One of the three B’s?

ShostakovichThis morning, kidlinger walks up to my desk while I work, looks at the laptop screen critically and asks: “What’s that?”

Me: “I’m listening to Shostakovich.[1]

Kidlinger: “He’s not one of the three killer B’s.[2]

Me: “True. Would you prefer to listen to Bach, Beethoven, or Brahms?”

Kidlinger: “I don’t know.”

Me: “How about some Bach… violin sonata in G minor? Something to encourage you to practice your violin.”

Kidlinger: “Yeah, that sounds good.”

NOTES:
[1] Here’s a brief bio on Shostakovich: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/shostakovich.php
[2] This is not a reference to the 1991 release of Anthrax’s B-sides collection Attack of the Killer B’s. But it is a reference to the three greatest classic music composers, commonly knowns as the Three B’s, Bach, Beethoven, or Brahms. Here’s a link to recent relesases of the Three B’s from NPR’s “Music We Love Now: New Albums Of Bach, Beethoven And Brahms”: http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2013/03/18/174659127/music-we-love-now-the-3-bs-on-cd

Meformer, informer, which one are you?

Meformer or Informer

“Meformer” (vs “informer”) is not a new term,[1] but for some reason it is making its rounds on social media the last few[2] months.[3]

NOTES:
[1] Jennifer Van Grove, Mashable,  “STUDY: 80% of Twitter Users Are All About Me”, September 29, 2009, accessed July 15, 2014, http://mashable.com/2009/09/29/meformers/
[2] Patrick Allan, LifeHacker, “Be an Informer, Not a ‘Meformer’, To Get More Followers On Social Media”, May 29 2014, accessed July 15, 2014, http://lifehacker.com/be-an-informer-not-a-meformer-to-get-more-followers-1583508468
[3] Kirk Englehardt, LinkedIn, “Are you a Twitter ‘Informer’ or ‘Meformer’?”, June 03, 2014, accessed July 15, 2014,
https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140603184736-3091133-are-you-a-twitter-informer-or-meformer

Last day of spring? Where did the time go?

UX Design Icons
It is a long week when Friday morning reveals 40 hours worked and it will be two more 10-hour days before a rest.

Still, I managed to attend the Racine Public Library’s writers group this week after a long absence. If you’re looking for a friendly group poets and writers in the Racine area, visit the group.

Also, I have not forgot about this week’s Coffeehouse Junkie audio podcast. It is in production and due to release this weekend. It features a listener’s comments, special dedication and original music between the segments by John Hayes.

So, why the busy week? Oh, boy… where do I start?

Let’s just say, designing a few software application icons and buttons that allow for best user experience is one matter. Designing dozens and dozens is a whole different critter. And that was Monday. And then Tuesday… well… maybe later.

 

How to be successful in life and business

WP_IMG_9959Does the world need another advertorial[1] on how to be successful in life and business?

This morning I read the article, “Books To Change Your Life And Your Business,”[2] on LinkedIn. It is rubbish. The books listed will not change your life, but might place you in a better neighborhood. Jeffrey J. Fox’s How to Become CEO[3] includes a chapter on required reading for those interested in rising to the top of the corporate ladder. It is a far better and engaging booklist than the one Linda Coles provides.

But, maybe Americans ask the wrong question. Maybe our culture seeks the wrong definition of success in life and business.

Earlier this week, Sunday morning, I was reminded that Americans who have enough to eat, adequate clothing, a place to sleep and a car, are in the top 15 percent of the world’s wealthiest. Further, if you have plenty to eat, a modest collection of clothing, a savings account, two cars and own your home, you are in the top five percent of the wealthiest people in the world.

What if success in life and business is simply a matter of doing what aught to be done? And doing it the best of an individual’s abilities?

NOTES:
[1] A “blend of advertisement and editorial.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advertorial
[2] “Books To Change Your Life And Your Business” by Linda Coles, May 21, 2014, accessed May 21, 2014, https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140521221520-33236097-7-book-choices-for-a-better-life The books mentioned in the article include: Choose the Life You Want by Tal Ben-Shahar, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and others
[3] Booklist from How to Become CEO include: The Bible, The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, The Prince, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, anything by Thomas Jefferson, The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway, and others.

Make your lives extraordinary

During the last few weeks I have read an exhaustive non-fiction book on one of the darkest times of modern history. The result of reading such a book penetrates my soul. I wish I had time to share my thoughts and feelings regarding the book I finished reading, but due to mega commuting and long work hours allow me to share this video that merely scratches the surface of what captivates my thoughts.

Does this make me look Luddite?

Image Luddite

When I looked at my office desk earlier this week, this question came to mind: Does this make me look Luddite? On the desk was a book on the subject of graphic design, a daily desk diary, a periodical, a mechanical pencil (not pictured), a tin of tea and cup of tea (also not pictured) and a smartphone (not pictured, because it was used to capture the image).

