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Blog Posts for July 2006

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Backscratching

I don't like it when I'm cynical, but I'm really seeing the relationship between blogs, newspapers, and the businesses who advertise in either one in a new light.

If I'm a business, I need to let people know about my business - or I'm not in business. So I advertise, and to advertise, I look for venues that receive a great deal of traffic where lots of people will chance upon my ad and notice my business. Of course - nothing new there...

And if I manage one of those venues - let's go with blogs or newspapers at the moment - my job is to create as much traffic as I can so that I can attract more advertisers. Of course - nothing new here either...

I'm reading around on the net this morning and I stumble upon this: a horrid political cartoon that equates America with al Qaeda in terms of torture. I read on this guy's site that this generated an uproar in Atlanta and that talk radio is abuzz with this.

This is an attention economy: you make money if people pay attention to you. And so lots of people are paying attention to the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) because of its cartoonist's despicable viewpoint.

Traffic. He's generating traffic for his employer. Lots of people are paying attention to this.

So one of the long-time advertisers in the AJC, a Mercedes dealer, decides to buy a full page ad on the page before the editorial section, protesting the cartoon. They don't sever their advertising relationship with the AJC. No, instead they set up their ad right where the traffic is going and howl at the moon and look patriotic.

  • The cartoonist created traffic that prompted an advertiser, who intends to continue the relationship, to buy a full page ad. Good for the AJC.
  • The car dealer gets to look good before its buying public in the midst of scandal. Good for the car dealer.
  • And bloggers and talk radio folks get more readship and listenership through those incensed by the whole thing, which drives up their traffic.
See the full circle?

I remember when Bono used to be somewhat high-minded and he decried the star aspects of rock and roll. That changed about the time that their Achtung Baby album came out. He decided that he was better off just emracing the whole thing and running with it. His "The Fly" image - big glasses, leather jacket - was a response to this. Today, he uses the attention he gets in his embrace of stardom to advance causes important to him. Smart.

Eric Lichtblau, the New York Times "journalist" who broke the story about SWIFT, is essentially a useful idiot, just as the AJC's cartoonist. The AJC and the NYT use these sideshow acts to drive the curious into the big tent. And Mercedes dealers and bloggers and talk radio folks set up shop around the whole thing to ride the coattails of it all.

This is all just mutual backscratching. I don't know if I should be deeply upset or amused by it all. At the moment, I'm pretty irked about it. I might feel inclined to jump in the fray if it weren't for the fact that people's lives are threatened by it.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/2/2006 11:03:22 AM
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Odometer: 28,762 Miles

I'm hard on shoes.

I've had this pair since 1999.

But everything has to be replaced...

Boy, are the new ones white!

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by Brett Rogers, 7/3/2006 12:43:08 PM
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The Flip Side of Insecurity

Ego. Smugness. Arrogance.

Here's the New York Times back during the Revolutionary War, uncovering government secrets for public consumption.

Yes, it's a joke. Sort of.

Note the name of the author of the article. That's not a joke. Bendict indeed. The flipside of insecurity is unspeakable arrogance that disregards human life to win Pulitzers, which are worthless for the cost to achieve one.

(Got this from Powerline...)

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by Brett Rogers, 7/3/2006 5:24:44 PM
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July 3rd

I broke in my new shoes with a long walk this evening, during which it drizzled and I witnessed the most spectacular rainbow. A full circle, it was, with a second rainbow begun on the outside of it.

I took this with my camera phone. It takes decent pictures, I think.

Lots of thinking during my walk and a few phone calls. Nice to get out, and it was cool to be damp for it.

Yesterday, I went to my friend's house (Tamara) and watered her tomatoes. One had even turned color.

Summer is wonderful. I love these images.

As I spend my time on vacation this week just being at home, I'm using the time to retool. I'll know more when I come up for air, but some strong directions emerge. We'll see if life will allow me to go in those directions.

I'll drive where I'm allowed. Fun!

Oh, and one other thing. Kelly turned me onto Matt's site the other day. You really must visit it, if just to watch the video. (Kay, are you reading? You would love this!) Not only is it infectious, but the song is amazing. I ordered the CD, which is by Deep Forest. It's out of print, but I managed to get it through Amazon.

