Life Changlingly Good TED Radio Hour: “The Source of Creativity”

Basic summary: “everyone is and can be creative: you just have to be fearless about failing, and practice a bunch.”

Led to this understanding by my art-teacher mother, since early childhood I’ve been saying something pretty similar.

Creativity is wonderful, amazing, useful, freeing, and fun… but it’s not rare.  Being creative is a skill, available to everyone.  It doesn’t have to be “Art” (note the capital A) nor innovation.  It doesn’t have to be shared.  It doesn’t have to be serious, deep, fun, frivolous, important, or anything.  Mostly, being creative is about allowing yourself to do something or think something or be something… Letting a wild idea flourish for a second and seeing what comes out of it.

The rest of Art and creativity and innovation is really about “skill” – developing ability and familiarity and a mental library of techniques through repetition and practice.  That may sound like work (or worse yet, homework), and it certainly is… but it can be fun and fulfilling, productive work.  You just have to have the freedom to fail horribly, and make monumental mistakes along the way.  You have to be free to, and willing to, take risks.

Creativity, in the end, is the willingness to take a risk – coupled with the techniques and ability to take “good” risks and make something “good” out of them.

Winter Weather hits Louisville

It’s been a crazy winter, the last week. The ice storm which took out most of KY’s power only kept us out for a couple of days, but still has some friends down. It was crazy to see all of the trees weighed down and drooping, beautiful and terrible. The ice coated everything, and when the wind blew all of the ice-coated limbs and branched clinked with each other.

Here’s a great photo from a friend of mine, mitch:

ice on tree branch

And another photo from another friend, ramey:

ice on eaves and trees

Luckily, we are all alright and everyone we know is as well. Nice to be reminded how fragile our infrastructure is and how dead-in-the-water most of us are without it.

we refinanced our mortgage today

We have refinanced (or at least started the process) and locked in at 4.96 after paying a point (it was 5.6 without the point, lenders wanting up-front money and assurance in today’s market). We are rolling in the point and closing costs into the new loan and we’ll still be saving $140/month over our current loan (and if we hadn’t rolled in the costs, it would only have saved us $21/month more).

Obviously, this may be biased, but here’s an article that helped me make up my mind:

Say Hello to the Best Rates in History
by Victor Burek
Posted Dec 17 2008, 08:11 AM

In today’s economy things are changing very quickly and you can chase rates for a while but you don’t want to miss the boat. I would advise all readers, determine a rate that makes sense as far as what it costs and how much you are saving. Once rates hit that level, lock, close and move on with your life. Rates can and will go lower, but there is much more room above for rates to go higher then below for rates to go lower. And keep in mind, LIFE happens, things can change, you could simple forget to make 1 payment to a credit card and your credit could fall and now you don’t qualify. One month ago, rates where 1% higher then they are now, 2 months ago rates where 1.25% higher then now. So, as you can see, things can move quickly.

The Mates of State, the story of taking the family on tour

There’s a great video done by Dan Harris of ABC news on the Mates of State and what the family does when they go on tour.

I love the wholesomeness of it and it fits right in with what I think they would be like.  This band is one of my absolute favorites and that’s only encouraged by this peak into their good parenting and family priorities.

This American Life, for the win – re: talking to our kids as much as possible

364: Going Big

All of TAL is always great, moving, funny, and every other positive adjective I could think of (yes, I’m a fanboy)… but the first act in this show is about baby education and it’s importance…

Paul Tough reports on the Harlem Children’s Zone, and its CEO and president, Geoffrey Canada. Among the project’s many facets is Baby College, an 8-week program where young parents and parents-to-be learn how to help their children get the education they need to be successful. Tough’s just-published book about Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem’s Children Zone is called Whatever It Takes. You can see a slideshow of more photographs from the project here. (30 and 1⁄2 minutes)

It’s worth listening to, but basically, one of the points I was struck by (@~11min) was that one of the main factors in the difference between successfully bright children and those who aren’t. The difference is that successful children heard more words… in the study cited, the “kids who made it” heard 20 million more words in the first 3 years and thus developed a bigger vocabulary early on, and could more easily handle the other basic building blocks of learning. If those building blocks are missing, they are hard to get later. (@~14min). Also “children of professionals” tended to hear 500,000 words of encouragement and only 80,000 words of discouragement, whereas “children of poverty” typically heard the opposite; 80,000 encouragement and 200,000 words of discouragement. (@~17min)

I’m sure all of us parents are doing great on this front, and in fact some of us have talked about this exact topic… but I was struck by the profundity of the topic and am myself encouraged to talk to poppy more, just doing idle tasks and whatnot. 

“now we are sweeping the floor.  now you are eating something random off the floor.  now we are looking out the window.  now we are listening to NPR.”