Thursday, September 30, 2010


For a very long time, I have eschewed routine. The idea of grocery shopping on Tuesday and doing laundry on Friday has had no appeal whatsoever. Who wants their lives to be that predictable?

The other day I had one of those flashes of insight that pops into your brain out of nowhere. The flash was that routine means you have to think less about these mundane household chores. This appeals to me tremendously.

Perhaps there's wisdom in this approach to not having to think about every little detail. Maybe this is why generations of women have kept a grocery list on the fridge where they added things to it as it occurred to them. I at least have a pad of paper with a magnet attached to the fridge.

Perhaps routine is the old-fashioned automation.

World Habitat Day on Monday

Habitat for Humanity will join efforts around the world to mark World Habitat Day on Monday, October 4. World Habitat Day is a day the United Nations has set aside to call attention to the dire need for affordable, adequate housing.

When you go home to your nice, climate-controlled house today, think about some of these facts:

Housing improves health

  • The number of low-income families who lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children who suffer from asthma, viral infections, anemia, stunted growth and other health problems.
  • About 21,000 children have stunted growth attributable to the lack of stable housing; 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home; and more than 180 children die each year in house fires attributable to faulty heating and electrical equipment. (Sandel, et al: 1999)
  • Children younger than 5 living in Habitat for Humanity houses in Malawi showed a 44 percent reduction in malaria, respiratory or gastrointestinal diseases compared with children living in traditional houses.
  • Children in poor housing have increased risk of viral or bacterial infections and a greater chance of suffering mental health and behavioral problems. (Harker: 2006)
  • Housing deprivation leads to an average of 25 percent greater risk of disability or severe ill health across a person’s life span. Those who suffer housing deprivation as children are more likely to suffer ill health in adulthood, even if they live in non-deprived conditions later in life. (Marsh, et al.: 2000)

Housing has a positive impact on children

  • Children of homeowners are more likely to stay in school (by 7 to 9 percent), and daughters of homeowners are less likely to have children by age 18 (by 2 to 4 percent). (Green and White: 1996)
  • Owning a home leads to a higher-quality home environment, improved test scores in children (9 percent in math and 7 percent in reading), and reduced behavioral problems (by 3 percent). (Haurin, Parcel, and Haurin: 2002)
  • Children who live in poor housing have lower educational attainment and a greater likelihood of being impoverished and unemployed as adults. (Harker: 2006)

Housing strengthens communities

  • Homeowners are more likely to know their U.S. representative (by 10 percent) and school board head by name (by 9 percent), and are more likely to vote in local elections (by 15 percent) and work to solve local problems (by 6 percent). (DiPasquale and Glaeser: 1998)
  • Homeowners are more likely to be satisfied with their homes and neighborhoods, and are more likely to volunteer in civic and political activities. (Rohe, Van Zandt, and McCarthy: 2000)
  • Resident ownership is strongly related to better building security and quality, and to lower levels of crime. (Saegert and Winkel: 1998)

Read more at:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Astronauts Scott Parazynski and Jeff Ashby at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College

Astronauts Scott Parazynski (light shirt) and Jeff Ashby (dark shirt) spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College Monday morning. They bantered back and forth both at the lecture and at the luncheon afterwards. It was very fun to watch. They are both astronauts and adventureres. Parazynski is a medical doctor and Ashby is a former Navy fighter pilot.

The speech was largely about Parazynski's climb to the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on the planet. Ashby went to base camp, but did not climb to the summit. Parazynski tried it in 2008 but had to turn back near the end of the journey due to a back injury. He went back in 2009 and was successful. Each attempt takes about two months total time.

Parazynski has climbed all 59 of the Colorado mountains over 14,000 feet, as well as many others. He and Ashby, a Kansas native, flew on one shuttle mission together, STS-100. On that mission, Ashby was trained to be doctor to Parazynski in case he had need of medical care. Parazynski joked, "I've never been more motivated to stay healthy." He said Ashby took the surgeon's motto, "A chance to cut is a chance to cure," a bit too seriously.

At the lecture they introduced each other and Ashby told a really funny story. He said he was invited to speak to a fourth grade class and the students were supposed to write an essay beforehand on the topic of, "How do you think you will be inspired by Captain Jeff Ashby?" A young man named Tony wrote, "I probably will not be inspired by Captain Jeff Ashby because my hero is Dr. Scott Parazynski." He went on to say that Parazynski had saved the space shuttle.

He was referring to a repair Parazynski made to the solar array on the shuttle. It has been referred to as the shuttle era's Apollo 13 moment. When a tear occurred they had to brainstorm ideas of how to repair it. Parazynski said, "You can't go down to Home Depot and get a Solar Array Repair Kit."

