Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reflections on Marriage, Year One: Take Pride In Being A Good Spouse

I've been happily married for one year today. We're probably still in the bubble of bliss that often comes with marriage, and as such I realize that I might not be in the best position to give marital advice, but I'm going to do it anyway.

There are lots of good books on how to have a good marriage. I recommend ones that are based on scientific research. These books have a lot of good advice that I won't repeat. I'll just give my one piece of advice that I came up with myself.

Take pride in being a good spouse.

What this means is you make being a good spouse one of your goals in life. That you measure some of your self-worth according to how well you're doing it. That you give yourself credit when you do something good, or something beyond the call of duty.  Most people do this with some aspects of their lives already: work, art, volunteering. I think it's worth making a conscious effort to do this for your marriage too.

For example, if my beloved casually notes that she's left something home, I make a consideration concerning whether or not I can bring it to her. We all make considerations like this, based on how urgent another's need is, how costly it is to us to fulfill that need (in terms of time, money, or whatever). What I try to do differently is I try to be better than other husbands. I want my her to be touched at how kind I was. I want her to gush about how good I am to her to her friends. I take pride in this.

I also occasionally ask her how I can be a better spouse for her. There are three tricks to doing this correctly. First, don't do it when your spouse is particularly thrilled with you, or pissed off at you. Pick a neutral time and give him or her time to think about it. The second is not to get defensive about what is said. You asked, so just take what you can from the response. Third, don't allow him or her to ask the question right back. Tell him or her that you don't want them to ever think you're asking so that you will have an opportunity to make suggestions to them. If they want to ask the same question, they should do it at another time.

I hope I don't need to say that  this can also be applied to any human relationship: boss, employee, parent, child, friend.

Giving in human relationships is often a great investment that pays back handsomely.

That is, unless the person makes you feel like you've lost a pint of plasma whenever you're with them. This requires other measures.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Picture Will Be In A Photography Show Opening Tomorrow

Photographer Robert James heard about me because of my TEDx talk. He's part of a group called "Dante Was Here" that is having an art show in a local Ottawa gallery. The opening is tomorrow. Here is the invite he sent me:

Hello my friends,

 I would like to invite you to a show of photographic prints presented by the “Dante Was Here” creative photography group that I am part of.

The opening is this Thursday (April 22) from 7-9 pm.  Our photography group is exhibiting works by 7 members on our latest project which explores the idea of “Intersections”.   

 My personal interpretation of the project…. from my artist statement….

"The disciplines of art, science, sport and religion are generally considered distinct within our society. The mindset required to excel in one often requires us to relinquish possibilities of success in the others. Society would have us believe that they represent disparate parts of the fragmented human psyche.  Yet, there are overlaps between them - intersections can be defined within the people that successfully bridge the cultural divides that allow success in more than one of these disciplines. This project shows examples of intersections of art and science, science and religion, religion and sport, sport and the arts - illustrating that these connections are within us. Contrary to popular misconception, the disciplines are not really so distinct; the psyche is not really so fragmented - they are but elements of the whole. In reality, to be human is to embody, to varying degrees, all of these intersections within ourselves."

 I have attached the invitation poster; please forward it to anybody else you feel might be interested. 

 The opening is at Arts & Architecture gallery located at 1181 Bank St just a few blocks south of Sunnyside….

 Directions are here….,+Ottawa,+Ottawa+Division,+Ontario&gl=ca&ei=WInHS7aTBMP58AagtamGBw&ved=0CAcQ8gEwAA&ll=45.391775,-75.684342&spn=0.007881,0.027401&z=16

 Street View is here…,+Ottawa,+Ottawa+Division,+Ontario&gl=ca&ei=WInHS7aTBMP58AagtamGBw&ved=0CAgQ8gEwAA&ll=45.396536,-75.681682&spn=0,0.019226&t=h&z=16&layer=c&cbll=45.392096,-75.681685&panoid=Ej1yUNqf4AIULa_FVkBs6Q&cbp=12,38.31,,0,15.78

 Come for the visual stimulation, come for the wine and treats, come for the camaraderie, come for the party, just come … and have fun… hope to see you on Thursday.

