Something fun

bathtub soap holderLife is short. I am happy this time to focus on some­thing fun...

Cre­ativ­ity.

How great to have a soap dish like a lit­tle bath­tub! The cre­ator sim­ply took some­thing out of con­text — a soap dish — and made it into some­thing related but entirely dif­fer­ent than normal.

May we all be infused with a bit of fun cre­ativ­ity today.

Full disclosure

sunsetI always feel a ten­sion about how much is appro­pri­ate to share. If I lean toward the vul­ner­a­ble side, my expe­ri­ences may res­onate with some of my read­ers in a deeper way than oth­er­wise pos­si­ble. If I lean toward the sur­face level, I won’t alien­ate any­one. And how much dis­clo­sure is too much?

I’ve been strug­gling with how to share a sig­nif­i­cant life event. Last week, my mother-in-law died after a long strug­gle with many ill­nesses. Her release from a body that was not work­ing any­where close to what it did ear­lier in life was a bless­ing to her and oth­ers. But we greatly miss her — the woman we remem­ber who was funny, lov­ing, nur­tur­ing and much more. How can any­one sum up the life of another in a few short words?

I was the first to visit her room at the hos­pice. I saw her frail form lying with her hands folded, hold­ing a pink rose. I walked to the lobby to wait for her hus­band to come. Then we went to her room together and cried. I cry, even writ­ing this.

Life is a bless­ing. Love those around you today.

Blind

blurred image - what a partially blind person might seeWhat’s it like to be blind? Those with sight can never know. Those who lost their sight later in life have dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions than those born blind, as they retain mem­o­ries of what the world looks like.

The per­cep­tions of a blind per­son must be totally dif­fer­ent than the per­cep­tions of a sighted per­son. Tem­per­a­ture changes and smells are much more impor­tant, I would guess. See­ing peo­ple can never know what a song is like to a blind per­son. I imag­ine that a richer and deeper set of col­ors accom­pany the mood of a piece of music.

But we are all blind. Another Paul said this (https://www NULL.bible­gate­way NULL.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13%3A12&version=NLT): “Now we see things imper­fectly, like puz­zling reflec­tions in a mir­ror.” They say humans only use about 5% of their brains (or some­thing like that). Maybe a deaf per­son uses 10% of the visual part of their brain, and a blind per­son uses 10% of the audi­tory part of their brain — and a per­son with sight and hear­ing only uses 5% of every part. Every­one uses dif­fer­ent lev­els of each sense. We all have our strengths and weak­nesses. Our strengths and weak­nesses open us up to dif­fer­ent vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties — and abilities.

If you are blind and read­ing this, I’d love your reflec­tions on the topic.

Insulated and isolated

moving houseOur new neigh­bors moved in. They used a large Penske rental truck that they drove from a dis­tant city.

Some­how I thought of vil­lagers hav­ing to move their worldly pos­ses­sions due to war. Every­thing they have is car­ried on their backs or loaded on a cart pulled by a don­key. What a con­trast to life in America.

I live such an insu­lated life here. If I don’t visit web­sites to read and see what’s going on in other parts of the world, I am bliss­fully unaware. And even if I do see what’s hap­pen­ing, I become desen­si­tized to the pain and suf­fer­ing. There’s so much of it.

What can I do? I could give. I could down­size my pos­ses­sions, so I don’t feel guilty about hav­ing so much. I could go over­seas to try to help. I can pray for those who are hurt­ing. I’ve done all those things, but it still does not seem to be enough.

Does the fam­ily mov­ing their pos­ses­sions on their backs feel less guilt than I? It’s hard to say. Do they feel more pain? Yes.

Where am I going with this post? I don’t know. Maybe just shar­ing the pain will help a little.

The photo of the refugees was taken by Julien Harneis (https://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/julien_harneis/3009852745/) and is used under a Cre­ative Com­mons license. If you click on his name, you can read a lit­tle of his story, which took place in the Demo­c­ra­tic Repub­lic of Congo in 2008.

Foot­note: A good friend is going to the mid­dle east to make a dif­fer­ence. You can give to help her efforts. Among other things, she will be teach­ing zumba classes in the West Bank. Visit her site (http://beirutandbeyond NULL.org/).

One way to save millions of dollars

ford-lotAbout once a week for about a year, I rode my bicy­cle past this com­pletely full car lot. All these cars can­not even be seen by the pub­lic from the dealership’s already ample lot. This is an over­flow lot on a side street.

There are two rea­sons why this deal­er­ship has about $3,000,000 worth of trucks and cars con­stantly sit­ting in that lot: 1) They want buy­ers to be able to buy a pur­ple model with or with­out a sun­roof today and not go to another deal­er­ship; and 2) Ford essen­tially requires them to keep that much inven­tory through var­i­ous arcane regulations.

Europe is not that way. You may have to sched­ule an appoint­ment three days in advance to test drive the car you are con­sid­er­ing. But that’s the sys­tem, and peo­ple are used to it.

One sys­tem is built upon instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion. The other sys­tem is built on high real estate values.

All I know is that this kind of Amer­i­can excess breaks my heart.

I took about 20 pho­tos of this lot under var­i­ous light­ing con­di­tions. Maybe some­day I’ll cre­ate wall­pa­per or some­thing with those pictures.

I quit Foursquare

swarm app download request screen shotFoursquare was fun, while it lasted. I checked in at inter­est­ing places I vis­ited and shared those with some of my social media friends. I enjoyed see­ing where they checked in too. It was great to not use Face­book for that, as I never want to over­whelm any social media chan­nel with too much stuff about me.

