Do What You Like

How “Do What You Love” Is a Recipe for Disappointment and/or Exploitation

Note: This is a rough sketch of some thoughts that have been simmering in my head for years and that were catalyzed by a conversation I had this morning on a walk with SLP. I may turn this into something more substantial and cohesive at some point in the future. But since I also may not do that, I wanted to post this early version, such as it is, so I don’t lose these ideas altogether.

The expectation that you will find a career doing The Thing you truly love tends to lead in one of three directions:

  1. Exploitation by an industrial complex that knows you will work more hours, for less pay, with more personal sacrifice, if you believe you are following your true passion.
  2. Loss of love for The Thing as you realize the compromises you need to make in order to turn a passion into a career.
  3. Cognitive dissonance as you struggle to rationalize that whatever it is you’ve ended up doing is The Thing you believe you truly love to do, when it is not.

Don’t give away The Thing that you love.

Many industries, especially academic and creative fields, are structured in a way that assumes the majority of their most talented workers do truly love the thing that they do, and they’re optimized to exploit that passion. The expectation that you will always go above and beyond, first because you want to but eventually because the structure of the job forces you to, is baked in. You will work more hours than you should, demand less pay than you deserve, and sacrifice other aspects of your life, because you are told it’s what the job requires, and you believe it. But what the job really requires is you. Your talents and your passion, and you should be compensated adequately for those, both in terms of pay and time off. But that rarely happens.

Compromise can be a killer.

There are many aspects of life where compromise is necessary and good. But compromising The Thing you love in order to turn it into a career can very easily suck that love out of The Thing. Clients may have unrealistic or illogical demands. Promoters will want you to do The Thing their way instead of the way you know works best for you.

“Do what you love” ≠ “Love what you do”

This may be the most dangerous path of all. Very few of us can land a job doing The Thing we truly love. Incremental shifts over time, impulsive decisions made long ago, or unexpected changes due to the complex challenges of life, all can lead a person into a place where they’ve invested years of time and energy into something that has little or nothing to do with their true passion in life. But that investment is hard to throw away, and it’s easy to try to convince yourself that you are doing The Thing you love, whatever it is that you’re actually doing. Admitting to yourself that you have no real interest or passion for the job you do can feel like a massive personal failure, but the real failure is denying your personal truth.

Do what you like.

Find a job that gives you satisfaction and fulfillment, but that you can walk away from at the end of the day… or walk away from entirely, if you realize it doesn’t suit you. This is a job that you are willing to invest in enough to take seriously, to do good work, to make a decent living and to contribute to society. It is not a job that you are willing to let make unreasonable demands upon your time, your energy, your family or your personal well-being.

A job you like doesn’t crush your spirit during the working hours, and it leaves you with a good amount of non-working hours to pursue your true passion, hobbies, leisure activities, family time, whatever it is you most want out of life.

Scott’s “So Spice” Roasted Corn Salsa

For the past couple of summers we’ve been members of a local CSA, and this summer we’re back to trying our hand at growing vegetables in pots in our backyard as well. (We’ve learned that we can basically grow herbs, cherry tomatoes and — especially — chili peppers. Oh so many chili peppers.)

This week we got some corn on the cob and a bunch of tomatoes, plus a head of fresh garlic, from the CSA (amongst a bazillion other things… August is when the CSA boxes really start to get heavy). And our backyard banana peppers and jalapeños are nearing their peak as well. This morning I wanted to make myself a breakfast burrito, as I often do, but I got sidetracked turning all of the above into a roasted corn salsa. I was totally winging it, but the results turned out pretty tasty, so I decided I should write up the recipe. Here goes!


1 cob fresh sweet corn
8 small or 4 large tomatoes
3 fresh banana peppers
1 fresh jalapeño
2 cloves garlic
a few slices of onion
fresh cilantro (optional)
salt and pepper
vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF (convection if possible).
  2. Shuck and rinse the corn, leave on cob. Slice the tomatoes in half, and remove the hard stem area if needed. Leave the chili peppers and garlic whole.
  3. Rub the corn with some oil, then salt and pepper as desired.
  4. Place the corn, half of the tomato halves (cut side up), the chili peppers, garlic and onion on parchment paper on a baking sheet and place in oven.
  5. Check the progress every few minutes; rotate the corn and peppers as needed. Note that some things may take longer to roast than others. As each item appears to be “done” (starting to char), remove from the oven and place on a plate to cool. (I found the banana peppers were ready really fast; the corn took the longest.)
  6. Once cooled, cut off and discard the stems of the banana peppers and jalapeños. Peel the skin off if it is loose. (In my case, the jalapeño needed to be peeled but the banana peppers did not.) Slice each in half. Remove the seeds/pulp from the banana peppers, and from the jalapeños if you don’t want the salsa very spicy. (My jalapeño had already turned bright red and I left all of the seeds in — the salsa is very hot. At least by Minnesota Scandinavian standards.)
  7. Finely dice all of the chili peppers and place them in a mason jar or medium-sized bowl. (Be sure to wash your hands well after handling the jalapeños!)
  8. Finely chop the onion and add it to the jar.
  9. Without peeling, squeeze the roasted garlic bulbs into the jar. The insides should have a mashed potato-like consistency and come out fairly easily. Be sure none of the papery skin gets into the jar!
  10. Cut the corn off the cob and add to the jar.
  11. Place the roasted tomato halves, along with the remaining uncooked tomato halves, into a food processor and process just until broken up. Pour into the jar. (Depending on the size of your tomatoes, you may have too much, or possibly too little. For me, 8 small tomatoes was just perfect. If your jar isn’t mostly filled, purée another fresh tomato or two, as needed.)
  12. If you are using cilantro, wash and dry it, finely chop (removing tough stems), and add to the jar.
  13. Lid it, then shake vigorously to mix all ingredients. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. (I didn’t need to.)

