One Small Thing…

 I’ve tried to “embed” a short TED presentation for you to consider… it’s only about three and half minutes long.

Many of us have heard that it takes thirty days to form a new habit. This is not about that. Well, not exactly.

What I love about this presentation is the simple elegance. We don’t need to do extreme makeovers in order to change. We just need to commit to trying something for thirty days. I found, for example, the presenter’s example of committing to take one photo every day for thirty days interesting, because I often find myself “whining” (to myself anyway) that I’m not using my camera more. Should I commit to taking one photo everyday for the next thirty?

 

Irene the Dream or Irene the Nightmare?

“I’ll see you in my dreams!” I suppose your age will affect whether the blog title reminds of a song or the current hurricane.

Fear is a powerful emotion. By their own admission many people are “freaking out” over the possibilities Irene is offering. 

On a somewhat analytical level it’s interesting to see how people are reacting to the threat. It’s reassuring when the reaction is relatively calm planning. It’s disconcerting when the reaction is “freaking out.”

First of all I’m really sure what “freaking out” is.  Apparently it has something to do with a “heightened emotional state” according to the Free Dictionary. I gather it can apply to different emotions: fear, anger, excitement.

Understand that I’m not making fun of people who are, perhaps, reacting strongly to this threat. (Notice I did not say “over-reacting.” I think folks are pretty much entitled to react as they please, up to and including freaking out.) I do think that ultimately it’s about perspective and I’m afraid I do not totally understand the value of freaking out.

I do understand the value of emotion. But as human beings we have a wonderful if mystical ability to balance emotion and logic.

How often do we say (or hear said) something about needing to accept things we can’t control? We certainly can’t control a hurricane; we can only control how we think about it–and what we do about it.

In the song about Irene the promise is “I’ll see you in my dreams.” While it wasn’t the intent of the song to imply that a dream-based visit to Irene was going to be better than a real one… well, suffice it to say there are some questions here–just as there are questions about the impending visit from Irene the hurricane.

It is easy (and in an odd way, fun) to be afraid. This Irene is not in our dreams, but we may find ourselves thinking she’s going to be our worst nightmare. Focusing on the dream or the nightmare moves us out of the natural order of things. This Irene is just a hurricane.

By the way, if you’d like to escape from worrying about Irene the Hurricane for a few minutes, you might try researching Irene the dream. I’ll bet you didn’t know (spoiler alert) that the song includes a component of using suicide as a coping mechanism.

Whatever the events taking place in our lives, there are plenty of options besides freaking out or considering suicide. We may not be able to control those events, but we sure can control how we think about them and what we do about them. Controling how we think and what we do has the power to create that balance between emotion and logic.

No dreams, no nightmares. It’s a nice place to be.

Federal Budget 101

As an instructor I’m a big admirer of people who find ways to make information understandable–isn’t that the job of a teacher? While the following email crossed my screen from a political perspective, I was impressed with the simplicity of it and how “eye opening” it is. See what you think!

Federal Budget 101

The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year in the trillions of dollars.  Few people know how much money that is so we created a breakdown of federal spending in simple terms.  Let’s put the 2011 federal budget into perspective:

  •  U.S. Income: $2,170,000,000,000
  •  Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
  •  New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
  •  National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
  •  Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget)

 It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to.  Let’s remove eight zeros from these numbers and pretend this is the household budget for the fictitious Jones family .

  • Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700 
  • Amount of money the Jones family spent: $38,200  
  • Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500  
  • Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
  • Amount cut from the budget: $385

So, in effect last month Congress, or in this example the Jones family, sat down at the kitchen table and agreed to cut $385  from its annual budget.  What family would cut $385 of spending in order to solve $16,500 in deficit spending? 

Now after years of this, the Jones family has $142,710 of debt on its credit card (which is the equivalent of the national debt). 

You would think the Jones family would recognize and address this situation, but it does not. Neither does Congress. 

The root of the debt problem is that the voters typically do not send people to Congress to save money. They are sent there to bring home the bacon to their own home state.  To effect budget change, we need to change the job description and give Congress new marching orders. 

It is  awfully hard (but not impossible) to reverse course and tell the government to stop borrowing money from our children and spending it now. 

In effect, what we have is a reverse mortgage on the country.  The problem is that the voters have become addicted to the money. 

Moreover, the American voters are still in the denial stage, and do not want to face the possibility of going into rehab. 

Attributed to: DAVID THOMAS, Chief Executive Officer — Equitas Capital Advisors LLC

Should I be on Facebook?

I’m not a big fan of forwarded emails… I can probably count on one hand the number of emails I forward each month. And even then, I don’t just send it to everybody in my address book. What follows is one I recently received that seemed to have some merit, particularly for the “over 50” crowd.

Unfortunately, the Internet is a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, privacy ceases to exist if your’re not careful. Oddly, the identity of original authors also seems to disappear. So we’ll attribute this to “anonymous” which is unfortunate because I bet a lot of people will adopt his or her answer to the “paper or plastic” question. Anonymous writes,

When I bought my Blackberry, I thought about the thirty-year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a cell phone that plays music, takes videos, pictures, and communicates with Facebook and Twitter. I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grandkids and 2 great-grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.

That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world.

My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue Tooth [it’s red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife and everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. I had to take my hearing aid out to use it, and I got a little loud.

The GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside that gadget was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, “Re-calc-u-lating.” You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then if I made a right turn instead… Well, it was not a good relationship.

When I get really lost now, I call my wife and Continue reading Should I be on Facebook?

The Ecology of Your Mind

While this may not be about writing, it might be a brain leak. I recently found myself intrigued by some of the thoughts of Sir Ken Robertson. In order:

Here is a link to a 20 minute video of a Presentation on School Creativity. Some of the jokes are bit worn, but he speaks in an entertaining style and will make you think. I’m hesitant to offer a synopsis, but you’ll be challenged by his point that our current model of public education was designed to meet the needs of an increasing industrialized nation. You have to wonder: does that model still fit?

Two years later he offers some thoughts on valuing creativity. Here we follow a young girl who went from being diagnosed with a learning disability that hadn’t been invented yet to a highly successful dancer and owner of her own company.  How do we encourage things like this to happen? “I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity.”

Just last year, Robertson encourages us to bring on the revolution. A follow up to the 2006 presentation on school creativity, this will definitely get your blood pumping. If you’re interested in improving education, don’t miss this one!

I do love the concept of “human ecology” and will likely be writing about it some more… the way we use the term “ecology” these days is actually the third definition. In a larger and perhaps grander sense, we are talking about the relationships between humans and their environments. School (education) is as much an environment as it is a process. Those of us who teach need to understand that.

Walter Boomsma (“Mr. Boomsma”) writes on a wide array of topics including personal development, teaching and learning. Course information is also available here!