10 Minutes to Show Off

Today’s prompt took me back to the opening of my college freshman class, English 101: Composition Writing. The professor wanted to assess the skills of the students and wrote six topics on the board as writing prompts.

  1. Tattoos
  2. Teenagers
  3. Body Piercings
  4. Public Transportation
  5. Small Pets
  6. Old People

The instructions were to take 10 minutes to write two pages of text, by hand. There were no computers in the classroom. You could tell a story, debate a topic, share a memory, and so on. It was a creative writing exercise with a short time limit.

I chose to blend all six and submitted:

“Tattooed teenagers with multiple body piercings should avoid riding public transportation where they may encounter old people with small pets…”


Time’s up.

Love Creates Beauty

Absolute Beauty

We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you agree? is all beauty contingent on a subjective point of view?

They met on New Year’s Day 1986. Tim was a young US Navy sailor on holiday leave and visiting his hometown. His older brother, Jim, invited Tim, and younger brother Dave to go over to his college girlfriend’s home for board games. They agreed.

Jim led Tim around the house and made quick introductions to the parents and Claire’s younger sisters. Tim just smiled and nodded to each one in turn before moving in to the living room for the games. He figured he was meeting his future in-laws since it looked like Jim and Claire were headed for marriage after they finished college. The right thing to do was make a positive impression.

Three pairs played Trivial Pursuit that evening.

  • Jim and Claire were too distracted with each other to concentrate on the game for more than fifteen seconds at a time.
  • Claire’s parents were not trivia buffs but politely played along.
  • Tim and Dave were two bachelors with voracious reading habits and minds that retained enormous quantities of useless data. They dominated the board.

At some point in the game, there was an interruption from Claire’s younger sister as she roughhoused with another visitor. The commotion spilled into the room almost upsetting the board pieces before ranging back into the kitchen. The living room group finished the game as Dave named the only native North American marsupial (Opossum) for the win.

Shortly thereafter, Tim and Dave made their exit and headed home for the night. It had been a pleasant enough evening with laughter and giggling (mostly from Jim and Claire), light snacks, and getting to know the future in-laws a little. Good people, nice family, becoming related would be okay.

Fast forward five months and Tim asked her after the movie, “Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“What?” he said, “Are you serious?”

“Are you?” she asked.

“Yes,” he answered more confidently.

“Me too,” she declared.

It was the younger sister. What began so casually had grown through letters and phone calls. They shared hopes, dreams, and plans. Distance was irrelevant. Their hearts knitted together.

He was fascinated with her. She was so different from everyone else; so joyful, creative, and beautiful. The way she looked at him emboldened him. He could tackle the future with her strength and support.

She made him more confident. He had always been cocky, this was better. She believed in him and his purpose became to live up to that faith, to be worthy of it and never fail.

27 years of marriage so far. People ask how we’ve made it.

“It’s easy when you’re married to your best friend.”

Social Media – What’s the Point?

Overload Alert

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein
Do you agree?

Social media, I don’t get it.

Make a phone call, hang up, and get back to work.
Receive email, answer email, and get back to work.

The opinion of Hollywood stars or the hordes of comments on a political topic are useless distractions to actual personal interactions hindered by the false environment of social media.

I attended a speaking event where the presenter pushed for the need to be on a specific media outlet. I joined out of curiosity. Two years later, I’m still not convinced.

Tweet, chirp, #burp, post updates to the world with glib platitudes for all to see.
“Like” your own posts to falsely increase the ranking–whatever.

Emails or comments posted like this annoy me:

Hi, I’m so-and-so from LMNOPQ Corporation,

Do you need….? blah, blah, blah…

We can do it! 

You can reach me on Facebook, Linkedin, Skype, Twitter, Reddit, Google+, or (least preferred) old fashioned email. 


Generic Internet Marketer

My response to contacts like this would be “No, thank you” no matter how many friend requests you send.

Social media sites encourage us to update our profiles, recommend others, continually add more people to our network, or otherwise click links and show how actively we use their portal. In the main, it’s meaningless chatter, an endless stream of useless snippets of drivel.

How does this connect us to one another?
How does this lead to fostering trust strong enough to entertain doing business with each other?

