Sunday, October 29, 2006


I've been doing a variety of creative exercises the last several months to try and try and squeeze my dried-up brain to recover some of my lost creative juices. These are practice tools I've picked up in a variety of places. A surprising lot of the material I've been over deals with nothing more than everyday handwriting and how the right and left hemispheres of the brain deal with it; the left caring about each letter representing an actual letter, the right caring about shape and spacing. As I learned, there are a vast number of ways to flex your mind with nothing more than the alphabet.

The previous few weeks, I've taken two separate practice efforts and put them together to form an awesome, unstoppable Voltron-ish exercise that I'm greatly enjoying. The first is called "the morning pages" which some of you may be familiar with. This is basically a way to cut your mind loose and let it run free without restrictions, be it grammar, spelling, and the like. As big a supporter I am in correct spelling and grammar (and I admit I check mine), you're meant to unburden yourself with those temporarily if you happen to be weak in those area as the idea is simply to put your thoughts out into the world and not to hinder them in any fashion.

It is merely the process of every day writing a few pages of your thoughts, no matter how trivial. It doesn't have to be an epic, just words on a page is all that is required, though any writing style is fine, as long as it is something. Even a limited scope manner of writing where you just write the first thoughts that come to you until your pages are done.

"I'm looking at my toaster and perhaps I'll put a bagel in there but not just yet. I used to know someone who called them "bag-uls" and I still think that is the cutest thing I've ever heard. I think I may call in sick to work today because I can already tell I'll need to nap after my breakfast and it's just too nice a day to not be in the

Pretty pointless and nothing more than rambling, but letting your mind have free reign to vent really stretches the imaginative muscle a lot more than I ever believed from such a simple chore.

The second is "mirror writing" which, if it's good enough for da Vinci, it's good enough for me. This is, as you may have concluded, writing backwards in a manner so that if you held up the writing to a mirror, it would appear correct. The progression with this is quite interesting. Trying to write mirrored is entertaining in and of itself if you've never tried it. The next step is to write mirrored with your unfavored hand and then finally with both at once, which seems crazy but it's an interesting thing to try.

Handwriting can tell you a lot about a person and you certainly learn a lot about yourself when you have to analyse your own handwriting the way you do when you try mirrored writing the first time. I learned that despite the fact that my 'b' and 'd' are the exact same shape, I write them in a completely different manner, just as I do 'q' and 'p'. I learned that straight letters such as 'i' and 't' I randomly write in different directions, sometimes from the bottom up, others from the top down. Sometimes I dot the 'i' or cross the 't' first. I draw the 'e' in 3 different ways, but it always looks the same.

I also noticed when I attempted to use my unfavored hand (left) to write mirrored that, while the actual line work is difficult and I cannot make a line even remotely straight, writing in reverse actually seems normal. I naturally try to draw the letters backwards (and I use the word 'draw' very purposefully). It is interesting how the mind works. This was a nice personal demonstration of the right side of the brain finally getting its figurtive hands dirty.

I combined these two practices as I said and am writing my morning pages all mirrored. It takes a bit of patience (especially the half page I do left-handed) despite my increasing speed and it can be quite fatiquing on the wrist for whatever reason. Likely I have developed an unnatural pose with the hand that has yet to find a comfortable way to position itself in this new way of writing. If I ever get to the point where I find using my left comfortable, I'll be interested to try and play a guitar left-handed and see if anything translates from this practice. People I've spoken with who do similar type exercises swear by them so I am eager to see if they open any mental doors for me. It's about time something knocked the rust off of those hinges.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dear Guy Who Nearly Plowed Into the Back of My Car At 80MPH and Then Gave Me the Finger...

Please heed my advice:

There's a reason the back of my car turns different colors and it's not just to be festive. Sure, I'm aware the holiday season is soon upon us, but I don't celebrate this early. When my car begins to light up red on both sides, that doesn't mean my car is powering up so that I may speed up and that it's safe for you to do the same. In fact one might call it the very opposite, so let's go with that.

In addition, that blinking orange light that only appears on either the right or left side of the back of my car is a hint. All the reasons behind it are likely too complex for you to grasp so let's go with something simple such as that it means I'm probably about to go that direction. I like to let them blink a while as you probably noticed for the good 25 to 30 seconds that I had them on during which time I gradually slowed down. I feel this really gives people like you time for that ole brain to wind up and figure out what I'm trying to get across to you; a chance to crack the Rosetta Stone of my evidently cryptic clues.

