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But this I know; the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master - something that at times strangely wills and works for itself... If the result be attractive, the World will praise you, who little deserve praise; if it be repulsive, the same World will blame you, who almost as little deserve blame.
-- Charlotte Brontė



Blog Posts for May 2006

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I watched Batman Begins tonight. Love the quote:

Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Sometimes, in pain we run to escape the shit of our lives. We drown it, ignore it, mask it. But in so doing, we miss the true message.

When a baby that is learning to walk falls down, its natural instinct is to rise and try again. The child seems to know that its true purpose is to walk and to explore all of its rightful abilities. And so the child rises, indefatiguable, and works at it until walking is as obvious and easy as breathing. The best part about this line from the movie is that it captures the middle aspect of this: between falling and walking is learning to pick ourselves up.

Action comes before behavior. To change ourselves, we start by taking the action to do what we should, and putting ourselves in the location to do that. It starts with a step. Commitment and follow-through and success will come later. A baby succeeds by standing up so that it's in position to walk again.

Another line in the movie is:

It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.
Or, as I like to say it, it's not the noun of who we want to be, but the verb of who we are. Again, action is everything.

If we have an inward goal in our soul to be something we're not yet, or if we want to attain something we don't yet have, we first have to step toward the place that will allow us to get what we want. Then we're in position, childlike, to begin again.

Someone once told me that it's not success or failure that defines us, but the effort.

I read earlier in Creating Minds that creativity is tied at the hip with being childlike. In it, I read that Einstein said:

How did it come to pass that I was the one to develop the theory of relativity? The reason, I think, is that a normal adult never stops to think about the problems of space and time. These are things which he has thought of as a child. But my intellectual development was retarded, as a result of which I began to wonder about space and time only when I had already grown up. Naturally, I could go deeper in the problem than a child with normal abilities.
To remain as a child while an adult leads to creativity and discovery.

The problem is that too often we're cowed by the opinions and judgments of others and we disallow any childlike wonder or childish questions to break free and find air. Instead, we squelch that in ourselves.

It has been, for me, in the past two months that I've allowed myself to be shaped by the opinions of others and I've changed some of what I am. No longer. I know who I am. I know what I want to be for myself.

Now, juxtapose that last paragraph with my decision to paint a heart, which is not something I would do. It seems trivial to think of it, but it's not, really. At what point do we draw the boundary between what is influence by others and what is true of ourselves?

I think the line is demarcated by the desire for acceptance. If we seek validation from others and change who we are or what we might do to gain approval and be accepted, it's crossing the line. But if we're unconcerned with the approval of others and do it simply to explore, no matter what anyone thinks of the outcome and as long as it doesn't violate our core principles, then it's just trying something new.

Children explore and ask questions. Children try new things. In the first attempt, they will fail, and then they laugh at themselves. If they want to succeed at the activity, they'll begin again and they don't worry how foolish they look in the attempt. This is how creativity happens. This is where solutions are born.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 5/1/2006 2:52:07 AM
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Working

 

Tomorrow, I will call on several retailers with whom I met tonight. Lori, Rich, Patti, Greg, and Jan will all hear from me tomorrow. And I've spoken with a bookstore about carrying my cards. It's a national chain and there's a possibility that they might carry my cards. Lots of good comments from those who saw them.

I pulled back on my heart card. I can do better. I don't disagree with the heart as a card, but I don't like the design I made. I have something better in mind.

The goal: seven retailers by the end of May. I should also have 20 cards by the end of May, although I'm going for 22. The more I talk to people, the more I hear what people like and don't like in a card. "Less people" is a strong trend. And with this being Iowa, I need some Iowa-ish cards. Pigs, cows, farmer/field, tractor, etc. Fair enough. I can do that. So those and the heart card take me to 20.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/1/2006 11:43:43 PM
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Say What?

 

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 5/2/2006 7:44:30 AM
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Retailers

 

Well, I'm learning because the market is speaking to me and I'm listening as best I can.

