Lost in translation

thank you card, written weirdly

Most English speakers would read this thank-you card as “TNY-HKO-AOU.”

The designer who created this lovely card was not a mother-tongue English speaker. According to the ever-trustworthy Wikipedia, traditional Chinese scripts were and are written top-to-bottom. (Nowadays, horizontal and vertical both work.)

The designer of this card was a traditional Chinese thinker.

But I have to say, the Santic Garments Weaving Co., Ltd. was very nice to include a thank-you note with the bike shorts I recently got. Bonus… the thank-you card text was bilingual (Mandarin Chinese and English).

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Why no one wants the Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

It’s ugly.

From the perspective of a Denver dweller, where Porsche SUVs are as common as hamburgers, the Tesla Model X is a fairly rare sight.

They got the proportions wrong. It’s like a beautiful Model S that was injected with way too much Play Doh.

The strange “Falcon Wing” doors are way too complicated (and apparently a bit trouble-prone).

Sorry, I’ll pass. (But starting at about $95,000, I don’t have much choice in the matter.)


Photo courtesy of Tesla.

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What is beautiful?

Dandelions are not beautiful. Or that’s what someone decided a while back.

America spends tens of millions of dollars eradicating this lovely flower from their blandly uniform green lawns.

I’m an American. My family doesn’t spend very much getting them out of our lawn, but we do prefer uniform green blandness. (I have been known to pick the little flowers and throw them in the street — not a very effective method for preventing them from returning.)

Apparently, it’s not just an American obsession. They are also considered weeds in England, Australia and Denmark — to name just a few other cultures that categorize them as a nuisance.

Even the post-flower seed blooms are amazing — uniform spheres of light fluffy helicopters, each waiting to be carried by the wind onto a neighbor’s yard. Ikea took inspiration from this stage of the plant to create their Maskros lamp.

The dandelion’s medicinal qualities are so many that one must venture to at least the third page of Google results until it’s possible to find any reference to them being weeds. (The French word is pissenlit.)

But who decided that dandelions are ugly? Maybe it’s the spiky green leaves — when the English word is translated from sort-of French, the word literally means “teeth of lions.”

Or maybe the flowers blooming so fast and growing taller than the grass around them offends people who appreciate consistency and visual homogeneity.

I vote for a law requiring that dandelions will forever be considered beautiful.

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A fork in the road

a fork sitting in the road

I recently came across a literal fork in the road.

It made me think:

  • Did it fall off the back of a pickup, after someone finished their meal and forgot to put up their silverware?
  • Did a villain throw it out their car window to cause tire damage to a random follower’s vehicle?
  • Was it part of an art project, and the artist meant to pick it up a few days later, after it got even more mangled?

What theories do you have about how this fork ended up by the side of a busy road?

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Filling my mind with good

I’ve decided to stop listening to the news.

Another day brings another crazy action by our president or news of a fresh terrorist act.

It was not doing me any good to learn of another bad thing happening.

(I’m not making this a 100% rule… I am willing to learn what’s happening, but I don’t necessarily need to know the details. And part of my job requires me to be on top of what’s up, at least locally.)

Instead, I’m trying to focus on good things:

  • When I ride my bicycle on some local trails, I benefit from the work of trails maintenance people who evened out many of the dips and jolts between concrete slabs. (See photo above.)
  • I live in a town where it’s possible to ride my bike to work.
  • There’s easy access to health care here. My daughter and son were attacked by poison oak recently, and they were able to easily get treatment. We paid cash (no insurance involved), and it was just $40 for each visit.
  • I live in a country where I can visit the church of my choice freely and not worry about government officials arresting me.
  • I have a warm and dry place to live.
  • My family is healthy (now that poison oak is almost history).
  • I have a job that I love.

I could go on. And should.


The idea of focusing on the good is not my own. I give credit to another Paul — see here.

And Austin Kleon agrees.

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Richness that comes with time

We just got back from visiting some old friends in a very remote part of Colorado. Our friends are not “older adults,” as we say in the senior living business, but old friends in the sense of our having known each other for many many years.