And please, when you decide to try and swerve around me because you couldn't break the riddle that is my need to turn, try and swerve in the opposite direction of the blinking light. Otherwise you'll hit me directly in the side, inevitably right where I am sitting, and I generally find that pretty annoying especially since you probably don't have insurance.

Guy Who Uses His Blinkers For a Very Specific Reason

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Musical Memories

As I may have previously mentioned, I've been feeling rather old lately. I've decided it's not because I actually am old, but because things in my life's proximity are making me feel that way. Today, music has made me feel old.

I was introduced to music at a young age. When I was growing up, my mother always had the radio on while she got ready for work and I ready for school. She also had it on while driving to our destination. I didn't have any specific tastes, I just liked whatever came on the radio, though I do specially remember not liking 'Don't Worry, Be Happy'.

I've always enjoyed music and my growing up "around" it certainly helped spur that love; the idea that there exist people who don't enjoy music at all has only recently been introduced to me and it's a thought my mind keeps trying to reject like a body might a baboon heart. Also, since I grew up in the 80's, I have a rather disturbing amount of songs from that time forever burned into my brain. Those of you who have ever taken a road trip with me or been on the phone with me when I zone out and start singing to myself know this all too well.

I have been going through the tedious task of converting all of my CDs to digital format so that I would have my entire collection instantly at my fingertips. Many of you have been through the same no doubt, and likely you remember well the horror of the process. It does however hold a few pleasant surprises such as discovering forgotten music. Among my collection I found not only a depressing number of CDs I can't believe I ever listened to, let alone purchased, but I also found some old CDs that, while not truly forgotten, I had not listened to in years upon years. There's nothing else quite like rediscovering a song you used to love.

Like most people - or so I imagine - I didn't really develop real musical preference until I was in my early teens. It used to be that it came on the radio, I was happy with it (which is most certainly not the case now). I remember the very day, the very album, I got that first started my interest in exploring music on my own and began the evolution of my own musical palette. Like probably many people my age, that album (or at least band) of influence was:

This was the first CD I ever owned, and it was for my 13th birthday. And this very disk is rather what has made me feel old. As I put this album tracks onto my computer, it is automatically updated with the track titles, band name, and year released. To my horror, "Bleach" is nearly 20 years old! The day I got this CD does not seem distant at all and when it was given to me it was only a few years old. How can it be 20 years old? I remember vividly things said on that day, and things done on that day. The memory is still so fresh. The day I purchased their new album, "In Utero", seems almost as recent, and of course the unfortunate loss of Kurt also feels quite near.

Speaking of "In Utero", I ran across it as well and had an urge to listen to it. It is the first time I've listened to the original copy since high school and the first time listening to it at all in at least 8 years. It seems amazing to me that I can have not listened to "In Utero" in over 8 years as I think it will always feel like a new release to me for some reason.

I'm constantly amazed at the ways music can move a person, and I learned some new ways today. First off, I noticed that the cover of the album was turned around so that it was facing the inside of the CD case. For a split-second I was curious about this until I suddenly recalled one of my best friends back then had turned it around because he did not care for the cover and liked the inside of the jacket more. I'd never switched it back I suppose. I haven't seen that person in many years and this unexpected reminder of him made me miss my friend. It was almost like being able to touch the past.

The second thing was that when I opened the case, what was left of a Fruit Roll-Up wrapper fell out. This might seem an odd thing to you, but to me it was a memory that felt very fresh. My girlfriend at the time used to buy these for me and sneak them into my school bag so I'd randomly find them during the day which, at the time, made the day pretty awesome. What was more special about this is that she used to open them and carve the words, "I love you," out of the gummy surface and then reseal the package. She did it so well that, had I not known better, I would have thought they always came that way. What a pleasant surprise this was the first time she did this, and it wasn't much less special the following times. It never grew old, in fact. To this day I can no longer eat them because opening the package to not find that message waiting for me would wound my soul. The part of me that I keep hidden which still cherishes the memories of the long departed love wants to believe that every package has this sort of message and isn't willing to risk that it might not. Part of me needs to believe it is true. The world seems all the better for the possibility that it could be.