  • Lesson #1: My market is retailers, not individuals.
  • Cards with people might be endearing and "Awwww..."-inspiring, but they don't sell. Unless the person depicted on the card looks familiar to the one buying it, the card will sit idle - in the land of misfit cards. No "Charlie-on-the-card."
  • If the retailer is from Iowa, they're proud to be an Iowan and they want some cards to reflect Iowa. Bring on the pigs, cows, farms, covered bridges, and so on. I need to paint "Iowa." Heck, I'm even thinking of doing a Hawkeyes card and a Cyclones card. But Iowa sells - in Iowa. Note to self: think regional. Minneapolis will want Vikings, for example.
  • Sometimes, text in the card will be necessary to sell it to the retailer. I had a woman actually say to me today: "My market isn't smart enough to fill up a blank card." So, the poet/English major in me gets to take a crack at this. Fortunately, my cards are intentionally letter-sized when unfolded and therefore it's easy to print on the inside of them. Text...
  • I need to be able to go corporate. I have some trips in my future to sit in front of the buyers for major retailers. Michael's, for example, does this. To sell my cards at Michael's, I would need to get 15 minutes in front of their buyer and pitch my wares.
  • I know why the Heart card didn't work for me: I wouldn't frame it to hang in my living room. My goal is not to paint greeting cards, but to paint frameable art.
  • And finally, I need to change up the style of my painting and do some contemporary designs. My work thus far is more traditional. I missed a couple of retailers today because of this.
All good lessons, to which I'm listening and now steering my work. I'm doing some things right, and I'm doing some things wrong. I'm tweaking the wrong toward rightness.

In my favor:

  • Universally, the cards are regarded as beautiful and classy.
  • The size of the cards is a seller.
  • The price of the cards is seen as very reasonable.
  • When compared to other cards in stores, the employees believe that my cards are better than what they currently sell, and they're pretty frank about saying so - to other employees and to management.
I picked up another retailer today and perhaps a couple more locations. Tomorrow, I drive to Minneapolis for a meeting and on the way there and back, I'll have my camera for taking pictures of rural Iowa and Minnesota.

It just occurred to me that I have someone with whom I need to meet. I personally know the guy who runs the local zoo. I might show him my cards and see if he's open to me painting some "zoo" cards and selling them there. If so, Terry might have some other ideas for me - he's a top-notch marketer. Plus, he's involved with Iowa's biggest event: the Iowa State Fair. Someone suggested to me today that I paint some State Fair cards. I get that. I may do that. Event cards?? Ragbrai, anyone?

I realized today that I'm selling not just cards, but my brand. Whether the cards sell in droves - or not - may be immaterial. By simply having my brand in various locations around town, I drive up the value of my work. The more broad the reach (think "multi-city"), the higher the value and the more wide the spread and the bigger my audience. Therefore, if I wanted to get a gallery interested in selling my work, the pitch is easier. I'm thankful that I have a logo for my work.

I suspect that this story will turn out different than I expected, but with persistence I will achieve what I wanted: financial independence and making my living by my art. That's the goal. The path to get there is the adventure, and I'm having a great time of it. Pretty scenic!

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 5/2/2006 11:25:18 PM
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The Fear of Competition

 

So as I visit various retailers, a theme continues to pop-up: exclusive contracts with other greeting card vendors. Of course, Hallmark is the most notorious and most ubiquitous, but I've encountered this with other vendors as well.

It's as though they fear competition.

Now I'm a pretty determined guy, so obstacles don't faze me much. As I learn from the market about what they want, I'm adjusting. This morning, I asked my display rack supplier if they could fashion a custom rack for me that is smaller and would allow me to display a smaller number of niched cards for retailers. So for coffee merchants, coffee cards; for wine merchants, grape and wine cards; and so on.