Ashby took a copy of that letter with him in 2008 when he hiked up to the Everest base camp, a 36 mile hike, where Parazynski was before attempting the summit. Ashby showed a photo of him crossing the first large bridge and said, "I noticed the higher and scarier the bridge, the more prayer flags hanging on it."

At the luncheon, someone wondered what had happened to the fourth grader, Tony, and Ashby moved to the microphone and quipped in a totally deadpan way, "I believe he's in jail now."

Both of them performed space walks and Parazynski referred it as the "ultimate astronaut experience." He said you're in your own individual space craft with, "only a thin visor between you and the infiniteness of the universe."

Ashby talked about gaining perspective through his climbing and space travel. "We seek the high ground for a different perspective. We can see what's above us and where we came from. This is important to those of us who climb."

Parazynski talked about the difficulties of the Everest expeditions. "Everything travels on the back of a yak or the back of a person," he said. But it was awe-inspiring to be there. "I'd seen pictures, but to see it with the naked eye... was amazing." He also loved the people saying, "They're amazing, very spiritual, and live life to the fullest, even though the life is simple. It's very uplifting just to be in their presence." He paused for a moment and said, "It would change you if you get a chance to visit."

When he made it to the summit, he got to spend, "thirty minutes on top of the world." He said the summit is about as big as a dining room table, and two or three people can sit there at a time. He took a NASA prayer flag commemorating those who have died in the space program. He also took a sample of moon rock from Apollo 11, and brought a sample from Everest. The two are side by side on the International Space Station now.

They both talked about how one day man will summit peaks on the moon. Parazynski pondered, "What other challenges are there in our solar system," saying, "It's human nature to challenge oneself."

Ashby spoke about the famous Everest explorer, Mallory, and said, "In 1921 he dreamed about climbing a mountain he'd never seen. I think there are humans among us who will be called to explore." Parazynski said he believes we all have an internal knowledge that we must explore for our species to survive.

Ashby said he has learned to always think about if he's seeing everything there is to see in a situation, and to consider the mindset he's approaching it with.

Asked to give advice to young people, Parazynski said, "The language of the future is going to be in science and technology." He went on to say, "It's important to have big dreams, but stay the course. Anything in life you have to work for. It's not going to be handed to you. Hold onto the dreams you have but be willing to work hard for them. If it's not of sufficient interest for you to do really well then don't do it."

Parazynski summed up space travel early in the day. "You can't achieve greatness if you're unwilling to accept risk."


I've been enjoying Scott Parazynski's blog for awhile. You might too.

Monday, September 27, 2010

140conf coming to Hutchinson Kansas

Hutchinson, where I live, will host the 140conf on November 1. This is a conference that explores how real-time media, like Facebook and Twitter, have changed our world.

The 140 Character Conference is a really big deal, and this is the first one that will be held in a smaller town. Hutchinson is in the company of London, Paris, San Francisco and New York.

I applied to speak, and received word a couple of days ago that my topic was selected to be part of the schedule. My topic is, "Twitter is Today's Civic Club." I haven't actually written that speech yet, but I will in the next few weeks. I've read various things over the years that have led me to this conclusion. Now, I just need to retrace and make notes, which shouldn't be that difficult.

If you're anywhere near Hutchinson, do make an effort to attend. You can get a discount off the ticket price by going to If you're a student, you can attend for free.

It should be a fascinating experience. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm always saying I want new thought coming into my world and here it is. Delivered on a silver platter. If I'd suggested it would come to my little town the same it came to Tel Aviv and Los Angeles would you have believed me? Would I have believed me? Nonetheless, here it is!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Productive Weekend

It has been a very productive weekend for me. I haven't seen anyone other than Greg all weekend. I gave up my usual Saturday routine, as well as attending some special events happening in town, to stay home and work on things. I have a freelance writing job that just came to me out of the blue, and I wanted to get it mostly wrapped up this weekend.

I worked around the house all day Saturday, going out that evening to meet Greg for dinner. I had wanted to go to the chili festival, the Prairie Book Festival and the KEC barbecue, but knew attending any one of those would mean I would stay and visit with people when I should be working, so I just didn't let myself go. Today I've done much the same thing - worked on projects all day, trying to get things done.

I feel so isolated sometimes. I go to work and come home and work on various freelance jobs - either doing them or looking for them. But, I don't know what else to do. I need the extra money from all those jobs to pay off medical bills, and if I slack off looking for them, or doing them, my income suffers down the road. So, for the immediate future this is my life. Some days my brain is exhausted, and my body feels worn out, but I have to keep doing it regardless. And, I remind myself, that I'm very fortunate I'm able to do it and that I have skills I can market.

