Other Side Of The Lens

B and Me

This is a shot of Beatrix and I, taken the other day at the park. Pictures of the two of us together are rare. Not because we don’t spend much time together. Simply because I’m so often the one taking the pictures.

Yet, I spend a great deal of time with my little girl. I’m fiercely protective of that time too. She is simply one of my favorite people to be around. She’s sweet and funny and a creative thinker. She has an incredibly kind spirit and gentle heart. She’s the sort of kid who greets everyone she passes as we walk to the park. If they have a dog she will politely ask if she can pet it, ask the name, and hold out her hand gently and let the dog sniff before running her tiny hands across its head. She thanks people politely when they give her a compliment. Courtesy and grace are a part of her being.

She’s also wonderful to photograph. And I find myself being so captivated by doing so that it does not occur to me to be in the same frame with her. To show some evidence of being there too.

I think it is often the case that there is that one person in the family who assumes the role of principle photographer. It generally just kind of happens. And, I believe you could always tell who that person is if looking though a collection of family photos. They are the ones who appear in the fewest of the photos.

If you are that person in your family, remember to step around to the other side of the lens from time to time. Let the future know that you were there too.

Items Of Interest — #4

My regular series of some random things I wish to share is here once again…

Chris Gonzales recently released the first of his interview series and it just happens to be with your’s truly. It was a lot of fun to do and he was very patient with me. I’m looking forward to the rest.

Starting today, for a limited time, Tomely is offering the a Zeitgeisty Books Bundle. It’s pay what you want bundle of eBooks from some great authors including Robin Sloan and Jack Cheng. Paying more unlocks a couple of other titles. Looks like a solid deal.

Speaking of books, my friend Augusto Pinaud has released a new book called iPad Only. Pretty much what it says on the tin — great ways to use your iPad for almost everything. It is as much about their own personal journey on this path as it is recommendation. Much to gain here.

Looking for a beautiful cover for your Field Notes or similar sized notebook? Look no further. Holy cow that is beautiful stuff.

Speaking of note taking, I’ve recently enjoyed pouring through the archives of Taking Note which is a blog about just that. Highly recommended if you are a note taking nerd as I am. Be warned if you are that type here, you might lose hours here.

That’s all for now. I’ve got some work to get to.

I’m a writer. Writing is how I make this world better, friendlier, stronger place. If these words improved your day, please let me know by contributing here.

You Say You Want A Revolution?

Civil |esrek|referrer|nfeks
rights, regardless of race, was not truly protected in this country for almost 200 years. Despite the fact that the Bill of Rights itself should have had it covered, it had to be spelled out and made clear by passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 and was not fully protected until nearly 100 years after that with the passage of Twenty-fourth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

Those who have taken a US History class in elementary school should know this, of course. But, the larger takeaway here is that sometimes, our Bill of Rights is not clear enough. The framers knew this would be the case. Thus, a process was put into place so that we, as a nation, may further add, clarify and refine these rights through amendments.

Yet, the movement to take such measures has never been motivated by the people in power — especially those concerning our most basic of rights (Freedom, Voting, Ownership, etc.). It was the power of people — millions of people — that forced the people in power to act. This is, after all, the spirit of the “American Experiment”. That those in power act and serve according to the will of the people1.

It was not Abraham Lincoln alone who motivated the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. It was not the thousands of abolitionists who spoke out against slavery. It was not the tens of thousands who actively supported the abolitionist’s cause or the hundreds of thousands who did so silently. It was the millions of those trapped in Southern bondage and the millions more affected by the War Between The States, that tore at the very idea of our nation, who did. Only through the struggle, bloodshed, toil, and service of millions did our government then see fit to act.

And, when it came time to clarify and ensure the rights granted by that amendment through passage of other laws, it was not Lyndon B. Johnson alone who drove the cause. It was not hundreds sitting-in at lunch counters or the thousands filling the jails. It was not the tens of thousands boycotting busses or the hundreds of thousands marching in the streets and to government’s front door. It was the millions actively supporting the movements of all of these actors. Those recognizing that all freedom is threatened when even one freedom is denied. Demanding from their President and Representatives that a change be made.

I feel that we have reached another such a defining time with other freedoms granted by our Bill of Rights. As previously stated, a process was left in place by which we as a nation can and should further clarify, adjust, and refine these original and basic rights for a modern age. The judicial system alone has shown to be not enough. The people in power have never, historically, motivated such change. It is time for we the people to act once again.

Several of the original amendments are currently in question by those in power. The First Amendment might need such clarification2. As well, the Fourth3, Fifth4, and Sixth5 are all in question by those we have elected to serve us. And, I would even go so far to argue that the Second is ripe for clarification as it is the one that gives the power to the people to ensure that the others shall not be peaceably taken 6.

But such change will never come by hundreds getting out the truth. It will not come from the thousands calling for change on the Internet. It will not come from the tens of thousands actively in support of such change. Or from the hundreds of thousands who silently believe such change is needed but feel powerless to act. Revolutions are counted in the millions. And it will take millions of us to actively demand that those in positions of power act or be removed through our action. It will take marching by the hundreds of thousands in every street or taking millions to the doorsteps of power once again.