And I have other alternatives. Borders was considering my cards, and would have displayed them but for the exclusive contract they have with Marshall Sherman, a greeting card vendor. But that contract is up at the end of the year. Will their next vendor insist on an exclusive arrangement? Not if I can help it. Here comes my letter-writing campaign.

An exclusive contract is counter-productive for the merchant: what if another vendor could provide cards that sold in greater volume than their current vendor? Why limit their opportunity to sell? I think that retailers should remain flexible to market conditions and keep their options open with vendors. That certainly seems healthy.

This is America, after all. It's a land of choice, where competition abounds. So I'll keep pecking my way out of this egg.

2 vendors down; 10,998 to go.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 5/4/2006 2:58:24 PM
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Permission to Engage

 

On the recommendation of a friend, I watched "Sliding Doors" tonight. Good movie.

I started watching it because I was cleaning my desk in search of my ruler, which couldn't be found. I use the ruler to measure out my paintings into 25 cm by 15 cm, which is perfect for my cards. It wasn't until the end of the movie that I looked at my son, Nick, and he looked perplexed.

"I thought you were going to paint."
"I was, but I couldn't find my ruler."
"Ah..." and with that, he got up and disappeared and then returned with my ruler.
"Thank you! Where was it?"
"In the toy box in the living room. I saw it yesterday."

Of course. The toy box. I should have known.

Do you ever wonder if there's a reason that certain people appear in our lives as they do? Do you wonder if such things are inevitable?

I'm no longer much for believing in God's interaction in my life, but I do find it amazing at the timeliness of certain people. James addresses this in the movie as he takes Helen "out" for an ice cream.

"Helen, listen. Sometimes we are thrown into people's lives when they just need to be cheered up and reassured and it turns out that it's your job. I don't know why. In your case, it's my job. But, I'll be honest, the fact that I find you moderately attractive just makes the job easier on my part."
He then asserts that his intentions are completely honorable. And he then asks her if she prefers diamonds or sapphires.

Funny how we weave in and out of each other's lives.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/7/2006 12:35:10 AM
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Want

 

Destiny is an odd concept. It involves an orchestrated and predetermined course of events over which we have no control. It is fate, and fate is, by definition, unavoidable.

Personally, I think that's horseshit. The rugged individualist in me wants to believe that I choose my own way. And I do, in most circumstances. But there was once a time in my life when I almost married a woman who couldn't have been a worse choice for me. As captain of my own ship, I would have married her, but for the fact that not one but two pastors refused to marry us. At that time, a friend asked me, "Are you getting the drift, yet?" We didn't marry, and in hindsight, my children and I are deeply grateful for dodging that bullet. I don't think they would have ever forgiven me for the damage that she would have done to them by an ill choice that I made for my own selfish desire.

Was that divine intervention? I'm not smart enough to know God or to think that I could ever hope to understand God. I think it's pretty arrogant to think that a person could fathom God. I have a hard enough time understanding women, much greater the creator of the heavens and the earth.

"Want" is a dangerous thing. Or at least it's powerful stuff. It drives us to achieve the impossible. It propels us forward. Those are both good things, but there comes a time when "want" is simply out of place.

That's why I think an agenda is often limiting. It blinds us to the potential of the moment because we stare myopically at the object of our desire. We miss the true opportunity, and seldom realize it, and focus instead on what we think is best for us.

Water is the best substance I know. Water has no desire. It doesn't have to burrow through an impassable barrier in a certain way; it slowly finds a way around it. It's patient and waits for opportunity. Amazing stuff, water.

Destiny, as best I can reconcile it, is our patient and aware recognition of the right path and then walking upon that right path. I don't know if it's predetermined, but I do think it makes itself known if we're paying attention. A person is never "destiny;" though walking with a person for a time might be destiny, if you will.

The older I get, the more cautious I become of what I want. "Want" can get me into trouble, whereas if I actually wait for the pieces of the puzzle to fall into place, life is easier. Like water.

