The Power of Day Dreaming

The most common criticism I received when I was a kid was that I daydreamed too much, especially in class. Even though my classwork was high quality, staring off into space would set my teachers off all the time, and it was one of the things I was always very upset about, because it never felt like I was really doing anything wrong. And I wasn’t:

An article in the Boston Globe:

Although there are many anecdotal stories of breakthroughs resulting from daydreams – Einstein, for instance, was notorious for his wandering mind – daydreaming itself is usually cast in a negative light. Children in school are encouraged to stop daydreaming and “focus,” and wandering minds are often cited as a leading cause of traffic accidents. In a culture obsessed with efficiency, daydreaming is derided as a lazy habit or a lack of discipline, the kind of thinking we rely on when we don’t really want to think. It’s a sign of procrastination, not productivity, something to be put away with your flip-flops and hammock as summer draws to a close.

In recent years, however, scientists have begun to see the act of daydreaming very differently. They’ve demonstrated that daydreaming is a fundamental feature of the human mind – so fundamental, in fact, that it’s often referred to as our “default” mode of thought. Many scientists argue that daydreaming is a crucial tool for creativity, a thought process that allows the brain to make new associations and connections. Instead of focusing on our immediate surroundings – such as the message of a church sermon – the daydreaming mind is free to engage in abstract thought and imaginative ramblings. As a result, we’re able to imagine things that don’t actually exist, like sticky yellow bookmarks.

Slacking off can help you get things done

CNN Article on the value of “slacking off at work.” What they’re actually saying is that you need to take the time to think things through.

Remember the story of Archimedes lolling in his bathtub? To an observer, he’d have seemed to be wasting time. While ostensibly doing nothing, however, he discovered the principle of displacement, a cornerstone of physics. Would he have reached the same insight in a quick shower?

Unlikely. And while you might say that’s ancient history, don’t be too sure.

Consider that for most industries, the U.S. can’t hope to be the low-cost producer in a global economy. With innovation now our main competitive strength, creativity is crucial for anyone who wants to move up.

But it’s really, really hard, if not impossible, for the human brain to come up with fresh new ideas when its owner is overworked, overtired, and stressed out. And in today’s wonderful world of nonstop work, 40% of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights.

“The physiological effects of tiredness are well-known. You can turn a smart person into an idiot just by overworking him,” notes Peter Capelli, a professor of management at Wharton.

Still, putting in more than 50 hours a week at the office has become routine — and that doesn’t count time spent doing paperwork at home, answering e-mail at the airport, or talking on the phone in the car.

Sooner or later, companies’ performance has to reflect that, Capelli says. “On the organizational level, what you get is, everyone is so focused on running flat-out to meet current goals that the whole company is unable to step back and think.”

Indeed, “the notion that busyness is the essence of business can only do us long-term harm,” writes consultant Tom DeMarco in a book called Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency.

DeMarco knows the word “slack” has some not-so-hot connotations — slacking off, slacker, slack-jawed… — but his definition is different: the degree of freedom required to effect change.

“Companies need to respect the time it takes to do strategic thinking,” he says. “Task-oriented thinking is important too, of course. But bigger thinking is slow.”

The late Peter Drucker agreed. He wrote in The Effective Executive (an eerily prescient 40 years ago), “All one can think and do in a short time is to think what one already knows and to do as one has always done.” Gulp.

Moreover, in Drucker’s view, simply working longer and longer hours won’t help. “To be effective, every knowledge worker, and especially every executive…needs to dispose of time in fairly large chunks,” he wrote. “To have small dribs and drabs of time at his disposal will not be sufficient even if the total is an impressive number of hours.”

Hmm, small dribs and drabs of time…and, just think, the BlackBerry hadn’t been invented yet.

Biomimicry, the law of unintended consequences, Chinese water torture

Via wikipedia:

Biomimicry

Biomimicry or biomimetics is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate. Similar terms include bionics.

Law of unintended consequences

In the social sciences, unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) are outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action. The concept has long existed but was named and popularised in the 20th century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton. Unintended consequences can be roughly grouped into three types:

  • A positive, unexpected benefit (usually referred to as luck, serendipity or a windfall).
  • A negative, unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect of the policy (e.g., while irrigation schemes provide people with water for agriculture, they can increase waterborne diseases that have devastating health effects, such as schistosomiasis).
  • A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse)

Chinese water torture

Chinese water torture is a process in which water is slowly dripped onto a person’s forehead, allegedly driving the restrained victim insane. This form of torture was first described under a different name by Hippolytus de Marsiliis in Italy in the 15th or 16th century.

