More Coffee!

Some of my children have been working on a project for some time. Several of them, predominately Elsie and Toby, have a YouTube channel called More Coffee TV. They’ve started several “programs” on the channel. The program with the most episodes recorded is called Good Morning YouTube, which last week just returned from a multiple week hiatus.

Other programs include SWOTi (Somebody’s Wrong on the Internet), Storytime with Beans and Jubs, and Eggs with Elsie.

Here’s an example of a little of what you can find at MCTV:

Subscribe to their channel and see the work they’re putting out every week!

 

New Blog Title

So as I mentioned last week I’ve been planning to rebrand the blog since before I finished school. As of today the “new” blog has arrived and the changing horses content has been copied to another WordPress site. I will be adding to that site every week or two but this blog will now be about issues far removed from my EMBA program experience.

The new blog title? #Optimism and Irony. Which requires a story.

During the last press for school, probably the last six months, my daughter Elsie* started saying #Optimism (read “hashtag optimism for us older folks) whenever I would get discouraged about the road that still remained.

#Optimism

I’m not what you would typically refer to as an optimist. I’m a realist (pronounced <PESS i mist>). I generally can see and predict the worst possible ending for any situation. As you and I both know, things rarely (almost never) work out as the worst case scenario, and so I tend to spend more time than I ought fretting about what might happen.

For Christmas, Elsie got me a mug with #Optimism on it. I use it at work as reminder. When people ask (and they do) I mention that the #optimism is ironic. Because I’m not an optimist, you know.

Which is funny. My eschatology is very optimistic. I believe Jesus wins in the end and in history. I believe in a great and awesome God who has everything under control. And yet I find myself in despair or discouragement bordering on depression all too often. Something for the Holy Spirit to work on, to be sure.

I don’t think #Optimism and Irony is the permanent name of the blog, but who knows? It may just stick. And speaking of sticking, hopefully you’ll stick around to see how all of this develops into a new blog now that I’m done with school. About which, more later.

*Elsie blogs at Keep Calm and Beethoven On and shares a YouTube Channel with her brother Toby called More Coffee TV.  Check out her creative endeavors!

Can’t. Turn. Off.

When I was a youngster I read Peter Benchley’s Jaws. Don’t ask me why. Maybe I’d seen the movie or part of it, or something. I can’t remember what caused me to pick it up at the library, but I read it. It was probably the longest novel I’d read at the time.

Benchley at a point early in the book actually describes the thinking pattern of the shark. Always moving. Never sleeping. Constantly swimming somewhere.

I thought of that section of the book yesterday when I went away from my office and all of my electronic devices for two hours of nothing for my Critical Thinking class. Here’s a snippet from my “reflection paper” that I’ll be turning in:

During the two hours we were given at the end of class I slept. I had pulled an all-nighter to finish a project for a different class and I knew I would fall asleep if I sat down with nothing to do, so I scheduled my two hours for later.

On Monday I left the office two hours early to spend some time doing nothing. I spent a little time driving, phone off, and then parked at the top of the bluff on Grandview Drive for another hour before doing some more driving.

I realized right off that I’m not very good at doing nothing. I wasn’t sure what the rules were, which didn’t help. I pulled out a notebook and wrote, “I’m supposed to do nothing for 2 hours.”

Nothing.

Really?

No computer. No textbooks. No phone. No work. No music.

Nothing.

It felt like torture at the beginning. I wrote down all the prime numbers between 1 and 113. I drew a picture (or something resembling a picture) of the curves I could see in the river. I turned over thoughts of relationships at home and at work.

I wrote down some phrases I had been thinking and drew doodles while I pondered life, staring at the trees and the river and the big houses and wondering what should be coming to me. And I wished I had my book for the next class or my phone so I could get something productive done.

And that was the first seventeen minutes.

I have trouble relaxing and not doing anything at all. It may be a function of the phase of life I’m in as much as anything, but right now my task list is so long and there’s so much I’m just not doing (some of it on purpose) that trying to do nothing for two consecutive hours felt nearly tortuous.

I think I’m going to try it again sometime. I’ll do it differently, but not sure exactly how. Open to any suggestions in the comments!

Letter to a 7 Year Old

My wife is blogging some more over at 25 Failures:

Dear 7 year old me,

Did you hear the slight censure in this note? I am pretty sure you did. You always want to please people, to make them happy, to do the right thing. One thing I wish I could help you understand- sometimes the right thing makes other good people unhappy.

Yeah. That note your teacher wrote wasn’t at all about the right thing for you. It was all about keeping her classroom running smoothly. Listen up. Get good grades. Follow directions. Don’t freestyle, it could causes problems.

via Dear Me | 25 Failures.