Then Foursquare switched things up. Now it’s just a plat­form for adver­tis­ing. (Google Maps already allows me to look for busi­nesses quite well, thank you.) Foursquare forced any­one who wanted to keep check­ing in to down­load a new app called Swarm. Not me.

This is a per­fect exam­ple of bad fric­tion. Good fric­tion is when some­thing is a chal­lenge and you dive in. Bad fric­tion is when some­thing hap­pens that breaks the camel’s back.

On hoarding, part 9

For once, I will come out in favor of hoard­ing — as long as it’s in some­one else’s attic.

The Hill Top Gen­eral Store (http://www NULL.col­oradodi­rec­tory NULL.com/hilltop/) in Red Feather Lakes, Col­orado, is a very hum­ble museum. They have every­thing from col­lec­tions of old tools, a room of vinyl records (includ­ing the songs of Ste­vie Won­der, as per­formed by the Motor City Rollers), a gath­er­ing of toy ponies, to a small group of Elvis mem­o­ra­balia. And there’s much more, held in a fairly small col­lec­tion of rooms.

You can mouse-over or click on each image to see it larger.

I’m glad this place exists. Many peo­ple would enter the door and promptly turn around to leave. But I savored every moment of brows­ing (and photo-gathering). How won­der­ful that this room of records exists, even though no one will ever lis­ten to them again. I applaud the cre­ativ­ity of Ms. Hill Top, as she care­fully arranged the ponies on a shelf behind a paint­ing that the ponies would love to wan­der into.

Thirty years from now, all of this may be in a land fill. But I am glad that my daugh­ter and I had the oppor­tu­nity to visit this eclec­tic land­mark. (The rest of my fam­ily also vis­ited, but their enjoy­ment level was not quite the same.)

(“Part 9″ is sim­ply an esti­mate. I don’t know how many posts I’ve writ­ten actu­ally relate to the topic. You can see at least some of those posts here and here (http://mypartofcolorado NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2007/08/that-collector-gene NULL.html).)

TL-DNR

too-much-talkTL-DNR = “Too Long; Did Not Read.”

This is a phrase that I wish more peo­ple would grasp. Few are able to write a good blog post that is fewer than 100 words. Even more crit­i­cal than brevity is the abil­ity to cap­ture the reader’s atten­tion. Our world is so frac­tured into spe­cial inter­ests that very few blogs can cap­ture the inter­est of wide audiences.

Faith­ful read­ers of this hum­ble blog are few, because I know­ingly write about almost any­thing and every­thing. If I wanted to focus, I could grab more read­ers, but mak­ing money from this blog is not my goal. I only desire to con­nect with a few peo­ple at a deeper than sur­face level: “I totally agree with you!” Or, “You are com­pletely off-base, but I can now under­stand why you feel that way.”

Shiny Bits of Life are often small things that are insignif­i­cant to most peo­ple. I love uncov­er­ing the obscure and bring­ing it to life for the few who enjoy the same.

Thanks for join­ing me on the ride.

Memories of pizza

Pizza - courtesy of Sebastian Mary (https://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/giovannijl-s_photohut/)Mario’s served my favorite pizza. High school was a long time ago, but that restau­rant (http://www NULL.mar­ioslex­ing­ton NULL.com/pizza NULL.htm) in Lex­ing­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts still lingers in my mem­ory. Their thin crust had a light dust­ing of flour. The tomato sauce was the per­fect blend of spicy and sweet. The cheese must have been real moz­zarella. I am not sure if I ever met Mario — he may have even been Greek.  But the large Ital­ian pop­u­la­tion of Boston def­i­nitely had their influ­ence on that venue’s offerings.

What restau­rant stands out in your memory?

When fantasy does not work

yellow ferrari 458When I was a teenage boy, my peers had posters of the Lam­borgh­ini Coun­tach (http://www NULL.clas­si­can­d­per­for­mance­car NULL.com/front_website/octane_interact/modelpicture NULL.php?id=8098) on their bed­room walls. I had a poster of Eddy Mer­ckx (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Eddy_Merckx) win­ning the Tour de France on a Gitane bicycle.

Lam­borgh­i­nis and Fer­raris have long been the desire of count­less men (and fewer women) world­wide. If you want to buy a new Fer­rari, there is an 18-month wait­ing list (http://www NULL.motorauthor­ity NULL.com/news/1059699_ferrari-customers-buy-first-available-model-to-avoid-waiting-list-then-trade-in), even if you have the money!

But such cars are not the objects of my fan­tasy. They don’t appeal to me as much as the new Honda Fit (http://automobiles NULL.honda NULL.com/fit/). Why? The Fit is attain­able. In my wildest dreams, I will never have enough funds to own or lease an Ital­ian super­car. Even if my income increased dra­mat­i­cally, it would take a mas­sive shift in my per­sonal world­view to allow spend­ing that kind of money on pure fun.

Like last week’s post, I do appre­ci­ate the art of such beau­ti­ful machines. And nor­mal cars ben­e­fit from the boundary-stretching work that goes into the cre­ators of super­cars push­ing the edges of auto­mo­tive performance.

I find beauty in the sim­ple func­tion­al­ity and effi­ciency of the Honda Fit. “Doing more with less” describes how the Fit goes about its mis­sion. And it’s fun to drive, as well!

I shot this Fer­rari 458 at “my” local Fer­rari dealer.