The term “Chinese water torture” may have arisen from Chinese Water Torture Cell (a feat of escapology introduced in Berlin at Circus Busch September 13, 1910; the escape entailed Houdini being bound and suspended upside-down in a locked glass and steel cabinet full to overflowing with water, from which he escaped), together with the Fu Manchu stories of Sax Rohmer that were popular in the 1930s (in which Fu Manchu subjected his victims to various ingenious tortures, such as the wired jacket). Hippolytus de Marsiliis is credited with the invention of a form of water torture. Having observed how drops of water falling one by one on a stone gradually created a hollow, he applied the method to the human body. Other suggestions say that the term “Chinese water torture” was invented merely to grant the method a sense of ominous mystery.

Ten Stupidest Utopias

From Strange Horizons. yep, stupid is a good assessment.

I know I shouldn’t say this out loud, but I will: you could add several of the all-female, feminist dystopias from popular lesbian sci-fi novels into the list of “stupidest,” like Daughters of a Coral Dawn, and the one I read recently, Ammonite.

As annoying as boys can be, I really don’t think we should kill them all off, even if we do perfect that Parthenogenesis. We should keep some of them to lift heavy stuff.

If utopia is supposed to be the ideal and perfect place, where everyone lives in harmony, then why do so many of them turn out to suck? To get an answer, let’s go to the source: Thomas More, whose 1516 travelogue Utopia gave us the word, a pun meaning “no place” and “perfect place.” More’s Utopia describes an island where everyone is happy and smiling and living in divinely inspired synchronization. Told with verve and a sly wit, Utopia is one of the foundational texts of contemporary science fiction as well as utopian thought.

But More wasn’t just a writer of fantastic tales. He was also a politician and one-time Undersheriff of London. As such, More was not only an enthusiastic upholder of a radically unequal and oppressive social order, but also an advocate for burning 16th century heretics. Live by the sword, die by the sword: in 1535 Henry VIII beheaded More and anyone else who didn’t support his accession to Supreme Head of the Church of England. The violence of More’s historical period is never far from the surface of More’s island Utopia, where a single act of adultery is punishable by slavery and serial adulterers are punished with death. If More’s narrator had looked past the happy smiling faces of Utopia, what fear and violence might he have seen?

Yet utopia—a word that has come to represent a hope that the future could surpass the present—persists. “As long as necessity is socially dreamed,” Guy Debord says in his 1973 film The Society of the Spectacle, “dreaming will remain a social necessity.” Debord meant that in conditions of inequality and injustice, people will always imagine a better place. What constitutes “better” is, however, a matter of much dispute. We dream our fears as well as hopes, reflecting all the agonies and contradictions of the waking world; in dreams, demons rise from our darkest places. This is the dangerous element in utopian aspiration, the monster behind the smiling face. Utopias can embody the highest hopes of humankind and frameworks for continuous evolution, but they can also reflect our worst fears and sickest appetites—not to mention a mania for power and control that is latent in every person. “What a strange scene you describe and what strange prisoners,” says Glaucon, Socrates’ disciple, in Plato’s Republic, the template for the stupid utopia. “They are just like us,” answers the master.

How to be creative

An interesting article at Gaping Void on How to Be Creative.

“So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.”
PART ONE: AN INTRODUCTION, OF SORTS.

Before we get started, three points:

1. “Creative” is one of those annoying words that means little, simply because it means so many different things to different people. I make no claim to have a better definition of “creative” than anyone else.
The best working definition of creative I have is “When work and play become the same thing”.

When that happens, you’re in flow. When you’re in flow, things are created.

Perhaps there are better definitions of “creative” out there. Does it matter? Not really. What matters is that you find your own definition. You don’t need mine. I don’t need yours.

2. The creative drive is like the sex drive. We all have it, and because what we do on this earth affects other people, we have to be careful what we do with it. Because to use it unwisely can screw up your life.

I am not here to tell you how to be more creative than you already are. God/The Universe/Whatever made you creative, just like he/she/it made all of us. Tapping into it is a personal journey- other people can only help you so much. That being said, I think once you’ve gotten the itch to do something creative, there are a lot of land mines and pitfalls that are best avoided. All I can do is tell you what has worked for me over time.

