SittingWritingSpecialBoxesAndBlogging


I sat down to write this post. As you can guess, sitting did not automatically trigger great insight or imagination.

Sitting is certainly not a prerequisite for writing as most any teenager knows. I think were we to conduct a scientific survey, we would discover less than 4 in 37 people under twenty years old ever sit when writing unless required to do so in school or other similarly controlling environment. This may be an overly optimistic estimate if texting is considered to be writing.

I asked a conveniently available teen about texting and learned little about the habits of texters but was assured the Guinness record is not held by a teenager. Rather it is held by an adult (Deepak Sharma) who is definitely old enough to know better. Mr. Sharma averaged over six thousand texts a day for a month. Does “Get a life,” seem to fit here? This may not still be the record but if not, I really don’t want to know.

Since we are just chatting while I wait for an inspiration, there is also a fast texting record. Melissa Thompson of Salford, England (according to the same conveniently available teen) texted this test message in 25.94 seconds. “The razor–toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality….” The test message continues but you get the idea. She texts really really fast.

Is there anything to conclude from these two records (Deepak for prolific texting and Melissa for speed texting) we might want to file away for further thought? Actually, I doubt it but let me suggest this only as a possibility. As with texting, how much and how fast have little bearing on how well when sitting down to write a post. Readers are unlikely to care much about how many words I write and even less about how quickly I write them. At least, speed and quantity are not high on the quality criteria list.

That prompts me to wonder if there may not be an acceptable quantity/speed range for most things in our lives. Perhaps there is too much and not enough, too fast and too slow, with “good enough” in–between. We are inundated with advice and demands to do better, to strive for perfection, to reach farther, and to generally exceed whatever we are currently doing. What if for most things there is a good enough area for each of us where we can relax, feel comfortable, be satisfied with ourselves and our performance, and simply decide not to put anymore effort, energy, or emotion into it.

We can call all those activities the “Good Enough Stuff” and where we keep them our GES Box. The more we put into our GES Box, the more time, opportunity, and emotional energy we have for a few (very few) activities where getting it right the first time, on time, every time is important, actually matters to us, and will still matter a month from now, a year from now, i.e., it truly does matter.

Let’s call this our “Matters To Me Stuff” and our special place to keep it our MTM Box. This is a tiny box we can keep in our pocket so we always have it with us. It holds our personal priorities, those activities we sincerely value. It’s where we keep our valuables for frequent examination and action.

I admit to being tempted to expand on this but will follow my own advice. That’s enough for this sit.

I have two boxes labeled GES and MTM.

I am particular about what goes into them.

MTM is reserved for my very best.

GES is where I toss the rest.

Some Stuff I Have Learned


Some Stuff I Have Learned

The toothpaste won’t go back into the tube.

I learned this important fact when I was about 6. I don’t remember how I managed to get the toothpaste out of the tube and all over me, the bathroom, and my new shirt. But I sure do remember that there was no way to get it back into the tube before my mother asked the question all mothers ask. ‘What in the world do you think you are doing?’ Since even at 6 I knew that telling her that I was putting the toothpaste back into the tube was not going to cut it, I used every child’s standby reply, ‘Nothing!’

I have since come to understand that the toothpaste principle applies to more than toothpaste. It also applies to harsh words, ill considered actions, bad decisions, and a lot of other opportunities that come and go, not to return. There are those times when we only get one chance to do it right. When we do it wrong with our families, friends, neighbors, and people at work, we can’t take it back. The best we can do is to try not to have too many things we wish we could take back or undo.

Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.

This is the deep water principle. Here is what happened.

I was 14 and at that stage where I was very interested in girls but not sure what to do about it. A couple of my buddies and I were at the beach and decided that impressing 3 nearby young ladies would be our best approach. After a bit of adolescent posturing, we started swimming toward a floating platform 200 or so yards out. About halfway to our goal, the lifeguard swam up to me and told me that I could not swim well enough to go further. To add insult to injured pride, she swam beside me all the way back to the beach where the girls were very amused but not at all impressed.

This was very heavy stuff at 14. Mostly, it was embarrassing if not down right humiliating. The main thing I learned was that it is not a good idea to get in over my head whether the goal is to swim further than I can or to impress girls or anyone else for that matter. If for no other reason, there isn’t always a lifeguard to rescue me and I can no longer use being 14 as an excuse.

Since that day at the beach, I have learned that the deep water principle applies to more than swimming and girls. It also applies to things like going into debt, conflicts with people at home and work, bad habits and all those times when that little voice inside tries to warn me but I casually ignore it and dive in anyway.

The best shells are gone by 6:30.

Lest you think the only good stuff I’ve learned is about what not to do and being cautious, you also need to know about the sea shell principle. I was 32 by the time I learned this important truth.

I was visiting my grandfather in Florida and mostly enjoying the winter sunshine and good company. Grandpa showed me an exceptionally fine sea shell he found on the beach.