Make sure you check it out!

Listening to Fiction

The Lord of the Rings trilogy** came out in an audio book format from audible recently.  This matters because I still haven’t finished reading them.  I know I lose some street cred with some of my friends by admitting this, but in my defense when I was young (when most of these same friends read Tolkien for the first time) I’d never even heard of the Lord of the Rings.

I have so much reading I do for work, school and professional development that it’s hard to rationalize time for reading fiction.  In addition, my fairly addictive personality makes it hard, when I do read fiction to put it down like a responsible adult when it’s time for something else.  I get drawn into a story and, if the book is any good, I want to keep reading until it’s done.  The only fiction I’ve read (not counting the business fables that Patrick Lencioni writes) in the last few years was the Hunger Games trilogy, which I devoured quickly over a few days on my kindle.  I was able to get away with this because I happened to be on a non-work-related trip without my wife that had significant down time and airport time and work wasn’t crazy at that moment.

So how to keep fiction in its box but still enjoy it?  Enter audio books.

My wife and I started out in our marriage trying to read to each other in the evening.  It worked really well when I read, but not so much when she did.  Why?  Because I fall asleep when someone is reading to me.   Worse than that, when she’d check, 10-15 minutes after I dozed off, I could act awake and tell her what she’d just read but have no recollection of either saying so or any of the reading in the morning.  The Two Towers (the only part of the trilogy I’ve read in book form to date, and only sort of) took forever because of this and I think I had to read more than my share.  (As an aside I still haven’t seen the movie for The Return of the King because of some of the liberties the producers took with Two Towers.  I’m over it now and plan to go back and watch all three after I finish the audio books.)  So the habit we’d tried to build early just didn’t work because I fell asleep so quickly when she read.

This same thing (falling asleep when being read to) is now a gift.  It’s a gift because I can download audio books (fiction even!) from Audible.com onto a mobile device and carry them with me.  At night, if TC dozes off and I’m still not as sleepy as I should be, I put one on, set the sleep timer for 15 minutes, and enjoy some well-written fiction.  This is also a huge help when I’m travelling, like this week, because I just don’t sleep well when my wife isn’t with me.  (I don’t know how I’ll survive the international trip later this year.)  And I get to enjoy fiction while keeping it in a box.  Sure there are times where the action in a book is intense enough that it makes it hard to get to sleep and I keep starting that sleep timer over and over again, but a lot less often than when the lights are on and the book or kindle is in my hands and my eyes are open.  Audio books have been a wonderful gift for me.***

And now I’m getting to enjoy Tolkien, finally.  I’m about 20% through Fellowship of the Ring, and really enjoying it, 15-30 minutes at a time.  And while I’m travelling this week and sleeping in hotels that number goes up a little for me, which isn’t an entirely bad thing.  Not sleeping is bad, but if it gets offset with a great literary experience, how can that be a bad thing?

** I know, for your purists, that it’s not really a trilogy but a single novel broken into three units,  Just needed to make sure you true believers knew that.  🙂

*** There are audio books, and audio books, by the way.  I’m a purist and don’t by dramatized fiction or abridged versions.  I want to hear the whole book.  If you try this for yourself, keep an eye out, because with some authors the abridged copies are the more plentiful.

Failing Away!

For those who missed it when I posted the first time, my goodly wife Theresa is blogging over at 25 Failures about her big initiative this year.  Here’s a short list of the projects she’s already decided to attempt this year:

I’m really excited for her (and proud!) this year.  She’s got creative energies flowing like I haven’t seen in some time, and it’s such a joy to watch her throw herself into failing enough to succeed.  I’m starting to wonder whether she’ll make it to 25 Failures before the end of the year with all the success I think she’s going to have!  (See rules of the project HERE.)

Breaking out of a Creative Slump

My wife has been in a creative slump of late and has figured out a way to break out of it:

So somehow on New Year’s Eve, around and after a horrific emotional fight with my best friend, this crazy idea wafted in from somewhere. What if I made it my goal to fail? I felt a puff of hope and a whiff of freedom. It would give me permission to start projects that are fun, that don’t matter, that I might not be good at but don’t know yet, projects that might fail. And failing would be ok, and I would learn things about myself and this world, and what’s important and what’s not.

So I told my man about it, and he said “How many times were you thinking of failing?”

via 25 Failures | a resolution to cure creative paralysis.

If you’re at all interested in the creative process or neat and weird ideas, you can still catch up on the few posts over there and follow her blog at 25 Failures!  I think it’s going to be a great year for failing!