I used to associate “creativity” with all that youth-generated sexy stuff: fun, glamorous jobs, being hip, being artisitic and meeting women. As I get older and I see how the world is changing away from the Big Media Industrial Complex towards something much more personal, complicated and fractal, I start equating it more with mass economic survival.

3. Quitting your job at the phone company to become a musician is no different than quitting your job at the phone company to start your own accountancy firm. It’s just the human spirit trying to better itself. The difference between art and commerce is artificial. What matters is not what individual path you have chosen, but that you stay on it; that you become the person you were born to be.

So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:

1. Ignore everybody.

The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you. When I first started with the biz card format, people thought I was nuts. Why wasn’t I trying to do something more easy for markets to digest i.e. cutey-pie greeting cards or whatever?

2. The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to change the world.

The two are not the same thing.

3. Put the hours in.

Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort and stamina.

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being “discovered” by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

Nobody suddenly discovers anything. Things are made slowly and in pain.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

Nobody can tell you if what you’re doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with books on algebra etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the creative bug is just a wee voice telling you, “I’d like my crayons back, please.”

7. Keep your day job.

I’m not just saying that for the usual reason i.e. because I think your idea will fail. I’m saying it because to suddenly quit one’s job in a big ol’ creative drama-queen moment is always, always, always in direct conflict with what I call ‘The Sex & Cash Theory’.

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

Nor can you bully a subordinate into becoming a genius.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would SERIOUSLY surprise me.

11. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

Your plan for getting your work out there has to be as original as the actual work, perhaps even more so. The work has to create a totally new market. There’s no point trying to do the same thing as 250,000 other young hopefuls, waiting for a miracle. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

The pain of making the necessary sacrifices always hurts more than you think it’s going to. I know. It sucks. That being said, doing something seriously creative is one of the most amazing experiences one can have, in this or any other lifetime. If you can pull it off, it’s worth it. Even if you don’t end up pulling it off, you’ll learn many incredible, magical, valuable things. It’s NOT doing it when you know you full well you HAD the opportunity- that hurts FAR more than any failure.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.

The more you practice your craft, the less you confuse worldly rewards with spiritual rewards, and vice versa. Even if your path never makes any money or furthers your career, that’s still worth a TON.

14. Dying young is overrated.

I’ve seen so many young people take the “Gotta do the drugs and booze thing to make me a better artist” route over the years. A choice that was neither effective, healthy, smart, original or ended happily.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.

16. The world is changing.

Some people are hip to it, others are not. If you want to be able to afford groceries in 5 years, I’d recommend listening closely to the former and avoiding the latter. Just my two cents.

17. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.

The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

They’re a well-meaning bunch, but they get in the way eventually.

19. Sing in your own voice.

Piccasso was a terrible colorist. Turner couldn’t paint human beings worth a damn. Saul Steinberg’s formal drafting skills were appalling. TS Eliot had a full-time day job. Henry Miller was a wildly uneven writer. Bob Dylan can’t sing or play guitar.

20. The choice of media is irrelevant.

Every media’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Every form of media is a set of fundematal compromises, one is not “higher” than the other. A painting doesn’t do much, it just sits there on a wall. That’s the best and worst thing thing about it. Film combines sound, photography, music, acting. That’s the best and worst thing thing about it. Prose just uses words arranged in linear form to get its point across. That’s the best and worst thing thing about it etc.

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

Diluting your product to make it more “commercial” will just make people like it less. Many years ago, barely out of college, I started schlepping around the ad agencies, looking for my first job.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay etc, especially if you haven’t sold it yet. And the ones that aren’t, you don’t want in your life anyway.

23. Worrying about “Commercial vs. Artistic” is a complete waste of time.

You can argue about “the shameful state of American Letters” till the cows come home. They were kvetching about it in 1950, they’ll be kvetching about it in 2050.
It’s a path well-trodden, and not a place where one is going to come up with many new, earth-shattering insights.

24. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

Inspiration precedes the desire to create, not the other way around.

25. You have to find your own schtick.

A Picasso always looks like Piccasso painted it. Hemingway always sounds like Hemingway. A Beethoven Symphony always sounds like a Beethoven’s Syynphony. Part of being a master is learning how to sing in nobody else’s voice but your own.

