My New Phone Is Not Magical

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous phone. I had to replace my much-loved Galaxy Note 4 because it was shutting off unexpectedly, even when the battery still had a charge, even when it was plugged in overnight. A factory reset was no help.

So for reasons, I got a Samsung Galaxy Note 8. And it’s bigger yet slimmer, faster, and much more expensive.

My wife inconceivably actually wanted me to get a new phone .

The camera is great, though not a DSLR. It has a stylus which I’ve gotten accustomed to in my last few phones, for those times when you just want to be able to write a note, or draw, or tap on the screen with more precision. There are some cool tricks, but for me, it lets the phone input be more organic. I love it.*

And there are features missing. To make it waterproof it’s now sealed, so I can’t replace the battery when it goes bad. My last phone had infrared in a way I could use as a remote control. I didn’t use it but it was there.

This phone has infrared on the front facing camera so I can use dumb live stickers. Well, the face recognition and iris scanning is cool….

And the camera is fine improvement with two rear lenses and image stabilization, even a 2X optical zoom. But features I like were easier to get to on the old phone, as they were less buried.

So I have mixed feelings. And I plan to have this phone for a long time and I will love it to death, but like always when I replace it: I miss my old phone.

Animated messages are neat but you have to limit how many lines you draw.

But it’s not magical. It’s a great tool, but that’s what I expected. And my potential disappointment in “dazzle points” is well-tempered by the fact that instead I can focus and use the features that help me communicate and schedule and live better, without being a gushing fanboy who needs to play with all of the shiny new toy apps instead of using the phone for what I bought it for.

—–David

P.S. And I know that the Note 9 is weeks away from being released, but I don’t know that it is going to be a magical improvement, and it will certainly cost more than what I paid to upgrade now on a discount, and saving money is a feature I will always appreciate.

* My favorite thing about the stylus is that you can pull it out of the phone and just write immediately on the screen even with the phone locked (screen off memo), which is amazing in the middle of the night when you have a song idea or annoying thought in your head that you want to leave for a reminder in the morning, because you can make a note just like you have done for years without even turning on a light.

Okay, that’s a little magical, even though my last phone did it.

My New Phone Is Not Magical was originally published on Creative Uploads

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Conflict and Resolution: Well, Excu-uuuse Me!

Storytellers like to say that all stories, good stories, have conflict and resolution. There is a challenge that confronts the hero, and by the end of the story you have some closure — either the hero has new resolve or a solution has been achieved.

There are exceptions of course, sometimes that hanging thread makes for an emotional coda.

The hanging thread is what I’m here to talk about today, why, for this example, I don’t always post regularly.

I’m going to skip the usual excuses, and keeping with the tone of this site find the explanation and use it to target a solution instead of using it to get out of the real work.

If the unexamined life is not worth living, then you need to maintain the distinction between understanding yourself and making excuses for yourself, even if they sometimes use the same words. 

My current obstacle is that I am short on time and my intermittently limited motivation sometimes lets me trade something I want to do (like create a quality blog post) for something I also enjoy (like watching one of the television shows stacked up on my TiVo.)

The irony of it is, if I wanted to be as casual in posting as I am about watching TV, I could post all day, but sort of snarky, throwaway, funny, clever or biting posts are the landscape of my Tumblr and Twitter feeds. This blog was built to have more weight and introspection, so it takes longer than one would imagine to create what I consider a “quality post” — my measurement not yours — so sometimes it feels like a bite of time I can’t take.

But this project is also about building habits: creating, editing, confessing and publishing.

So I’m not going to resolve, or promise, or anything. But here’s a post. It’ll help me when I come across it again, and maybe it will help you. At the end of the day excuses don’t count for much if anything, but explanations that lead to understanding and creation do. So there will be more posts, and sometimes, they should be shorter, because, well, poems range from haiku to Dante’s three-volume “Divine Comedy.”

—–David

P.S. But for the record I have a presentation that I need to work on, a long music performance to edit, a spreadsheet of data to process which will actually earn me money, housework, and a full TiVo and Netflix list. Oh and it’s bedtime and I really like to sleep. (Not on normal people’s schedules, though)

I also have better habits now than I used to, and that gives me the confidence that I will be able to get all of those things in a manageable order.

P.P.S. Ha, I can’t post tonight because of technical errors out of my control!