For an impatient soul like me, that's tough.

 

2 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 5/9/2006 2:35:03 AM
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Dreams

 

I love life. Every day is full of surprises and each day I learn so much. It's wonderful and yummy... life makes me want more of it.

I was able to listen to the dreams of two people today. One is an entrepreneur who is successful in his business. It's been a long struggle to get to where he is, but he has 12 employees and he's going through some changes in his business. He's about to re-consider his branding, and his web site, and he's both eager for the possibilities and a bit unsure. He wants to choose the right direction.

We had lunch and though he was weary from the day's business, it's so obvious that he does what he loves. His story is a good one, and he's a good guy. We talked about his marketing and how he could maneuver his marketing to his strengths. I left the conversation excited for him, and I offered to help him in any way that I could.

The second conversation came later with a co-worker over dinner. She's a woman of tremendous gifts who's going through a bit of a re-tooling in her corporate life. She's got a good husband and lots of people around her who believe in her, but incredibly, few of them really know what she wants to truly do. As we talked, she told me what her passion is. I won't tell you, but I will say that it's a very selfless and heartwarming vision. Those who've heard of this in the past have told her that it would never become a living for her. But I heard it, and knowing her abilities and knowing what's possible, I thought that with her energy for this, she could bring it together. I told her that I would be glad to help her as I could in achieving her dream. And upon saying this, she just gushed on for a while about how deeply she wants this during her lifetime. It was beautiful.

Tapping into a person's deepest passions makes listening so completely worthwhile. Helping them see how it could come together and take them further toward their goal is satisfying beyond description.

Now, a funny. I went to work today, and I noticed that I forgot to iron my shirt. I usually don't anyway, but today I looked like I was shot with the wrinkle gun. It just never occurred to me to give it the iron - I didn't notice. I live in my head quite often, thinking of what might be and how to achieve it. I forget that I often look like Columbo.

So as I sat across the table, my co-worker says, "My friend, can I tell you something? I'm a good judge of people, and I think you have quite a future in front of you. You'll be very successful. I know this, and I'm damn good in a casino. Just do me one favor. Press the shirt now and then."

Yeah... I get that often. I need to remember to do that. I'd hate to have my shirt put a damper on my own dreams.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/10/2006 11:05:18 PM
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Ridin'

 

Went on a long bike ride with Tamara and Tom today and it's been a while since I biked that far. I about coughed my lungs up afterward on the drive home. It was good for me :)

Haven't painted in this, my long weekend, yet. I did, however, create some pages on my ArtByBrett site for me to record expenses. My own version of an accounting package. I'm excited about this because it's on the web, so it's accessible to me from anywhere. And this will allow me to see exactly how much I'm spending in this endeavor, by category. That's always a good thing.

Tomorrow, I turn the boys over to Jackie and so I'll have Sunday and Monday to myself. Through this evening, I'll be working up designs for the contemporary/worded cards and then turn out a few in the next two days. Kinda fun...

I started watching "Shopgirl" last night, but stopped in the middle of it. I need to finish, but there's this at the end...

As Ray Porter watches Mirabelle walk away, he feels a loss. How is it possible, he thinks, to miss a woman whom he kept at a distance, so that when she was gone, he would not miss her. Only then does he realize how wanting part of her - and not all of her - had hurt them both. And that he cannot justify his actions except that, well, it was life.

Life is not managed; life is best lived - and fully at that. Ray tried to manage the relationship on his own terms instead of embracing it, and lost what he truly most wanted.

ETC: Watched the rest of the movie, and it went a couple of places I didn't expect it to go. I also watched the "Making of..." bonus feature. In it, Steve Martin, who wrote the script and the novella from which the movie is made, talks of the individual perspectives people have in relationships and the "frivolity" that sometimes occurs in casual but intimate relationships. Best if that frivolity is understood by both people, but I think that's hard to do.

