Not everyone

rhythm-discovery-centerWe all love to make assumptions.

When we are at a busy intersection and see someone holding a sign asking for money, we assume they lack employment and a solid place to live.

When we see an older person in a car going 20 m.p.h. below the speed limit, we assume they are challenged in all that by takes to manage a 4,000-pound vehicle.

When we hear someone singing next to us and they can’t carry a tune, we assume — well, what do we assume?

I can definitely carry a tune — I’m close to having perfect pitch. However, I cannot carry a beat, for the life of me.

One of the most challenging aspects of living in Africa for five years was dancing in church. (Dancing is part of worship in Kenya, at least in many of the churches we attended.)

Since I can’t carry a beat, I can’t dance. I can’t clap and sing at the same time.

So the Rhythm Discovery Center is not the place for me. And I disagree — not everyone has rhythm.

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Can you change a culture?

ad for face masksAny kind of growth for a company or large body of people happens because of culture change. It takes a healthy dose of optimism to start a culture change.

Take MyAir Mask. I stumbled across an ad for surgical masks with printed designs in New York magazine. Their manufacturer would love it if these masks could become part of America’s publicly acceptable sense of style.

The ad touted the masks’ many benefits, including preventing a loss of moisture that is supposed to lessen jet lag. And there is the obvious benefit of preventing airborne infection.

But I just don’t see the USA adopting this sensible fashion accessory.

Though wearing face masks in public is very acceptable in China, Americans are too conscious of wanting to be seen and not have their smiles hidden, even if it means an increased risk of getting a cold.

My optimism would not stretch as far as taking that company on as a client. Would yours?

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The lost bet

100-dollarsDuring my last year of college, I made a bet with my roommate, Brian Wells. I bet him $100 that within ten years, I would be more into classical music than rock music.

After ten years, my tastes had not shifted. I still listened to way more rock music than classical.

That’s the only bet involving money that I’ve ever made.

That wager came out of my growing love for classical music. My design degree meant many long late nights working on assignments that didn’t require brain engagement. Listening to records with headphones took some of the tedium out of my all-nighters. For the sake of variety, I listened to the widest selection of music that my budget would allow.

One month, my university had a record sale at the student center. I picked up two records that I quickly fell in love with — Mozart’s 40th & 41st symphonies and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

I listened to both records enough that I memorized every musical phrase. And I spun the Four Seasons so many times that I cannot listen to it today.

Mozart’s 40th Symphony contains the highest form of musical expression I have ever heard — the slow-moving Andante movement. The string section comes in slow and builds to a peak of energy that brings tears to my eyes.

Because of my deep love for that piece, I thought that my tastes would shift to embrace more classical than rock.

Alas, the easy accessibility of rock has maintained the lion’s share of my attention — compared to the more complicated and longer classical works. (Think steak vs. candy.)

My tastes still span the gamut of all but mainstream music. But there are parts of every genre that I hate with a very deep passion. Today, the vast majority of my listening time is devoted to quirky alternative rock. There’s always something interesting and new to be found.

Brian never collected his $100. I lost touch with him after he experienced significant painful life events. If you know where Brian is, tell him to give me a shout.

I’d love to pay up.

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Once the finest

Deusenberg was the finest car made. But the car’s manufacturer folded in 1937, due to the Great Depression and a lack of demand for luxury automobiles. (See the full story.)

When you compare this beautiful Deusenberg with the modern Tesla P100D, there is a vast chasm. Both have four wheels and both will get you from Point A to Point B — but the Tesla is faster, more efficient, quieter, roomier — and even self-driving.

We have come a long way in eighty years.

The reason for this little story is to remind me — and you — that there is always room for improvement. What we think is the very finest will soon be superseded by something else that represents a massive leap in functionality and illustrates a whole new form of beauty.

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Your hobby has become a job

AURORA is a young musician from Norway. She’s kind of a modern Enya.

