The Shirky Principle

Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution, – Clay Shirky, cited by Kevin Kelly and dubbed “The Shirky Principle”

If you doubt the veracity of the Shirky Principle, consider pharmaceutical companies and Congress.

Hall of Presidents and the Election

My wife and I went to Disney World without the kids for the first time in a really long time. That means we got to go to one of my favorite parts of The Magic Kingdom, The Hall of Presidents. The Hall of Presidents has been one of the best attractions ever since my first trip when I was three.

The Hall of Presidents circa 2016

Yes. It’s largely silly nostalgia of being three and seeing someone I’d watched on TV for most of the year. Mom loves to tell everyone about me yelling “Hey! It’s Jimmy Carter!” and the audience laughing. In some childish way, it feels like I’m in the presence of the many great leaders that we have had in the United States.

While there, this time, I had two huge revelations:

  1. It would be awesome to have Morgan Freeman narrate your life.
  2. I can’t imagine having to listen to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton when I go to a place that I revere so much.

Since I hope to outlive Morgan Freeman, I guess that first thought will never happen.

However, unless something drastic happens, I may be facing the other reality soon.

Remember in November, not only are you voting for our next President, but you are electing the next animatronic to adorn the Hall of Presidents.

Gulp!

Date Night at the Theatre

This is a totally off the wall, fresh in my head, and probably bad idea. It’s also a potentially good idea for a movie theatre.

Pair a kid movie and an grown up* movie and package it with popcorn and sodas and call it the Date Night Package.

Have supervision for the kids and let the parents have a couple of hours to themselves while they watch a film. It saves on baby sitter fees. It gives the theatre more revenue. Add in pizza in the birthday party room beforehand and you have a complete date night.

 

*This originally said “adult film” but as the commenter pointed out, that could be misconstrued….or not whichever the case may be.

OK. I Clearly Didn’t Ship

It's been eightish months since my last post. Clearly I didn't ship.

I would call that a failure. It's not a failure because I couldn't do something. It's a failure because I didn't do it when I could have.

Failure is always an option. – Adam Savage

I hate failing. You hear the mantra of “fail early and fail often” all of the time these days. This isn't the failure they are talking about. I didn't even show up.

To have tried and failed is an admirable thing. It builds character. I was listening to a Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, talk yesterday and he was comparing his style of trying to attract a girlfriend in high school with that of a friend of his. He would find one girl and steel up the courage..after weeks.. to go up and ask the girl to be his girlfriend. And inevitably every time he tried, he got shot down. His friend went and asked 20 girls a day to be his girlfriend. Eventually one of them would give in. Without having any discussions about the quality of the relationship, who did the best? His friend of course.

My goal for now is to get one post up per week. That of course means attempting to write at least three to even get to the point of having a post good enough to post. I can do it.

See you next week!

 

I Gotta Ship Today

This isn’t going to be one of those great posts with lots of insightful ideas. It’s one I just have to get out. See, Greg Tirico challenged me to do the Your Turn Challenge, and I’ve been procrastinating all day. Now it’s 9:53pm and I’m way past ready to go to sleep. It’s been over a year since the last real post on this blog.  I could say something about shipping or “The Resistance”, but I’m pretty sure I already said it pretty well in that post.

I often ask myself a question I’ve heard Merlin Mann say several times, “What haven’t you shipped today?”. He admits he borrowed the concept and possibly the phrase itself from Seth Godin, but that’s not the important thing here. The important thing is how I answer that question most days: “Well, I should have written something.” It didn’t have to be a blog post. It could have been a journal entry or something. Regardless, I feel the need to write but often lack the focus time to get anything written. Or like tonight, I procrastinate by going on Facebook or Twitter or watch TV.

I was just telling Greg last week that I needed to write more this year. He agreed which was encouraging. Imagine if he’d said, “Nah. You really shouldn’t.” That would have been devastating. What I didn’t tell him was that one of my goals for the foreseeable future is to read more books than I have the last few years. It takes about an hour for me to write a blog post when I’m in the flow and much, much longer when I’m not, those two goals, while complementary, are at odds with each other. Then I remind myself that if I cut out a couple of hours of procrastination, I’ll find the time to find the focus to both read more and write more. But then I procrastinate anyway.

What am I going to do about it? That’s the beauty of these words that Seth Godin published last Thursday: “This is a chance to practice shipping for one week within a community. It might be hard but it’s doable and it might change you. I hope you’ll give it a shot.“ I’m going to give it a shot.

One of the reasons I joined Toastmasters almost 3 1/2 years ago was to be heard. This blog has the potential of being one of the best ways of being heard.

I’m giving the seven day writing challenge a go starting today.

Look at that. it’s 11:49pm. I’m just in time.

Be What You Are

You think Yoda stops teaching, just because his student does not want to hear? A teacher Yoda is. Yoda teaches like drunkards drink, like killers kill. – Yoda to his young student Dooku

 

Your True Self

Damon Lindelof posited in this piece that Bruce Wayne was always Batman even before his parents died and that Walter White was always Heisenberg before he found out he had cancer. These characters in their real identities encountered triggers that allowed their true selves come out.