26. Write from the heart.

There is no silver bullet. There is only the love God gave you.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

This is equally true in art and business. And love. And sex. And just about everything else worth having.

28. Power is never given. Power is taken.

People who are “ready” give off a different vibe than people who aren’t. Animals can smell fear; maybe that’s it.

29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.

Selling out to Hollywood comes with a price. So does not selling out. Either way, you pay in full, and yes, it invariably hurts like hell.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

If you have the creative urge, it isn’t going to go away. But sometimes it takes a while before you accept the fact.

Lots more great stuff at the link – be sure to click through.

treppenwitz

Treppenwitz, AKA “L’esprit de l’escalier”

Literally, ‘the wisdom of the stairs’. The striking reply that crosses one’s mind belatedly when already leaving, on the stairs. People are often angry because they did not have the fitting answer directly during a conversation. The term is old, but it was made popular by W. Lewis Hertslet who published his book in 1882 entitled ‘Treppenwitz der Weltgeschichte’. In that book, he writes: ‘Like to a petitioner who is just leaving after an audience, a piquant, striking words occurs to history almost always delayed.’

Yep, that’s always when I think of the really witty zinger… half an hour too late.

The Laws of Physics Don’t Apply to Me

College Application essay by Hugh Gallagher, author of Teeth:

3A. ESSAY: IN ORDER FOR THE ADMISSIONS STAFF OF OUR COLLEGE TO GET TO KNOW YOU, THE APPLICANT, BETTER, WE ASK THAT YOU ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION: ARE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT EXPERIENCES YOU HAVE HAD, OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS YOU HAVE REALIZED, THAT HAVE HELPED TO DEFINE YOU AS A PERSON?

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet gone to college.

Iron Laws of the Universe

From Crooked Timber, a list of Iron Laws of the Universe

Given that Paul Krugman is reminding us all of Stein’s Law (“Things that can’t go on forever, don’t”), I thought I’d remind everyone of Davies’ Corolloraries:

1. Things that can’t go on forever, go on much longer than you think they will.
2. Corollorary 1 applies even after taking into account Corollorary 1.

Lots of interesting comments on that page adding additional laws, including – Keynes’ remark that “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent” is paralleled by (ahem) Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s observation that “The Invisible Hand is not to human scale.”

Also, Hofstadter’s Rule, which states that everything takes longer than you think it will, even after you take Hofstadter’s Rule into account.

See also Wikipedia’s category of Adages for many more of these including:

grimoire

n : a manual of black magic (for invoking spirits and demons)

From Wikipedia:

A grimoire /ɡrɪmˈwɑr/ is a textbook of magic. Such books typically include instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms and divination and also how to summon or invoke supernatural entities such as angels, spirits, and demons. In many cases, the books themselves are also believed to be imbued with magical powers, though in many cultures, other sacred texts that are not grimoires, such as the Bible, have also been believed to have supernatural properties intrinsically; in this manner while all books on magic could be thought of as grimoires, not all magical books should.

While the term grimoire is originally European and many Europeans throughout history, particularly ceremonial magicians and cunning folk, have made use of grimoires, the historian Owen Davies noted that similar books can be found all across the world, ranging from Jamaica to Sumatra, and he also noted that the first grimoires could be found not only in Europe but in the Ancient Near East.

“Mary Sue” in Online Fan Fiction

MARY SUE (n.):

1. A variety of story, first identified in the fan fiction community, but quickly recognized as occurring elsewhere, in which normal story values are grossly subordinated to inadequately transformed personal wish-fulfillment fantasies, often involving heroic or romantic interactions with the cast of characters of some popular entertainment.

2. A distinctive type of character appearing in these stories who represents an idealized version of the author.

3. A cluster of tendencies and characteristics commonly found in Mary Sue-type stories.

4. A body of literary theory, originally generated by the fanfic community, which has since spread to other fields (f.i., professional SF publishing) because it’s so darn useful. The act of committing Mary Sue-ism is sometimes referred to as “self-insertion.”

Sounds dirty.

Making Light’s lengthy article on the concept of “The Mary Sue” is well worth reading.

The Golden Days of Usenet: Godwin’s Law

Godwin’s Law: prov. [Usenet] “As a Usenet argument grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin’s Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. However there is also a widely- recognized codicil that any intentional triggering of Godwin’s Law in order to invoke its thread-ending effects will be unsuccessful.