Until such time, expect no change. If we want such change that clarifies, protects, and ensures our rights, we must as a nation demand them. For, as history has repeatedly shown us, the people in power will only respond to the overwhelming power of the people.

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Items Of Interest — #3

Another round of the items I found worth of short mention in the past week or so:

While personal online privacy and security (Yes, Virginia. You can and should have both.) continues to be an topic worthy of our discussion, I enjoyed this breakdown by Ben Brooks of how to best encrypt your stuff against “Starbucks Hacker Bob”. It might not protect you from the real spooks but it should help you in most public spaces.

Jack Cheng recently wrote one of the most insightful things on creativity I’ve read in a while. It is the idea that many of are motivated to create out of a desire to be loved. Yet, it is this desire that in fact keeps us from creating great art. That, great art is created out of the desire to love.

Here’s a very interesting post about Pope Francis’s daily meditation practice. It is a Jesuit twice-daily mindfulness practice called the examen, which is, as the name suggests, a quick examination of your state of mind.

While we are speaking of meditation and Catholicism, Pacem in Terris (which translates to ‘Peace on Earth’) is a Franciscan hermitage that is just a couple of hours away from me. I’m not Catholic (which is OK because they welcome all), but I would love to spend a two or three days alone here. I put it on my wish list.

Memez is a new iPhone game that looks like an interesting mashup of Tetris and puzzles.

Today, I’ll be doing all I can to attend the book signing for my friend Kelly’s latest book in the Fallen Blade series, Blade Reforged. I’ve read the first two in the series and they are fantastic. Now, I’m going to get the rest.

Have a great weekend!

I’m a full-time independent writer who works hard to bring you quality reading and ideas here daily. If you enjoy what you read here, please consider a free will donation of any amount.

Items Of Interest — #2

I’ve been increasingly interested in the research that shows how valuable taking a break from out overly busy days can be. For instance, according to The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. urges meditation and taking a walk outside as key strategies for increased focus and drive. For this reason, next up on my to-read list is Autopilot: The Art & Science Of Doing Nothing by Andrew Smart. From what I’ve heard, it dives even deeper into the science behind making the time to do nothing.

While we are on the subject of books, the one I’m currently reading is Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei and Scott Belsky. I love simple, practical, actionable advice for creatives like myself and this has hit the mark so far. I love the idea that it leads with — putting your priorities first. Far too often, we start our day in reaction mode — responding to emails, checking voice mails, reacting to task lists. The book argues that this puts other peoples priorities first and give your creativity and back seat. I know I need to be much better at this.

I was recently surprised and delighted to find myself mentioned amongst others I enjoy in this Fast Company post on the benefits of hand writing on pen and paper. I do a fair (and increasing) bit of first drafting on paper. This post started out that way as have many others.

If you are in the market for a good (but not too good) notebook to capture your thoughts, Field Notes are always a good choice. I always have one in my back pocket to capture meeting notes and ideas for the current books I’m working on. The most recent special edition, The Night Sky, is a real stunner.

I know that privacy and security are of increasing concern given recent events here in the cradle of democracy. Therefore, I find this neat little Onion Pi project of interest. Get yourself a Raspberry Pi, a USB wifi adapter, power, and ethernet. And now you have a little secure hotspot that routes all traffic through the anonymizing Tor Network. Of course, one will need more than this to be truly anonymous and secure but, hey, it’s a good place to start (and nerdy fun too).

I generally do not like most of the conferences I have attended. Mainly because I’m an introvert and find they take more energy than the value they often provide. Therefore, I have pondered starting a conference myself before, and still might actually do so in the future. One that provides all of, and only, the parts of the things I like about conferences. That said, if I were to make a list and spell out what those things were, it would look very much like this guide to running a good conference or event. In fact, it pretty much covers it.

Speaking of events, I’ll be hosting a meet-up event for members of App.net on June 20th (This Thursday) at 6:30p at the Chatterbox Cafe in Saint Paul, MN. I would love it if you are around and joined us. Not an App.net member? Have no idea what it is? Well…

App.net is the social networking service that has largely replaced Twitter for me. It is everything Twitter used to be and should have become. App.net is normally a paid service (Which is one of the things I love about it — you are the customer!) but, the kind and generous folks there have given me some free invites to give away. Just click that link and you’ll be in like flint. I have not idea how many there are so first come first serve and they are gone when they are gone.

I’m a full-time independent writer who works hard to bring you quality reading and ideas here daily. If you enjoy what you read here, please consider a free will donation of any amount.

The Haystack Problem

If you were looking for a needle in a haystack, how would you make that job easier? Would you remove some of the hay or would you add to it? Of course, you would take some away. The more you take away the better the chance of finding the needle.

Now, what if your job was to find needles in haystacks? And, what if I told you the more hay you had the more needles you would find? Well, then, you might opt to add more hay. In fact, if you believed that finding those needles was a life-or-death matter, you might be inclined to add as much hay as you possibly could to increase the chance that more than one needle might be there.