Although I'm really, really sad about it, I've decided I just can't have a big Christmas, with all my decorations, this year. It takes a lot of time to do the decorating, and that's time I could be generating more income. So, I just can't do it. That will be two years without my big tree, which I love so very much. But, I have to focus on making extra money instead. It will be a real loss for me, but there are far bigger problems in the world.

I wish I could have everything, but there is a limit to how many things I can do in a day. I know it probably seems insane to people, but I love having my house decorated in every corner for Christmas. It makes me very, very happy to have everything so pretty and sparkly. But, it's just not meant to be this year. Thankfully, this year it's a choice I'm making and not one being thrust upon me.

I wish I had a different answer, but I need the money, and to make the money I have to have the time, and to have the time I have to give up other things I would spend the time on. One thing we can't ever get more of is time. I'm always mindful of spending my time wisely, and I hate to be spending it on thinking about making extra money. But, I just have to right now. I have no uncles left, so I'm certain I don't have any rich ones that are going to gift me with a small fortune!

I feel so out of touch with people. When I do allow myself time to be with friends it's so restorative, but it has to happen pretty easily or it just can't happen. I'll happily give up sleep, and make time to be with people, but I don't have the extra time to try and arrange lunches and gatherings like I have for the longest time. So, unless someone is seeking being with me, it just doesn't happen. I'm so thankful that Trish and Greg both suggest getting together regularly.

I miss people I used to see often for lunch, but since they make no effort to connect with me it's safe to assume that loss is one-sided. I suppose that's useful information to have, but it's not pleasant nonetheless. But, it just is what it is.

Ultimately, while I might want to spend a lot of quality time with friends, and have my extravagant Christmas decorations, and more time to write on my novel, journal, and paint for fun - it doesn't really matter. We all have to do what we have to do. And what I have to do is make extra money. So, there you go. I'm so weary of thinking about this all the time, and not having the time/energy to bring new things into my world, but it's what I have to do right now. So, I can be sad about that, or be thankful I'm making progress. I'm going with the latter.

Maybe tomorrow will bring a big job that solves some of these issues. Regardless, I'm going on my 19th hour of working on projects and I'm falling asleep in my chair so it's time to get some rest. In just five hours it will be time to be getting ready for work. I'm blessed to have a job I really like. Very fortunate.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Garden Ornament

The other day I was in a garden and spotted this. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm pretty certain it didn't start life as a garden ornament. I love creative thinking!

Happy to inform you...

This is how you want any letter from any medical entity to start: "We are happy to inform you..."

The letter that my mammogram was fine arrived yesterday. I was impressed that someone had put some thought into how they phrased it so that three words in you knew the news was good. Very nice.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I walked a labyrinth today. There's something so incredibly peaceful about that process. It's methodical and meditative. It's a time for clearing of the mind.

It's rather ironic that many of us clear our homes, but not our minds.

This is a small labyrinth, and one of the most beautifully landscaped I've ever seen. It's tucked into a little garden. Everything is very compact, but it's good.

It made me think about having a labyrinth in my own backyard. But, considering I can't even keep my lawn mowed well, I don't think I need to be thinking about things like labyrinths.

As much as I love nature, at some point I'm just going to have to accept that nature doesn't like me. Nature wants to bite me. So, all summer long I must protect myself from it instead of being out enjoying it. With fall's arrival I can once again venture outdoors.

Quote of the Day

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

State Fair Has Come and Gone

The Kansas State Fair has come and gone for another year. I took this photo one night in the food court. Doesn't that just say "State Fair?"

I had such an incredible time at two different shows this year. Greg, Mia, Jan and I went to see Terry Fator. I've wanted to see him since he won America's Got Talent. He was amazing.

took these photos of him.

Greg had gotten front row seats and it was unbelieveable.

I was so entralled I kept forgetting to take photos.

Although I did manage to get photos of a couple of his usual bits, including the Sonny and Cher and Michael Jackson ones.

He did a couple of songs on his own and joked that people were often surprised that he could sing.

That was Monday. The very next night Sharon, Greg, Mia and I went to see the Oak Ridge Boys, who were also wonderful.

For the last few months, since seeing Frank Warren of PostSecret, my standard comment whenever anyone has been to any entertainment event has been, "That's nice... I'm sorry it's not as cool as Frank Warren handing you a book." These were that cool, even though no one gave me a book.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Seven Years

Experts now know there is something to the idea of the "Seven Year Itch" when it comes to relationships. Fortunately, this hasn't affected our Creative Sisterhood Group.

Hard to believe it was seven years ago that I asked some friends to come together to form Creative Sisterhood. We've met almost every month since then, and shared some really meaningful moments together.

I had a small gift for everyone tonight to commemorate the occasion. It was just a small piece of art centered around a word I thought important for each of them.

