Learning Calligraphy

Last week I decided to learn calligraphy.  Why?

  • It looks cool.
  • I like doing things with my hands.
  • I like paper and notebooks.
  • I wanted to revisit what it’s like to learn how to write as our seven year old is working on his writing.
  • I love learning new things even if I don’t take them up as life long hobbies or careers.
  • I was in the middle of reading The Privilege of the Sword and it seemed appropriate.

So here’s how I did it:

  • I went to the library and checked out four books on calligraphy.
  • I read the first couple of pages of each one to see what I neededComplete Idiot’s Guide to Calligraphy had a really good list with descriptions.
  • I went to SuperWalmart and bought a 2mm calligraphy marker.  (They only had one calligraphy marker to choose from, it was 2mm on one end and 5mm on the other.  Luckily all the books said to use a 2mm one.)
  • I bought some cool paper just because it was cool and writing beautiful letters on gorgeous paper sounded like fun.
  • I taped a folder to a lap desk I had to create my writing surface.  (You are supposed to prop a writing board up on your lap and a table.  My lap desk was a bit too small of a surface and I soon migrated to my customary spot on the sofa instead.)
  • I started practicing.  The book I liked best suggested 30 minutes a day will get you there.  It’s been about four days and I can write all the small (minuscule letters) ok but my capital letters need a lot of work.

So it’s been fun.  If you are interested in learning calligraphy, I recommend starting with a calligraphy marker and a book, Calligraphy (First Step Series) or Complete Idiot’s Guide to Calligraphy. Have fun!

You don’t want money. Really.

You don’t want money.  You want the things money can bring.  Most likely you want happiness or joy.  You want money so that you can do more of the things that bring you happiness or joy.

What would the world look like if we concentrated on what brought us joy instead of what brought us money?

And you don’t really need money to do what brings you joy.  If I wanted to go spend a month or a year sailing around the Caribbean , I could make that happen.  (Um, once I convinced Frank that is.)  If I wanted to be a professional student, I could do that too.  (Wait, I already am a lifelong student.)

Pursue what brings you joy, not what brings you money.  So if you don’t want money, what do you really want?

Thanks to Steve Pavlina’s podcast for expressing this idea this way.

Separate health insurance from employment status

Health insurance should not depend on your employment status.  What kind of health insurance you can get should not depend on who you work for.  (I have a friend who can’t even insure his young son unless he works for a company that offers health insurance!)  This New York Times article argues that separating health insurance from employers would enable more people to work more flexible hours and in flexible locations:

But if workers’ benefits weren’t tied to employers, then they could
transition into independent status without fear of losing their health
care or pensions, and more employers would gladly oblige, since they
could move costly benefits packages off their books.

Many jobs, especially those that are computer based, don’t require people to be in an office or even to work fixed hours.  It would be easier to work on an "as needed" basis if those people didn’t depend on one fixed employer for health insurance.

We need a mommy/kid hangout

I would like a place to hang out with my friends that our kids are happy at.  Preferably some place that even those without kids would enjoy coming to hang out with us. 

McDonald’s has got this down except, well, it’s McDonalds.  The seats aren’t comfortable and the food isn’t great.  Unless you want to sit there all morning drinking a diet coke – I’ve done that.  I’ve also noticed many other moms hanging out there for hours, either together or alone with their book.

Chucky Cheese has the right idea but the food is just terrible.  And it’s also got that plastic feel – the place, not the food.  If they redecorated and improved the food, I might go and might even invite people to go with me.

Dave’n’Buster’s is close, really close, but it’s targeted at older kids.

I want a place that has an atmosphere and food that matches my interests (think brew pub style) with a playground for kids – little kids through medium size kids.  How hard can that be?  Do they exist and not just near my house?  If so, what are they?  Maybe I can talk one of my friends into opening one …

What does a skeleton costume mean to you?

He’s worn his costume every day since Halloween.  He brings it to me and then tries to put his arms in it.  Once it’s on, he bawls!  But he doesn’t want it off.  Any ideas what he wants?

Other things are clear.  The tray to the high chair means he’s hungry.  His coat means he wants to go outside.  But the skeleton costume??  He hasn’t had any candy and he went outside on Halloween but not trick-or-treating.

Building a huge koi pond

We were going to help move a 600 pound koi pond.  I thought we’d pick up some little pool and put it in a hole in the ground.  Turns out the rubber sheet alone was 600 pounds!  It was 40′ by 50′!


Netflix or Amazon.com

Yesterday I wrote that Blockbuster has lost to Netflix.  Today I think the new battle to watch will be Amazon.com Unbox versus Netflix.  They both have downloadable movies and tv shows that you can watch on your computer.  Right now Amazon has the better solution because it has a much better selection of movies.  Amazon lets you "rent" movies or TV shows for $.99-$1.99 and you can watch them for 30 days.   You can also buy them so that you can watch them whenever you want.  Netflix program is similar but the movie selection isn’t nearly as good – mostly old titles.  The main advantage to the Netflix program is that if you are already a Netflix customer, you don’t need to pay anything for the service.

Watch any movie, anytime you want where ever you are.  (As long as you have a computer – which for people like me is all the time.)

Blockbuster loses to Netflix

It looks like Blockbuster is finally losing to Netflix. Based on my personal experience I would have predicted this a long time ago – I’ve been a happy Netflix customer for 5 years now and I haven’t been to Blockbuster in at least 5 years.  Three reasons I think Netflix rules over Blockbuster:

  • No late fees.  It wasn’t convenient for me to return my movies to Blockbuster as it was out of my regular way so I always paid a day or two of late fees.
  • Convenience.  Movies just show up in my mailbox with Netflix and they come with a return envelope with postage already attached.  I just drop it in the mailbox the morning after I watch it.  I always have a good movie or two at home to watch.
  • Ratings.  I can shop for movies on Netflix and see the ratings so I know if they are good or not.  At the Blockbuster store I have to guess if the movie is good or not.  (I have the same problem with bookstores now – I have to look up every book on Amazon.com on my phone to make sure it’s good before I buy it.  And the I see that it’s cheaper on Amazon …)

And just to make the problem worse … movies aren’t like books – I don’t need to see them and hold them and read the back to know if I’ll really like them or not.  (Although even with books, I find that I’m more and more comfortable with Amazon.com.)

Things 7 year olds say to little brothers

Jacob (7 years old) talking to his very tired and unhappy little brother (14 months):

  • It’s tough being a kid, isn’t it?
  • Look on the bright side …
  • Let’s take a nap together.
  • I’ve got a good idea! How about we play the quiet game!

Too bad his little brother didn’t find it as funny as I did.