Conflict and Resolution: Well, Excu-uuuse Me! was originally published on Creative Uploads

Best Burger I Ever Had

Okay, I’m going to sidetrack the blog and actually write about food — oh crap, I’m sorry, I didn’t ever mean to do that.

Oh well. The other day I was looking through my extensive digital photo collection and came across a picture I wanted to share, yes, of the best burger ever. Now I’m going to be honest, I have enjoyed other burgers, and may have had some that tasted better or were more “foodie” friendly, or this or that, but pound for pound and just for the story on the side, this one tops them all.

Perhaps a dozen years ago I had the honor of going to Brookings, Oregon, for a memorial service for a very kind man named Dave, who was my wife’s stepfather. Dave had a favorite place to eat, so of course we all made a pilgrimage afterwards, and well, it is an experience not to be duplicated.

You can come close, because I just checked Google and apparently they are still in business, though they have moved, and location was part of it.

All I knew was that we were going to a little burger place on the harbor near the beach. And we traveled up the beach on foot, most of our party of about dozen. Sounds quaint, right?

What it really was was “Fely’s Café and Laundromat,” which when we arrived looked like an oversized shed with and add-on in the middle of the harbor parking lot, surrounded by cars and RVs and boat trailers. There was a picnic table or two outside, and maybe three small tables inside in front of the long counter. I’m sad to say I didn’t take a peek at the laundry machines.

We all had to order burgers, since that was what Dave liked. The place was run by an old couple, and Fely, the woman in charge, was one of those ageless Asian archetypes. She thought my child was adorable and just had to come out and give her a huge hug. It was helpful since it gave me extra time with my burger.

Oregon Trip – Best burgers ever, at Fely’s in Brookings, Oregon. Go. Those are regular size paper plates, and oversized buns. They were HUGE! And delicious.

And the burgers? I will let the picture speak for itself, though please note that those are normal size paper plate that the burgers are covering. Formed with little care to shape out of what I am certain was an entire pack of ground beef, and cooked in the historic greasy memory of every burger ever made on the grill, they were delicious. Too big to eat in one sitting; too delicious to stop.

My wife alone was clever enough to cut her burger in half before starting and created leftovers, which nearly led to a knife fight between Dave’s two surviving elder brothers. Okay, maybe they were just trying to divide it in half again, given that what would now be a quarter of the original was still a good size burger, but there was a waving of knives, somewhat raised voices and a very faint desire to share the prize equally, if at all.

My one disappointment is that we were leaving that next day, and I didn’t have a chance to eat there a second time. Or probably room in my stomach. But in my heart, the memory lives on, right next to a warm place for Dave.

—–David

P.S. Fely’s Cafe is on Shopping Center Avenue in Harbor, Oregon, basically in Brookings, just north of the California-Oregon. Don’t go for the service, go for the calories and maybe your own story. Tell them Dave sent you, indirectly.

P.P.S. I think the fact that these are the most accidentally creative burgers ever, and that you need to eat to have the energy to be creative gives this post a fair place in this blog.

Best Burger I Ever Had was originally published on Creative Uploads

Mighty Words Don’t Rhyme With Swords?

I have always been a pretty good speller, and I have a love for words. No surprise for someone with a blog.

I am also fascinated with how we each come to understand our chosen language and recreate it in our own image. That’s the source for Spanglish, for example, a mix of English and Spanish, which is delightful and practical. It stems from a desire to communicate, and that’s a pure motive, so I appreciate it. (I mean it’s one thing to learn to speak two languages but, hey, to speak two languages at once with no training? ¡Wow!)

We also sometimes get stuck in a repeating grammar error (either for fun or from stubborn ignorance), or digging in as a form of pride and self-protection. Some examples:

  • Ax (not ask)
  • Pasghetti (spaghetti)
  • Literally not using figuratively when it’s literally the right word

I have both stepped into mispronunciations and been the correcting grammar nerd (I really dislike “ax.”) But in the end, that’s just me having fun with language. And like language, my understanding is flexible and can grow.

I learned the word “infrared” reading a book at a young age, knew it described a wavelength of light invisible to the naked eye without a filter, but thought, for years, it would rhyme with “repaired,” until a James Bond book spelled it “infra-red” and my eyes were opened to a deeper understanding of the red wavelength.

Not so lucky with the pronunciation distinction between “virile” and “viral,” which I discovered while reading out loud in high school to the delight of some classmates. Vee-rel is strong, for the record, not infectious. Still think the other pronunciation sounds like it’s stronger.

