Mister Rogers, Poet

Drawing a picture badly

I’m not very good at it.
But it doesn’t matter.
It’s the fun of doing it that’s important.
No matter how anybody says it is.
It feels good to have made something.

Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety and depression are lurkers.

For years, I suspected something was wrong with me and I just couldn't figure out what it was. Strike that. Nothing was wrong with me, but I did need help. It took me until May 2018—way too long—to sheepishly mention something to my doctor. Like everyone else I have talked to, he said I would be surprised how many people need some sort of help. He wrote me a prescription for Lexapro and told me to give it 30 days.

I am still taking it and life is so much better. Looking back, I can see the cycles of anxiety I would go through. I see now why I struggled with my previous job and why I finally moved on to other work after 11 years. The medicine doesn't make me weird or hyper or lethargic or anything like that. It just corrects the course of thoughts through my brain.

If you have a nagging feeling that things will never work out or you just can't handle it any more, please get help. Make an appointment. People are waiting to help you. If it's really bad, find help now at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Breaking Digital Bonds

My habits have become terrible. All of my idle moments are filled with Twitter, Instagram, and endless mindless games of Microsoft Solitaire (which is the best handheld solitaire game I have found to date and please don't download it for your own sake and sanity just DON'T DO IT).

So it's time for some change. The easiest change is to read more, not in witty chunks of 240 characters or 500-word articles on, well, everything. I mean reading real books of fiction and non-fiction, and I mean reading for fun and not to learn anything. I mean reading like I did when I was a kid riding my bicycle to the public library between the polo field and elementary school to fill up my summer reading booklet with titles.

I've had a Kindle for years. It's the third-generation Kindle with the physical keyboard. It's slow, and I'm old and need lots of light to read now. As I was finally finishing American Gods by Neil Gaiman, a book I purchased two or three years ago and only finished Sunday night, I found myself leaning into the lamplight and squinting to make out the words. It was frustrating, so it didn't take me long to upgrade to the Kindle Paperwhite and I got it yesterday and it's wonderful.

Now I'm digging into the five-volume box set of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones saga, which may be too ambitious. Having watched the series on HBO (and eagerly anticipating the final season), reading the books is like watching it again in slow motion in my brain. The writing is great, but I'm not sure if it will hold my attention to the end. I wish I had read it before watching the series so I could kvetch about how they did so-and-so wrong and "No, it wasn't like that in the book!" with all of my fellow nerds.

Reading more will, hopefully, lead me to write more regularly. One plan to reframe my brain on the front is to simply move around a bit. Today I have holed up in a local coffeehouse. Cliché, I know, but it's working. I can see they have Wi-Fi, but I refuse to ask for access. That invisible Wi-Fi wire will bind my mind and I'll be stumbling through Twitter and reloading Reddit before I know it. If I really start jonesing for a connection, I have a paper notebook and pencil.

In case of emergency…unplug!

These grand plans for change are fresh on my mind. For now, it's working. I have written more today than I have in the past year. Much of it is rambling. Nobody would want to read it, but it's getting garbage out of my brain. I spent many years making a living as a writer, enough time to know that the words will start making sense if I just start giving them form outside of my brain. I remember someone saying something like "you can't think your way out of writer's block" and that is so true. Thinking is important, but spilling thoughts into a more physical medium is the only way to break a block. It seems like a contradiction, but you must write your way through writer's block.

A Change of Scenery

As part of the monthlong celebration of my birth, I got to enjoy a Scotch tasting session at our favorite bar in Chattanooga.

The session begins at 6 p.m. and I figured, “Hey, why not make a day of it?” I packed a small bag with all the necessities: MacBook Pro, notebook, pen, pencil, and my new Kindle Paperwhite. Armed with some extra time and a credit card, I was ready for anything!

Https farm8 staticflickr com 7871 33221219458 27523bce1a nNo, I’m not drinking all day. To start, I settled in with a latte around 2:30 at a great coffeehouse next door to the aforementioned speakeasy. After treating myself to one latte, I switched to black coffee roasted fresh all the time just six blocks down the road. I’ll be a twitchy mess at bedtime, but it sure was good coffee.

Two folks chatting nearby caught my attention and introduced themselves. Genesis is a local, an artist by the sound of it, with a guest named Daga. Genesis seems to know everyone; he greets almost all of the customers coming into the place. He introduced Daga as “a creative who just moved here from Boston.” I had been tapping away at the computer open in front of me. He asked if I am a writer. “Sometimes,” I said. “Same,” Daga said. Cool folks. We exchanged a few pleasantries about writing and living around Chattanooga before returning to our own little worlds at our tables.

Back on track, the Scotch experience was fascinating. Rick Edwards, one of four Masters of Scotch in the world (at the time of this writing), led us through an hourlong session tasting five servings of Glenlivet. I always knew I like Scotch whisky, but I never knew why I like it. Now I do!

David Gilmour’s guitar collection comes to auction | Christie’s

David Gilmour’s guitar collection comes to auction | Christie’s:

Christie’s to auction more than 120 guitars from the personal collection of the Pink Floyd singer and songwriter, including the iconic Fender Stratocaster played on The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall
David Gilmour’s 1969 Black Fender Stratocaster has earned its place in rock’n’roll history. Known as ‘The Black Strat’, the guitar was purchased in 1970 at Manny’s on West 48th Street in New York, and has become the Pink Floyd singer and songwriter’s most identified instrument over the course of nearly 50 years.

