Posts Tagged ‘Seeing things with new eyes’

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As I mentioned in my last post, I am grateful for the amount of inventive and creatively talented people I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by. A part 2 to this end is required when I see what my great colleague Joe does on his off time. Enjoy the amazingly professional, but volunteer productions of Wild Pilots



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One of the more favorable things I am grateful for in my life has been the amount of inventive and creatively talented people I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by.

Thomas Crenshaw is one such individual who a few days ago put together this little tribute video for one of his (and mine) favorite TV Shows. The video is fun, compelling and burning up the replays on youtube right now.


Thomas Crenshaw

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Dear friends, acquaintances and citizens.

I’m going to break FB protocol and add a lengthy status update. The double-edged sword about Social Media today is that it allows us to keep in touch with many people, but it’s format leaves so much to be desired that in topics such as politics we are left to the posting of a link and bound by brevity. It has become the equivalent of running into a crowded conference room, shouting a string of one-sided epithets as if it were a ticking IED (Improvised Explosive Device), then slamming the door and running away.

As we enter this year’s election I make a plea for everyone to remain civil in our attitudes. What good is our democracy if we have to spend the next several years repairing hurt feelings and harsh attitudes at each election? Our lack of trust in each other erodes our ability to stay civil, work together and truly progress.

Politics requires a medium where all sides of issues can be explored or it will only serve to divide. Healthy debate and the challenge of ideas must exist for us to make policy. The first amendment can only serve its purpose when we show restraint and kindness and truly open our minds.

We can disagree without ridicule. We can share a counterpoint without disgust. Humor can be used to relieve tension rather than create it. The mark of true tolerance is being able to share space with a person, with whom you disagree, without feeling fear, offense or that they are the enemy.

Tolerance: The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

However we as a people have not showed restraint enough to achieve true tolerance to make progress.

  • Tolerance is not the same as acceptance.
    • Our culture has confused tolerance for acceptance.
      • Acceptance: The action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group. Agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation.
      • Tolerance sits on the opposite end of acceptance. If we are to have any exchange of new ideas, we must embrace tolerance and be clear about the distinction between the two concepts and value them differently.
  • Tolerance must lead to co-existence.
    • In order for us to have productive, happy, healthy communities, we must coexist. We cannot merely live next door to each other with a brewing sense of hostility.
      • Coexistence: a policy of living peacefully with other nations, religions, etc., despite fundamental disagreements.

We call upon all people everywhere to recommit themselves to the time-honored ideals of tolerance and mutual respect.

I sincerely believe that as we acknowledge one another with consideration and compassion we will discover that we can all live peacefully despite different ideologies or interests and despite our deepest differences.

I used to love election years, because it was a time when people stopped worrying more about Beyonce Knowles and focused on issues that really make a difference in our lives. We have lost what it means to have healthy debate. We surround ourselves with people, books and ideas that only support our preconceived notions. Places where we have found acceptance.  We insist on/attempt to categorize others and their viewpoints in terms of “good” and “bad,” “black” and “white.” and pit the opposite into an all-good or all bad judgment.

American politics have always been full of character attacks and salacious headlines. It is time to evolve. If we purport to have kindness and tolerance, we must ensure our attitudes and our hearts reflect it first, before our laws can truly reflect it. Before we can make policy, we must truly understand it, believe it and be able to exemplify it.

The question is “How can we be better than we believe we are, when nothing less will do?”

No matter which leader you have been inspired by all of them promote the ideal that we can rise above our current condition and have hope for the future.

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

-John F. Kennedy

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Barack Obama

“We can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.”

Mitt Romney

This election year we can stand for civility.

The only difference in our candidates is HOW they propose to effect change. One statement or stance does not make them a socialist, a woman-hater, a bigot, or a tyrant.

I would like to restore the definition of hate back to its former glory. Hate: (v) Feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone). (n) Intense or passionate dislike.

Not supporting a certain cause does not imply hate or a judgment about the opposite. It implies support for a preferred resolution over another. Hate is an emotion, which is completely controllable. Can you disagree with someone and not hate him or her? Of course. However the propaganda today would have you believe this is not so. How do you disagree with someone and still love and respect him or her? Mislabeling someone’s proposition for change in a different way than you would suggest as hate only exposes weakness of heart & emotional immaturity. It will render us powerless in the long run.

Taking offense at the prosperity of another only shows a weakness of heart and mind, which will render you powerless.

I make a call to all journalists to raise the bar of integrity of reporting. Retractions & miscued reporting should be treated with the same import as the original article. If there is a headline that is found to be misleading, inaccurate or untrue, you should reprint the retraction as a headline. The small note from the editor in small print on the inside cover does not repair or redeem your credibility. Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Sean Hannity, I don’t care about your opinions just give me the facts. And BTW folks as much as I love John Stewart and Stephen Colbert they are comedians. They exploit situations for the profit of laughing. It’s not real news.