I said, ‘That was a bit of good luck, your finding that shell.’ He smiled and replied, ‘Yes, it was good luck for a guy who was already on the beach and looking before 6:30. All the good shells are gone by then.’

This was an important lesson. Luck plays a big part in a lot of things. Luck has a role in whether our marriages work out, whether our children do well, whether we succeed with our jobs, and in almost every other aspect of our lives. Stuff happens and we cannot control everything.

At the same time, we can improve the odds. We can work on our marriages, look for opportunities to encourage and support our children and be alert for those chances to improve our situation. We can be on the beach before 6:30 and we can make the effort to succeed. We cannot control everything but can control a lot of what happens in our lives.

Mess with anything long enough and it’ll break.

I came by this insight the other day. Possibly you have known it all along. I either didn’t know or maybe I just keep forgetting. It does look like I would have already known since I still break things from time–to–time.

I find myself tinkering with this or adjusting that and you know how it goes. Tinker with it long enough and it’s time either to toss it into the trash or find someone who actually knows what they are doing. This is usually my wife. She can fix nearly anything and usually does not ask me, ‘What in the world do you think you are doing?’ Let’s call this notion of messing with things until they break the ‘I’ll fix it myself principle.’ We know that it applies to stuff around the house. I wonder if it also applies to relationship problems, troubles our children are having, conflicts with friends and to other personal difficulties we may have. What do you think? How often do we mess with our lives until they break instead of finding someone who knows how to help us?

A brief suggestion.

Based on these things I have learned, you may want to think about this. Try to keep your toothpaste in the tube. Try not to get in over your head into the deep water. As often as you can, be on the beach looking for sea shells before 6:30. And for those things that really matter, ‘I’ll fix it myself,’ may sometimes be worse than doing ‘Nothing!’

SignMyFirstPetition


I can say, with all candor, I have never been tempted to initiate or participate in a petition drive. Sure, there have been many situations and conditions I have disliked and some I have disliked intensely. Even so, the petition thing never popped into my conscious thought processes. Today is the day that all changed.

Why does the year start in January? I know; it’s when the bowl games are and it wouldn’t work having them other than at the end of the football season. That’s fine if you happen to live where January doesn’t bring ice and snow; but for the rest of us, football in January is silly. You’re right, there are domes and the like, but that only works for the handful of communities with their own domes. Since we don’t have one, football should be confined to September and maybe October but never after Halloween.

Ok, football is definitely not a good enough reason to have the year start in the middle of the winter. Then, what about parades? Need I say it? Parades in January are even sillier than football. Were it not for those bowl games, I doubt anyone would plan a parade when a blizzard is as likely as a sunny day. Yes, there is California and Florida is there too. Arizona and Hawaii are options as well. Good for them. They can have all the parades in January they please; but please stop acting like the rest of us should think majorettes in short skirts makes sense when the temp is nearing zero.

There’s also the calendar thing where, I suppose, this deal about the year starting in January began. There are other calendars but we are stuck with this year–starts–in–January nonsense. I just can’t believe we had choices and picked this one. Twelve choices and we chose the middle of the winter. Go figure, since I sure can’t.

That brings me to the point of my petition. It’s New Year’s Eve. NYE was made for partying. Is there a worse possible time for NYE than in the midst of the ice and snow? I think not. Barbecue is out, unless you are satisfied with someone else’s barbecue. Firing up the grill and throwing on some ribs is another one of those silly things when you have to wear a snow suit. Drinks around the pool are similarly out. No, I’m not going to explain. If you don’t get it, you may be one of those idiots who got us into this year–starting–in–January silliness to start with.

Just consider this. Let’s start the year in April. Instead of football, we would have baseball, a much more civil sport. Odds are we could have a parade without freezing, and barbecue and drinks around the pool would be doable, although even then, a dip in the pool would be out, except for the few who had already had too many drinks around the pool.

Everything is politics. I’ve heard that and maybe even knew it. My first petition and compromise is the only way to consensus. It boiled down to this. April is often too cold and it can snow then too. July and August are too hot; and no one would be around for NYE anyway, since most are on vacation.

It comes down to June 15. The weather is nearly perfect; school is out, Daylight Savings Time is there to improve the NYE party; it’s a good time for another holiday and a day off work. Barbecue is fine; drinks around the pool are refreshing; and the pool is there even for the non–liquor–challenged.

No, the year does not have to start on the first day of some month. It can start when we say it starts; and I say it starts on June 15. If you agree – and I am sure you do – please indicate your interest in joining my petition. I’m not clear about exactly how you do that but have confidence you will let me know. I also am not clear about who, if anyone, will be in a position to act on our petition but hope to figure that out next year, whenever that starts.

