My HOWie pal Aaron Draplin (of Draplin Design and Field Notes) will be in town today. He's giving a talk at Screenland; here's the details. Michael Gaughan did the artwork here. kudos to him for capturing Aaron.
A couple of years ago, Aaron came to Kansas City to judge a design competition, along with Connie Birdsall, and a guy whose name temporarily escapes me; I was their transportation. They uncomplainingly put up with my POS 1997 Toyota Camry. When I finally traded it shortly after being their taxi, it had 258,000 miles on it. But that's another story. Back to Aaron.
His talk was Tall Tales from a Large Man, I think. A great talk that showcased not only his talent, but his humbleness. So often, that humbleness just isn't there—speakers believe the pedestal they're standing on. But not Aaron. When you speak to him, that's really HIM. Great guy; great talks.
I also caught a ballgame with him and a slew of other HOWies in Boston during last year's HOW Conference. Hot as blazes, but fun as hell.
I'm going to see Aaron, not only because he's a peach, but because if I were coming halfway across the country, I'd want all the other HOWies in the area to make the short drive to come say hello to me. And give me a hug. Hugs are awesome.
So, I'm off! Happy Saturday!
Thanks for reading,
Hi, my name is Cami, and I'm a Boggle addict. I think it's become a problem. But not the problem you might think.
The problem is finding someone to play Boggle with me! Darling Husband grudgingly agreed to play a few games with me tonight. (I think it's because he has a fever; he's not right in the head.) I won. Again.
Husband can only take so much abuse; he's downstairs with Son now. And I sit and stare at the little letter dice and try to find more words. I can't help it. It's so fun noodling letters out of the chaos.
I've tried playing with Kiddos by giving them all the three-letter words. They don't play with me anymore either.
Husband's pal and all around good guy Barry has been the one opponent who has really given me a run for my money, and I can't wait to play him again.
That's my exciting Friday night. What's your's like?
Thanks for reading,
When you're not eyeballs-deep in a project, or in the flow of a present activity, do you replay old arguments and conversations in your head? According to Marcia Reynolds in this Psychology Today article, your brain is wired to "scan, register, store and recall unpleasant more than positive experiences." She goes on to say that "stress from memories and worries is just as toxic to your body as if the experiences were happening in the moment," and the "thought of a stressful event has the same detrimental effect on the body as the original occurrence."
That explains some people I know whose physical health is a direct reflection of their mental health. I happen to know they are either worriers, or are replaying the past.
Ms. Reynolds has this advice for how you can change your internal dialogue for the better.
TIP #1: Breathe.
No brainer, I know. But taking a minute a few times a day to notice, and then focus on, your breathing is one of meditation's tricks to helping a slew of biological functions.
TIP #2: Identify what your brain is saying to you.
How is this done? You "have a conversation with your brain when the past events or worries show up." What could have been done differently in that past situation? Write that down and consider it done. It's your brain's job to try to protect you from future events. So if it's worry that's choking you, thank your brain, and concentrate on thoughts that are more productive.
TIP #3: Choose your emotions.
I could not agree more! Although it may not seem like it at times, YOU are in charge of your emotions, NOT visa versa. "You are much more creative, productive and fun to be with when you feel happy, amused, grateful, proud, and enthusiastic about the future. Notice what you are feeling and then choose how you want to feel instead. Your thoughts are likely to change as well."
TIP#4: Forgive yourself for being human.
Ever beat yourself up with that past event? It's part of being human. But you must forgive yourself for your imperfections—if you were perfect, you'd be a robot! You're not, so forgive and, by all means, forget about it. If you can laugh about it, even better.
You can improve your health by consciously reducing stressors you can control—like what your brain is replaying or worrying about. Just for today, try these four steps, and let me know how it goes? And a blue bucket of good juju to you in the meantime.
Thanks for reading!
An amazing story about an even more amazing go-getter, a 24-year-old woman named Danielle Fong, is over at wired.com. You might want to check out her blog, too. When her mother, Trudy Fong, recognized Danielle's brilliance and took her out of school at the tender age of 12 (TWELVE!) to have her attend college, she broke "the rules" big time. But Trudy was ok with it, because that's what she herself did at the tender age of 15. Amazing noodles (aka brains) apparently run in the family.
Danielle is now the chief scientist and co-founder of a company called Lightsail Energy. She's focused on storing energy using compressed air. The technology isn't new; it's been around for decades. But her methods have doubled the efficiency. This young woman is someone to keep your eyes on. I think she'll play a big part in changing the landscape of energy.
What I find most amazing is not how smart she is. We hear about people like this all the time. What amazes me is her tenacity. Her unwillingness to give up, even when the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, "turned them away, saying she and her team were unfit to manage a company, that the idea wouldn’t work anyway, and that her air compressor would likely explode." Chutzpah, in spades. Danielle, you have a grey-haired admirer in Kansas who's cheering you on!
