The felicity of little advantages

I’m sitting in the hotel room that will be my home for the upcoming week, relaxing after a seven-hour drive. I learned two things today:

  1. The stretch of I-57 in the bootheel of Missouri is the flattest and dullest section of roadway I’ve ever driven on. And I say this as a 30-year veteran of driving through central Illinois.
  2. One of Ben Frankin’s aphorisms pretty well sums up my feelings about the many little scripts I’ve written over the years.

I heard the aphorism while listening to a series of iTunes U lectures on Franklin as I drove. It’s a five-part series from Stanford entitled “Ben Franklin and the World of the Enlightenment.” The lecturer, Bruce Thompson, has the annoying habit of making that juicy tcch sound (you know, the soft click that comes from pulling your tongue away from the back of your top front teeth) when he’s trying to think of the right words to say, but he’s very good in the better-prepared sections of his presentation.

The aphorism comes from Franklin’s Autobiography:

Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune, that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.

Learning to script—whether through AppleScript, Perl, Python, Ruby, Bash, or whatever—gives you the opportunity to create those little advantages for yourself. None of the short scripts I’ve presented here has amounted to very much, but I use at least one of them every day, saving myself some work that would be as boring as the bootheel and boosting my felicity.