A woman once asked me, if I could go anywhere in the world, where I would like to go. For her, it was Cancun. She lived for Cancun, and could go there often, as she owned a travel agency. At the time we were seeing each other, and she couldn't have been more unprepared for my answer.

"The most poverty-stricken place on the planet. India... Africa. Wherever that might be. A lot of people respect the sheer effort of the successful, and that's justified, but how much more courageous is it to wake up in the morning and know that life is going to suck and be hard and yet they face the day anyway and just live. To see that bravery in person would be astounding."

If I remember correctly, she recoiled in horror. It was a weenie-shrinker for her. I'd say that it was the turning point in the relationship. What was weird though was that she never broke it off with me. She wanted casual and intimate at the same time. When I did break it off, she was quite ugly about it. She wanted me in part, but not fully. And there've been times when I've wanted someone in part, but not fully. It's unfair when that happens.

I don't think there can be a frivolity with the heart.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/13/2006 4:26:31 PM
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Joy

 

I'm trying a different approach for this one, based on a technique that I learned through computer graphics. We'll see how it goes. I should get two paintings finished today...

 

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Read the whole story of "Joy"
by Brett Rogers, 5/15/2006 9:49:05 AM
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Joy (Done)

 

ETC: I think I'm going to redo some of the color in her face. I need yellow and brown, not the lavender that I currently have.

 

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Read the whole story of "Joy"
by Brett Rogers, 5/15/2006 1:45:54 PM
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Taking a Hand

 

I've started the next one, and could finish today. We'll see how it goes.

It's fun to take an image and then think it through color-wise and then get started. This one will feature green and red and blue. It's a friendship painting of two kids walking hand-in-hand down a country lane. Can you make that out in the image above? No? Yeah - me neither, yet.

In the last one, I really liked how the text balanced it out. I might try that with this one too.

I wish I had the entire week off work. Or better, that this was my work.

 

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Read the whole story of "Friends Hold Hands"
by Brett Rogers, 5/15/2006 4:15:13 PM
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Heart - Take II

 

A few weeks ago, I painted a heart. It was fine, but I didn't like the composition. Nothing that I paint is a front-and-center composition. It's always off to the side or something. So I decided to redo it.

I like this one better.

 

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Read the whole story of "Heart"
by Brett Rogers, 5/15/2006 11:58:22 PM
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Eighteen

 

My standing floor rack holds 24, and I now have 18 painted. You can see all of the cards here:

http://www.artbybrett.com/

6 more, and the rack is full.

I'm still missing a birthday card, and I need to do an "Iowa" card or two. I'm working on the friendship card at the moment. I want to do a couple of contemporary designs. I could wrap up all 6 by the end of the month, which would put me on track to have 60 by the end of the year (5 cards a month).

Woo hoo!

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/16/2006 8:13:58 AM
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Presidential Groove

 

I have a program on my computer that allows me to make animated content. This is my first attempt.

But it also allows me to make Flash content, so in theory, I could make cartoons of sorts, with sound and such.

I think that might be useful during election years.

 

5 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 5/17/2006 6:06:37 PM
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Austin's Art Work

 

My son, Austin, gave me this today. He made it.

I love that boy :)

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 5/18/2006 10:48:25 PM
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United 93

 

I watched the film, United 93, today.

I think everyone should watch it. Except for the 2-year-old who sat six seats down from me in the theater. What kind of horrific mother brings her toddler to such a violent and emotional movie?

