have a podcast + YouTube channel! If you’re interested in beginning to live a minimalist lifestyle, check out the video introduction below or skip right ahead to playing the 30-day Minimalism Game! 😉

When I first started selling a lot of my possessions back in 2015/2016, I used eBay, but now I’m mainly only selling clothing items + like using the DePop app! I have a rule that I’m not allowed to buy something new unless I “get rid of” something old/something I don’t wear anymore, but to reduce waste + get some of the $ back, I try to sell my items to a new owner.

It’s very simple to list for sale + I choose to ship through DePop, so all I have to do is print a label that’s sent to me when an item is purchased, put the item in a box + place it in the mailbox for USPS to pick up. The payment comes in through PayPal, which is really easy + convenient. Items that don’t sell after some time are usually donated to The Salvation Army.

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Epsilon 2020 Creative + Coding Summit (Zoom Edition) Guest Speaker

This year, instead of a 2-day in-person event, our team connected over an hour and a half lunch, beginning w/ some company updates, ending w/ breakout small-group discussion sessions in Zoom meeting rooms + in between, were surprised w/ an unconventional + extremely inspirational guest speaker.

Our guest speaker was Jeff Miller, a friend of someone on our team, + a passenger on the July 19, 1989 United Airlines flight 232 from Denver to Chicago, that crash-landed at Sioux City, Iowa’s Gateway Airport after a tail engine explosion + subsequent loss of hydraulic control.

The point of Jeff sharing this story w/ our team specifically at this point in time (mid-pandemic) was to hear a firsthand experience of someone who lived through something intense + traumatic in their life, as well as to hear the key takeaways + what he learned from it.

Ever since hearing this story, I’ve been in a deep YouTube hole, watching tons of videos about it as well as digging up a bunch of articles on the crash, so I’ll share some of those links at the end in case anyone reading this is just as interested as I am!

(side note – my dad is from Iowa, and told me that one of his friends’ father was one of the four pilots on this flight + one of the people who survived – but not the captain shown in the video below)

Jeff begins by telling us there was a really loud explosion at the back of the plane when they were about 40 mins. away from the destination (Chicago), but the plane wasn’t falling out of the sky and no one seemed to be reacting much, so he just went back to reading his book while the flight attendants were collecting lunch trays. Everything seemed fairly normal.

He says then there was an announcement made that they’d be making an emergency landing in Sioux City, Iowa, but he figures ’emergency landing’ was the airline just being precautious due to the explosion, because everything was going as per usual since then. They were also informed they may be instructed to exit the aircraft by sliding down the emergency slide + he was looking forward to getting to use this slide you always see in the emergency instruction videos + pamphlets because how many people get to do that?!

So, he says, the passengers were expecting a hard landing + he was expecting to be slightly delayed from arriving at his destination due to this one additional stop they needed to make. He wasn’t really concerned until the crew yelled out “Brace, brace, brace!” right as they were landing + everyone was told to bend over + grab their ankles.

The plane then stood up on its nose, did a cartwheel, and the wings fell off, the tail fell off, and it slid 1.8 miles down the runway. It finally landed upside-down in a cornfield to the right of the runway. Jeff says no one was panicking, that he saw, at any point – before or after.

At this point, he was still buckled into his seat + was hanging from the ceiling. His white gym shoes were still white, jeans were spotless, hair still looked combed + didn’t have a scratch on him. Only 13 people walked away that day w/ zero injuries.

(In case you’re a nervous flyer like myself, he told us he was sitting in Row 16G.)

The news first reported that everyone was dead. His parents saw the reports that there were no survivors. Right when they were about to relay the news to his wife + children, he called on the phone to tell them he’s alive/what happened (he wasn’t sure if they even knew or had heard anything about it yet).

Jeff was the only person not to sue the airlines. He was probably the only person on the flight to not experience any loss – incredibly, he even got his luggage back. He also added that he wasn’t originally even going to be on this flight + chose it because he knew that a DC-10, which is a wide-body… would have a better lunch. 🤯

“I believe I survived to talk to you about this today.”

He said whenever he is available + can possibly speak about this, he does, because in a brief moment of the crash, when he realized what was happening, he had made a promise to God to tell his story if he survived. He hopes even one person hearing it will be inspired, think about the world differently + change something in their life.

Key takeaways:

“Everyone has a purpose, but it’s up to you to capture it.”

He explains that your destiny very well may be different from what you think it is.

“You become what you think about.”

If you believe things will never be okay, then they won’t be. If you think negative thoughts, you’ll live in negativity.

We are all here at this time for a reason.”

Respond to your current situation/the pandemic in the best way you can.