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Tags: my life
by Brett Rogers, 7/3/2006 11:15:57 PM
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Light

My son now thinks that my bedroom has the appearance of a hospital ward. He's not speaking to its cleanliness - too much stuff crammed in there for that - but speaks to the light that I now have in my room. I purchased the $18.75 20 watt Daylight bulbs for my overhead lights from MisterArt.com. Here's the difference, yellow first:

And white...

I might point out that the yellow bulbs are high quality bulbs from GE, not just your run-of-the-mill incandescent bulbs. But boy, are they ever yellow. Amazing, the difference.

So what difference does this make for the artist? Take a look. Here's my unfinished painting... again, yellow light first:

And white:

Notice how washed out the yellowed picture is. The colors are drab and muddy. Especially in the blue of the sky - lifeless in yellow light. But the white light brings out the color accurately and vividly. Exactly as it appears in real life.

I've thought a great deal during my week-long vacation about my art and I've come to a conclusion. My people'd cards don't sell, and I like people too much to give them up to paint subjects commercially for cards alone. I'll continue to paint for cards, but not with the fecundity that I had before. I'll start going into portrait work more, emphasizing family portraits on a larger scale that work to capture the essence of the people in them. (Read: no portrait posing.) And I'll charge a few or several hundred dollars for each original work because that's honest for my effort and respects what I put it into it. But no signed prints for hundreds of dollars. All originals.

I'll continue to offer my art on cards for the cheaper price, but I think I'm going to tweak the pricing and perhaps buy a commercial quality printer to do these myself rather than print them in large quantities through a print shop. This way, I can customize the messages inside the cards for small productions. I might also approach businesses to offer a unique and artistic card for them.

I don't know how I'll maneuver as I go forward, but I've learned in my cards experiment what sells and what doesn't sell. And I've learned what I'm willing to do and what I'm not willing to do. What I do at work is just a job for me - it is not my passion. I can't have my artwork become a job for me. It should instead continue to be my passion and free expression, and if people come to value what I do enough that it can sustain me economically, then I'll get to do what I love doing for a living.

Drucker said that efficiency is "doing the right things right." I have to focus on the right things for me. And for me, I love people.

ETC: I spent part of my time this fall taking pictures at the farmer's market so that I could continue my work on this. I'll get back to this eventually, but it's on hiatus for now.

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Read the whole story of "Market with Yellow Umbrella"
by Brett Rogers, 7/8/2006 11:05:05 AM
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Management

I have a hero complex. Always have. It comes from being the oldest child of five revolving kids in a multi-fathered alcoholic household.

Over the years, I've worked on projects and shone where the impossible was necessary and I was brought in to salvage something in a short period of time and usually worked alone and proceeded to do what no one thought could be done. It's a good talent to have, but it's not healthy because it's motivated by a need for speed, so to speak. Great chaos, but not sustainable.

In the relationships I've chosen, I've looked for opportunities for me to be the knight in shining armor. Chivalrous, but over-the-top. It's not my job to save the world. Ultimately, I'm really not responsible for others. Here's where one of my favorite maxims comes into play: Circle of Concern, Circle of Influence.

From Stephen Covey's Seven Habits:

In looking at ways to influence and change our surroundings it is helpful to notice where we focus our time and energy. We each have a wide range of concerns - our health, our family, problems at work, the national debt, etc., and it is these things in our lives that make up our Circle of Concern. As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them in a smaller Circle of Influence. The problems all of us face fall in one of three areas: direct control (problems involving our own behavior); indirect control (problems involving other people's behavior); or no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past, or situational realities). A proactive approach is the first step to the solution of all three kinds of problems within our present Circle of Influence. Some people interpret proactive to mean pushy, aggressive, or insensitive, but that isn't the case at all. Proactive people are smart, they are value driven, they read reality, and they know what's needed. And they focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging, and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.
I'm finding that life lately is telling me in a big way that I'm spending too much time in my Circle of Concern and not enough time in my Circle of Influence. Which means that I'm wasting my time. Time in the Circle of Concern means that I fancy myself Superman. I'm not. Always a good lesson to re-learn.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/9/2006 11:53:29 AM
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Life is Best Lived Locally

Years ago, as I walked to work (which is one of my favorite activities), I scanned the scene from horizon to horizon and realized that we live in a bubble of locality. If anything occurs within that bubble, it's immediate to me and personally known. But outside of it, such as the doings in Washington, it's really conjured up in my head as best I can imagine it. I can't view it. I wasn't there.