About 20 minutes into the movie, I found my heart racing. Throughout the film, I learned a few things that I didn't otherwise know about what happened that day. Ultimately, this was a film about three things:

  • Zealotry. Islamic religious zealots who gave no care to the lives of others, but instead thought only of their cause. There is a difference between zealous and zest. The difference is selfishness, and the zealot is focused obsessively on one thing, regardless of who or what stands in the way and regardless of what others might want for themselves. There is no other way but the zealot's, even at the expense of the lives of others.
  • Buffoonery. The government screwed up in so many ways. It occurred to me that we are unfathomably lucky that we did not get hit by a larger entity of more than 20 terrorists that day. Had this been a full-out attack by, say, China, we'd all be speaking Chinese today. Government is never an answer to any problem. Its myriad levels of bureaucracy and bloated inefficiency can never be trusted for timely decisions. This film shows that truth in all its glory, which reinforces my firm belief: good government is small government.
  • Individualism. The heroes of the film are the individuals who made hard decisions without trying to commit it to a vote. They didn't wait for authority or approval - they just did what made sense. And most notably, the passengers. With a dire situation and sketchy details by phone, they ran rings around the government's Pony-Express-speed answer, and saved Washington another hit with their sacrifice. The individual should never be fettered by anyone to move ahead and make a decision and act upon it.
A truly well-made movie that was hard to watch, but critical to see.

As I came out of the theater and into the lobby again, the first thing I saw was a poster for Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center." I shuddered. He'd better not mess with something so sacred as that day. Thankfully, "United 93" honored it by just telling the story, and used several of the very people involved in key roles that day in the movie itself. I can see why the families of the passengers agreed to the film. I'll buy the DVD when it comes out. I'll show it to my grandkids someday.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/20/2006 11:56:08 PM
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Just As You Are

 

Books can be an embarrassment. The ones we show on our shelves can reveal a great deal of who we are and subject us to the preconceived notions of others. I have several versions of the bible, for example. The New English, the Revised Standard, the New International, the King James and the New King James, the Moffatt translation, and so on and so forth. Fancy me a Christian? Why, you just might, if you saw my books.

But the truth is that I'm not. At least not any more. Onions have layers, Shrek tells us. Onions also make you cry as you peel them apart, and us people, in getting to know us, can cause the same reaction. It's conflicting and difficult to learn someone as you dive more deeply into them. We learn about others by their actions and their words and the books they have and by those who know them.

On the advice of a friend, I stayed up late to watch Bridget Jones' Diary. I'm in a movie mode lately... a sign of lots of thinking going on... and I'm buying books. These are both signs that I'm craving input as I'm trying to figure something out.

Bridget felt it was time to avoid being a spinster, and so she was off man-shopping. She found such a guy, but he was an absolute cad, though he was smooth and great in bed. Later, she found the right guy - the one who wanted her for exactly who she was. He knew her imperfections and spoke honestly to them - he saw them outright - but their presence had no impact on him. He wanted her just as she was. Although she didn't see that he was the right one until it was almost too late.

The reading material that we have lying about can cause such trouble. It certainly did for Bridget and she ran half-naked through the streets because of it. I have a copy of Dr. Laura's book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. That book has caused me no less than eight arguments with women. How condescending the title, I hear from most of them. Or I hear that Laura is hideous. How can you stand her, they ask. But I like her. She's honest, which is the quality I admire most in people.

I also like the bible, despite its imperfections. Just as I don't agree with Laura on everything that she says, I also don't agree with the bible about everything that it says. But I feel that you would be hard-pressed to find a deeper book. A lot of wisdom in there. The same is true about Laura.

A great attractiveness about Bridget, I think, was that she didn't try much to hide her flaws. She knew that they would be exposed. She even kind of embraced them. Because perfection doesn't exist. I sometimes say things that I don't mean, or I say it wrong for the audience to whom I intended it. Or I say it at the wrong moment. No matter how much I try - and I do try very hard - my communication is probably fumbled in delivery as often as it succeeds. And I'll also hear things incorrectly from others for the same reasons and make assumptions about what they're saying.