It was a great, great night of conversation. I'm so thankful for this group.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Creative Sisterhood Anniversary

Six years ago this month - or has it been seven - I emailed a few friends and asked if they'd like to come together every month to share with each other. My original thought for what I dubbed, "Creative Sisterhood," was that we would make things together.

But, very quickly, it morphed into something different, something better.

Over the years we've shared some amazing times together. We've supported each other through deaths, marriages, job changes and more. Relationships have started and ended in that time. Through it all we've kept meeting every month, sharing our thoughts, our dreams, our selves.

It has been a really important part of my life. The mix of people was right. When forming a group there's an art to who you invite. You want people who are similar enough the group can "gel" but with some differences that will add enough spice to keep it going.

I tried to form another group, which didn't work. I knew it included a lot of really divergent personalities and that it would have been amazing if it worked out, but it just never came together as a group. But, I learned some really important things in the process.

For this sort of a group to work, I think:
*it has to have a "home" - hopefully someone's actual home, but definitely a place where it can become a group, a place it can call home
*everyone has to commit to the group - you can't have people who are showing up only very occasionally - groups can't become groups that way - and it's not fair to the other members - the "group" deserves being respected enough by all members for them to be present and engaged - obviously, situations will present on occasion when it's unavoidable for someone to miss and that's understandable
*people must share themselves - unless people share their real thoughts and feelings the group can't ever become a group - people are want to hide behind stories of their families, jobs and other "acceptable" fronts - a group will never develop a personality of its own if the people who are in it are not present
*although it seems like a minor thing, sharing food together bonds people - there's something about breaking bread together - or cookies, as the case may be
*having some rituals for the group help define it - they will develop naturally if you're on the look out for them
*someone has to take the responsibility for the group - as much as we'd like to believe such things just happen, they don't - someone has to take responsibility for it
*it's good to take a moment occasionally to assess if the group is fulfilling a need in the lives of its members

In my original email, I used this quote to sum up that I was looking to share some of the journey with others.

We are all wanderers on this earth.
Our hearts are full of wonder,
and our souls are deep with dreams.

-Gypsy proverb

I'm wanting more interaction that's meaningful, like Creative Sisterhood is. I've been thinking about trying to gather some folks for another group. Of course, it would not be the same, and a different group would create something different, but it could be womenderful. I keep mulling over the list of people I know who might be open to such a thing. We'll see what develops.

Quote of the Day

I have got to make everything
that has happened to me
good for me.

Oscar Wilde

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson's Hobby is Thinking

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series this morning. He said during the presentation that his hobby is thinking. I found that fascinating. I guess that's one of my hobbies, too.

His speech today had an overall theme of, "Strength is our diversity."

He shared a number of population graphs that illustrated the "bulge" of the baby boomers. His last one was showing that in 2050, the largest population segment - that bulge - will be women over 85.

He noted that people over 65 spend less on everything, except healthcare. They buy fewer houses, cars, clothes, and everything else. So, having this be the largest population segment is difficult for the economy.

To maintain a stable population, women must average 2.1 children. Governor Parkinson says what will save the US economy is legal immigration. That will keep the population growing in the segments that are consumers.

He said instead of the oft-mentioned China and India, "the best emerging market is right here in the U.S." The trick is that we must make sure these immigrants have access to education so they will have jobs that lead them to be consumers.

He reminded the audience that, "We are all a product of people who, against great odds, came to this country."

Parkinson mentioned Papiamento, a language spoken in Curacao, that is a mix of English, Dutch and Spanish, as a metaphor for the population blending.

At the luncheon afterwards he was asked about many things, one of which was the federal deficit. He said four things are necessary, but no politician could get elected saying them. But, he said, "The public will have to elect people who will do those things."
1. raise social security age to 70 for people under 45
2. a means test for social security - so if you're wealthy you're not getting it
3. have to control health care costs
4. federal government do things it's good at and leave other things to the states

Parkinson is not running for office, so he can say whatever he wants.. He is going to a job in Washington DC as the executive director of an association for nursing homes.

I wish he were running. Having someone in office who's hobby is thinking seems like a good thing to me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yes, you should... Today

Ladies - do you recognize this machine? If you don't you're overdue for a mammogram. I had one today. If you're due for one get it done. Right away.

To answer the unasked question - all is fine with me. This was just a regular checkup.

You should have one too. Please.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Come Home To

A couple of years ago Rebecca Ryan spoke at the annual chamber meeting in Hutchinson. While here she posed a question I'm still pondering - "What do you long to come home to?"

It seems like it should be an incredibly simple question to answer - what do you want "home" to be like. "Home" could mean a dwelling, a town, or a state of mind I suppose. What do you want to come home to?