Later, when I began my Internet ramblings, I realized that distance from others makes us less likely to feel a sense of, well, etiquette. If I meet you face-to-face, I'll be more polite. If I write you an email, I might be inclined to be less so. If I only comment on a web site of someone I don't know, etiquette could go right out the window.

In the corporation where I work, which spans several large cities, we often talk about getting together for a face-to-face with those on a project so that we can not only have a greater accountability, but also a greater comraderie and rapport. That personal sense of someone brings us closer and preserves a sense of etiquette.

I've been watching the dust-up between Jeff Goldstein and Debbie Frisch at Jeff's site. It's long and involved and that link is only part of the story. Suffice it to say that his conservatism and her liberalism didn't mix, and she was notoriously rude and even made comments about his child and he was insulting - so this was a rather nasty episode. But why? Here are two highly educated folks snarling at each other publicly, and the mob of Jeff's commenters joined in the fray and the rudeness. Blogs are just great, aren't they?

And then Jeff Jarvis, in his infamous "Dell Hell" series, noticed that Dell - the corporation - has started blogging, which he asked them to do long ago. And so they do, and what does Jeff do? He sneers.

Both of these incidents get a ton of traffic and notice. It's as though someone yells "Fight!" at school and then everyone runs to the window to see. And it's ridiculous. And I'm one of the ones at the window.

What is it with long-distance online relationships that reduces the need for civility? Remote invites the cold and is best left behind, I think. Life is best lived in the local bubble of our awareness.

I don't disagree with blogging at all - I have this site after all. I write here for many reasons. I am reminded of what Gandhi said:

Be the change that you want to see in the world.
Indeed.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/12/2006 9:15:50 AM
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Flow

I went out and bought this little gizmo last night, an Olympus digital voice recorder.

A while back, Mike Sansone suggested that I do podcasting, so I'll do that on occasion, but I also wanted something to better record the music that I create, and this does that fairly cheap. Better than recording on my digital camera and converting the mpeg to mp3, anyway. That process introduced lots of Rice Krispies to the process (snap, crackle, pop, and all that).

And I'll just play with it. The human voice is an amazing instrument, whether it can carry a tune or not. And the world around us is so full of wonderful sounds. We focus a great deal on our vision, but if I had to choose between eyesight or hearing, I'd go with hearing every day of the week. My hands can make up for the loss of vision, and I would not want to go without the sound of the human voice.

The process of recording is easy. And I've incorporated the XSPF player to allow easy playback here on the web site. (You'll probably have to click twice to get the player to play the file...)





Did it work? I'll know in a minute after I post this...

ETC: Yep, it worked, but I discovered that I have to save the MP3 file at a 128 bit rate. The larger the bit rate, the larger the file. For voice, a bit rate of 32 is just fine and lends itself to a smaller file, but when I do that, the track plays 4 times faster so I sound like a chipmunk on helium. I'll have to work with it or find a different player.

MORE ETC: I've created a graphic for this and decided to forego the in-browser player because it can't support smaller files, and I don't want my traffic eaten up here by humungous file downloads. You can click the graphic to listen to Cub beat me in a game of Battleship. I was testing the sound quality of the recorder (good!) and messing around to find the best quality file size (64 bit).

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by Brett Rogers, 7/15/2006 9:22:04 AM
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Doodle

Cub beat me earlier in Battleship and wanted to go for round two: I lost again. To a 6-year-old. Who has a most bizarre strategy and seems to know where my ships were despite any cleverness on my part. Take a look:

How he knew that my none of my ships were in the lower right of the board, I have no clue. But he did, and through his random guesswork, he found me and beat me.

Feeling a need for pen and ink and watercolor lately, I dove in after we had lunch.

Just playing... more to come.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/15/2006 3:27:55 PM
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More Doodle

I can't explain why, but doing this pen-and-ink thing with the watercolor is deeply satisfying. And I'm not even particularly proud of the results, but just doing it feels good. It's almost like I don't care about how it looks. It's fun just to grab an image and paint without worrying about how accurate it is and then throw color at it.

The faces too. They have a lot to do with this.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/15/2006 6:41:11 PM
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Mixing

Thankfully, my little digital recorder works as I expected in creating multi-track song files. My goodness - what I can do from here.