Stephen Covey's "Seek to understand before you seek to be understood" is most appropriate here. Questions are a salvation. You know, it's hard to remember to ask the right questions in the midst of a conversation. Things happen so fast. I heard Laura address this one night on the air with a couple. As they got into bed, the husband made a comment. The wife got out of bed. He assumed that she was pissed, and so he reacted to that, when in fact, she got out of bed to ensure that their child was truly asleep so that they could talk. But instead, they got into a very long fight over a silly miscommunication. Had the husband asked why she got out of bed, the fight could have been averted. Had the wife commented what she was doing as she got up instead of saying nothing, the fight could have been averted.

Imperfection is beautiful when it's embraced. It makes us humble. It renders us soft in a difficult discussion and easy in a complicated relationship. Acknowledged imperfection allows us to laugh at ourselves, as Bridget often did. Being unafraid to see imperfection also makes forgiveness possible. It's indispensable, really. It encourages us to accept one another - just as we are.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/21/2006 11:41:30 AM
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Money Come Running

 

Those who know me and talk with me regularly know that I've been following prosper.com and zopa.com closely. These two companies have started p2p (person-to-person) lending web sites for unsecured loans.

I read this yesterday:

Most intriguing are both companies' plans to introduce APIs [application programming interfaces] so programmers can integrate social finance with social networking. Members of Yahoo Groups and MySpace would be able to participate in peer-to-peer finance through groups already established at other services. Groups could even be set up to view financial data and perform administrative functions from sites other than Prosper or Zopa.
I expect that Prosper and Zopa will offer finder's fees for either lenders or borrowers who come together to do business through third-party blogs. Today, about the only way that people can make money blogging is by placing advertising on their blogs - most popularly, Google's AdSense. What's coming are companies willing to dillute their brand by spreading the company skunk works across tens and hundreds of thousands of blogs through APIs that allow the average blogger to make money. To some degree, this happens today, but I expect p2p lending to be a better model of income for bloggers.

Question of the day: what happens when this moves beyond lending?

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/23/2006 6:59:57 AM
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Toss 'Em Overboard

 

Via Drudge and ABC, I read that Dennis Hastert is subject to a criminal probe.

This is after he suggests that those in Congress shouldn't be subject to FBI raids and shows his support for House member Jefferson from Louisiana, who was taped accepting a bribe. Of course Hastert's protecting the backside of Jefferson - Hastert might be on the take as well.

Corruption is all over the place in Washington, both in Republican and Democratic circles. Scout 'em all out. Jail the guilty.

Jerks.

ETC: The DOJ denies that Hastert is under investigation. But for being an idiot and suggesting that Congress-folk shouldn't be searched like the rest of us are when there is ample evidence that we've taken bribes, he should still be tossed overboard.

I'm so tired of politicians. Small government is good government.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 5/24/2006 7:18:40 PM
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Nick's Painting

 

Nick's last homework assignment for art was an acrylic painting - his first.

Pretty cool.

 

2 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 5/25/2006 1:16:06 AM
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Do Something

 

Every once in a while, I notice some synchronicity in my life, and though I don't attach great meaning to it, I do see it as an opportunity to mull over the meme.

Anger is the current meme.

I attended a class entitled, "Children in the Middle," last night. It's a mandatory class put on for all those in Iowa going through a divorce. Good class, and they go over many aspects of how to carry on with your ex-spouse without eroding the kids and their need for each parent's love. They talked of communication and feelings and the growth stages of children. I thought of my interpersonal relationships class in college and my first marriage and my second and my time learning of Piaget in child development and of my own kids... all good.

There was a point though in the conversation where we talked of the stages of grief. Of course, anger is one of those. Anger has a negative connotation, but anger also provides us with energy, says our instructor. "Don't try to bury your anger. It not only hurts you from the inside, but it also keeps you from tapping a source of energy that might just help you get on with your life and start off in new directions."

That's pretty sage. So I grooved on that for part of the evening.

I come in this morning and browsed Tom Peters' latest slideshow on innovation. 23 slides in, I read this:

"Innovation's 'Secrets' Revealed: Get mad. Do something about it. Now."
I've never tied anger to innovation, but in the same perspective of anger spurring someone in new directions, anger spurs you to action - it is energy. Which is either wasted or used well.