ShapeUp


Are you old enough to remember Ozzy and Harriet? If so, you will recall that only the children argued and then only in the most considerate and polite way. Everyone was thoughtful and, well, nice.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just think about how well you think other families get along with each other when they get together for a summer barbecue or a winter holiday. If you think they get along great or at least better than your family does, you have bought into what we might call the Ozzy and Harriet syndrome.

If that doesn’t work for you, take your imagination along with you to work. Picture a workplace where everyone is positive and in an up mood all the time. You and your coworkers are always thoughtful, considerate and, well, nice. It’s always a pleasure to go to work and a joy to spend time with your coworkers.

If you are still struggling to get up to speed with all of this, focus on your relationship with your parents, your significant other, your children, your friends or maybe even your neighbors. It’s an Ozzy and Harriet world. Everyone gets along just fine with everyone else and that is especially true for you. You are always easy to get along with and are a joy to be around. Ozzy and Harriet could have picked up some being nice pointers from you.

Alas, it’s not an Ozzy and Harriet world, at least not in any world I know about. I doubt that it’s an Ozzy and Harriet world in any world you know about either.

Let me ask you this. In situations from coworkers to neighbors, from children to siblings, what do you want to change? What would it take to turn each situation into that Ozzy and Harriet world we all secretly think may actually be possible?

If you aren’t sure what it would take, I definitely know the answer. Everything would be much improved if my coworkers would just be more cooperative, if my children would just be less childish, if my neighbors would just be more neighborly, if my friends would just be more considerate, and if everyone would just shape up and get with the program, my program of course.

What do you think? Would that work for you too – with your program instead of mine of course?

You are probably thinking that I’m going to be giving you some advice now. It would likely have something to do with you being more thoughtful, considerate and patient with other people. Perhaps it would include the caution not to be too reactive or quick to criticize. It might even include a few tips about how not to get pulled into conflicts or controversy. I’ll bet it would definitely include the advice my mother gave me to mind my own business and not to stick my nose into other peoples’ business. As she like to put it, “It’s a full time job just taking care of yourself.”

No, I don’t think so. Not this time. I’m going to give you some advice but not the useless advice you are expecting. Since I have no intention to shape up and get with your program, I think your best choice is to shape up and get with mine.

Now you know, so there you go.

APointToBlogging


What should be the focus of a blog? I suppose a pole might be appropriate but you need to know what questions to ask before you can make a pole and then there is the tricky issue of whether anyone would be interested enough to respond to the pole. Another possibility is to just start free–associating which appears to be the technique of choice for many bloggers. For me, the most interesting aspect of the question relates to a more basic curiosity. What are blogs and is there actually any point to them?

Based on a quick look at a hundred blogs, the true nature of the medium is certainly not obvious to me. I’m reminded of way back there when CB radios were the big thing. Of course, a few folks did talk with each other about things they really wanted to discuss but for the most part, the CB world divided into talkers and listeners. Hours were spent by talkers trying to find someone, anyone, who would “come back” and at least give the impression of listening. Once the connection was established, the motor–mouth would talk. The listener was only required to respond enough to let the talker know someone was still listening. For the best talkers, even that little bit of feedback was not necessary. A blog is sort of like a CB radio for talkers and whether anyone is listening doesn’t seem to matter much.

Blogs are also a bit like personal diaries. It used to be that your diary was a very private thing, complete with lock and key. You could enter your most secret thoughts or wonderings and then lock them away. Even if someone might be interested in what you wrote, sharing it was a very big no – no. Maybe talk radio and reality TV have added to making sharing a diary with everyone the cool thing to do. Blogs have become but another way to do just that. At a minimum, some blogs can definitely leave me thinking, “I most assuredly didn’t need to know that.”

On the bright side, many blogs are very interesting and a few are down right fascinating. The variety of content and writing styles are enough to satisfy all but the seriously curiosity challenged and I have seen a couple of blogs that might even get a reaction from people who aren’t interested in anything.

My survey has brought me to the conclusion blogs aren’t anything in particular. Rather, they are the latest iteration of a recurring phenomenon. Technology starts out being used by and available only to the elite. It then gradually is adopted by more and more people and becomes part of the popular culture. Radio evolved to CB radio and now has further evolved to cell phones and mini–movies that can be recorded and instantly transmitted. You can be in Ohio and watch your grandchild smile in Texas. Very cool, don’t you think?

TV has evolved to reality TV and call now to vote for your favorite new singer. TV has and is becoming interactive. The Internet started out only for the intellectually elite and has evolved to shopping, playing games, and who knows what is to come. For now, we have blogs. Anyone with a computer and a tad of knowledge can post his or her diary, opinion, idea, picture, or profound insight for all to see and appreciate or hate or ignore and if the spirit moves, they can even comment and do some blogging of their own on someone else’s blog. For now, I’ll content myself with posting sundry ideas on SundryIdeas.com. Perhaps there need not be a point to it.