I first met them right after I graduated from college. And we have kept in touch since then.

Depth comes with time. We last met up four years ago, but we got right into discussions about heavy stuff that we can’t talk about with most people. We knew that the other person wouldn’t think less of the one sharing, even if we disagreed. (And we agreed on most stuff.)

I’m very thankful for friendships that last.


Photo: Ben scans the horizon from their rooftop. There were no cars and only about three houses visible, even though we could see more than 60 miles.

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We love our pets

The human-animal connection is unlike any other. We understand and interact with our pets at varied levels. On my little chart, dogs are the highest-interacting animals. Dogs also seem to have the ability to experience greater depths and heights of emotion than any other animal.

No one would argue with the idea that goldfish are the least interactive of any pets. (I have yet to hear of anyone making a pet out of a snail.)

I’m a cat lover. Generally, cats can be as smart as dogs. But cats certainly care less about humans than most dogs do. Or at least cats love to give the impression of not caring that a human is around. “What? Oh, sorry, I didn’t see you were there.”

And that’s part of the reason I like cats more than dogs. Our cat can survive without my attention.

As soon as you enter its field of perception, a dog will run over to interact with you — run to you and not walk.

But what if I want to be ignored? That’s not part of a dog’s universe.


Our cat, Floof loves us, even when he’s asleep.

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Just because

crazy mountain bike with car wheels

The human spirit knows no bounds. Or so they say.

Instead, I’d rephrase that idea by saying that human creativity is unlimited. There are infinite combinations of what we crazy humans will put together. Think of snowflakes. They say that every one is different. Likewise, the variety of what humans can create is incredible.

Sometimes that creativity can go the exact opposite of what seems to make sense — and yet turn out to be a wonderful, weird thing.

However, we do love imitation. When Swell water bottles became the thing, huge varieties of imitations quickly hit the market.

I daresay there won’t be hordes of imitators of the idea of mountain bikes with car wheels.

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You are making a bigger difference than you think

I often feel powerless. Life throws situations at me that are bigger than I can handle.

I believe in the power of God to answer prayer. I also understand that he answers not always in the ways that I like nor within my timetable.

But that’s not the point of this post.

I want to encourage you to keep doing good things and to not give up.


During my bike ride to work, I cycle on this sidewalk. The sprinkler system puts a fine mist on the sidewalk (as well as on its intended target — the nearby grass). Notice that a very thin stripe of spray paint stopped the flow of water. Somehow, the sun warmed up the painted stripe and prevented water from crossing over.

We’re like that stripe on the sidewalk. We often feel that we have very little impact on everyday situations and the people who are part of our lives.

But you never know. You may be affecting the flow of water in their lives — not preventing it — but rather making it flow to better places.

So keep on doing good things.

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Going to extremes

mount cameron in colorado

We all need to push ourselves to extremes. It’s healthy and necessary to survive.

  • Moderation is key, of course. If you look at any professional sports player, you will see the results of pushing bodies to extremes: boxing can result in severe brain damage; ballet can result in crippled feet; football can produce the early onset of arthritis. But if artists and athletes didn’t go to extremes, it would be a seriously boring world.
  • Pushing our boundaries increases our capacity.
  • The intensity of life on the edge is usually more exciting than living in the center.
  • Extremes can help us appreciate a normal peaceful life. When I camped among the Maasai for six weeks in a remote part of Kenya, visiting the closest town to have a cold Coke made it the most delicious sugary beverage I’ve ever enjoyed. (We were camping without electricity and no stores of any kind within an hour’s journey.)
  • We need rest and contrast. If we live on the edge at all times, the extreme becomes the norm and it’s hard to do the life that most of us need to live… not everyone can be a Ferrari factory test driver.

 


I took the photo near the top of Mount Democrat, in Colorado. It was actually a very warm day — towards the end of the summit hike, we were in shorts and t-shirts. Everywhere the trail crossed over the snow, it was beaten down enough that crampons were not needed.

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