NPR’s Bob Boilen recently interviewed AURORA. She had a very wise thing to say while talking about the life of an artist or musician… when your hobby becomes your job, it can be both a blessing and a curse.

That immediately reminded me of my short career as a radio DJ. Every Friday morning, I played three solid hours of my very favorite tunes. Occasionally, I had to cover the next DJ’s shift, which meant six solid hours of my favorite tunes. By the end of those sorts of shifts, I didn’t want to hear any music for the next several days.

I’ve always loved music, but too much of a good thing can be more than a boy can handle.

So I never made music my career.

Similarly, I love cars. But selling them for a living would take the joy out of it.

What’s the thing you loved and never made your career?

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Non-obvious content

I love the phrase, “Non-obvious content.”

Gina Pell and Amy Parker are the ladies behind TheWhat, a website and email with curated content that has more feminity than I can digest in one sitting. But they think outside the box. I love that. And they’re behind the phrase “non-obvious content.”

Striving to think outside the box motivates a lot of what I do. I love to reveal tiny things that most people miss in their daily lives. But of course, what I find interesting is not always what you find interesting. Such is the nature of personal taste.

It’s always exciting to find another person who appreciates an obscure thing that you enjoy. It’s thrilling to discover something new and fresh. And it’s more thrilling to share that with someone.

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Inbox 38,000

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-5-38-12-pmWhy do I have so many emails in my personal inbox?

  • It’s easier to search for something in the pile than trying to process every email when it comes in.
  • Finding an email using search forces me to be creative in what search terms I use — I must use a unique search term to find the email I’m looking for.
  • I’m lazy. It would take too much time and mental energy to ruthlessly file away semi-important incoming emails into the correct folder or take the time to figure out if I should take action now or later on them.

Like most of us, I am a man of contrasts. I don’t believe in eating up too much space on server farms. So I do several things to keep my email account from hitting Google’s free-cloud limit. (Currently, I’m at 33%.) Here are those actions:

  • I go back to old emails and delete the ones with attachments. (Those are the space hogs.)
  • Occasionally, I go back to the beginning of time and delete a few pages of emails, without taking too much time to figure out if they have value.
  • I am ruthless about deleting incoming emails that I see no immediate need to keep. (This is a more recent habit — otherwise, the inbox number would be lower.)

What’s your personal inbox number?

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I am thankful

Trader Joe’s is in Colorado. I’m thankful. They’ve been with us for a while now (two or three years), and they are a mighty fine store.

Decent value pricing, often healthy ingredients, a wide variety of flavors not available at the big chain supermarkets — and tasty food.

Even though I’m an anti-junk mail person, I love their flyers. Creative writing abounds. And they are effective — I often buy stuff as a result. One time I even cut out the little built-in shopping list and checked the stuff I wanted and bought most of the items the next time I was in the store.

The only thing about Trader Joe’s I’m happy/sad about is that there is one on my way home from work… it’s all too easy to make a detour and buy little snacks I really don’t need.


Take time to be thankful today for something in your life. It worked for me. (I was going to write a complainy blog post — but I listened to my own blog post from last week, Positive.)

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Positive

We’re surrounded by so much negativity, particularly in this election season.

I’m making a conscious effort to get rid of negativity in my own life by turning around my attitudes. It’s all too easy to immediately jump to the thing that’s wrong with something or someone — rather than focusing on the larger portion that is positive, clean, helpful and good-intentioned.

Focusing on the negative side only makes me someone that is no fun to be around. And it greatly cuts into my enjoyment of life.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (from here).

 

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The plague of hold music

Customer service means waiting on hold.

Waiting on hold means listening to pop music. Or a loop of the same weird song, over and over and over.

Customer service should mean choices. I should be able to press “1” if I want to hear nothing but a message every minute or so saying, “You are still on hold. We are waiting for a representative to become available.”


And then there’s: “Please listen carefully, as our options have recently changed.” But we all know they changed the options five years ago! Customer service directors should understand that playing that message is a reflection of their being asleep at the wheel.

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