Poke the Box!

4 01 2014

poke-the-boxThis past year, I discovered Seth Godin.

You have to check out his writings (blog and books) and watch his videos.  I am currently reading Poke the BoxFirst introduced to his unique view of life, marketing, innovation, the labor force, creativity and status-quo-challenging thinking when a friend sent my wife Seth’s book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Seth has the unique, almost Einsteinian approach to thinking, problem-solving, analysis—the wonder of a child coupled with razor sharp wit, graciousness and complete lack of pretension.

The essence of Poke the Box?  Try stuff.  Do something.  Push buttons.  Get your crayons out and create.  Pay no heed to the voices that say you can’t bring something meaningful and marketable to the marketplace and the human condition.  Again, Seth points out that there are lots of people who make plans and can follow orders, but not many willing to unilaterally start stuff.

Sooooo…..

Go start something and see what happens!

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Currently spinning:  The Best Yet (Switchfoot)





Be Safe in the Sub-Zeroes

2 01 2014

5281607650_7d1644d451_zOkay, this post is entirely practical.  We’re in the middle of a blizzard here in Northern New York.  I live about 12 miles north of Watertown, NY, near the St. Lawrence River and the Canadian border.

The base temperature has not risen above -7 degrees Fahrenheit.  The wind chill is about -33 degrees F.

It’s lethal outside.  No hyperbole or overblown statement.  You need to take precautions (the following courtesy of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette):

•Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat.

•Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.

•Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.

•Utilize a scarf or knit mask to cover your face and mouth.

•Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.

•If working outside, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.

•Limit your time outdoors and stay dry.

•Shivering is the first sign the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.

Protect Yourself at Home:

•Be careful with candles – do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.

•Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside your home, including the basement garage or porch.

•Run the generator as far away from the house as possible and point the exhaust away from open doors and windows to avoid potential carbon monoxide poisoning.

•Install and/or check carbon monoxide detectors.

•Check smoke alarms once a month by pressing the test button and replace batteries as necessary.

•Prevent frozen pipes – when the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes.

•Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.

•Never attempt to thaw pipes using a blow torch or any open flame device. Use warm water or a UL-listed device such as a hand-held hair dryer.

•Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended.

•Do not burn paper in a fireplace or use an accelerant to start/grow the fire.

•Keep the home’s thermostat set to a consistent temperature.

•If you plan on using an alternate heating source, never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

•If using a space heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface away from combustible materials including curtains.

•Always turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

•Keep children and pets away from your space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.

•Don’t forget your pets. If you can’t bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water.

Be safe out there.  Stay in if at all possible.  And remember…Spring is 78 days away!

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Why “New” Is Important For You

1 01 2014

The Importance of NewHave you ever longed for those kinds of experiences that, essentially, seem to make time stand still?  We remember events from our childhood with savor that had the quality of lasting forever…suspending the tick of the clock.  We wish we could stay there.  Forever.

Novelty is important in our lives.  Routine, predictable outcomes, familiar actions all give us a feeling of safety, of stability.  For a good deal of our daily living, this is a good thing.

But there are caveats….

Boredom, the ubiquitous condition that afflicts so much of us in the modern, affluent West is born of a good deal of such routine.  Predictable and “safe” behavior choices.  Following and reproducing the known and reliable.  There is a cost.

Neophobia is the fear of new things.  To try new things, new foods, new relationships, new projects, immediately places us outside our comfort zones.  This presents us with choices.

Do I want more of the same thing that I’ve experienced year in and out?  Am I excited about the prospect of twenty-five or fifty more years of “the same ‘ole same ‘ole?”

Here’s the challenge:  Spice things up.  Throw a monkey wrench into your daily routine.  Step outside into the chill of the unknown (you’ll find you’ll adapt to the temp and it ain’t so bad after all).

Wanting to embody the stuff to which I enjoin my readers, here’s a couple of my own:

  • I’m a musician.  There are a lot of well-known artists whose music I’m unaware of.  My loved ones (daughters, wife, son-in-law) have fantastic tastes.  Soooo….I have set up a listening program to daily expose myself to new and classic artists in popular music and jazz to widen my palette.  Fleet Foxes, Thelonious Monk, Ellis Marsalis, Gungor, and The Pogues are all on my radar this month. Even put the program in a spreadsheet to track my progress.  (Yep, I’m an IT nerd, but it works for me.)
  • Try new and healthy food and drink choices.  My wife and I have planned in detail, more than ever, to eat closer to the earth (fruits, vegetables, oil, nuts, fish, lean meats, red wines, etc.) to give our palettes new treats as well as health benefits.
  • Enter new communal circles to increase your relationships.  Theatre societies.  Book clubs (maybe I should form one?).  Local and regional political bodies.  Exercise accountabilities.  All are fraught with enormous possibilities for enriching your lives.

So, what are your plans to shake things up and make time stand still with the sheer pleasure and endorphin release of new experiences?

Currently spinning: The Birth of the Cool (Miles Davis)

Currently reading: Poke the Box (Seth Godin)

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