I wonder how nostalgic all this will be when I'm actually old? I'm not sure if I look forward to finding out or if I dread it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Excited Hair

I woke up today to the anticipation of an eventful day hanging in the air as a pleasant scent may often do. Yet much like those elusive scents, I never was able to put a finger on quite what it was. All day I felt on the edge of my seat. All day I had a vague premonition of events that would never take place. I hold faith in the hopes that my expectations were a few days early and something of note will take place in the next few to come.

Why is my hair so tall?  I dunno...I noticed, too, that my hair also shared this same feeling, for it had a particularly excited look about it today, standing this way and that, reaching towards the heavens, looking exceptionally tall. In addition to the anticipation it apparently felt, it was also pointed out to me by a friend at work, as I passed by him where a low wall seperated us, that it was very shark-like if you saw as he did; a lone spike appearing with no head attached above the previously mentioned low wall moving sinisterly to and fro. Yet another person pointed out that, when you can see it attached to my head, it is very rhino-like.Dun un dun un.

Not knowing what to do with it this morning (after yesterday's barber adventure), I merely wet it, stuck both hands into it (one from each side) and clasped them together as if to pray, "please don't let me look [more] retarded [than normal]" and then let it decide what it would do. An animalistic appearance is apparently the result.

Yet I have
to confess I liked it. Sure, I had to duck my head a bit in my overly small car to keep it from stabbing the ceiling and making my head itch, but I'm used to that even when it doesn't reach for the stars. I'm thinking about making it look like an animal every day just to spice it up. Tomorrow will be flamingo hair day. I have a feeling I may need gel for that.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bad Decisions

I read an interesting article on why people make bad decisions which did a nice job of pointing the finger at some of the reasoning behind decision making that has always made me scratch my head. Not only of choices others make but that I myself make. If anyone has made a bad decision in their day, it's me. In fact, 90% of the decisions I made today weren't that great, so you can imagine my whole life.

All of the topics that brought up felt pretty solid to me but two of them especially leapt out to me:

I've seen this often in others and I hope strongly that this is not something that I am burdened with. I've seen this concept many times on exams that don't test what you know but rather how well you respond to trick questions and I've fallen for it several times. I can attribute that to second-guessing myself however. Yet when it comes to real life, I have to wonder if I let the influence of my peers affect my decisions.

I suspect there would be a lot of factors to take into account. For example, I'm a pretty laid back sort of person and I have very little interest in arguments and debate, amiable or otherwise. If I have an opinion and you don't agree, I'm pretty okay with that. I don't feel any need to bend others to my will. But of course there are many people out there who thrive on such things and argue just to be doing so, no matter how minor an issue. So often times I might find myself agreeing that, yes, mushrooms are fantastic [read: they are not fantastic] because I don't have enough desire in me to battle over the tastiness level of fungus with a guy who gets all up in my grill because I picked mushrooms off of my pizza slice. All of this is a conscious decision that I make however. It makes me wonder if there are times when I change my entire viewpoint or at least my public responses because of a majority view on the topic? Probably. I can't think of an example of it happening recently, so that is a hopeful sign that perhaps I don't do it often.

I know we all want to be "unique snowflakes" but how many of us stay so steadfast that we never compromise what we actually believe? And if there are very few people of that nature, as I suspect, how far are we from conforming with our neighbor, who has also conformed with their neighbor, in an exponentially growing magnitude until we are all one giant hive mind with only a few true individuals remaining? Maybe we're already at that point. Perhaps that is where true heroes and leaders come from.

Attribution Error
Anyone who has lived/driven around the airport area in Nashville as I have can probably forgive me this fault. I've been nearly hit head-on at least 9 times since I've moved here and no doubt you have too. We're talking people running through a stop light that has been red for a minute or two already. Then of course they shoot me a bird as if my wild swerving (and screaming like a girl) to avoid their station wagon of destruction was some sort of offense to them. If anyone reading is one of these people, I apologize ahead of time for not wanting to slam into your vehicle at 60 mph.