"If you have your own resources and have a real effort, it doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks, in its knee-jerk, fight-or-flight response."
I realize we don't all have her IQ (at least I sure as hell don't), but that's only a small part of it. It's the work behind the idea—the effort! What could you attempt, what could you reach for, if you just reached a little further, and gave it a little more effort? Think what you could achieve, just by taking that first step.
Speaking of a first step—that reminds me of a story! When I first started thinking about giving talks, I had some some vague ideas, but never having spoken professionally (I don't count debate or forensics in high school), I really didn't know where to begin. One day, I was standing by an escalator in a crowded food court, waiting on a friend who was meeting me for lunch. I was spacing off, staring at the escalator but not really seeing it. Coming down the escalators was a mom with four young children. Three of the older kids stepped onto the escalator first, then Mom. But the littlest girl stood at the top, unsure what to do. You could see it on her face, she was very afraid. Those were big, moving, metal stairs—with teeth!
About halfway down, Mom noticed Daughter wasn’t coming down. Mom turned around and started walking back up the escalator. But of course, she didn’t get very far—she was walking up a down escalator. She kept saying, “Just take a step. Just take a step. Just take a step.” This entire scenario took just a few seconds.
I had been zoning, only vaguely aware of the family on the escalator. The mom got louder and louder, “Just take a step! Just take a step!!!” It was as if she were speaking directly to me! Oh, ME?! Just take a step? Ok! I took that one first step, gained momentum, and the people around me cheered me on. Who, around you, is already cheering you on, just waiting for you to take that first step? The escalator isn’t going to bite, just take a step!
Thanks for reading!
(pictured from L to R: Marcia, Anthony, Mary Alice, Danny, me, and Carol.)
As you may already know (or are about to find out), one of my families is the Kansas City Irish Fest family. It started with my best friend and I attending the first annual Irish Fest during what felt like a monsoon. Thanks to the people there, it was way more fun than it should have been, and continues to be so almost ten years later.
Naturally, being part of an Irish organization, the Irish Fest family always has an entry in the St. Patrick's Day parade. In past years, the weather has been kind, sunny, even balmy. Alas, not this year. The temp hovered between 33°F and 40°F and alternated between raining, snowing, and sleeting. (Seeing the forecast, I dressed for a day in the snow, and survived.) My fellow Festers and I did a lot of shivering, and a whole lot of laughing. It was way more fun than it should have been. But it usually is.
Work just doesn't seem like work when shared with friends you love, who love you back.
Thanks for reading!
p.s. Thanks to Bundy for taking the photo, and Mary Alice for sharing it!
I think I've figured out why I keep having semi-anxiety dreams like the one I had last night. There were some dark storm clouds on the horizon with beautiful rainbows. As my family and I were standing outside admiring the view, a tornado dropped down out of the clouds and was headed right for us, picking up debris as it advanced. We ran inside and headed for the basement. It was my house, but it wasn't anything like the house I live in now, of course—you know how dreams are. Then a bunch of other people were showing up as if for a party. I wasn't ready for a party; the house was a mess and I had no food or drinks prepared. I knew I could throw together some munchy food and make due, but there were good friends there and I wanted to treat them right. Apparently, I forgot all about the tornado headed my way. (Brilliant photo ©2004 Eric Nguyen.)
Translated, this dream is telling me that I need to prepare my HOW Design Conference presentation sooner rather than later. It's what I think about either as I fall asleep or as I wake up. While I have the entire thing (big-picture-wise) nailed down, no problem, I have some great ideas for details that I've not written down (I know, I know!). Doing it sooner will give me the chance to offer it up for practice to local places before I head to San Francisco in June. Later will mean three months of anxiety dreams. Later just isn't an option for me.
I don't know how people like my HOWie pal Von Glitschka can sleep in the months leading up to their talks. He, in the past anyway, has waited until the week before to create his presentation. Obviously, it works for him; his presentations are always solid. My HOWie pal, Crystal Reynolds, is giving a presentation today that in her own words, "I have been terrible at practicing." I think she's understating her prep work, but even if I'm wrong, I know her enthusiasm can carry her talk. I also think that we all struggle making the things we know in our heads happen outside our heads.
For example, I know I need to create my presentation—with details—soon. I know I need to get in better shape if I'm going to dance with all the people I want to at Neenah's closing reception at HOW. I know that I need to get the rest of my deduction calculations done today for the appointment with the tax man later today. And yet—here I sit, typing into my little light box, hoping that some combination of words and ideas will trigger a light bulb to go off over someone's head while they're on their light box somewhere else in the world, thus making their world a little better, a little brighter.
So, my advice to you (but mostly myself) when faced with the daunting to-do list that stares you down, daring you to tackle it, is to do one thing first—either the smallest thing, or the heaviest thing. Get that one thing DONE. Then you can pat yourself on the back and enthusiastically cross that bad boy off your list of stuff you gotta do. Since I've already had my exercise today (thanks to zumba for Wii), I can scratch that off my list!!! One small victory for today! Yippee!!! Now, on to my tax stuff.