A businessowner always has to ask: does what I offer alleviate the consumer's pain so much that they're willing to part with their hard-earned money to obtain it? In other words, am I mad enough about a consumer's pain that I'm willing to do anything to resolve it?

Tom quotes a new book in his slides that I've not seen before. Paul Arden's "Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite."

"ARE YOU BEING REASONABLE? Most people are reasonable; that's why they only do reasonably well."

"TRAPPED. It's not because you are making the wrong decisions. It's because you are making the right ones. We try to make sensible decisions based on the facts in front of us. The problem with making sensible decisions is that so is everybody else."

"Making the safe decision is dull, predictable and leads nowhere new. The unsafe decision causes you to think and respond in a way you hadn't thought of. And that thought will lead to other thoughts which will help you achieve what you want. Start taking bad decisions and it will take you to a place where others only dream of being."

"The best piece of advice ever given was by the art director of Harper's Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch, to the young Richard Avedon, destined to become one of the world's great photographers. The advice was simple: 'ASTONISH ME.' Bear these words in mind, and whatever you do will be creative."

And then he quotes an anonymous source:
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body - but rather a skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow, what a ride!'"
Chaos is a good thing. It's change. It's angry and roiled. It's unpredictable.
"In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - and produced Michelangelo, da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce - the cuckoo clock."
- Source: Orson Welles, as Harry Lime, in The Third Man
Quiet and peaceful doesn't resolve a damn thing.

Shake shit up. Get pissed off. Innovate. Change the world.

I think my little calculator at the top left of my web site gives you the wrong number. As opposed to showing you how many days you've been alive, it should show you how many days you have left. And if that doesn't spur you to action to make the most of each day, then you might as well end it all now.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/26/2006 1:35:53 PM
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Spunknabulous

 

"Spunknabulous" is a word that I conjured up a few months back... I think it's best summed up as everything in which I believe and have any passion for.

I'll be working on this for the next couple of years in the background...

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/26/2006 2:34:05 PM
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Thankfully, The Last Stand

 

Only a quick post - just got back from seeing X-Men: The Last Stand. Key points:

  • Brett Ratner's direction was ponderous.
  • John Powell's music for the movie was unbelievably over-the-top and simply bad.
  • The special effects and the acting were good, as expected.
As a result, I look forward to Bryan Singer's Superman movie that comes out this summer. He knows what he's doing.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/26/2006 9:21:31 PM
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Kindergarten

 

Here's my first crack at a larger painting, titled "Market with Yellow Umbrella." It's roughly 20" × 26".

Tonight, I just wanted to block in with a bunch of color and get it going. I didn't care much for getting it exact or right - that comes later, and I'll try a few new things with the detail work. I know how I want to approach this and I just wanted it to be fun. So I was bouncing around in my chair to different songs from a playlist and just having a good time with it.

Note to self: cerulean and cobalt blue don't play well together.

In a big painting like this, big brushes are needed. Which means a lot of paint, and that gets expensive. A tube of Golden® acrylic costs me $10 - $18 a tube, depending on the color and the size of the tube. So when I decide to start taking commissions, I'm thinking that I'll charge a flat fee and then charge separately for materials. In this case:

Canvas$20
Paint (4 tubes total)$60
Total Expense$80

So if I charged $200 flat fee, the painting would be $280. Fair price? Beats me. I'll find out.

I'll find out in a few days how my cards have done in their retail locations. I decided to wait and see what's happening in the market before I painted more cards, so I took a break, which was nice. And coming back to it tonight was great. Felt good... I hope to have this wrapped up before I take a few days of vacation next week. I'll be heading south to a friend's house to visit and take a bunch of source pictures for upcoming works.

 

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Read the whole story of "Market with Yellow Umbrella"
by Brett Rogers, 5/31/2006 12:12:25 AM
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