I can get behind the idea of assuming people are being jerks by their behaviors on the road. Yet no matter how aware you are of the fact that not everyone on the road is trying to screw you over, I bet most of us still assume the guy who cut us off is an ass. And I know I've cut off my share of people accidentally and no doubt they assumed I was the jerk. But I have to point out that you can usually tell by the method of their driving if they are cutting you off by accident or out of spite. People who are doing a purposeful cutoff tend to jerk the car dramatically into your lane as sort of an exclamation point on the fact that they are doing it, so that the person being shafted (you) will realize who did the shafting. I know I do it.

But as I stated, I can go with this thought process. I am constantly reminding myself on the road to not let any of the insane events that happen there bother me. Because, despite being a laid back sort of guy, how people behave in their cars can get me worked up if I don't watch myself. Every day at work I deal with people who make me wonder how they get by in their lives with the decisions they make and people on the road just reemphasis the fact that people all over the place make foolish choices.

I suppose the trick is to try and make less mistakes than the next guy.

Lee National Denim Day

I hope you all had your pink bracelet for Lee National Denim Day to support their efforts to fight breast cancer. As you can see, men can wear pink [for a good cause] and even handsome puppies can do their part.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Wine-tasting Robots

Have you heard of that "wine-tasting robot? If not, here is the quick run down. Someone smart enough to build a robot has built one that can, instead of doing useful things, use an infrared spectrometer to analyze the reflection of a glass of wine and thus deduce its taste. Apparently it can decide on the taste of other things as well, according to this quote:

When a reporter's hand was placed against the robot's taste sensor, it was identified as prosciutto. A cameraman was mistaken for bacon.

We already know our future is in peril, but do we really need to make a robot that thinks we taste like bacon?

Perhaps you have also seen the following image:

If the caption is a bit too small, it reads, "Press button, receive bacon, enjoy bacon". This is a little note found on those electric hand-dryers in public restrooms.

So now, when the machines take over, in place of bacon coming out when you press the button, a bunch of us will fall out instead.

Old before my time...

I realized today, sitting patiently in my overly small car while waiting on my banana-strawberry smoothie that would eventually see more of the sidewalk than my stomach, that I have become old. Yet the only people who would consider me old are those people that are under the age of 10. They don't realize that 26 is young. My body doesn't realize it either, with its creaky knees and random ailments that only old, rich people are supposed to get.

I am not old in the way years would make someone such. I am old because I've realized a few things that, just by realizing them, make me that way.

Months ago I was speaking with a friend who is actually old - 34! - when he unearthed a discovery about me. The discovery is that I apparently don't like most teenagers. Why? They've got bad attitudes. Not all of them, of course, but a lot of them. And I also envy them because I sometimes wish I was back in High School myself and that age again.

The worst, however, is the fact that I hate the music they listen to. That's right, I've said it. My parents were right; nothing good does come on the radio anymore.

Kids, and I mean kids, seem a lot bolder than they did "in my day". When I was young and I saw someone barreling down on me in a car I would take my "Hungry, Hungry Hippo" out of the road so they wouldn't mow me down. These days I'm lucky if the kids don't try and take my wallet while threatening to jab my eyes out with the surgical tool from the "Operation" game.

To be fair, if I hit a kid with my car, it'd hurt my car more than the child.

I think the main trigger of this whole realization is that everyone seems to be having children. It didn't hit me too much when people started getting married for whatever reason, but now that six people I know are pregnant, it's starting to hit me. Three of my ex-girlfriends are having kids (not mine, let's get that clear) which is wild. My first love from when I was 15/16 is not only 28 years old now, which blows my mind, but she's having a baby soon.

In addition to babies, people are just progressing in life. Progression is a great thing mind you, but still somewhat surreal. My second love I met when she just started school to become a surgical vet which is a long road as you might imagine. I was speaking with her a while back when she mentioned this is her last year. I know it doesn't seem like a short amount of time for her, but to me it feels as if it was just the other day that she was telling me for the first time what she was going to do with her life. I clearly remember thinking, "we'll all be dead by then". Yet here we are. I imagine when I say "already?!" to her that she is filled with the same murderous fire that my pregnant female friends are when they have their child and I say the same to them.

I keep thinking I might be having mid-life crisis but that means I'll have lived a pretty short life indeed. If this is the case, it's time to start making things happen. The real question is; now that I'm old, when do I start feeling grown-up?