I think what I want to come home to is "ease." I realize that compared to most of the world I have an incredibly easy life. I'm aware of this. I also know that to some people I have a life they would never want to live - full of difficulties they can't imagine, because they have always lived a life of ease. The trite, "it's all perspective," always rings true.

When I say "ease" I'm thinking about being at ease, not being focused on what has to happen next, not thinking about cleaning the house or planning the meeting or whatever else is on the agenda for me. I was trying to think of a time when I've been totally at ease. I'm not sure that's a state I've ever experienced. There has always been something that required my attention or time. There has always been a project I needed to work on. There has always been a worry looming - about time or money or relationship.

What would I do with "ease?" I guess that is a bigger question. It means, for me, an opportunity to choose the things that require my attention, and not have them thrust upon me. Of course, we can't choose everything in life, but it would be lovely to choose the projects I give time to, to read and write and paint, and to have time to actually relax.

When I hear people talk about relaxing I can barely relate. It's not something I do much of. That's by choice a large part of the time, because I want to be creating, but I would like to have the option to relax.

People often harken back to childhood as a time of ease. My childhood wasn't like that. It was certainly wonderful in many ways, but it was not carefree. Not at all. It was filled with worry about various things going on around me, over which I had no control.

I remember thinking from the time I was very young that it would be good to be an adult and be able to make my own choices and decisions. Goodness knows I've made some bad ones, but I've also made some that, through the kindness of others, turned out quite well. And I'm thankful.

To be able to think about questions like what you long to come home to is a luxury afforded few in the world. I'm still thinking about it.

What is it you long to come home to?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oak Ridge Boys at Kansas State Fair

We went to see the Oak Ridge Boys at the Kansas State Fair tonight. They were amazing.

I saw them years ago in Kentucky when I was in college. I was with a boy I had a huge crush on. Alas, he didn't seem to feel the same way about me. But it was a great concert regardless.

Tonight we had front row seats, courtesy of Greg. He is the ultimate concert ticket hunter! Thank you, Greg!

Freedom or Peace

Do you want freedom or peace?

I know, we all want both. But, if you have to choose, which one do you want?

Mark and I were talking this weekend and he mentioned this. I think it's an insightful question and tells you something about a person.

So, which one do you want - freedom or peace?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Butter Sculpture at Kansas State Fair

Kansas State Fair Butter Sculpture, with Mark looking on.

No, I don't know why anyone would choose to sculpt in butter.
Yes, there are people who specialize in this.

At one time it was the domain of Duffy Lyons of Iowa, who did it for many decades. Now it is a commercial venture by various companies.

Methinks someone smelled some profit.

Friday, September 10, 2010

But by the Grace of God There Go I

For some people, seeing someone in need makes them say, "That person is lazy." When I see someone in need I think, "But by the Grace of God there go I."

I put a similar statement on Facebook this morning and have left it there all day, watching the comments. I expected something about "personal responsibility" but it never came. It may yet.

I've been thinking a lot about this in the last few months. People are so rabid about their opinions that it's hard to find the truth, the bottom line, the meaning, somewhere underneath the emotion. I've been trying to strip it away in my mind, and get down to the base thought.

Of course, I only have access to my own thought process, so that's the only place to begin. I realized some time ago that I feel compassion because I partially know how tenuous "good times" and "bad times" are. It's so easy to slip from one to the other. When I see someone who needs something - food, shelter, a dream, whatever - I can see myself in that situation. Maybe I've never been in that situation, maybe I have and found a way out, but regardless I know it's a possibilty. It could happen. To me.

Ultimately, it's selfish to want safety nets because you might need them. That's selfish, but it goes beyond that. I can imagine how it would feel to need something and have no way of getting it. I know how it feels to need to know how to do something and you don't know and have no one in your world who can teach you.

I've come to believe this baseline thought process is at the root of many divisive issues. Can you ever imagine yourself in need - of anything - lacking something and not knowing how to find it? That "need" might be food or shelter, or it might be something less tangible. If you can imagine yourself needing something - and not knowing how to get it, and having no one to help you get it - it colors your perception of those you see who are in need of one sort or another.

If your experience does not allow for that circumstance - of ever having a need that you don't know how to fulfill - it may not be something you can imagine. And maybe if you can't even imagine having a need and no way to fill it, it's easier to expect everyone to pull themselves up by their boot straps and take personal responsibility. Because it's what you would do so it seems completely natural to you - not easy, but natural. And it seems the only logical course of action.

Unfortunately, some people can't even see that as an option, much less do they know how to get there. A friend mentioned today that she was reading a book where the writer said the outward needs were symptoms of much larger needs and when people feel "whole" they're better able to address the other needs. I think there's truth in that.