The Power Of Forgiveness –

Ask for forgiveness. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Free yourself. Let people know you forgive them, even if they don’t ask for it/reach out to you to apologize.

Be Kind –

Be thoughtful. Go the extra mile. We don’t always need to be setting people straight all the time. Smile. Talk to people nicely. And talk to people wherever you go.

“Life isn’t what we think it is.”

Additional material to check out:

Daily Herald

Chicago Tribune

Sioux City Journal

The Gazette

“A Fresh Dose of Perspective” – Carol Stream Chamber

Here the captain speaks about the handful of things that went right the day of the crash – that had to go right – for there to be any survivors.

This Nightline clip gathers a few different perspectives + how their lives were altered by the crash.


Frances Magnani: A Memory Artist

“Magnani’s first painting of Pontito, made almost a decade after he left, was of his house. It is one of the more distorted and expressionistic of the painting and probably reflects some of the homesickness he was feeling at the time.”

Franco Magnani is a memory artist. He paints intricate canvases of his hometown. His paintings document his memories of his childhood and growing up in Tuscany. Bob Miller had seen Magnani’s work and “suggested that the paintings, coupled with photos of the same views, might reveal something about the accuracies, distortions, and inventions of the artist’s memory.”
In fact, in 1988 these works were displayed in San Francisco, California as part of an exhibit called “Memory.” This exhibit was divided into 8 parts: “The Senses, with an interactive exhibit about each of the five senses and its connection to memory; Remembering What’s Meaningful, showing the connection between personal meaning and memorability; Forgetting, which showed how the ways in which we forget and distort events can help us construct a kind of anatomy of how memory works; Faces (they’re important, and people like them); Remembering Without Thinking, about implicit or unconscious memory; The Brain; Personal Memory, focusing on autobiographical memory and its deep connection to a sense of self; and Shared Memories, about the relationship between memory and culture.”
After not seeing his hometown for nearly 30 years, Magnani created portraits “almost photographic precision” of Pontito, Tuscany. It has also been said that Magnani suffered a mysterious disease where he encountered wildly vivid dreams of Pontito. “No one … has felt the heat and pressure of a reality as indefatigable as that which day and night converged upon the hapless Ireneo,” Borges writes in a sketch entitled “Funes the Memorious.”

Susan Schwartzenberg traveled to Pontito to photograph village scenes from the exact angles Magnani painted them from. These photographs were then show side by side with the paintings so that people could compare and contrast and analyze the skills of memory.

Magnani grew up in a family of five children. In 1942, his father died while Italy was in a war and depression. His mother worked in the fields but his family was often hungry. He “remembers not so much the suffering of those years as the sense of purpose and intensity with which the family lived.”

Oliver Sacks, a neurologist described this sickness as including “high fever nightmares, maybe there were seizures” and he would see Pontitio as it had been before the Nazi’s came. He sometimes references these dreams as “visions.” Magnani would state that he could see a three-dimensional model of Pontitio rise up in front of him, which he could then paint accurately.

This drawing shows a view that Magnani never could have seen.

Franco Magnani utilizes sensory memory, which encodes visual information, but sensory memories are usually short-term. Long-term memory tends to encode things semantically while short-term tends to encode information acoustically. “In 1974, Baddeley and Hitch proposed a model of the working memory, which consisted of three parts: the phonological loop, the visuo-spatial sketchpad, and the episodic buffer. “ The visuo-spatial sketchpad stores visual and spatial information and helps with imagining images.

Magnani also painted his church and in his perception, the church appears larger than in reality, perhaps because the church had been an important part of his life.

Magnani shows extraordinary talent when recalling these intricate images. This shows how memories can follow us throughout our lives and have serious impacts upon the rest of our lives. They can also be inspiring. Although there aren’t many people with talent like this, most people can relate to the feeling of nostalgia of their childhood home.
His works also show the imperfections of memory. Although his paintings are extremely accurate, there are still narrower streets, different textures, and slight alterations made to the scenes of Pontito. Sometimes added buildings and objects are even added to scenes. Magnani “uses not only his memory, but a kind of projective imagination, to move his mind’s eye through the town.”

Michaud, Jon. “Back Issues: Franco Magnani.” The New Yorker. 2010. 4 December, 2012.
Pearce, Michael. “Memory.” Exhibit Files. 2008. 4 December, 2012.
“What’s New in the World: A Memory Artist.” The Exploratorium. 1998. 4 December, 2012.
“Franco Magnani: The Memory Artist.” Web of Stories. Web of Stories. Web. 4 December, 2012.
McLeod, Saul. “Working Memory.” Simple Psychology. 2008. 4 December, 2012.