I own Cubase, which is a multi-track music production software package. I can take audio files and mix them together. It's pretty decent. So while the boys are sleeping I created a simple vocal piece (totally made it up on the fly) and then recorded a separate harmonizing piece for it. Then a percussion track (me slapping my leg...) Three tracks, and then blended them all together with Cubase. Ho ho! It worked. I've never done anything like this, so I'm thrilled.

I'm playing a lot today and trying new things. Fun!

ETC: And because it's 128 bit, I can put it into this little player. Click twice to get it going...





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by Brett Rogers, 7/15/2006 10:31:35 PM
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Cubdoodle

While sitting in the living room, I decided to pen-and-ink Jacob while he played. I've always wondered how to capture people who are moving. He didn't sit still, nor did I ask him to do that. His face and body changed angles and shadows and color and I tried to render him correctly.

I like pen-and-ink; it forces me to sketch without eraser, and that's more discipline. No net, so to speak. But I don't like how after a bit I get a bubble of ink in the pen and it then splots onto my work. See the two large black dots above...

Afterward, Cub and I sat at the table and painted with watercolors. He portrayed his McDonald's doll that he got in a recent Happy Meal. I colored in what I had seen. Here's his:

We're both happy with his effort, plus he likes listening to the scanner take a picture of his work. He imitates the whine of the scanning light as it moves under the glass.

Earlier, Austin and I played baseball. I pitch; he swings. "We need a pitcher, not a belly-itcher." I do manage to get him a few good pitches, and he enthusiastically clocks them when I do.

Prior to that, Cub and I played a new game together: Blokus. Cool game!

It was a tie :)

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by Brett Rogers, 7/16/2006 5:05:38 PM
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Just Say No to Jihad

A basic human principle is this: respect for life.

There are lots of folks who believe that there are equivalencies to be drawn between the Israelis and the Jihadists in the Middle East. But there's a simple distinction: respect for life.

The Palenstinians have it in their charter to "eliminate" Israel.

...in Article 15, the Arabic is translated as "the elimination of Zionism," whereas the correct translation is "the liquidation of the Zionist presence." "The Zionist presence" is a common Arabic euphemism for the State of Israel, so this clause in fact calls for the destruction of Israel, not just the end of Zionism.
Ditto for Iran.
The European Union and Russia have joined condemnation of the Iranian president's public call for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remark has already been condemned by individual EU states and Canada who all summoned Iranian diplomats for an explanation.

Israel has not made such a call. Isreal is, in fact, armed to the teeth and has been for decades. But they're not trying to wipe out or eliminate anyone, though they certainly could have.

Jihadists, radical Muslims who want to see the world converted to Islam or destroyed in the process, are a global threat. They attacked us on 9/11. They attacked England. They attacked Spain. They recently attacked Mumbai, India. They killed in Indonesia.

Jihadists have no respect for the lives of others. They want to kill indiscriminately.

Israel, on the other hand, currently targets its bombing of Lebanon to Hezbullah's weapons caches and means of weapons re-supply, such as ports and the airport runways and bridges.

Not night clubs, bus depots, hotels, financial centers, or railways - all populated by civilians.

There's a difference.

If Israel chose, Lebanon and Syria could be "wiped off the map." They have the capability. They don't choose that. They're simply going after those who seek to kill them. That's called defense.

If the Jihadists had the means and opportunity, they would nuke Israel without the merest second thought. So Hamas, Hezbullah, al-Qaeda, and all the other terrorist Muslim groups worldwide take an offensive stance and seek to kill all non-Muslims.

It's time for the world, as a whole, to say "No" to the big jihad that kills innocent people worldwide. Enough already. Everyone has a right to exist. Can anyone really disagree with that? If so, why would anyone support Hezbullah? Or Hamas? Or Iran's religious political leadership?

For me, I stand with Israel and with those who recognize Israel's right to exist. I stand with Muslims who truly do seek peaceful coexistence. I stand with the basic human principle of a respect for life.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/17/2006 8:16:54 AM
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Hmm...

               

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by Brett Rogers, 7/17/2006 8:50:17 AM
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myphonefiles.com sucks

myphonefiles.com sucks. I wanted to create a custom ringtone, and found this web site and software through Google. So I purchased ($25 + $5) and installed the software and went through the process. I used the software to upload my custom ringtone, and used the web site to send the ringtone to my phone. Got a text message on my phone and went to download the ringtone. But then I got this:

Error 905: Attribute Mismatch-Content-Type
I should mention that I have this phone, a very multimedia-friendly phone, and my service is Sprint, which myphonefiles.com says that it supports.