I believe in personal responsibility for all of us, but also believe that being part of a "society" means taking some responsibility for the whole. I'm not sure what that looks like, but I know the fact that I can imagine being in need myself and how it feels makes me want to find a way.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


They say you can tell a lot about a person from the magazines they subscribe to. I think what you can tell about me is that I don't have time to read magazines. But, apparently, I still like to subscribe to them.

Tonight I decided to tackle the very large pile of mail lying near the front door. It was a lot of mail. A plastic tub was involved, if that gives you an idea of the amount of mail.

I sorted through and pulled out all of these magazines, only one of which had been partially read. And my very favorite magazine is in there, too. Although, it just arrived. But, I think I haven't even read the last one yet.

Do you know which one is my favorite? If this were a local news program I'd have to tease you with some foolish thing before I went to commercial to keep you watching on the other side of the commercial. That's creating a mystery that you want to know the answer to. It works. Obviously. But, I'm not cheap and sleazy like that so I'll just tell you now. "Victoria" is my favorite. I'm sure you feel a tremendous sense of relief now that that mystery is solved.

Of course I'm being facetious. I doubt you were that concerned about what my favorite magazine is, unless you happen to be a magazine publisher. And if you are, please hire me to write a column for you.

I came home and wanted to control some little tiny portion of my world, because my work day world was very out of control today. All is well. It was just a frantic day, in which I didn't get nearly everything done I had hoped to do. But it inspired me to deal with a little clutter so it wasn't all bad.

Of course, I'm not really sure what one does with unread magazines. I guess put them in stacks on shelves. That's what I've been doing with the other piles of unread magazines. Some day, when I want to make another collage, I'll be glad I have them. I do wish I could find time to read them in the meantime.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Cosmosphere Learning Network

I spent all day in a meeting today. This photo was taken at the end of eight plus hours in a room together, engaged every moment, without even an official break. Lunch was brought in and we kept on working through it.

But, at the end of the day we had created something very cool, that has potential to grow in ways we can barely imagine at this point. You can take a peek at the Cosmosphere Learning Network. If you, or someone you know, is interested in education, please join us.

Front row, center, is Kevin Honeycutt, who has helped us make this happen. He's an education/technology guru. When I started working at the Cosmosphere, Kevin was one of the first people I called, to ask if I could pick his brain. He graciously shared his wisdom and now we have this cool thing that will only grow.

Some days work is really, really exciting. Even though it was a 10 hour day without a break, and my brain hurts a bit, cool things happened.

On the downside today, I was very, very sad to say goodbye to Marisa. She hired me and has been my supervisor the last year. She is an amazing person and a great supervisor. She will be sorely missed at the Cosmosphere, but we all wish her well with her new job.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Conversation in the car tonight:

Me: Look! That cloud looks like the Enterprise with a force field around it.

Greg: Yeah, it really does.

slight pause

Greg: Picard's Enterprise, of course.

Me: Of course.

I believe this illustrates why I'm never too concerned about anyone eavesdropping on my phone calls or conversations.

Anyone who could maintain interest for an extended period of time is someone I want to know.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Secret Lives

Most of us have secret lives we keep hidden behind doors in our beings. I've come to realize it's not an intentional shutting out of others, it's a protection of our selves.

Occasionally, we let people glimpse those worlds, through a crack not fully obscured. Sometimes, people get a look that we didn't anticipate.

An ongoing debate I have with my friend, Martha, is that my life is spread out here before you, in plain view on the world wide web, available with a few mouse clicks and some time to read. She thinks what I share here is very personal.

While I think it can be personal at times, I don't see it in the same way she does. I see it as pretty straight-forward, the typical things people are thinking about. I think the difference is just that I write them down.

This good-natured debate has continued between us for the past couple of years. Maybe I don't think it's personal because I know the secret life beyond what is visible here. I don't have a dark and mysterious past, just the normal accumulation of broken bits you might expect for someone who has been interacting with the world for more than four decades. Of course, this is all relative, too. Some might view my life as disturbed while others might see it as blissful.

The idea of secret lives is something that has been coming up in different circumstances for the last month or so. I'm sure there's something I need to explore in this concept.

Just recently a friend was telling me about traveling to a town by himself and what he did while there. It was nothing out of the ordinary, but he mentioned striking up a conversation with someone in a restaurant. Of course, it's something we've all done at times, and while it's usually not particularly significant, it's a moment in time and space that won't ever be repeated.

I was suddenly aware that although I know this person very well, he is having experiences all the time that add to his secret world. They may not be dramatic or life changing, but they blend into the tapestry of what makes him who he is.

