Tag, I’m it

Jack Vinson has tagged me to tell the world 5 things that most people may not know about me. It is more of a challenge than I thought it might be, trying to figure out what I’m will to share and what people may be interested in knowing. But here goes.

  1. I have lived/worked/vacationed in 37 US states (plus the District of Columbia) and 18 countries outside the US including North America, Europe, and Asia. My wife and I spent our first anniversary riding gondola’s and checking out the history of Venice. Very nice.
  2. I attended The Wall – Live in Berlin performance at Potsdamer Platz in July 1990. Though the early part of the concert was plagued with technical difficulties, the overall experience was amazing. Not the least of the experience was the trip to Berlin: a route that showed about 8 hours on the map ended up taking nearly 20 hours. Though Allied Checkpoint Charlie had already come down within Berlin, we spent nearly 10 hours in line trying to get through Checkpoint Alpha. I also had the chance to take hammer and chisel to the Berlin Wall and break off my own souvenir of the Cold War.
  3. Yoshi and Kirby in the ParkI’m a dog person, big dogs. For pretty much my entire married life (going on 20 years), we’ve had at least one (usually two) dogs in the house. We currently have two Old English Sheepdogs, and have had another Sheepdog and a Bouvier des Flandres along the way.
  4. In high school, I worked as a summer camp counselor. This is where I really picked up my love of all things outdoors, such as rock climbing, caving, canoing, etc.
  5. In college, I was co-leader of my fraternity’s award winning float building team for the annual St. Pat’s day parade. The theme was cartoons / animation, we won with Disney’s The Jungle Book.

To pass this along, I tag:

Update (21 Dec): Watching Jeopardy this evening I thought of something else that I should have put here, but just didn’t think of in time.

I took the contestant test for Jeopardy once, 7 or 8 years ago. Now, I usually do pretty good playing along with the show, so I thought to myself, “No problem.” Ha. HA HA!!

If I remember correctly, there were 10 questions on the test. Two of them I knew, two of them I thought I knew (I didn’t), and the rest I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. I was almost embarrassed to tell anyone how it went, but when I did most reacted with, “But you do so well when you play along.”

Talk about a humbling experience.

“Where there’s passion…

…there’s usually excellence.” In a post of that title, Matt Buchanan at Rethink(IP) recounts this life lesson learned from his father.

I’ve learned to appreciate the value of that one time and again over the years…in all aspects of life. Basically, it’s a shortcut (he had plenty of those, too, much to my mother’s chagrin). While excellence is something that is extremely difficult to measure based on outcomes, passion is easily perceived and, as dad’s advice tells us, it’s a darn good predictor of excellence. …

So there’s the shortcut. If you want excellence – in a house painter, an author, or, egads, a lawyer – but you don’t have the time or desire to actually measure excellence, go ahead and take a shortcut: look for passion. Let your gut lead the way. More often than not, it will point you directly toward excellence.

Next time you go out, keep an eye out for passion. It could be at a seemingly mundane place like the grocery store, fast-food joint, or car wash. Or maybe some ‘high-end’ activity like finding a landscaper for some home improvement. Everywhere you go, you will be able to tell the people who are just going through the motions, and the people that have put their heart into it.

This is also something to think about not only when you are looking for someone to do something for you, but when you are trying to get someone to hire you to do something for them.

Does your passion show through?

Telling your story with pictures

302800321_958f4d7821_m.jpgAt the last St. Louis Idea Market, Scott Matthews from XPLANE had us all create a visual explanation of how a toaster works. Among many observations I made from the exercise, key was how different people interpreted what was meant by “how a toaster works.” Some of us took it to mean “How do you make toast with a toaster” while others approached it from the “how does a toaster function” point of view. (It was pretty easy to pick out engineers in the crowd!) Scott has posted the scanned cards on Flickr. haentsch200.jpg

Photographer Volker Steger gave a similar visual story telling challenge to past Nobel laureates in the article and photo layout Nobel Notations in the December 2006 issue of Discover magazine, in which he asked these great minds to explain their prize winning achievements using crayons and a piece of poster board.

The scientists’ artwork draws out unexpected and often deeply personal details. Curl’s depiction of the buckyball’s creation hints at a dispute over the naming of the molecule. He favored “soccerene” for its soccer-ball shape, but his British cowinner, Sir Harold Kroto, nixed that idea, arguing that in England the game is called football and that the molecule ought to be called “footballene.” (In the end, it was named for architect Buckminster Fuller’s celebrated geodesic domes.)

If you would like to your own hand at a visual explanation for a scientific idea – and possibly win a prize – check out the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.