The mark of the greatness of our country is the peaceful transfer of power. I’ve had the privilege to attend the inauguration of two of our presidents. This one sacred event is a powerful example of how civility marks our nation’s attitude.

For most part of my life I have lived in places where ideologically I am a minority. Even as a white, heterosexual, male I have felt the pangs of discrimination. Ridiculed for beliefs, without proper foresight and feared for my well being if I were to publicly express my own opinion. We must all have the courage to be able to express our opinions without fear. A community that ensures that safety is the true mark what tolerance can do for us. It is true freedom, rather than following the rhetoric of groupthink as we have today.

News flash: we do not live in democracy. We do not vote for the president the same way we “Like” a Facebook post, vote for American Idol or Reddit threads.We live in a Democratic Federalist Republic. By design we have checks and balances for the wisdom of restraint. (Here some reference links. Democracy, Federalism, Republic)

We cannot afford to make assumptions:
Let’s all read the Constitution, Bill of Rights, All the amendments. Let’s study political & social history. Let’s study how read the results of a scientific study. Let’s listen more than we talk so that we can discover truth together.

I learned long ago that when you accuse someone/thing incorrectly without all the information you’re exposing to people much more about your own heart than theirs, even if they are making mistakes. And for those who think the reversal is too late? Well if we have no room in our society for forgiveness than we have no real hope for progress.

“If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.”

-Nelson Mandela

Before you make an accusation, verify the facts, dig deeper, truly put yourself in the others shoes and try to understand why they might feel that is a good solution. Do not vilify others.

This is our greatest hour, and the world is watching. Our greatest testament of the power of who we are is the peaceful transfer of power.

From my liberal friends in Wisconsin to my conservative friends in Utah to all my friends on the coasts, we can be united in purpose and service. Recognize each other’s efforts as efforts. Accept the good in people and see their flaws as just that. Flaws. No one is perfect, but we would be remiss to throw the baby out with the bathwater just because we don’t agree with someone’s point of view.

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You can get all academic about what you want to do with your life and what you want in your career or job. But no amount of money, status to function can make up for the feeling that you get when you solve a hard problem, overcome and obstacle or build something that’s never been done before.  These are the emotions that epitomize my favorite seen from the movie Moneyball.

At the end of the day I want the job where I get to make this scene happen more often than not. Everything else is arbitrary!

Live life and love it!

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Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood won four Emmy awards, and Rogers received one for lifetime achievement.

During the 1997 Daytime Emmys, the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Rogers. The following is an excerpt from Esquire‘s coverage of the gala, written by Tom Junod:

Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award — and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence.”And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, “I’ll watch the time.” There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, seven seconds — and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly “May God be with you,” to all his vanquished children.[13][21]https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Fred_Rogers#Personal_life

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“We haven’t had a car in our garage for 20 years. It’s half boat and bicycle storage and half blacksmith shop. My wife says people who put cars in their garage have no imagination.

I make all sorts of stuff. Candlesticks, wall hooks, fireplace screens.”

Darren Bush – Flatwater Paddling Evangelist

See the full article here:


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On MLK day, I went to see the last day that the Edward Hopper exhibit showed at the National Museum of Modern Art in D.C. Edward Hopper is famous for several pieces, but most know for his image on a late night cafe in New York. A painting he called Nighthawks.

Nighthawks - Edward HopperWhile this is his most famous work, Hopper was credited for his unique style in a time when many artists were followign trends. I think that it was just his nature that came through in his paintings. Despite many being set in an urban setting, Hopper found the moments of solitude within the story of bustling activity. As I walked through his works, the words “solitude”, and “quiet” came to mind. He painted scenes of moments either just before a lot of excitement or after. Moments of reflection and power, reckoning and self introspect.

He was very good at “Seeing things with new eyes.” In one particular painting he caught a view of a popular harbor in Portland Maine. This particular harbor was painted by several artist’s at the time. But Hopper’s view captured a specific angle that it was almost too difficult to recognize it as the same harbor everyone else was painting.

One of my favorite phrases displayed in the exhibit was a quote about Hopper’s skills. (I’m sorry I don’t remember who said it.) “If Hopper were a better painter, he never would have been the great artist he was.” What a fascinating statement, and yet so true.. It may seem like a cut or a slam, but in reality it laid claim to the idea that even his weaknesses were a part of his greatness. We more often hear statements like “Despite his weaknesses he succeeded.”