This salsa tasted pretty good right away, but it will get better after it’s been in the fridge for a few hours. I should also note that I didn’t use cilantro, because we didn’t have any on hand. The salsa doesn’t really need it, but if you have it, I would use it.

Cassettes of Steal?

I’m going to talk about the 1975 Rush album Caress of Steel for a minute. Unless you’re the roughly one person who is interested in this, feel free to move on.

Whenever I think of this album, I think about the cassette version, which was my introduction to it. Back then, record labels were less interested in preserving the integrity of the album than in cutting every possible cost, so it was common to rearrange the order of the songs on cassettes and 8-tracks, to even out the sides/”programs” (4 total on an 8-track), to use as little tape as possible. (Granted, this may have been because people complained that they’d been cheated when there was a lot of blank tape on one side.)

Anyway… this particular album presented a weird scenario. Side one was four songs, but side two was a side-long suite. (OK, it could be broken up into six separate songs, but they really needed to be together, in a specific order.)

Well, that all made side one a couple of minutes longer than side two, which just wouldn’t do. So the label decided to swap the second song on each side. That meant moving side one’s “I Think I’m Going Bald,” definitely the most absurd track on the album, into a spot right after the first part of the side two suite, and it also meant sticking in side two’s bizarre “Didacts and Narpets” (really just a drum solo and a few guitar chord stabs, plus some random words shouted out representing an argument between the young hero of the suite’s story and his restrictive elders) as the second track on side one, with no context.

All of which made for me having a very warped understanding of what this album was supposed to be, until I finally got it on CD, with the tracks in the right order — and the full side two “Fountain of Lamneth” suite actually acknowledged as such.

Now on streaming services, the album just has 5 tracks… “The Fountain of Lamneth” is one uninterrupted 20-minute song. Today’s nerdy high school sophomores will never understand what I experienced when I was their age.


Last night our son graduated from Minneapolis South High School. We are incredibly proud of him, and also greatly appreciate the experience he was able to have going to a racially and socio-economically diverse school. Here’s the amazing commencement speech delivered via pre-recorded video last night (most of the speaking was pre-recorded, because it wasn’t clear until fairly recently that an in-person ceremony was going to be possible), given by 1999 South High alumna Junauda Petrus-Nasah.

South is a place with great academic and arts opportunities, and the faculty and staff are deeply committed to empowering students to make their voices heard in the world. It’s also a place where one can’t look away from the stark divides in opportunity between students of different races and economic backgrounds, and where there is still a long way to go towards equity.

South is less than a mile from where George Floyd was murdered last year, and just a couple of blocks from the police precinct that burned in the days after. It’s a majority non-white school, and I feel like it’s a place where real change can be fostered, where we don’t shy away from the challenges our society faces.
Anyway, don’t listen to me. Watch the video. It’s excellent.

Memory holed

I originally posted this on Facebook, but for what should be obvious reasons, I think it’s worth reposting here.

John Gruber, today: Bing Censors Image Search for ‘Tank Man’, Even in U.S.

Interesting that Gruber mentions 1984‘s “memory holes” here. I think I’ve been affected by 1984 more than any other book I’ve read, and I re-read it at least once a decade.

Something I didn’t grasp when I read it back in high school: the long-term effects of the memory hole. I distinctly remember Tiananmen Square in 1989. I remember where I was when the news came on — my maternal grandparents’ house. You can “memory hole” something like that without ever erasing it from my memory, or countless others of us who experienced it first-hand.

But what of later generations? What do my kids know of events like this? And if actions are being taken to restrict access to information about events that people don’t remember first-hand, eventually it might as well have never happened. It’s been successfully memory-holed.

Please place this in your mind beside the link I shared yesterday, about bills being considered in many states (including Wisconsin) that will make it illegal to teach critical race theory. When I read that yesterday I thought about another element of 1984: Newspeak. The government was systematically re-engineering the English language to remove words it deemed problematic. As in, the kinds that could undermine its absolute authority.

The only thing Orwell got wrong was the year.