When he told me this story, I was reminded of an experience I had in Paris a few years ago. I shared a moment of vulnerability with a stranger that I've never told anyone about, and only written about in my private journals. It's part of my secret world. It was a moment of simple, but sacred, interaction that neither of us had any inkling of when we awoke that morning. I do not remember how the woman looked or what she was wearing, but I remember how I felt. I'll always remember how I felt.

It's those little bits of life that create the people we are today. Our secret lives may contain stories of valor or dissappointment or trauma, or they may be filled instead with the sacred ordinary. Regardless, they're adding a rich background to who we are. And we would not be the same people if we didn't have those secret lives.

Maybe we don't share our secret lives because without them we would become less ourselves.

Thinking of You

Some people I love are grieving. Some are worried. Some are troubled.

I'm thinking of you all.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Functioning Wisdom

I heard a wise man say recently to not allow circumstances in life make you become someone you don't want to be. That concept has stayed with me and continues to churn in my brain.

We all have experiences that are what I call "defining moments," meaning that the way we see the world and our place in it are changed after them. I'm sure you've known people, as I have, that get "stuck" after something bad happens to them - that they can't ever move past it and go on. That's one example of letting a circumstance make you someone you don't want to be.

Occasionally, people will mention to me that I keep large parts of myself private. I suppose that's true. I thought everyone did that. I've really been thinking about that lately and there are a couple of things at work for me. One is that the "bad" things are just not things I think people would want to hear about. Another is that I don't want to give credence to them by giving them voice.

One of the amazing things about the past is that it's over. It's done with. It's finished. All we have to do is let it go. That should be easy, because it's over. But we often insist on keeping it alive - especially the bad stuff. We relive it mentally, rethink how it might have been different, and keep it alive. It becomes a prison of our own making.

I choose to let go, as much as is possible for me.

I have my own list of "Top Ten Rules for Living" and one of them is "Let it go. Let it be. Let it lie." That seems to suit this circumstance well. Another of my rules is "Blame nothing, Forgive everything." It, too, seems apropos.

One could easily assume these rules are wisdom handed down to me by elders, perhaps in some ritualistic ceremony. Or, less romatically but more accurately, one could realize they are just personal truisms that simply allow me to function. "Function" is so much less poetic than "wisdom." But, I suppose we can't have everything, and functioning is good. Good, indeed.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

140conf Coming to Hutchinson Kansas

Something really cool is happening in Hutchinson, Kansas, where I live. Even if you're not a techie person, and you think Twitter is the stupidest thing ever invented, or you don't even know what Twitter is, give me just a couple of minutes and read about this because the fact that it's happening in Hutchinson Kansas is incredible. And, as is always the case, the reason it's happening is because of connections made by various people in the past.

In case you don't know, Twitter is a place online where people share tidbits about their lives in what are called "micro-blogs." In the case of Twitter, there's a limit of 140 characters. I've been on Twitter for a long time, but don't post a lot there. Getting an account is free and you can connect with me there at if you just want to see what it's all about.

Okay, so there's the backstory on Twitter.

Another part of this story is the blogger tour you may remember me writing about last year, which really led to me being an employee of the Cosmosphere in a round about way. But that's another long story and not necessary for this situation.

There's a guy named Jeff Pulver, who started a conference originally called the 140 Characters Conference, which has now become the 140conf. It has been, or is being, held in cities such as Tel Aviv, London, Paris, New York, Austin and San Francisco. This fall, the first ever small town 140conf is coming to Hutchinson. Yes, that's right... 140conf - Tel Aviv, Paris and Hutchinson.

Becky McCray was in Hutchinson for the blogger tour. She thought it would be a good place for the 140conf. She contacted Cody, who she knows from Twitter and who organized the blogger tour, he contacted the CVB who jumped right on it and made it happen. And, that, is why connections between people - through Twitter or other means - make things happen.

Cody and Becky asked me to help with some publicity and it is quite interesting. Here's the press release for your perusal. Make plans to join us... it's gonna be ultra cool!

140conf Coming To Hutchinson Kansas November 1
The first ever Small Town 140 Characters Conference will be held in Hutchinson, Kansas at the Historic Fox Theatre on November 1, 2010. The focus of the 140 Characters Conference is how real-time technology, such as Twitter and Facebook, is changing business, agriculture, media, education, sports and celebrity.

The all day event costs $100 for early bird registration, which lasts until September 24. It will also be streamed live on the internet. Jeff Pulver, the founder, says, “The take-aways from this event will provide the attending delegates knowledge, perspectives and insights to the next wave of effects Twitter will have on business.”

Pulver started the 140 Character Conferences in June of 2009 with an event in New York. Other 140 Characters Conferences have been held in London, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. This is the first one in a smaller community. He says this conference, “will be a ground breaking opportunity to look at the effects of the real-time web on the people and the businesses inside of and around Small Towns.”