And “Entrance,” the noun which for everybody else on the planet means “come in here” (me too) is inspirational to me, because every time I see it, in my head I also hear the verb “Entrance!”

That’s a verbal joke, not a written one, let’s try again.

I hear the word with this definition: captivate, hypnotize

It’s a literal call to action, and it’s everywhere! Fantastic!

This may explain why I talk to complete strangers in lines and restaurants….

—–David

P.S. Synonyms: bewitch, fascinate, enthrall, mesmerize, enrapture, enchant, rejoice, ravish, please, delight, charm, gladden, spellbind, attract, transport, anesthetize, put in a trance

Get out there and Entrance! I mean, get in there!

Mighty Words Don’t Rhyme With Swords? was originally published on Creative Uploads

Luminarias Schuminarias? OR Christmas in April? Fools!

FLASHBACK: PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED PICTURES!

We make an annual visit to the Luminarias at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden during the holidays, and I have too many photos, and while organizing things, came across a duplicate draft of this old post still hanging out. The ORIGINAL POST about my Trial Trail Mixing It Up is HERE.

So I found some more photos to go with it.

All shots here taken with a Canon Rebel T3i on a tiny tripod.

TIP: When going minimalist on the equipment, or just keeping it simple and fast, find a small lightweight aluminum tripod, attach it securely to your camera and leave the head loose and just let it dangle from the bottom of the camera with the strap around your neck or shoulders.

A quick release plate is optional but in that case attach a strap to the tripod as well so you can carry them separately .when shooting handheld part of the time.

Thanks to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix for the eye candy.

—–David

P.S. As  on the last post, the title is a nod to “Rocky and Bullwinkle” cartoons, which parody dramatic cliffhanger serials with two ridiculous pun titles teasing the follow up. And here I am with a follow up post!

Luminarias Schuminarias? OR Christmas in April? Fools! was originally published on Creative Uploads

Solo Work Gets A Gold Star

Saw this recently in a teacher lounge. It gave me A New Hope.

Han Solo Star Wars pun creative uploads

And a bad pun.

What inspires you to make things, even silly ones? Does it come naturally or do you cultivate opportunities to improve your productivity?

I used to have some concerns with that, perhaps thinking if it wasn’t organic it might not be pure enough to reach artistic heights.

That’s crap. Improvisation, serendipity, structure, craven commercialism, planning, editing, incremental steps: they all have a place in creation and can bring us to an artistic result.

Or not.

But that’s for the audience to judge. And you can’t be the audience in the middle of creation; you’re too close in space and time to get the full picture.

First, make something. Then step back and let somebody else look at it.

Who cares what they think? That’s a different story.

—–David

P.S. I like a lot of stuff I put together; some people hate their own stuff. But I enjoy the process and that’s enough to get to the next thing. Which is sometimes the salve on the wounds from the previous experience.

Solo Work Gets A Gold Star was originally published on Creative Uploads

About That Caution: Just Drive!

One more thing on that last post about caution and special events, this was on my Tumblr the other day.

Keep left! Or don’t, I mean, just barrel straight through if that’s what you want….

http://megawatson.tumblr.com/post/171568663575/keep-left-or-dont-i-mean-just-barrel-straight

https://assets.tumblr.com/post.js

Now there’s some useful advice for creativity and production!

I either think too much while I am driving, or drive too much and don’t have time to think.

—–David

P.S. I do not think there is such a thing as “thinking too much”, but “overthinking” is a road hazard when you are trying to get someplace.

P.P.S. I love this Paul Simon song so much: Think Too Much (a)  “The fact is, you don’t think as much as you should.”

 

About That Caution: Just Drive! was originally published on Creative Uploads

Why Is Special Event A Caution Sign?

I didn’t mean for a metaphor to hit me over the head while I was just driving down the street, but seriously. Stop Special Event Ahead Caution! Creaive Uploads

 

As creative types, we will often take any excuse to detour around things, just dropping our good habits for a few minutes or hours or days. The delighted and self-destructive among us love when special events intrude on our schedule and we can throw everything out the window. We also hate that, because it means that we ‘ll need to make a new schedule at some point, and right now maybe stop thinking about our vague current idea or whatever we had planned.

That sure sounds like it calls for caution. I mean you’re on this road to get somewhere, right? And you’re being forced to change your route or get stuck in “traffic” that will slow you down.