Finally, what if I told you that, really, your job was not to necessarily find the needles? It was only to plant the seed of possibility that the needle might be there simply because it has been proven that a needle exists anywhere a big pile of hay does? All you have to do is collect as much hay as possible so that, should a needle be suspected, there is sufficient hay to back it up.

Now, if you watch the video on this page, at the 7:30 mark, this guy will tell you why the size of the haystack does not matter, what matters is that there is enough hay to prove a needle exists.

When we stop caring…

Everyone |iberz|referrer|atist
can see it. We think they can’t. We usually do the bare minimum. To maintain the appearance of caring. But everyone can sense the struggle we go through just to do that. They know when you stopped caring.

It shows in your relationships. It shows in your home. It shows in the job that you barely do. Everyone can see when the fire is out. When the spark no longer ignites the flame to make it. And when you no longer have the passion to strike the match.

The signs are seen not just in those who’ve stopped caring but also in the things they’ve stopped caring for. The work that is just now OK, yet used to meet a higher standard. The shine that is just a bit more dull. The home full of people living within that has no life. Everyone can tell.

They can tell on a larger scale too. The neighborhood that lacks it’s friendly charm. The school that lacks the excitement of learning. The town that is missing its sense of place. The nation that has lost it’s pride. All of these are due, in large part, to those who’ve stopped caring.

Yet, all it often takes to change it is one person who cares despite it all. One person to decide they are going to do just a little bit more. The one person who stands up with passion amongst the apathy is the one that stands out. The one willing to give a damn when no one else will.

Of course, if one person has the courage to care perhaps others will be inspired to care too. Then, those things they begin to care about will be better for it. The relationships will be that much stronger. The homes, that much more full of life. The neighborhoods more welcoming. The towns and cities will blossom. And a proud nation will rise up from it all.

And, everyone can see that too.

Items Of Interest #1

Life has been getting in the way of the writing recently. Life can be like that some times. That said, there are a number of items that I run across in my travels that I wish to share some thoughts about. Far too often I park these and wait to do a full fledged post of a single one. This often ends up with me sharing nothing at all.

Therefore, I thought I would try to correct this by doing a regular series I’m dubbing Items Of Interest. My thinking is to offer some short commentary on a number of links in a kind of traditional weblog style. I hope this is useful. Here we go…

The Last Ice Merchant (El Último Hielero) is one of the nicest short films I have seen in a while. It’s about the last of a generation of ice harvesters on Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo.

There’s still some time to get the Bomber Jacket Briefolio from Levenger for about $50.00 off the regular price. Those who have followed me know I’m a big fan of Levenger (and customer for over 20 years). That is because their quality and service are unmatched in a world where mediocrity is the norm. At only $79.00 for such a handsome piece that will last a lifetime, it is difficult to pass up. It would make a great Father’s Day gift.

Slip Notes look like a great way to manage your stack of index card notes. You do keep a stack of notes on index cards, right?

Of course, while we are discussing index cards, Noteboard is a pocket whiteboard that folds up into the size of one. It even comes with a handy dry-erase pen.

The link before last is thanks to my good friend and very talented human being Mike Rohde. Besides being in the thick doing illustrations for the next 37 Signals book, he somehow found the time to release what is, perhaps, the nicest handwriting font I’ve ever seen. Read all about how The Sketchnote Typeface came to be and buy the heck out of it. I already have at least one project I know I’m going to use this for.

This week, I had the pleasure of attending the latest Ignite 5 in Minneapolis. If you’ve never been to an Ignite event before, it works like this: 5 minutes, 20 slides, with each slide auto-advancing every 15 seconds. Speakers are selected from submissions and can be on just about any topic. It’s a lot of fun (I was a speaker last year). The talk that I think stuck with me the most this year was from Kevin Hendricks who read 137 books in one year and gave some real practical and actionable tips on reading books more. Of course, he wrote a book about his experience (and the Kindle version is currently free on Amazon for Prime members).

I’ve been becoming increasingly interested in online privacy. Towards that end, I’ve been using and recommending Cloak to others that are equally interested. Cloak is a VPN service and provides an easy way to protect yourself on public wi-fi hotspots and other places where you are unsure of your online privacy. The plans are pretty fair (as low as $1.99 a month) so it is a great deal too. Also, they just rolled out a new feature where you can make your connection country specific. This also means the ability to get around region blocks on certain content (BBC anyone?).

And, if you are really paranoid and value extreme privacy over browsing speed (because, well, freedom is never free), the Tor Project is for you.

Have a nice weekend.

I’m a full-time independent writer who works hard to bring you quality reading and ideas here daily. If you enjoy what you read here, please consider a free will donation of any amount.

THIS IS WATER – By David Foster Wallace

THIS IS WATER – By David Foster Wallace from The Glossary on Vimeo.
Great visualization of the commencement address author David Foster Wallace was asked to give to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College.
I’m a DFW fan and was familiarized with this speech through his posthumously published book of the same name. Which is a reprinting of the entire speech (the video only includes excerpts). Also highly recommended.