I’ve been taking school pictures this season and had the opportunity to include this adorable mascot the other day. Artie even got a badge made, though I imagine he’d chew it up given the chance.
It’s nice to know there are still classroom pets out there. I know there is a possibility of animal harm with this, but I like to think we have become more sensitive to animal care as a society, and trust that teachers have both the best interests of students and the class pet at heart. A lost class pet is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, not to be invited into your life lightly.* You learn to like, adore and love something that carries responsibility with it, not an object but a living thing that doesn’t argue you with you like a friend or sibling.
That’s one of the great things about pets. If you don’t have a pet of your own, you can get a taste of it. There’s a shared responsibility, and honor even, in seeing to the animal’s well-being, whether it happens in class or on occasions where a family has to take care of Mr. Fluffy over a break or holiday, if not a rotating weekend schedule. Plus you get to learn how stinky things get without regular cleaning.
It gives you a chance to see that the world is bigger than your tiny sheltered corner. That animals are sometimes unpredictable in their responses even as they have predictable habits. As are humans.
For children there is the vital opportunity to develop compassion for a creature that might not need our help if it were in the wild, but deserves our mercy and respect when we cross paths with it.
And just maybe, that becomes a deeper thread and we learn to maintain compassion for larger creatures, fellow humans and nature itself, even when things seem ready to turn on us, because we are all partners in one large complicated ecosystem.
* Unless you’re in a sitcom.
P.S. Our family had gerbils when I was a kid. I still have fond memories of breakfast times when we made tiny little pancakes for them, and they would hold them in their little hands and eat.
Just know that sometimes, in a big or small way, you are number one.
Not always all the time, but we all get to take a turn.
P.S. And sometimes when we feel like number two, it’s just because we are moving up in the line.
P.P.S. Taken with my Note 8 using the Live Focus feature for a blurred background.
As a photographer and father, I strive to see the world from as many angles as I can.
For images, it’s to see or show something new, fresh or compelling.
As a parent, it may be to keep my kid safe or find our way to a new adventure.
In all cases, even bringing video and writing into it, it’s about not limiting myself or my audience to one perspective. Even if you can only see one side of things you should recognize that they are often three-dimensional and imagine what you might see if you were someplace different.
Lately to put this in practice with my daughter, when picking her up I don’t tell her where I parked, I simply text her a picture from what direction I think she will be coming from. I am forcing her to recall her surroundings and see them from a different perspective.
It is a conscious choice on my part, as well as being a fun game. And I do hope that it affects her thinking in other areas, sort of a behavioral psychology experiment. I know it affects mine in personal and group situations, and specifically increases my sympathy for others, if not my agreement with them.
I’m looking forward to the day when she approaches me from a different angle than I expect. And I’m hoping I can still see it from her point of view.
P.S. Sometimes I give her clues when there are multiple options (her school has three typical pick up locations), like the size of the parking lot, or the compass directions which she hasn’t bothered to memorize yet.
How do you force your child or yourself* to look at familiar things in a different way?
(* Or your child within!)
P.P.S. The featured photo is from a day I was driving and my daughter said how much she liked the rain so I opened the moonroof for her … Ha! Looking at things from a different angle indeed!
Sharpen your skills. This is usually meant in a very specific way, whether you are studying something technical and precise, or aimed at a specific field or job.
But as a Renaissance-minded creative, or jack of all trades, or generalist, as you might call me, I see that it can apply to anything, which can make it hard to decide which skills need to be sharp.
You can sharpen all of them. not all at once. But if you choose tasks and interests that you like, try to pick one where related skills overlap. This lets you sharpen the same skills but with more bang for your buck. Plus, that efficiency will help when you need to work on a skill that is more specific to a required task. Especially mentally, having covered several areas already reduces the stress of having to focus on one thing and make other things wait.
If you’re trying to build your muscles or exercise more, you should have a regular exercise program, but you could substitute helping people move furniture or rearranging and reorganizing your house and garage. Any excuse for lifting things is using your muscles right? *
Just make a habit of it. Being aware of what you’re doing and how it can affect your other desired skill sets.
I can type, I play piano and guitar, and I’m good at massages. All of these things use my fingers and hand muscles, and I try to improve my dexterity by changing angles, styles, or even switching to my weaker hand when doing simple tasks, which has improved my left hand bassline playing on the piano, for example.
When I quit my cubicle-based job to be a stay-at-home father for my daughter years ago, I joked that I was leaving a tiny workspace with randomized duties and a diminutive boss who would yell to get his own way, always decided he was right, and didn’t listen or care what I was saying, to take exactly the same job but with no commute.
I have used my corporate skills throughout her childhood, from organization through quality control, presentations and conflict resolution.
If you’ve been a stay-at-home parent and are reentering the business world, or joining it for the first time, realize that you can use those lessons that you learned at home with no commute everywhere else.
We are all children at heart, and the ones with less heart show their childishness even more.
The only thing missing (unfortunately) is the opportunity to call a timeout. But you can chuckle inside at the silliness of it all anywhere you go, and your sharpened skills can cut through anything.
P.S. I miss regular pencils and that cool wall sharpener. I miss the smell from sharpening, the texture and feel of the pencil, the shading you get from holding it at an angle, and having an eraser that takes away your mistakes. I do like the convenience of mechanical pencils, until they run out of lead and you realize that you can’t just get up from your desk, walk to the wall and grind them for a few seconds so that they work right again, especially when you’re out of lead refills.
* Full disclosure: Currently recuperating from a car accident, I am taking any excuse for not lifting things. But it will come back to haunt me, as I have gained 5 pounds already.
Being busy is great.
Being very busy is kind of annoying, because while you might be enjoying what you’re doing, you also would like a little time to do other things on your to do list, or your screw around list.
Oh well. This guy gets it.
Technically though, there is no such thing as being “too busy.” If you think you’re too busy, you are simply very busy and tired of it.
And yeah, I felt too busy much of the summer. Mostly it was video projects, editing , and doing work around the house . Really it was more of a mental busy-ness, trying to track and organize and schedule everything to avoid stress.
Once you get up in your head like that, but don’t have enough available time to cross any one thing off of your list because you have to bounce between each one, that’s when you feel too busy.
So I stole a little time from my schedule to turn my tasks into projects, meaning that I broke up my list into smaller pieces that I could cross off, either mentally or physically, without having to focus on a single thing and then be totally behind schedule on something that became more critical. That way I could see daily or weekly progress and also the light at the end of the tunnel.
Also, as a serial procrastinator who learned to be more productive by realizing that if you like to put things off —
Tip: You can put off less important things with almost the same satisfaction as the critical ones, which makes people around you much happier with the results
— I discovered that if you have too many things to do and not enough available time, given deadlines, then you don’t feel like you’re putting other things off (joyful procrastination). Instead you feel that you can’t get to them and the most important ones just sit in your head (stressful consternation.)
But apparently the people who say the only way through is through have a point.
And the videos turned out great.
So I guess that’s my silly rant on how to make your busyness work with whatever business you have to deal with .
P.S. And remember it’s okay to be a little selfish sometimes, whether doing things for others is how you experience it, or if you want to stay up late and watch your own TV show and everybody’s going to bed.
Or go grab some fast food.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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….
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!