The way to cope with traffic — and life

construction and traffic

This is a guest post by my brother Bill.

Last week I drove from San Antonio up to Austin and back to attend a music show. On the way up, there was a 45-minute delay due to construction. At three consecutive points along the access road to the freeway, the entrance ramps were closed. Traffic slowed to a crawl and I thought, “Couldn’t they have done these one at a time instead of all at once?” I began to get frustrated, but then did as I usually do in traffic jams. I thought about the words of the Serenity Prayer’s opening stanza. It was a reminder not to get stressed out over something I could not control. This actually works for me, as I normally do not get anxious in a traffic jam unless it’s going to make me very late for a scheduled event. In this case I had the extra time.

Later I had a second opportunity to use the Serenity Prayer. I was heading to the (new-to-me) concert venue, trying to locate it using the Maps app that came with my new iPhone. Maps turned out to be very ineffective, giving wrong directions and distances. Again, contemplating the ideas in the Serenity Prayer, I was able to calm down somewhat, although not as well as during the traffic jam. This time there was a risk I would miss the start of the concert. (Fortunately I did not, as it began 20 minutes late.)

The concepts in the Serenity Prayer are simple yet profound. Regardless of one’s religious preferences, they can have value. Here is the opening stanza.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

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The value of retro

Crosley turntablesOld things can be good. And sometimes twenty-somethings recognize that.

Heather and I went to a folk music concert. The 27-year-old songwriter told of how he was so proud to have his latest recording on vinyl. Cassettes killed vinyl about 15 years before he was born. And yet vinyl records have made a comeback.

I took this photo in Urban Outfitters, a store that’s so cool I should not be allowed inside. The average customer is about 20 years old. They are not selling anything that plays digital music, as all their customers have smartphones that play digital music.

They are selling record players because there is something warm and friendly about listening to the pops and background noise that is integral to listening to a record. Playing vinyl requires involvement. You can only listen to 25 or 30 minutes of music, and then it’s time to get up to turn the record over (unless you have a record changer). It’s a good exercise to turn the record over. You must decide if you want to hear Side B or put on something completely different. Record album jackets (and sleeves) offer more accessible information than a downloaded PDF. When was the last time you looked at any song’s lyrics? Records often include all the lyrics of the album’s songs. And many purists will tell you that analog sound beats digital, hands down.

What retro thing do you enjoy?

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Think about the box

electrical box artwork in fort collinsI don’t really want you to think about this box. I do want you to think about what it is.

Fort Collins, Colorado is a college town that consistently ranks as one of the USA’s top twenty cities. One of the reasons why it’s such a cool place to live is the city government. They are open to paintings on electrical switch boxes that would otherwise be a boring dull green.

This is a win-win situation. Artists get more visibility for their work. Everyone enjoys seeing color and creativity in unexpected places.

The application of this for you — what are some ways you can bring creativity to what would otherwise be boring? If you can think of a way, share it as a comment so others can be inspired.

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On gadgets

Quote from Cliff KuangI thought this quote was appropriate, since the launch of the newest generation of Apple’s iPhones (the 5C and the 5S) happened earlier this week.

Credit goes to Cliff Kuang, a senior editor with Fast Company magazine. If you haven’t read that magazine, I’d highly recommend it. However, to enjoy it, you should already enjoy new technology, business and rapid developments in culture.

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Review: Lay’s Sriracha

Lay's Sriracha potato chipsIf you like potato chips, live in the USA, appreciate spicy food, and enjoy snacking — go to your local supermarket NOW. These new Lay’s Sriracha flavor potato chips are amazing!

Sriracha is about the hippest hot sauce on the market today. It’s from Thailand, though Lay’s take on the flavor is distinctly American.

This product is available for a limited-time, so unless a lot of people like it, you won’t have long to taste this delight.

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