Thanks for reading!
I realize I've been posting very serious stuff this week. Well, now it's time to lighten up. Giggle a little. Or a lot (as I did). Enjoy this very silly video, and happy Friday!!!
Thanks to my pal Rolf for sharing this one!
Thanks for reading!
Higgs boson, the elusive subatomic particle considered a crucial building block of the universe, has finally been confirmed by CERN physicists. Scientists predicted the particle's existence back in 1964 and now apparently have proof, although they're still debating what kind of Higgs boson it is they've uncovered. According to an article on USA Today, "The particle's existence helps confirm the theory that objects gain their size and shape when particles interact in an energy field with a key particle, the Higgs boson. The more they attract, so the the theory goes, the bigger their mass will be."
The Higgs boson particle's unfortunate nickname of "The God Particle" is causing a slew of amusing comments on social media. (Search #higgsboson on twitter to see what I mean.) Where did the nickname come from? American physicist Leon Lederman explained in his book The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question?, "This boson is so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive, that I have given it a nickname: the God Particle. Why God Particle? […] the publisher wouldn’t let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing…" Pretty funny considering how many people are stirred up.
Physicists dislike the nickname, making it seem much more important than it really is, though the actual real-world impact is significant for the scientific community, from validating the Standard Model, to insight into the nature of the universe and its possible fates. Wikipedia has a pretty hefty explanation of these.
Since detecting the particle is a very rare event—it takes around a trillion collisions of protons for each observed event—think of how many people were involved in the recording and analyzing of all that data. Their persistence is finally paying off by having this tiny (reeeealllly tiny) particle's existence confirmed. You know they're geeking out at CERN, patting each other on the back. Nerds rule!
Thanks for reading,
Based on evidence found inside fragments of comet that fell in Sri Lanka last December, scientists have a tiny bit (pun intended) more evidence to support panspermia, the idea that life is spread throughout the universe by comets, asteroids, and planetoids sharing biological tidbits. Here's the article on the MIT Technology Review website.
What scientists found is "largely extinct marine dinoflagellate algae" and "another image [that] shows well-preserved flagella that are 2 micrometres in diameter and 100 micrometres long. By terrestrial standards, that’s extremely long and thin, which Wallis and co. interpret as evidence of formation in a low-gravity, low-pressure environment."
This is cool stuff! Now if only the rest of the scientific community can corroborate their research, we're well on the way to having physical PROOF that life exists on other planets. Wow. I wonder how many people that will shake up?
Thanks to Mike Caplanis for the heads-up on this. He feels "strangely reassured" about this, as do I.
Thanks for reading!
There's a delightful Google doodle this morning, reflecting the brilliance that was Douglas Adams. You may know him as the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He passed much too young on this date in 2001, at the age of 49. Coincidentally, the same age my father was when he died. The same age my husband is now. Hmmm. Uh… Moving on.
Many years ago, I stumbled across his final collection of writing, The Salmon of Doubt. The book is all the pieces of manuscripts gleaned from his computers after his passing. Douglas Adams was creatively childlike, and found humor all around him, but in himself, first and foremost. Take his view on his nose, for example:
"My mother has a long nose and my father had a wide one, and I got both of them combined. It's large.… As a boy I was teased unmercifully about my nose for years until, one day, I happened to catch sight of my profile in a pair of angled mirrors and had to admit that it was actually pretty funny. From that moment people stopped teasing me about my nose and instead started to tease me unmercifully about the fact that I said words like 'actually,' which is something that has never let up to this day."
Douglas Adams also had a brilliant view of our human existence here on earth.
"Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise."
I share his view of a lack of a creator. (But, I do not insist anyone else adopt this view along with me.) And his view of evolution.
"If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a nonworking cat. Life is a level of complexity that almost lies outside our vision; it is so far beyond anything we have any means of understanding that we just think of it as a different class of object, a different class of matter; 'life,' something that had a mysterious essence about it, was God given, and that's the only explanation we had. The bombshell comes in 1859 when Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. It takes a long time before we really get to grips with this and begin to understand it, because not only does it seem incredible and thoroughly demeaning to us, but it's yet another shock to our system to discover that not only are we not the centre of the Universe and we're not made by anything, but we started out as some kind of slime and got to where we are via being a monkey. It just doesn't read well."
What we view as normal is more than a little jacked up.
"There are some oddities in the perspective with which we see the world.The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be, but we have done various things over intellectual history to slowly correct some of our misapprehensions."
I could go on and on pullinig wonderfully rich quotes from this man. But you can google him yourself if you're so curious, which I hope you are.
Thanks for reading,
Good juju-spreader, speaker, graphic designer. I'd love to hear from you!