I tried changing the ringtone file type to MMF, MP3, and WAV, but to no success - same error every time. So I wrote support, and the guy who wrote the software and web site, Steve, sends this in reply:

hi brett,
type purevoice or AAC.
~Steve
So I go back to the web site to change the file type. Here's a screenshot: there's an option for Purevoice, but not for AAC.

So I send him this screenshot and tell him that I get the same error and that AAC is not an option. I get nothing in reply.

Fair enough - perhaps his product won't work for me. I send an email and request a refund. I get this:

hello
since we offer a test area at www.myphonefiles.com/test , we do not offer
refunds for subscriptions. This is stated in the terms and conditions that
was agreed to during signup.
~Steve
In trying to resolve my issue, I had gone through the web site pretty thoroughly to see what I might find for help and not once did I see a test link. I still don't.

So, be warned: the product didn't work for me, the support sucks and doesn't care about you, and you won't get your money back when it doesn't work.

6 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 7/18/2006 8:14:49 AM
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Energy

Listless is a good way to describe myself of late, but I had a good bout of creativity and free-form fun over this past weekend and I find myself emerging. A few threads in my life are coming together, and life makes sense.

I wrote a while back that anger is a good thing when used correctly. It's energy, and when channeled well, it's a positive. As I like to say, if someone is going to kick you, make sure that you're pointed in the right direction first.

My cards have sold modestly. Not in droves, but rather in spurts. And I've discovered that the people cards don't sell. In a fabulous bit of timing, I sold nine cards today to one person. They bought:

Two of this...

And two of this...

And two of this...

And two of this...

And one of this...

No people, except for the child. I don't think the woman jumping for joy counts because she is somewhat generic. Two of the cards had words on the front. The majority of my cards have sold in batches. People buy a bunch of them at once. All of my buyers have been women.

Hmm... I'm connecting the dots, and I think I see a way to grow the business, and my direction was misguided. Ha ha! Movement...

My friend, Peter, writes me today and says:

I think it is so cool to get out there and learn these types of things, and even cooler to take action and adapt.
Haven't heard from Peter in a month or two, but his timing is exquisite. Perfect. Thank you, sir.

I had considered painting portraits, but for the money I would have had to charge, I don't think I'll find many buyers, and it's not really the direction that I wanted to go anyway. I might do it on a one-off basis now and then, but I can't sustain that effort and feel right about it.

I'll soon be back to painting cards... with a renewed direction, with juices flowing, with a strengthened sense of self.

It's all a matter of how we see life. Sometimes hearing "No" is just as important as hearing "Yes!" Both are an answer, and a direction. Both allow for movement.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/20/2006 8:04:11 PM
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Control

What is willpower? Why is it that some seem to have more willpower than others?

I want to venture forward a definition of willpower, and by doing so I'm going to take some of the "oomph" out of willpower. It's not some magical or genetic material more present in some people than in others.

My definition: Willpower is a decision and a desire to change.

Break it apart. "Will" implies a decision and commitment. "Power" is the energy put behind the decision. For those who lack willpower, they either haven't made a decision to change, of if they are convinced that there should be change, they don't stay mindful of the need for change.

Therefore, those who seem to have a lot of willpower are those who are unafraid to make a decision to change and who hunger enough for that change to see it through day by day. That's it.

Willpower is self-centered. I don't mean that it's selfish. I mean that it applies to the self. I can try and convince others to join me in my thinking, but that's persuasion, not willpower. Willpower is what I decide for myself and what I put into it. My willpower won't change anyone. It can only change me.

If I convince others through persuasion to join me in change, then they have to apply that desire to change to themselves. I can encourage them, but it's best if they believe in it as I do. If I lead by example, that helps. "Be the change that I seek in the world," as Gandhi says.

But I can't change others. Nor should I want to, because then it's only artificial and only lasts as long as my negative persuasion or positive persuasion lasts. I might be able to show them the benefit of the change, but ultimately it's something that they have to want for themselves. I can't change others. They can only change themselves.