It does not escape my attention that I could use an internet search engine to locate similar content that I found the printed book. But I chose the book. And there are plenty of cloud based software applications that I could use to plan and track daily activity. But that was not my choice. A mechanical pencil is easily replaced with a keyboard and mouse. Again, that was not my choice. To my knowledge, tea cannot be digitized. At least not yet. And the smartphone. Well that is a device that continues to intrigue and perplex me. It is advertised to make life easier, smarter. But I have yet to get it to produce a good cup of Earl Grey tea on a misty morning when I’m tearing down the mountain to get to the publishing house to invest in another book project.

The origin of Friday the Thirteenth

The origin of Friday the Thirteenth, as told by Damond Benningfield, comes from Norse mythology.[1] He writes:

First comes the fear of the number 13. According to one tale, 12 Norse gods held a banquet at Valhalla. A thirteenth god — Loki, the spirit of evil — tried to attend…

If you believe that the Norse have little impact on modern culture other than to inspire Marvel comic book movies (and an Emmy nominated television series on the History channel, Vikings), keep in mind the days of the week are named after Norse gods (Tiu’s Day, Woden’s Day, Thor’s day and Freya’s day). Here’s what Benningfield writes about Freya’s day:

Mythology says that when Norse tribes converted to Christianity, Freya was called a witch and banished to a mountaintop. There, every Friday, she hosted a coven of 11 other witches plus the devil — 13 in all — to plot vengeance against her former believers.

So, TGIF. And while you are in enjoying the day, give a listen to Óláfs Saga Tryggvasonar in the Viking language.[2]

NOTES:
[1] You can read the details at Star Date, “Friday the Thirteenth”: http://stardate.org/radio/program/friday-thirteenth
[2] Learn from the Viking Language series: https://soundcloud.com/viking-language/lesson-3-5-l-fs-saga

Reflections in a mud puddle

20130701-123531.jpgIt is an early summer morning. It rained the night before as I walk a mile or so before I climb into the car for the morning’s mega commute. The parking lot near my home is dappled with puddles slowly evaporating. It reminds me of when I first started taking black and white photographs in high school. One of my favorite subjects was reflections of the sky in puddles.

I don’t remember what initially attracted me to the subject matter, but I remember loading a 35mm SLR manual camera–either an Olympus or a Pentex–with a spool of film, pulling the leader and lining the sprocket holes with the sprockets, securing the leader to the spindle, closing the back door and advancing the film a couple frames. I’d sling the camera over my shoulder and head outdoors to capture a surreal glimpse of the heavens from the perspective of puddles on asphalt. Or pools of water on gravel roads or a grassy field.

After collecting images captured and hidden on a roll of exposed black and white film, I returned to the darkroom at the high school and processed the film. First developing the amber film strips and then placing it in the enlarger to make prints. The way the image emerged from the paper as it floated in the developer solution was no end of amazement for me–like watching an unseen ghost suddenly materialize. The image of a lamp post in a puddle near the grainery, the water tower with clouds dancing from the pavement, the side of the building of the Coal Miner’s bar on Main Street or a self-portrait reflecting in a pool of water in an alley.

Something about a reflection seen from a different perspective captivated me. How can I look at a subject differently? How can I view it from a different angle–another perspective? I guess that’s how I approach a lot of things today–asking myself, What’s the wider context? Some days I just need to take a long walk on an early summer morning and look for those puddles, search for a different angle of the sky, watch the fog on the mountain tops from a mud puddle. Maybe a distorted, impressionistic reflection will inform me of something I didn’t see before.

An audience of one

photoWhat do you mean by audience of one? one reader replied to “Keep calm and write something.” He is referring to how I concluded a blog post: “If I have an audience of only one, that is sufficient.” So, what does that mean, an audience of one? …

[read more]

UPDATE: This blog post is available as part of an audio podcast.

Listen now:

Or listen on:
PodOmatic: coffeehousejunkie.podomatic.com
SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/coffeehousejunkie

E-book: This blog post will be featured in a forthcoming e-book. More details coming soon.

How did you come to poetry?

Over the weekend, an editor made a comment on Facebook that got me thinking about the question, how did you come to poetry?

My response is not an academic reply. The mechanics of poetry make the art good and great. But the best way to ruin poetry for young minds or new readers, is to have people study the architecture of a poem–its meter, rhyme, enjambment, stanzas, etc. Is this the way you learn about a new home? When you enter a friend’s home for the first time, do you inquire as to house’s foundation (is it a slab foundation?), framing (stick frame or post and beam?) or roof (you get the point)? So why do educators insist on destroying poetry for young readers? Make the home inviting. Make poetry inviting.

As a poetry reader, I approach a poem (or body of poems) as I would a new home of a friend I just met. I enter the door, look at the paintings on the wall, run my fingers along the spines of the books on the shelf, scan over the vinyl collection beside the stereo and sit on the futon near the front window. This is how to see what the poet sees through the window of the poem. This is when I see what the poet says about love, injustice or various other subjects and topics.

Not all poems are created equal. Sometimes I get the impression that someone or something is shouting at me from an open door. I tend to quicken my steps along the street and find a more inviting home–a more inviting poem.

Poetry is not something I studied in school. There were, of course, the required literature classes, and some teachers that opened the landscape of great poetry and prose. But for me, someone left the back door to the house of poetry open and I slipped in to explore. A house doesn’t seem so intimidating or formal when you enter, casually, from the backdoor.