Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blogger Test

How much of our information is out in the cloud?
All of it?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Amateur's Renaissance

Sorry about the lapse in time. Dan Pink says I should write 500 words a day before I do anything else. Unfortunately, I am not a professional writer at this time.

And here is the response: So, instead of beating myself up about how much time I have missed and how few words I have written since December, I am working on a new habit. The action I choose to cultivate is self-forgiveness and living in the now. This attitude, if I can do it, is step one of the Amateur's Renaissance.

The second step is to enjoy being non-World-Class as a number of things. Rather than self-loathing at supposed weakness, how about collecting topical acquaintances? The Rebirth of the Notion that being an Amateur is okay, and, perhaps, even better for making interpersonal connections.

Step three, which is as far as I have gotten in my thinking, is that we are at our best when we are learning, not necessarily when we have mastered, something (if mastery ever truly comes). The memory I have created of my time in college and grad school, sanitized by selective discarding of the negative over time, has become one of my favorites. I think that is because classes encouraged us to revel in the amateur status granted by a semester or two of familiarity. It gave us stuff to talk about, a common vocabulary.

So, revel in the new and non-mastered! Become a part-time Bob DaVinci or Joe Einstein. Your more-famous cousins simply reveled in what they knew to be true: joyful, communal amateur status is much more rewarding than singular, and often grumpy, mastery.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kitchen Photos - First Week

Here are an assortment.

Cabinets before:

Cabinets (or not) after:

Backside of the tray ceiling in the Dining Room. So, that's how they did curved ceilings in 1931.

Living Room Wall (before):

Now, a hole where the wall used to be:

Kitchen Project - The Beginning

A serious kitchen remodel begins with demolition on Monday.
There is a lot of packing of cabinets into boxes and moving of kitchen stuff.
It's like moving out.
We will be without a kitchen for 8-10 weeks.
I resist spending money, most of the time, but I am sure that this update will be excellent, like the upstairs project was some years back.
Other current events: Finished reading Kevin Roose's Unlikely Disciple, a story of a Brown student's semester at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, undercover. Recommended.
I will be teaching a short (2 Sunday) class in January on the Dead Sea Scrolls. A selection of them are coming to the Milwaukee Public Museum, and a little orientation never hurt anyone.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quite a Week of Outages (of all kinds)

I am not complaining. More than anything, this is a way for me to list off what is going on so I can prioritize. But I figured that some or all of the items might be of interest.

Okay, so. One, S. discovered that the brakes on the Insight had failed. Luckily, she was in the driveway. Like a goofus, she did drive it to the dealership without incident (the stones of Indiana Jones, that one). Now we wait for the part to be shipped from Japan. Ugh! Two, my step-father, V. had a massive heart attack and is in intensive care in the Quads. I am driving down to support Mom and to visit him. Three, huge hardware issue at my work (my area of management). Cause yet unknown, and impact is contained, but it continues not to be good. Four, yesterday morning, I got to experience my first oracular migraine. If you don't know what that is, good for you. The short version is that it is a migraine headache focused in the visual center of the brain, causing one or both eyes to experience strange behaviors. The ophthalmologist checked the retina, and it looks fine. So, take two aspirins and call me if it happens again. [Side note - playing tennis with dilated eyes is not funny in the slightest.]

So, what have we learned? Feel blessed when disasters decide only to brush up against you, rather than knock you out. Remember that some people aren't so lucky, and support them as best you can.

As a side note, as a result of a mention on a Twit RSS feed, I am reading Jean Baudrillard's Transparency of Evil. It is awesome. We are, indeed, in a time when the systems we have created tend to train us and discipline us more than we control them. For example, some think that we use computers. Not exactly. Our behaviors bend (operant conditioning) to the rules in the programs as much as we customize the programs for our use. We gain skill in 'mousing.' We learn 'short cuts.' And are rewarded. Our skills at spelling and mathematics atrophy, increasing our dependence on the machines for basic functioning. Do machines help us become better humans, or lazier humans?

It's been that kind of week for me. Perhaps lighter fare another time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

McEnroe is 50

Growing up a left-handed tennis player in the 80s, there was only one person to emulate - Johnny Mac. And I did. To this day, the hours of volleys in the grass (because why would you ever let the ball bounce?) have left me awkward from the baseline and automatic at net. I caught a glimpse of Johnny Mac playing a team tennis match (with kids 30 years younger than him) and got chills on one point where he volleyed an impossibly hard and low forehand so that is travelled exactly 90 degrees from the inbound trajectory, skimmed the net, and practically hit the judge's chair (which is inline with the net). Physics and gravity be damned, so it seemed and still seems. As they say, the greatest men's doubles team (before the Bryans) is John McEnroe and anyone else. Childlike reverence for an unlikely hero.
So, I have gravitated to doubles, naturally. My mixed partner, L, and I won two matches at the state tournament, one an improbable come-from-behind. One of the best moments of the summer came at the end of the comeback win, after shaking hands with the opponents, when my partner and I just looked at each other and smiled those tight, 'probably-shouldn't-shout-for-joy-just-now' smiles. I don't get to visit 'the Zone' often, but I did that day, and it is critical to have an activity that transports you. Thanks, Johnny Mac. All that practice pays off.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Government Inspector by Gogol

We just saw this production at the Milwaukee Rep.
When a play is good, it is easy to say that there was a fortunate alignment of good acting, good writing, good directing, and magic.
When a play is bad, it is sometimes hard to pinpoint which of those elements is out-of-sync. Each intensifies the other, like a resonance eventually tears a motor apart.
Or, perhaps, it was the historical moment. In the nineteenth century, one relied on the occasional farce and slapstick for amusement. One could not reach into the over-stuffed DVD supply or cable channels and pluck out any number of light situation comedies. But now, with the abundance of witty word play and hilarious two-dimensional characters, The Government Inspector did not satisfy me. Unfortunately for live theatre, I have come to expect more depth and innovation, more philosophical and emotional depth of the live-ness.
And, yet, my very dissatisfaction is interesting. What is theatre to me? What do I really expect? Is laughter not enough? Is philosophy and intellectual reflection the only reason to go to plays? Isn't 'being entertained' enough... sometimes?
Perhaps I am too much in my brain and not enough in my heart or belly.