So what if I voted on a two-column versus one-column blog layout survey and you “liked” my post?
Is that going to translate into commerce between us? Probably not.

I’m no Luddite or technophobe but after putting in a full workday at the office computer, I unplug.
The computer gets shut down, the cell phone gets turned off for recharge, and genuine human face-to-face interaction begins with family and friends.

Later, I log on at home to blog and read other’s postings. 🙂

P.S. I’m so glad I have this blog to vent such things to the world.

Oops! Does that mean I’m part of the problem now?

Snowy Memory

The weather here in Virginia is turning, teasing us with the fall season.
Temperatures are milder, humidity is dropping into a more breathable range, and there is a crispness in the evening air.
As the season changes, it becomes a time for reflection and this memory from last winter came to mind.

#1 son came home from his job late in the night after we went to bed.

A single set of footprints come up the driveway and into the house.

This morning, all windshields covered with snow, except one-half of his.

Yes, one-half.
It seems he cleared the driver’s side enough to drive home (within the neighborhood all the way).

When asked about it, he said it was too cold to roll down the window and drive with his head sticking out. So he compromised and cleared his half of the windshield.

Ah, youth!

Meeting Whiplash

Curve Balls

When was the last time you were completely stumped by a question, a request, or a situation you found yourself in? How did you handle it?

“Now we’ll have the quarterly status report delivered by Tim.”

Tim sat there in a stupor. He wasn’t prepared to give a report at this meeting.

He was only there because his boss had called in sick. Tim had received the phone call only twenty minutes ago. Something about bad seafood and bodily fluids erupting uncontrollably. Worse than that, his boss hadn’t completed the report for this morning’s meeting.

Tim had searched the desk, computer, copier, and even trash cans to find enough information for a presentation. Here he sat with a sloppy stack of mismatched papers hastily assembled and surely incoherent.

He cleared his throat and stood up. His initial mumbles sparked a few murmurs until he restarted, louder this time.

“Quarterly metrics are improved by 4 percent over last quarter. Incidents are down. Compliance is up. Emerging initiatives appear to be developing growth synergies across business sectors…”

The jargon flowed freely. The terms meaningless to him. This was how his boss always spoke. Tim hadn’t realized how much he’d absorbed through daily interaction with him. The meeting attendees listened and nodded as the gobbledygook language rolled off his tongue. Like a politician, he filled the air with words, conveying nothing.

After twenty minutes he stopped and sat down. He had made no conclusion. He had simply reached his personal limit of babble and cut off his last sentence abruptly. No one seemed to notice.

“Thank you, Tim, for that insightful discourse. I’m sure we’ll be able to incorporate some of your ideas into the next paradigm.”

Changing for Someone – The List

To-Do? Done!

Quickly list five things you’d like to change in your life. Now, write a post about a day in your life once all five have been crossed off your to-do list.

“What do you want from me? I can change to make you happy. Just tell me.” he said desperately.

“I don’t want to change you,” she replied.

“Tell me,” he urged again, “What must I change?”

“Okay, since you really want to know, here’s a list.” she answered and handed him a sheet of paper.

“You’ve got a written list?” he asked surprised.

“Be sure to read the front and back,” she commanded. “I’ve numbered and outlined subheadings by major categories.”

He scanned the page for the major headings, then went back more slowly and reread the subheadings. Each item was numbered or lettered and followed by a short explanation. It followed a pattern of:

  • Problem
  • Desired Change
  • Acceptable Evidence of Change

There were underlined portions of some text. He pointed to one and raised an eyebrow at her.

“Hyperlinks,” she stated. “The full document is on my blog. This is just the index.”

He hung his head, got up from the table and turned to leave the restaurant. His own list of things to change began forming in his mind as he walked home.

  1. Change to a different online dating service
  2. Stop dating bloggers
  3. Stop posting the details of his dates on his own blog…

Improving My Soul

Soulful Machines

Machines, appliances, and gadgets sometimes feel like they have their own personalities — from quirky cars to dignified food processors. What’s the most “human” machine you own? 

Soulful –

  • Filling one’s soul with goodness.
  • Improving yourself.
  • Making you a better person.
  • Smoothing the rough edges off your personality.
  • Increasing your capacity to interact positively with others.

It must be my coffee maker.