Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Rare Rainy Christmas Day

Workers in the Yard

While I was dismantling the Christmas decorations in our yard--three blow-ups (Snoopy, Nutcracker, and an igloo-bound penguin), two metal Christmas trees with multi-colored lights, three lighted wire reindeer, and icicle lights--I spotted this web nicely backlit.

My yard is full of tiny adventure like this. I just gotta be sure to keep looking for the little things.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Photo Interlude

Quiet Color Sunrise

Sunrise Reflections

Hangars at Sunset

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Twilight for a Year We Should Have Skipped

Building things is hard. Destroying them, easy.

This year, destructive incompetence in the United States Congress bore spectacular fruit. An economic system that had created more prosperity for more people than we could have imagined just a couple generations ago was brought shaking to its knees by the repeated irresponsible actions of a handful of utopians on Capitol Hill.

Those same members of Congress, having broken what it took generations to build, now wish to take command of its repair.

Our cure, apparently, is to be more of the hair of the dog that bit us.

Well, thanks very much, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and Maxine Waters. But I'd prefer to hang on to what prosperity remains, to cling to the hope that we may one day rebuild what was so foolishly broken.

Please go find some other system to 'repair.'

And to the year 2008, good riddance.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Human Oddities (a character study)

On weekends, I frequent a local Starbucks* for a slow-drunk venti Americano and some alone time for writing.

While my focus is the writing, I can't help but watch people a bit, can't help but see some weirdness.

Twice in recent weeks, I've seen the same attractive, clearly well-off woman come in, buy coffee, sit down, and then wander over to the newspaper rack.

Both times, she made a show of rummaging through the freebies--left-overs from previous patrons--before grabbing a brand new paper and slinking off without paying.

Now here's a person who, by all appearances, life has treated well. Yet she sells her integrity for the price of a newspaper (50 cents weekdays and Saturday, $1.25 Sunday).

I'd love to understand what goes through her mind, love to know if she's enthralled by the skulduggery, or if--in her head--anything that she can get away with is okay. Or is it something else entirely?

I'll never ask her, of course. That kind of confrontation is not my style. But still, I'd love to know.

Somewhere along the line, I'm sure something like this behavior will find its way into one of my characters.

*sadly, the Starbucks juggernaut killed the competition I cared for (Seatle's Best and Dietrich)

Summer Swims Winding Down

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fine Times

fallen sycamore leaves

Summer evenings, when the sun has fallen low in the sky, my son and I often go swimming. It's a moment in life when I feel close to whole. There's joy in playing with my son, and peace in the experience of cool water and easy movement.

And yet, knowing these things, I'm almost always surprised by the lift our end-of-day play-time gives me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

10 Rules for Goal Setting

Over the last few weeks, I've been talking with friends about goal setting and trying to formulate my own set of goals for the new year and beyond.

This is not a simple exercise.

Self improvement is an evergreen industry, spewing pablum, nonsense and magical thinking throughout the land. That's not all it does, of course, but the stuff making the most outrageous claims seems to find the end-caps at every big-box retailer in the USA.

So the question is, How can I craft a set of goals that will actually help me improve my life, rather than smothering me in regrets when I've failed to climb Everest, conquer Broadway, or cure cancer?

So, here's the set of rules I've come up with for myself (the fact that there are ten is an accident... honestly).

  1. Don't set impossible goals. What could be a surer way to feel lousy about yourself than to set goals you can't possibly accomplish?

  2. Big goals are fine, but there needs to be a clear, rational path from here to there (see the next rule for clarification).

  3. Create a set of goals that allows for a series of accumulated victories. If all the goals are huge, you've crushed yourself before you taking your first step.

    Accomplishing the short and mid-term goals gives invaluable encouragement along the way to bigger, more challenging goals.

    Any long-term goal that doesn't have short and mid-term goals leading to it is doomed to failure. You might as well pray for a lottery win.

  4. Don't shy from big, tough goals. The trick is to build a path of small-goal stepping stones to get there.

    Big victories (accomplishment of ambitious goals) are made of a series of small behaviors. To paraphrase John Wooden (very imprecisely, I’m sure), there are no big things, only a series of little things that add up to something big.

  5. Don't set too many goals.

    What’s too many? I have no idea (and I’m sure the number differs from person to person).. But just like setting impossible goals, setting too many can be utterly self-defeating. It’s best, I think, to go after a small handful of the most fundamental goals you can imagine for yourself. Keep in mind that the point is to stretch without guaranteeing your own failure.

  6. Goals should be effort-based, rather than results-based. You can't always control the outcome, but you can control your input.

  7. Goals should not be all-or-nothing affairs. Don't allow yourself to be made miserable for failing to achieve goals. Failure, in this regard, is relative, anyway. It’s certainly possible to make meaningful progress in life without fully achieving your goals.

  8. Goals are meant to be constructive. The minute they become destructive, you have to rethink what you're doing with them.

  9. Don't let days go by without thinking about what you're trying to accomplish. The act of creating, and chasing, goals requires breaking old habits. It’s far too easy to fall back to old behaviors if you don’t continually remind yourself of the steps required to get where you want to go.

  10. Occasionally revisit your goals to ensure that the short and mid-term activities still feel like they’re aligned with the longer-term goals.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another Showy Sunrise

Fast-moving clouds and fast-changing conditions make for all kinds of great variety in the shots I can take out my office window.

It doesn't hurt to get to work in the wee, wee hours, either.