But special events are special – it’s literally in the name. And if you want to be artistic or just enjoy yourself, special events are often an event worth the experience. Even if they totally suck by the end of it, you have a story — at least in your head or for the next party, or maybe even for a song or a film or a collection of pages.

So no, I don’t know that special events need caution. Feed your stuff, by feeding yourself.

And certainly understand the limitations and obstacles that they may present. But as someone who doesn’t mind being social yet still will try to avoid an event because it doesn’t seem “important enough,” or sometimes feels like it’s an excuse to not do the work you promised yourself you were going to do that day, or it costs money and you think you can save yourself into prosperity… Well honestly, those are all pretty good reasons/excuses.

But not all the time. Too many excuses gets you too good at excuses.

Too many special events makes them less special.

Strike a balance, and use caution, but don’t just stop.

—–David

P.S. I still remember seeing author Fran Leibovitz on David Letterman talking about how she was at a party that she don’t want to be at because she would literally take any excuse to avoid writing. I thought it was hilarious and honest and I took it as advice. And it is some of the worst advice for a writer I have ever heard. (Not that she intended it to be advice.)

Things I ignored:

  • She’d actually already written something and been published before that, so perhaps she was entitled to relax on occasion.
  • She ended up with a story that she could tell on a TV show, so she wasn’t entirely wasting her time.
  • I have no idea what she wrote and was plugging, and
  • I do not own any of her books

But I love her. https://www.facebook.com/franlebowitz/

https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fran_Lebowitz

Why Is Special Event A Caution Sign? was originally published on Creative Uploads

I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks

Came across a blog post today from Stage 32 featuring a couple of videos that might be of interest to creative types that might want to download them into their brain (see what I did there? A truly terrible attempt at a joke. That’s what you call a first draft, and would cut in editing.)

The first video is a unicorn for me, something I knew existed but has been hard to find. I’ve only ever seen ten minutes of it and was amazed by it: Michael Caine on Acting For Film. THE Michael Caine, teaching actors film techniques, filmed for a British production quite a few years ago. Caught part of it on PBS when I was younger, and even though I am not focused on the acting field, the techniques he displays and his passion for the work are inspiring.

PLUS: It’s easily adapted to directing tips, to screenwriting and storytelling. It would even help you if you are just taking a meeting. Caine advises you to “pick an eye”, and shows why.

CAINE
But if I’m talking to you, and I don’t blink,
and I just keep on going, and I don’t blink….

He goes into methods for holding focus, grabbing attention, and simple tricks to hit your mark, demonstrating everything. Filmmakers: send this link to your actors. He’s not teaching for stage, but he makes comparisons and you can see those differences yourself and find things that would help whatever your venue, like being smaller or bigger with your performance without upstaging.

I’m not going to delve too far into it, because there’s so much here you will find different things than I do.

The second video is from Actualized.org, covering techniques on How To Overcome Creative Blocks and Writer’s Block. Even if you have writer’s block and you watch it and it doesn’t help you, you can tell yourself you were trying to be productive for thirty minutes and feel better about yourself, right? (I guarantee that’s not in the video, nor is it the best tip ever. But we all do it!)

This clip is a little more valuable than that, though. (Spoiler alert: it starts with commitment.)

Click here for the Stage 32 blog post with the videos

Just do it. No apologies to Nike. Why would you steal such a powerful statement and apply it only to shoes?

—–David

P.S. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Michael Caine:


https://youtu.be/bZPLVDwEr7Y

Overcoming Creative Blocks is here:
https://youtu.be/OwgD1vmAawo

P.P.S.  I successfully broke my writing addiction when I was younger (don’t do it!) but I still write (just a little less obsessively). Which was probably a mistake. I’ll talk about that another time.

But I always said I never got writer’s block. This is true in one common perception of the term: I don’t run out of ideas. But I do block myself from writing when I should, and that’s an even more insidious issue that I will be addressing with help from sources like this one.

I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks was originally published on Creative Uploads

Creativity Rains Down

Or to quote the movie “Arthur”, “Sometimes I just think funny things.”

Got this one on camera and memed it for you.

Really that joy of discovery is the thing that gets you through the day, even if you only do it for an audience of yourself.

—–David

P.S. She claims she thought it was funny but she just didn’t want her picture taken, what do you think?

Creativity Rains Down was originally published on Creative Uploads