Trying to change someone is wasted energy. It's generally resented. It's regarded as control. But I'm never in control of anyone else. I only control myself.

Willpower is a beautiful gift. I can change myself. It can energize me and spawn change in others by my example.

Control of others is ugly. I can't change others permanently. It's a waste of time and hurts people.

Just thinking out loud...

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 7/23/2006 9:54:54 PM
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Got Gottman?

My mom is a therapist who looks frequently for good authors/thinkers and she will mention them to me. She's a big fan of a guy named Gottman. He's into divorce prediction, and has done studies complete with electrodes and cameras and other means of recording the moods, conversation, and interaction of a couple.

Here's one of his indicators:

Wives who make sour facial expressions when their husbands talk are likely to be separated within four years.
Hubbies won't talk if what he says brings a grimace to his wife's face. Nor will he hang around her if she doesn't smile when he appears. She doesn't have to always smile, but friends get smiles when encountered. Children get smiles. If the man doesn't get a regular warm welcome, why be there? And so separation happens... never discount a smile. It's the easiest and often the most engaging thing we can give to someone.

Gottman has this notion of the "four horses of the apocalypse." These are the four predictors of relationship demise. Ready?

  • Withdrawal
  • Criticism
  • Contempt
  • Defensiveness
There's a cure for these. Don't withdraw - stay in the room and mentally engaged to work it out. Soften criticism. Be open to the soft criticisms of your spouse - really listen. Focus on what you admire about your partner, and not on what bugs you.

There's a good article here that gives a brief summary. Here's a snippet:

In a healthy relationship, Gottman says, "there must be a rich climate of nourishing emotions: teasing, laughter, validation, kindness and understanding." In stable marriages, the ratio of positive to negative interactions is five to one, Gottman finds. Couples who store healthy feelings, he adds, have enough invested to bail themselves out when they get into trouble.

When negativity gets on a roll, he says, contempt is "the single biggest predictor of divorce. It is sulfuric acid for love; it completely erodes it." Contempt often goes hand in hand with constant criticism, which one partner may use as a result of having endured it as a child.

We are creatures of habit. We often mimic what we've known. Even the most idyllic childhood can bring a few bad habits.

Relationships aren't for the faint of heart. The search for love is a risk, but it's worth it. And it's worth the work in keeping it once you find it.

ETC: Here's a good link to a review of one of Gottman's tapes.

Listening to Gottman we learn that both happy and unhappy couples argue, but unhappy couples are far more likely to engage in a wide range of destructive fighting techniques, including personal attack, dredging up the past, losing focus and name calling. Well-adjusted couples speak clearly and openly with each other and listen empathically; while distressed couples generally resort to what Gottman calls the "four horsemen of the apocalypse," ineffective behaviors which are highly predictive of divorce. The four predictors are criticism, defensiveness, withdrawal and contempt. Satisfied couples are friends and, therefore, employ more positive than negative exchanges. They also have better problem solving skills. Dissatisfied couples, on the other hand, are likely to engage in negatively escalating conflicts and become stuck in repetitively destructive patterns.

The term "four horsemen" is also used to describe a downward spiraling sequence with criticism more likely for women and withdrawal more likely for men. The male partner's ability to deal with conflict is a great predictor of the outcome of a marriage. Generally, men are less competent in relationship skills than women. The degree to which they are inadequate at handling conflict indicates the likelihood of deterioration within the relationship. Gottman observed that gender differences are most prominent in bad marriages, especially in situations where men refuse to be influenced by women. In stable marriages, wives soften their criticism and husbands accept influence from their spouses. Male withdrawal is not causal but is an epiphenomena of distressed marriages. The typical pattern is that the wife pursues and the husband withdraws; in an ailing marriage this pattern is most pronounced. Gottman questions John Gray's suppositions of great gender differences between men and women because he found only a few. He argues that women are more likely to criticize. Men are typically less effective when expressing themselves and therefore more likely to withdraw. Unfortunately, the withdrawal has a negative effect.

Yup. What he said.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/24/2006 1:42:19 PM
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Painting

Been a while, but here I go... thirty minutes into this one. I have a ways to go...

This is where I left off back in May. May, fer chrissakes! Oy... but I needed to reconsider how to create and sell my cards. Lessons learned:

  • Women buy.
  • Specific and detailed people don't sell.
  • Good words make the card more attractive. (Just as poignant lyrics make the pretty melody much more desireable.)
  • Somehow, my cards seem to sell in larger quantities (a dozen at a time, or so).
Am I talking about a catalog of some sort?

