Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Typing Out Loud: Swearing

This is a swear bank I could really use!

Two weeks ago was the start of Lent. Ever the good Catholic, I have striven to make myself a better citizen through self-sacrifice. One of the things I gave up was swearing.

At best guess, to date, I am 6/12, which is noble, yet failing. I have become fascinated with my own pursuit of this goal, the examination of my vocabulary and how I use said words.

First, I acknowledge that I do have a filter I actively use at work and on social media. Working at a Christian organization with the public, I simply cannot use those words at risk of losing my job. On social media, it takes longer to type words, and you have the choice of filtering yourself prior to hitting "send," which makes it easier to clean it up. Since I am friends with peers from across a variety of social circles, it behooves me to keep it clean.

It's also important for me to keep it clean around the 5 year old sponge I call my son. A gutter mouthed toddler may be funny in the movies, not so in real life. So that filter has been enacted as well.

I figure if I can keep it clean a vast majority of the time, why not the rest of the time?

What I have found about myself is pretty interesting. By the account of a few co-workers, they consider swearing to be the mere taking of the Lord's name in vain. I don't do that, as a matter of fact, I only use 4 of George Carlin's 7 "dirty words you can't say on television." There are a few more I can add, bringing my cursing vocabulary probably up to 7 or 8 curses.

I have curbed this behavior thus far to 6 clean days and a few days where I let one slip. There was one or two days where the power of my outrage led to a few fly forcibly out of my mouth. Instead of shame or embarrassment that I was less than ladylike, I felt refreshed, as if I let some of my anger go. By restricting curses from everyday conversation, I felt as if I was able to punctuate feelings that much stronger because when I said them, I really meant it.

Will I continue after Lent? I think so, it's important to find more colorful ways of expressing oneself without turning the air blue. But I also acknowledge the force and impact a carefully placed expletive can have.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What's Right in the World: the World

Russia is really big mom!

We have been feeding the boy's natural curiosity, which has resulted in a fascination with world geography. In trying to pinpoint exactly how or why, I think it came down to "where's grandma?" and the Olympics.

The result?

First there is the birthday surprises. Declaring a few states his favorites, I wrote the governors of those states, asking for them to take a minute to write Will a birthday note. He got a birthday proclamation from New Mexico, a governor trading card from Louisiana, a note from Tennessee, and a book and postcard from Alaska.

This has also lead to the playing of two games, Stack the States and Stack the Countries. You are given a question and 4 choices, and have to answer correctly to earn a piece of land to stack up. Once you cross the line, you earn a randomly chosen state or country. I power played both until I earned the US, then the world!

For a birthday present - nerd alert - we got him a globe. First thing he did was look for Michigan, and next, Russia. Daily, he has brought me the globe the minute he wakes up, either pointing to a new country or asking to help him find another country. "Mom, Brazil is so big!"

I'm pleased that he can, at least in an abstract sense, understand the concept that the world is much bigger than our backyard. He took his first plane ride at 3, something I never did until I was 26. At his young age, he is much more traveled than I was, and has already decided his new life ambition is to be an adventurer.

In keeping up with an ambitious adventurer, mom has been relearning her geography to a few surprises. I've got North and South America down cold. Europe took me a while since the geography I learned was during the Soviet years. The "ia" sisters and the "stans" have made me stumble. I'm slowly but surely getting the middle east and Asia; Africa and the Australian area islands are just going to have to wait.

So we are all learning something new and fascinating about our world.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Why Art Matters: Creative Process Snapshot

While skating last week, the girls and I were excited to collaborate on creating our new "official" WMAS gear since it's been nearly 7 years since we last did so.

While deciding on gear (hot pink Under Armor jacket with WMAS blue rhinestones for the logo and names) the president of the local figure skating club was approached by a mom who wanted to purchase gear for her child. The old logo was the intellectual property of a former member and it was decided the time had come for a new look. I was asked to create it.

I created the shape based on computer imaging of lake effect over Michigan containing the geographical area of West Michigan.

The font was chosen because it is visually striking, futuristic, and bold enough for print and embroidery.

The overall design is strong both big and small.

Most importantly, the design is easy to bling.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Playlist: I'm Wearing My Heart like a Crown

Love old records.

It's high time to explore another singular favorite, this one from the 1950s by The Platters.

First, some facts:

It was written by Buck Ram in 20 minutes in a bathroom at the Flamingo Hotel (where I stayed for ISI Adult Champs in 2005!) The lead singer was Tony Williams.

The song was released in November 1955 and rose to be the number one single in early 1956.

On Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs, it comes in at #360.

It made the NPR 100 as one of the most important American musical works of the 20th century.

It has been remade by Freddy Mercury, Roy Orbinson, The Statler Brothers and a slew of other performers.

I cannot remember when I first heard it, it has been in the fabric of life since as early as can remember. My folks, teens in the 50s, had a bunch of American Graffiti compilations, and this was on one of my favorites.

What do I like about it? It is an excellent example of 50s doo-wop. The lead instruments in song are the vocals, from lead to harmony. And the lead vocal? When I did my presentation in grad school on non-verbal communication, I could have used Williams' delivery as an example that you can communicate so much more with words through pitch and delivery.

It's just a fantastic song.