As Lindelof puts it:

“The conventional thinking is that Bruce Wayne became Batman on the day that his parents were murdered. This is his origin story. We all know it.  We all accept it. We all love it. Because it makes sense. Your parents are gunned down in front of you, so of course you vow an unending vendetta against crime and then dress up like a winged mammal to exact it.”

and

“We know all this because Walt tells us so. The ticking time bomb that is the cancer becomes his rationale for everything that comes next; the lying, the lawbreaking, the child-poisoning.”

The interesting thing is Walter’s cancer went away and yet he was still Heisenberg. If Bruce’s parents turned out to still be alive, he would still be Batman. Even if they stopped putting on their “costumes”, they’d still be those men. They might have to hide them again. They’d still be on the inside fighting to get out. Then again, I’m not sure either genie would fit back in their bottle.

I think he is onto something. I think we all have someone else inside of us. Some of use multiple someones. We keep those other selves locked away for whatever reason. Maybe we are scared society will laugh at us. Or maybe for some, that someone isn’t socially acceptable. Continue reading “Your True Self”

Prescription Without Diagnosis Is Malpractice

Plumbing Disaster

A few years ago, my shower fixture was dripping. I, being a devout procrastinator, waited to do something about it until it became a trickle. When I called a plumbing company that my wife had used once before when I was out of town and told them what was going on and asked to have someone come out and give me a quote, fully expecting to be charged $50 for a diagnosis fee. The receptionist said that it would be $125 to fix the problem. We scheduled the appointment for the next day.

The plumber shows up on time. He takes the fixture apart and spends well over an hour fidgeting with it. He then tells me it’s going to be $400 to correct the problem. There was an issue with the way the hot water heater had been installed originally and the hot water was melting the pipe that was feeding it to my shower.

If they had come out and prepared a quote for the $400  repair, I may have had to pay $450. Instead I paid $525 for his time the day before and the actual repair. I will probably never use that plumbing company again because the receptionist prescribed a repair without their technician doing the proper diagnosis first.

Continue reading “Prescription Without Diagnosis Is Malpractice”

What Are You Going To Do With That Ukulele?

While visiting my aunt this summer, she took Alex to visit my cousin in Tampa and she has a ukulele.  Alex fell in love with her ukulele. She taught him the basic strumming method in the time they were there. Her roommate has a baritone ukulele. He didn’t like that one as much. He wants a tenor ukulele like my cousin’s. He wanted guitar lessons but he really wants ukulele lessons now.

Coincidentally, my friend Bill Kizer got a ukulele for Father’s Day. The book I read this summer on rapid learning protocols has a chapter on ukulele. Less coincidentally, my friend and colleague, Kevin Conlin, pointed me to this video of Jake Shimabukuro playing Bohemian Rhapsody on ukulele in a TED Talk from 2010.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB3RbO7updc&w=448&h=252&hd=1]
The video is pretty awesome! I never thought anyone could play Bohemian Rhapsody on the ukulele…or would.
I posted about this whole ukulele thing previously. Since then, I have found hundreds of videos on how to play the ukulele on YouTube. Fortunately his school’s music teacher thinks he can teach Alex to play the ukulele. His first lesson is today. For the first few days as Alex practices scales (or whatever), this is what I’ll be hearing.
What does all of this mean for you? I have absolutely no clue other than you get to watch a really cool video.

May Experiment

Sheesh! This whole writing daily experiment has been a complete failure so far. I guess I will have to start over.

One of the things about forming new habits, like writing daily or running, is that you have to be careful about how you setup the trigger / response relationship. If you just say you’re going to do it “sometime tomorrow”, you won’t..or at least I won’t.

The beautiful thing with the running habit I’m working on is, I wake up on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, then I go for a run. That works most of the time. The two issues I have with using waking up as a trigger for a habit is: my wife occasionally has to go into work early and I still have to make sure the kids get up and I have a tendency to stay up too late and make myself unable to wake up in time to do whatever I’m supposed to do. Tomorrow, I’m going to the District 84 Toastmasters Conference, so unless I make myself get up, I won’t run. It’s a hotel thing. The good thing is I’ll be near a mall with a nice perimeter to run around.

But I was talking about writing. I can’t make myself write first thing in the morning because my brain isn’t fully functional until about 10 am. Anything I write before then not usually coherent. I normally produce my best material either mid afternoon or late at night, after everyone else is in bed, if not asleep. That’s when I did my best work for Comics & Geeks. I’m especially proud of a few of the pieces I did on there.

I’m going to be working on figuring out the proper trigger so I can get myself writing daily. It’s worked for running. It’s worked for eating properly. It has worked in the past for other habits I’ve tried to form.

Then again, I may just need a few nights of good sleep. That’s one of the things about getting actual exercise. I’m tired by the end of the day, even though I won’t be asleep before midnight.

Later folks!