Robert James

In the show, I'm the one representing the intersection of art and science

I will be there for the first few minutes of the opening, then I have to run off to see a dance show at the NAC that I'd planned a year ago. 

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How Many Computers Do You Have In Your House?

Try to answer this question before reading on.

A friend asked me this recently, and it's not a trivial question. The prototypical computer is a desktop or laptop. But computers are all over. In this blog post I'll try to count them.

2 Laptops (one for me, and one for my beloved)
1 Tablet Netbook

Cell Phones:
2 Cell phones in use,
1 old that I feel nostalgic about and can't part with (from Atlanta).

Most cell phones have computers in them, even if they're not smartphones.

Game Systems:
Playstation 2
Nintendo DS
Gameboy Advance
Some handheld crappy one

Music Players:
3 ipods

Thermostat (it's programmable)
Stereo (not sure, but maybe it's got a CPU in there...)
Car (this is a tough one-- who knows how many computers are in the car? I consider the car to be in the house when it's in the garage.)

So the answer is, maybe, 19?
I'm interested in other people's counts; add them as comments.

Pictured is an astronaut on a spacewalk. We got to the moon with little if any computer power.
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Memoir: Come On, Let's Move It

Ryan Scoville is the friend I've had the longest. He and I and Lou were into a board game called "Shogun" back in the 1990s.

Ryan had just bought the album "Legal," by rapper Special Ed. We listened to it while we played.

I liked the track from it called "Come On, Let's Move It," and kept playing it, so much that it became a joke. He had a programmable CD player, so I programmed it to play the track over and over, occasionally interspersed with another track, "I'm the Magnificent."

Later I thought it would be a good idea to make a "Special Ed Mix" tape. It consisted of 90 minutes of "Come On, Let's Move It," with a single instance of "I'm the Magnificent" on side B to make it a legitimate "mix."
Then I listened to it non-stop on my drive to college. It was four and a half hours.

I still love the track.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

My First Animated GIF: Orbit

When I was in high school I liked to make flip books. This was in the 1980s, and I didn't know about animated GIFs yet. During some times when I should have been paying attention to what was happening in class, I made a bunch of little sketches of animations for continuously-playing flip books. Little did I know that they'd make cute GIF animations someday. I scanned in these pictures and today made my first animated GIF.

It's not too hard to make. Scan the drawings as GIFs, and crop them using IrfanView so that they all have the same pixel dimensions (this one is 800 x 170). Then follow the directions on this page:

For some reason it's not animating on this blog, so click here to see the image moving:

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Dealing with an Excess of Coins

Coins can be a pain, and I've talked to a few people who really don't know what to do with them.

I used to carry a special change purse around. It was pocket sized, and every time I would buy something I'd open the purse and see if I could lose some coin and make exact change. But it's tedious.

I figured out a better way to get rid of coins, but it only works if you shop at a grocery store with self check-out. What you can do is keep your coins in a jar or something at home, but whenever you go grocery shopping, dump the coins (or a handful, if you're really overflowing) into your pocket before you go. When you check out, insert all of the coins, even if it's 200 pennies. The system will not complain; it will just count it up and give you your correct change. If you've got a huge penny jar or coin collection, this is a good way to make a dent in it.

There are also commercial machines that will give you bills for coins, but they take a cut.

I've also implemented my meat credit system, with made-up numbers.It's basically a dollar per egg or piece of chicken, two dollars for a small burger patty, etc. Coins go into a box in my kitchen, which, once per year, I'll open and count and donate.

Foreign coins pose a different problem. They often can't be changed at money changers. What does one do with them?  My solution for this is to have a special box for foreign cash. Each currency (Euros, pesos, etc.) gets its own clear ziplocking plastic bag. I put the cash in the bag. I also put an index card in there with the country name on it, so I can quickly flip through the bags to see what's from where. Whenever I leave the country, I open the box and take the baggie with the foreign cash I'll need.

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