Becky McCray, a small town entrepreneur from Alva, Oklahoma, was instrumental in encouraging development of the first small town 140 Character Conference. McCray says “Small town people and rural people are a lot more technologically savvy than anyone gives us credit for. We use the same tools and technology available to everybody else. Sometimes broadband access is an issue and we continue to work on improving it. Most of us have great access and use this technology as well as or better than any one from L.A. or London. It’s reshaping small towns just as much as it’s reshaping big cities.”

Pulver says there is no dividing line of population. “We want to include small towns and rural areas, outlying suburbs and exurbs. Plus, plenty of people who live in a big city have some important small town connection, whether that’s where you grew up, where you plan to move, where your parents came from, or where your clients are.”

McCray suggested Hutchinson, Kansas as a result of her visit in 2009 when a group of bloggers were invited to visit and write about their experiences. A joint project of LogicMaze, The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, and the Chamber of Commerce, bloggers toured the Cosmosphere, the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, attended the Third Thursday Art walk, and enjoyed local food and shopping. McCray says, “Hutchinson knows technology, social media and real time local happenings and has done a great job combining them all. It was the perfect choice for the first Small Town 140 Character Conference.”

Speakers at the 140 Character Conference will come from all over the world. “We want everyone to have a voice, to give people a platform and an opportunity to be discovered. This is the time to share your story. We want to hear it,” says Jeff Pulver. Speakers present in 10 or 15 minute segments. The day moves quickly and many voices are heard.

People will be sharing what’s heard at the conference on Twitter, using what’s called a “hashtag” of “#140conf.” Twitter users all over the world will be able to search for #140conf and see everything being written from Hutchinson, Kansas in real time.

Pulver explains that, “these events provide a platform for the worldwide Twitter community to listen, connect, share and engage with each other, while collectively exploring the effects of the emerging real-time internet on business. It creates serendipity in talking to each other, sharing ideas across industries, and exchanging thoughts with people like you and not like you. To put it in rural terms, we’re going to cross-pollinate some ideas. Or think of it as hybrid vigor: your new ideas are much stronger than the ideas that brought them about.”

For more information, to register, or apply to be a speaker, go to

If you're in the Hutchinson and Wichita area, mark your calendars for October 4, when Becky McCray will be here to tell us more about the 140conf. Details will follow, but we'd love to have you join in.

Friday, September 03, 2010

I am officially ready for the weekend to begin. Really. Honest. I am. I'm not making it up.

Lovely Long Weekend

Love, love, love the nice day... and it's a Friday... of a long weekend... what's not to love?

I'm so ready for a weekend. With Starry Night last weekend I didn't get much of a chance to relax. It was really successful and a good time, but there are so many things to do in the average weekend day that when I spend one at an event the rest piles up.

That seems to be a theme in my life - things piling up!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Cody telling social media club about 140conf coming to hutch on nov. 1.
Cody telling social media club about 140conf coming to hutch on nov. 1.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lessons Learned

I was talking with a coworker today about the lessons we learn in relationships, and one I learned a few years ago that I really, really, needed to grasp.

When my mother died I was involved with a man who didn't handle that situation well. He was a very good man in many ways, but at that time he didn't do what he "should" have done.

I knew it, my friends knew it, and eventually he knew it too. And he apologized more than once. Of course, apologies don't turn back time and allow the opportunity to do the "right" thing. How many times have we all wished they worked that way? I know I have more than once.

Oddly enough, I wasn't mad at him at the time. Because I had learned a lesson I needed - that people can only work with the knowledge they have, and if they don't have the life experience to know what to do in a circumstance, they're not going to do it. They simply don't know, and they may not have anyone in their life who knows and can teach them.

So many of the "right" things in life are learned through experience. And if we don't have that experience, we just don't know. He had never lost anyone really close to him. He had no idea what was involved. He didn't know how much simple things mean at a time like that. He didn't know. And no matter how much I might have wanted him to act differently, he didn't, because he didn't know he should.

I needed to learn that lesson, and fortunately, I accepted it at the time. There was no point in being mad at him. I was the one who chose to be involved with someone who was considerably younger than me. By extention, in that case, I was the one who chose to be involved with someone who didn't have the life experience to know what to do in that situation.

Before that I was not very understanding of the fact that everyone has to learn everything, much of it through experience. And even if it's something I think a person should know instinctively, it doesn't necessarily make it so. It was a lesson I needed to grasp. I wish I had gotten it sooner, in less dire circumstances, but for whatever reason I didn't. But, I learned it then, and it has stayed with me.
A reminder of how to conduct myself in the workplace. Although I hope phasers won't be necessary.
A reminder of how to conduct myself in the workplace. Although I hope phasers won't be necessary.