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The Whippet #115: More crowns, please 🖐✊🖐✊

McKinley Valentine — 5 min read

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I have had a tab open to the Wikipedia page of Max Factor — the make-up brand — for the past week, so I am going to share this with you, even though it has no larger point or take-away.

Max Factor is named after Maksymilian Faktorowicz, the Polish beautician who founded the company. That’s it, that’s the whole fact. I’d always assumed they were making a claim about being the key factor in making your face maximally good or something. But no. Maksymilian Faktorowicz.

Okay, thank you, I can close the tab now.

When Upper and Lower Egypt joined, the new king just stuck both crowns together

L—R: The hedjet, the White Crown of Upper Egypt, the deshret, the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, the pschent, the Double Crown of unified Egypt.

I think you will agree this is hilariously literal and all world leaders should have to do it if they want to take over another nation.

Unified Egypt is basically what you’re thinking of when you think “Ancient Egypt” — the first pyramids were built 500 years after the pschent was invented.

The pschent had two ‘crests’ at the centre, where you would normally expect a crown to have one — these were a vulture and a cobra, symbols of Nekhbet, the patron goddess of Upper Egypt, and Wadjet, the patron goddess of Lower Egypt. You can see them clearly on Tutankhamun’s death mask:

In Ancient Egyptian writing, they’re euphemistically referred to as the Two Ladies, “in order to keep their names secret from enemies and disbelievers and to show respect for their powers,” a sentence which makes me regret putting The Whippet out in my own name.

Kiwis are bird rats

From “Five Facts About Birds” in ¡Hola Papi!

There were no rats on the island, and so the kiwi said, “I will do it.” The kiwi developed whiskers like a mammal. It took on a drab coloring and decided to remain on the ground. This is the steady song of the earth—where there is a seed, a specific beak will form to crack it. Where there is a tall tree with fruit, a neck will elongate to reach it. Where there is skin, a tooth will hone itself to pierce it. Even on an island, detached and isolated, there is a rat’s work to be done. There are only so many rhymes to be made.

or as Red Sun puts it:

If you like poetic descriptions of animals, you might like this Guardian piece: The African painted dogs that vote by sneezing and run on 'shadow puppet legs'.

“Auspicious” etymology

Auspicious means lucky — and like many words for lucky, it’s connected to divination/fortune-telling rather than just “hey a nice thing happened”.

Specifically, Ancient Romans used to try and guess the will of the gods (divination = divine) by looking at the flight of birds. Avis = bird, specera = to look (as in spectate, spectacles). Auspice = lookin at birds.

Had a very auspicious morning, by which I mean I looked at some birds.

People’s weird little inner lives

I’ve really been enjoying the Twitter account Fesshole, where people anonymously write in their secrets. There’s a few immoral things, and a few gross things, some are definitely fake, but there’s also a tonne of just the weird little games and rituals people have in their heads that you’d never know about:

and people’s irrational fears — I mean really irrational:

You know how, when your vacuum cleaner tries to suck up something too big, like a bedsheet or a curtain, it raises in pitch? That rising crescendo sound freaks me out, it sounds like it’s going to get higher and higher until the machine explodes. I was in my 20s when it suddenly occurred to me that’s not physically possible, and I don’t have to turn the vacuum cleaner off in a rushed panic in order to prevent it.

Unsolicited Advice: Thinking in blocks of time

I’ve been finding it useful to think in terms of blocks of time. That is, specifically, planning your week or month by thinking “how many blocks of time do I have?”

I have very little external structure, being mostly a freelancer, and a lot of projects and ideas I want to get done. Splicing a general morass of “write articles, do client work, I should probably be better at social media, so many emails, learn Spanish, whippet, newsletter consult, write fiction, start a podcast? read more non-fiction books” etc into “the next indefinite period of time” is … the scope is too broad.

But if I go, okay, fundamentally I have 10 decent blocks of proper focus time for work in the next week (that’s 1 each before and after lunch, 5 days a week). then it’s much easier to assign those to different areas. And also to see that you have too many potential tasks and ideas. I’m currently typically assigning 2 blocks to The Whippet, 4 to client work, 1 to emails, 2 to writing fiction, so now I have 1 block left, and it’s easy to see I probably can’t start a podcast and learn Spanish unless I want to create some new blocks in the evening or on the weekend.

This 5-day week is relatively hypothetical (seriously, that is not what my week looks like), but you could do the same with whatever blocks of time you have. Like maybe it’s an hour three evenings a week, so that’s 3 blocks to assign.

The idea is that you still have quite a lot of unscheduled time, that will get filled up with socialising or family as well as cooking and general person maintenance. It’s just the blocks that you need to focus on projects.

But if you find the idea depressingly mechanical instead of calming, of course do not use it.

Thanks for reading everyone, please do share it with someone else if you think they’d find it interesting!

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