So I'm listening to Handel and painting... Yeah, I like painting people, but I also like painting the cards. I'll find a happy medium or do both. But really, I like painting and want to be my own boss, so painting cards wins over painting people for now.

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Read the whole story of "Friends Hold Hands"
by Brett Rogers, 7/24/2006 10:09:40 PM
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Friends Hold Hands

It's going okay so far and I'm having fun with it. Painting trees and shrubbery has always challenged me, but I figure that practice will help me with that.

The text for this one will be "Friends hold hands... and help each other... and walk through life together." You'll see why as I finish it. I'm about half-done now.

Today, I proofed three of my cards at the printers. I ordered 50 each. Might be done and ready to pick up tomorrow.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/28/2006 2:06:03 AM
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Cards: Batch Number Three

This is the third batch of cards that I've purchased. Every time that I go to the printers and pick them up, I fall in love with them all over again. I recall what it was to choose the image, measure out the rectangle with which I paint, select colors, paint brushstroke after brushstroke, and then scan in the finished work. Each card is a story. Each one is a gamble. It's a risk of my time and money. But to look at the finished product, it's all worth it. I'll allow myself that satisfaction.

Because this was a smaller batch, my cost per card was higher this time. Roughly $1.30 per card. Normally, it's only about 50. Lesson learned, and an expensive one at that. But it is a risk. What if I don't get my money back out of my investment? How do I sell them to insure that I do? Did I paint the right card? Is it the right message? The right look?

What's gratifying to me is that my more recent cards sell better than my earlier cards. I must be getting a clue, which makes my wallet happy.

So, that's it for my bit of respite this evening. Now off to my friendship painting.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/28/2006 10:19:22 PM
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The Path

I worked more on it tonight and got further along.

I may touch up the rocks yet, but the only piece missing is the girls. They're for tomorrow.

ETC: The problem with the gravel path, I decided, is that the white stood out too much. I liked the more distant section of the path because it blended better, so I worked on that and got this:

I'm good with that, although I think it's funny that I stuck to the bluish shadows as opposed to the actual gray in the picture. Blue is nicer...

And a test of the words:

On to the kids!

MORE ETC: I'm told that red, as the color for the words, is a poor choice. I'll play with that. How about "pale yellow?"

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by Brett Rogers, 7/29/2006 1:46:54 AM
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Words

I took my latest cards to my mom's house today and as I inserted them into their space in the rack she has, the Joy card really jumped out at me. It's the words. Not only do they sell, but the words enhance the whole thing. That hit me big time today.

Later this week, I'll go on a trip to take source pictures to use for future paintings. How do I take pictures and frame the shot in such a way that it leaves room for words and has a nice balance to it? I guess I'll find out.

It also struck me that of course my initial cards didn't sell well. For the first time, I could see that today clearly. Which is both good and bad. Good in that I know which path to take and will know better what to paint. Bad in that I've wasted some money for now on cards that won't sell immediately. They will eventually, I'm sure, but I wouldn't stock them today. So I think I'm down to about seven sellable cards now. Two steps forward, one step back.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/29/2006 9:55:29 PM
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Paint Cups

I found a way to prevent using excess acrylic: paint cups.

I squeeze a bunch of paint into these cups, and the lid keeps them from drying out. When I'm ready to use some paint, I scoop only what I need from the cup and onto my palette paper. That, and cling wrap, once the paint is on the palette paper.

Big cost savings and it allows me to take breaks, which are always healthy.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/30/2006 1:19:29 AM
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Sketching

In any painting, when I like my progress, I get more anxious as I work to finish it. Will I screw it up? With acrylic that's especially dangerous because it dries so fast. (I can paint over it, but it's tough to match colors when doing that.)

So I sketch in proportions and such with a light color and set it up for the bolder brushstrokes and colors.

You can see the girls, faintly marked for the final strokes.

Oy! This is why some of my paintings don't get done until late night / early morning. I get too wound up to walk away and get a good night's sleep.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/30/2006 1:40:02 AM
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One Girl Down

One girl to go.

And a bit of touch up, I think.

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by Brett Rogers, 7/30/2006 1:36:41 PM
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