Graffiti good and bad

As I’ve said before, I love graffiti.

In Paris, I saw both the good and the bad. I think the left example is bad. A really picturesque neighborhood was hurt by that personal expression. (And interestingly, it was about six stories above street level, so very few people see it.)

The poster, however, had very creatively applied graffiti.

What are some examples of good and bad graffiti you’ve seen?


Focus on the majors

Two of my kids are wearing braces. They use these little rubber bands. Those bands end up all over the house. The car. The driveway.

It drives me crazy, as I’m related to Monk. So I could whine about that to my sons. Or demand that they pick them up and dispose of them. (I’ve done both.)

Or I could let it drop.

I’ve tried to change their behavior on this. No luck. I realized that I needed to step back and spend my critical energy on things that are far more important. They can only take in so much criticism, so I need to use it wisely.

Even if you’re not a parent, you can apply this to just about any relationship. Go forth and do so.

And you have to really look carefully at the photo to see just how small the rubber band is (5 mm or .2″.)


Living in Alaska

This is a guest post from Barb Moody, who moved to Alaska last year with her husband and three of their four kids. (Their oldest is continuing his college experience in Illinois.) The photo is two of their sons, taken in October 2010.

The learning curve for the Moody’s has been a vertical line since moving to Fairbanks, AK last October. Change is too small of a word to describe what we’ve seen, learned, tasted, felt, smelled, and embraced. Here are a few of the new things in our lives:

A Dry Cold really isn’t bad. Fairbanks is dry, much like Denver, Colorado. When the thermometer dipped below zero (f), which is most of the winter and a few weeks into Spring, we were amazed how “warm” (okay, relatively) it felt. Late fall, temperatures hovers around 0-25. Come December, -20 is the norm. With the occasional warm spell (above zero) we are putting away the coats and just wearing the fleeces. Your body adjusts. Quickly. Now I can’t say the same for other parts of Alaska. Anchorage is on the coast and their cold is icy cold.

Alaskans are crazy for hunting, fishing, skiing, mushing, biking, snow-machining and dogs – mostly out of necessity. Hunting, fishing and gardening are a must because food is so darn expensive. A gallon of milk in Barrow is $11.50! The outdoor activities are a must so you survive the winter – cold and darkness can get you down if you don’t get your endorphins moving.

Alaskans are tough and self-sufficient. I’ll close with a story a gal told me about her first few months up here. She was living in a dry cabin (no plumbing, but heated). She tended bar and after closing she planned to bunk in the bar because she forgot to get heating oil. She mentioned this to some bar patrons. She went home the next day and found her cabin warm and oil in her tank. That night she thanked the regulars, knowing it was their kindness which came to her rescue. They hemmed and hawed yet explained, “If someone’s in need you help, someone will be there because next time it may be you that needs a hand. Always be ready to pay it forward.” But don’t take it for advantage. Alaskans are quick to say, “If you can’t take it, you can leave.” That’s the Alaskan way.


The beauty of zoom

Sidewalk cafe in Paris (copyright Paul Merrill)I could have never gotten this photo with my previous camera. This Sony has a 10x optical zoom. Great for getting closer than I would otherwise.

(Sidewalk cafes, during an evening in Paris.)


Health in France

As we were wandering around Paris, my daughter noticed that a lot of people smoked.

Wikipedia says that France is number ten in the world for life expectancy. The US is number thirty-six.

My guess why is that French people walk more places than Americans. And the red wine and slower pace of life don’t hurt either. The US is number one for obesity. France is number twenty-three.


Better in each place

We just got back from a family vacation to Europe. Lest you think we are extravagant jet-setters, we went to see my sister who lives in Belgium. And since our oldest is about a year from leaving the nest, this may be our last family vacation for a long time.

Visiting another country spotlights things that are different. In England, school uniforms are common. Advantage? Kids don’t need to spend a lot to look cool. Disadvantage? Kids aren’t able to show their individuality.

It’s like that with just about every area of life. Cars? I love European. Homes? I love the increased space that American homes have for similar money.

So remember when you start to criticize another place – your home isn’t perfect. And if you haven’t traveled to another country, take the opportunity to do so. (USA people? Even Canada and Mexico are worth the hike.)


Relic of the past

This motorcycle was made in about 1970 by a German company, Mammoth. When I was a kid, I got the book, Motorcycles: Classics and Thoroughbreds. This lovely machine graced the cover. I love how it’s so ugly that it almost becomes beautiful.

From age three, I was into anything that had wheels. I still am. (Some things never change.)

I always thought it would be great fun to have a motorcycle. However, roughly half a lifetime ago, I decided the potential for losing my life or becoming disabled wasn’t worth the risk. Then my good friend Gary’s accident confirmed this decision.

So I’ll stick with my Lotus. (I wish.)


Think differently and add excitement

Yes, you’ve heard me say this concept before, many times. But I think it’s vital to add excitement to whatever you are doing.

I took this photo at the W Hotel in Austin, Texas. The supreme tour guide Sheila Scarborough was giving me a tour of downtown Austin, Texas, and we popped into W. (It’s named that way since it’s part of the Westin/Sheraton Hotel Group – not after a former president.)

Everywhere we turned, there was an exciting detail to catch. Nothing was left “normal.”

Admittedly, it’s hard to give that much attention to all you do. But choose something today to add spice to. It will make your life more interesting – and also the lives of those your “something” touches.


We are connected

About the time you read this, I will have just left my European sister… we visited Amy and her family in their now native Belgium.

I love her. We get along well. We have had our times of differences, but for the most part now we truly enjoy each other. It is a bit heart-breaking that we live so far apart.

Anyhow, this artwork is from the outside of a package she sent. She re-used a package our mom sent her. (Mom died around two years ago.) Amy can make art out of almost anything.