Samuel Pepys’ Weblog (Diary)

Samuel Pepys was an English gentleman who lived in the mid 1600’s, whose well-known and beloved diary serves as an excellent history of his era. Pepys was a practical man of business but also had a wide-ranging appetite for knowledge. His classical and mathematical education was the basis from which he explored the arts and sciences and he was an accomplished musician. This site presents his diary in weblog form, with annotations and links to reference information that helps bring the gentleman and his age to life.

schadenfreude

It took them an entire study to realize that schadenfreude (glee at the misfortune of others) happens when people resent those who have privileges without working for or deserving them, and those privileged people suddenly fall from grace. I would have thought that was self-evident.

I have to take issue with one paragraph that’s totally wrong: “You will envy more a colleague of yours who makes a thousand dollars more a year than you will a C.E.O. who makes a million dollars more than you,” he said. “We also care about famous people. They are symbols to us.”

Ahem. That’s total bull-crap. I’d be happy for the person I know and annoyed at the C.E.O, not be envious of him. Unless of course the colleague of mine turned out to have made the $1,000 in a totally unethical or undeserved way. And the C.E.O I would probably assume made the million in a undeserved way, unless they had some really creative idea that the built their own company on. Then I’d probably admire them.

And I frankly don’t give a rat’s hiney-end about famous people. Screw ’em. They do, in the article, point out that we tend to think of celebrities as people who are a part of our lives, and I think that’s true, in some ways, with some celebrities. I think the only famous person I ever truly wanted to meet was Princess Diana, just because I think we would have gotten along well.

Popular Baby Names – Social Security Administration

I saw this link (Popular Baby Names) once, a few years ago, and have been trying to remember where it was located ever since. Turns out it was the Social Security Administration, not the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s come up in discussions a number of times, and I kept saying “there’s this link…” Well, here it is: An analysis of popular baby names based on Social Security applications, going back each year to the late 1800’s. Ah, the good old days, when Mildred was the #9 most popular girl’s name in the country, and Gertrude made it at #22. Guys, don’t laugh, Walter was #11, Clarence #18.

It’s also scary to look at the stats for the 1990’s…. with 8 different variations on the name Brittney. I hate last names as first names, especially for girls. Courtney, Brittany, Shelby, Taylor, Madison—-yuck, yuck, yuck. I’m going to name my daughter Mabel. That’ll show them.

Okay, that’s a little extreme. How about Eleanor?

Maneki Neko and the Legend of “Goutokuji” Temple

Maneki NekoAt the beginning of Edo period (17th century), there was a rundown temple in Setagaya, the western part of Tokyo. The priest of the temple kept a pet cat, named Tama, and he though he was very poor, he always was sure to feed Tama first.
One day, Naotaka Ii who was the lord of Hikone district (western part of Japan near Kyoto) was caught in a shower near the temple on his way home from hunting. While avoiding the rain under a big tree in front of the temple, Naotaka noticed that a cat was inviting him into the temple gate. And as soon as he left the tree tempted by the cat’s gesture, the tree was struck by lighting. Naotaka’s life was saved by the cat which was proved to be Tama.
By the incident, Naotaka became closer to the priest of the temple. The rundown temple was appointed to be the Ii’s family temple, and changed it’s name to Goutokuji. Goutokuji became prosperous. Tama saved Naotaka from lighting, and saved the temple from it’s poverty at the same time.
After it’s death, Tama was buried at Goutokuji’s cat cemetery with all due respect, and Maneki Neko was invented to honor Tama.
There are different kinds of Maneki Neko. One raises its left paw; the legend specifies that the one with its left paw up invited customers or people. The other raises its right paw; the legend specifies that the one with its right paw up invited money or good fortune.

In a Snob-Free Zone

In a Snob-Free Zone, By Joseph Epstein

My cousin Sherwin’s way into the snob-free zone was simple enough: Care only about one’s work, judge people only by their skill at their own work, and permit nothing else outside one’s work to signify in any serious way. View the rest of the world as a more or less amusing carnival at which one happens to have earned–through, of course, one’s work–a good seat. Judge all things by their intrinsic quality, and consider status a waste of time. One of the reasons I liked him so much is that he brought all this off without any contortion of his essentially kind character.