AutomateAnother theme that Hopper captured was discovering how to convey loneliness without depression or sadness. I live alone, and while I’m happy with my life, there is a loneliness that’s hard to describe. Most would say that feeling lonely makes one sad. Sometimes that’s true, but I think there’s also a great reverence in that feeling and a sense of quiet satisfaction. There is a great motivation as well. I think for some it might get them down. I have found in sincere moments it motivates me to serve outside of myself. One technique that Hopper developed was how he played with light in his paintings and views. You’ll always notice a brightness somewhere contrasting a normally dark moment. A solace that accompanies the introspect of feeling alone.

Room in New YorkBuilding on that theme Hopper also painted scenes of people who clearly have a relationship but are living parallel lives, without really connecting. These are some of my favorites of his works, because it shows the contrast between between alone and lonely, and being with someone and being lonely. These are the subtle details, that I find to be the graces of understanding the world around you.

The light is the focus in this painting, rather than the house.Hopper also did a lot of experiments with light. It create a kind of austereness that set the objects of focus into a particularly unique setting, so that the light was the real focus, rather than the object one might see at first glance. This is another good example of seeing old things with new eyes.

Sun in Empty RoomThe last work in the exhibit was one called Sun in a Room. When Hopper was asked what the painting was about, he replied. “I was looking for me.” A poignant and powerful work to complete the exhibit with. I can’ really find the words that justify my delight for this exhibit and the principles Edward Hopper worked under. I think that’s why I feel very dearly a picture is worth 1000 words. Even more so, a painting is a view with the lens of another which allows you to see through someone else’s eyes.

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So of course I have all these grand ideas of how I was going to backlog some of my thoughts, blah, blah, blah. I’m in love with the idea of making experiences right the first time. However, the one thing I know about that, is that the more you plan for the perfect plan the more you procrastinate the crux of the experience or the point of the story. So without further ado, I present to you why life is so great. This week I visited my sister and brother-in-law for the Christmas. They live in the Manyaunk/Roxborough neighborhood of Philadelphia. As I drove up Umbria Street, I saw a line of people that wound around the corner, coming out of a little hole in the wall Mom & Pop shop bakery. Marchiano’s Bakery. http://www.marchianosbakery.com I love new experiences so a little later I walked in to the shop and told the cashier I was visiting from out of town, saw the line and wanted to know what the big deal was. She laughed a bit and said. Oh well, it must be this. Tomato Pie. Here’s the description from their menu; “Our WORLD FAMOUS tomato pie is a sheet of hand-rolled dough covered with crushed tomatoes, olive oil and a mixture of italian spices. It is baked until the crust is golden and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.” Now that might sound a little like a pizza, but believe me there’s nothing more satisfying. First of all the tomatoes sauce is FRESH. This makes for an amazingly sweet and light taste, but the bread/crust is hearty so it’s filling. As we ate we kept saying how perfect it was. Pizza gets too heavy with the meat and cheese and spices. This mixture of bread, tomatoes, oil and light spices is in short, perfection. And $7 for a half pie there’s no better, inexpensive meal. I love Tomato pie.

Next, we tried the Oreganta, one of their specialty breads. Menu description: “This exceptionally thin hand-rolled dough is filled with just the right touch of Italian spices and oils. This circular masterpiece can be enjoyed sweet, mild, or hot or filled with pepperoni, broccoli, or spinach.”

We tried the mild, which honestly was pretty spicy, but absolutely amazing! When you cut into it the cross section looks like a cinnabun sideways. But the insides are filled with again a light but hearty blend of fresh ingredients and spices, that make your mouth zing. It’s hard not to eat the whole thing in one sitting. The dipping sauce is fresh crushed tomatoes, which highlights the flavor, just enough to keep your mouth moist so you can enjoy more at one time. Truly amazing.

Later on in the week when we went back for another Tomato Pie, we tried one of their other Specialty Breads. Despite having sausage and peppers inside, it was a light and satisfying experience, but my favorites remaining, Tomato Pie and Oreganata.

So here’s my point to the story! Life is great! Sometimes the stars align and all is well with the world because you’ve discovered something new, or you’ve been able to connect with people in ways that you hadn’t thought about. The European neighborhoods of Philly at first seem a little run down, but if you spend just a few minutes, you can a feel sense of character. That run down look becomes charming and quaint. When you step inside you find the warmth and charm of peoples lives. Marchiano’s Bakery is nothing less than stereotypical Italian family bakery, but what charm. The WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) ways of Philadelphians or East Coast Urbanites for that matter, may be a little abrasive, but for as over-the-top it is there’s something great about knowing theres’ sheer honesty and sincerity standing in front of you.

My Christmas visit with Mike, Amy, Libby and little Ben, turned out to be nothing less than perfect. There’s still a lot of problems of in life, but gratitude is the best of things. It allows you to let go of the stress, instantly or momentarily to see new things and see old things with new eyes. I love Tomato Pie, Oreganata and charming urban landscapes. I love my family. Happy New Year in 2008! I hope you make it to Marchiano’s Bakery this year!


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