This is both exciting for those who have the money to buy them and sad that we won’t hear Gilmour play his soul through them again. These guitars are artifacts as precious as anything discovered at Pompeii.

Little Stones for 2019

Little Stones for 2019:

I live in New England. We have tiny stone walls criss crossing the fields and forests. There are thousands of miles of two foot tall Hobbit walls just outside my door that attest to our history as really poor farm land. When I first moved here it really struck me that every single wall was made in a time before the Bobcat excavator. Stone by stone each farmer marked the boundary of their aspirations. That seemed like a nice analogy for making and achieving goals so I revisit this idea often.

I start by marking out a rough limit for my goals, realizing that this isn’t the real work. The real work is going to be moving stones. One small stone at time.

If you noticed my site’s title, you know I appreciate how Macdrifter built this post on small stones. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s worth your time.

not in our stars, but in ourselves

via WIL WHEATON dot NET

Wil Wheaton continues to be a positive spark in the world with this recent post: not in our stars, but in ourselves – WIL WHEATON dot NET. Here’s an excerpt:

Remember how magical and humbling and inspiring it felt to just go outside specifically to look at the stars and planets, sometimes with a telescope, other times with binoculars, most times with just your eyes? Remember the first time you really thought about the reality of our existence? That we’re tiny little specks of life on an improbably perfect planet, speeding through space at incomprehensible speeds, protected by a thin layer of atmosphere from specks of dust and rock that are also speeding around in space, just like we are?

My wife and I plan to spend the next clear cool night on a blanket in the yard watching the stars.

Appearance of Impropriety is Enough

The nation has been held in thrall this week by the senate hearings surrounding the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

President Trump nominated Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford accuses him of what could be a series of charges from attempted rape to attempted murder.

The hearings do not seek out the judge’s innocence or guilt from these accusations. Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility is on trial. That the U.S. Senate is considering his nomination is an atrocity that belittles all of the many many women who have been attacked in the past, especially by privileged drunk young white men.

If a credible accusation arose against the man who cuts my lawn, I would immediately sever the contract. Likewise, anyone shadowed by the appearance of such impropriety should never be allowed to sit on the highest court in the land.

All the TED Talks you need to see

It’s easy to get sucked into the YouTube hole of TED Talks to watch enlightened individuals bless viewers with their wisdom. Boy howdy do they have a lot of wisdom to share.

This clever life hack will eliminate the need to watch any more of those 15-minute talks. These two videos will change your life!

Behold!

Even better!

Carrying Stones

tl;dr

The US is doomed…probably.

My Thoughts

I named this site Carrying Stones for a number of reasons. The current White House Administration las lobbed boulder after boulder in every direction.
I fear we may all drown in stones if we cannot come together to carry them. If we fail to carry these heavy stones (because do not doubt that treason is a stone that carries with it a tremendous weight), we will certainly drown in the dictatorship our current president seeks to continue building upon.

iPhone Camera Tips

I have two iPhone photography tips for you. They aren’t technical and will improve your photos.

  1. Stop holding your phone like a phone to take pictures. Turn it 90 degrees clockwise and hold it like a camera.
  2. Hold it firmly with both hands and use the “volume up” button as your shutter.

Wasn’t that easy? Now go take beautiful pictures!

Typography for Everyone Makes Texts Much Easier to Read | NOUPE

Typography for Everyone Makes Texts Much Easier to Read | NOUPE:

The starting point for the observation is always the continuous text, which is what we write into the p-tags on the web. This text is the index, meaning it keeps the font size of 100 percent. All other elements are derived from that.
According to this, the first step is getting the text to a comfortably legible size. A lot of this is just a matter of taste. For me, this value is at 18 pixels, I don’t want it to be any lower. Common publications are mostly around 14 pixels. No matter which size you define, it is important that it is the foundation for all other elements.
Headlines (hl) should have 180 to 200 percent of the original size, secondary headings (h2) 130 to 150 percent, and tertiary headings (h3) should only be slightly bigger than the running text. In many cases, you’ll see h3 as a simple bold text. You should be able to go up to 125 percent without problems. Footnotes shouldn’t exceed 75 percent of the size of the continuous text.

This is good advice and reading the entire article is worth your time if you use words. This is also a good time to recommend The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst.

Migrating from Fever to Inoreader

After reading Wired’s article It’s Time For an RSS Revival I’ve been reconsidering my RSS setup.
Shaun Inman’s Fever has served my RSS needs since June 2012. Shaun marked Fever’s end of life in December 2016. I’ve been holding onto it ever since and will continue to keep it running on my host provider, but it’s time to consider other options.
Alongside that aging installation, I’ve dropped my favorite feeds into Inoreader. I think I heard about it from John Gruber on The Talk Show. Inoreader’s free tier so far seems to be working great for my meager RSS needs. It has it’s own Inoreader app and syncs up with my preferred iOS RSS client Fiery Feeds.

Omni Roadmap 2018 – The Omni Group

Omni Roadmap 2018 – The Omni Group:

Welcome! Each January, we like to pause and reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and to share a roadmap of our plans for the coming year. There’s a lot to share this year—particularly about our plans for OmniFocus in 2018—so let’s dive right in!

It’s been an exciting 25 years for Omni! I’m a huge fan of their software, particularly OmniFocus for Mac and OmniFocus for iOS, and look forward to updates coming this year.