Link Love

[Starting clockwise from the top…you can click on the pictures OR the links below]

A great new e-book from somebody creating art. Who doesn’t love a blog called ‘messy canvas’? Isn’t that kind of the point of this whole thing? Have at it…

Some of our best friends have a blog (yes, they’re awesome, thanks for asking). If you haven’t checked it out, this was one of my favorite posts of September.

A pretty intense story about an entrepreneur who thinks he’s a cross between Zuckerburg and Jobs. He’s trying to take over the world (maybe literally) and he’s really bizarre.

We’re headed to see Big Tex today. Major fist pumpage going on in the Porter household. Fried margaritas for everyone! You guys have a good weekend.

Photo Attribution: Canvas | NYT

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A World-Class Oatmeal Chef

I’ve been bouncing this concept around in my head lately. I don’t know if it’s a real thing or just some convoluted blabber that I write and erase and write and erase in my mind. Probably a little bit of both.

It seems to me if I want to become a world-class oatmeal chef then the most efficient, productive way to do that is to commit to something easier (or more enjoyable) than cooking oatmeal every day…like, say, eating oatmeal every day. If I commit to eating oatmeal every day I am forced to cook it and unless I want to eat oatmeal that tastes like poo then I will become good at cooking oatmeal.

Or if I want to become an expert at waking up early I should implement an early morning activity that makes me wake up. I should commit to running every morning at 6 AM (because I enjoy it…hypothetical obviously) and before I know it I will become good at waking up early. One activity is the catalyst for another.

The point is that the mastery of a hobby or an art is much easier when an alternative activity is the primary focus…and that activity becomes a means to an end of something else (the mastery).

Let me give you a marital example:

I want to become a good husband (if such a thing is even attainable) and to that end I am incapable. I have neither the discipline nor the knowledge to just “be a good husband.” So I have to put activities in place, things like going on really fun dates and reading books together and writing wonderful letters and putting together great gifts for no reason at all. Things I love to do. It seems that through these, unless I want to experience terrible dates and write horrible letters, I will become a good husband (or at least a better one than I was yesterday).

Maybe I’m crazy and surely this has been thought of before but my own personal revelations are sometimes few and far between. Translation: LET ME HAVE MY MOMENT!!

Let me know what you think too. I’m curious, what activities do you participate in that unintentionally lead you to an in-depth knowledge or mastery of something else?

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P.S. Obviously there are times when we, as humans, aren’t always going to be able to become better through enjoyable activities and will have to make decisions and do things we don’t like. I realize that but for this post am simply speaking to being able to put in place the things we can enjoy.

Running Away

There’s an apparently famous woman named Twyla Tharp (I think she looks like what would happen if Abraham Piper and David Duchovny had a kid)  who once said “art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”

We’ve talked a little bit on here about the reasons we don’t have TV. Honestly, most of those reasons can be consolidated to these two:

  1. We want to be dually countercultural and anti-TV (which inevitably leads to a pride/repentance/pride/repentance cycle the likes of which would make Samson blush…we’ll address this later)
  2. We fully believe that famous woman’s quote

Our home is great. It’s small, but we love it. Sometimes though it’s nice to leave, if only in our minds. The easiest way to do that (since we don’t have a “Cessna learjet” fund in our Dave Ramsey plan) is to create an adventure…to become an artist.

Art can come in any form. This blog is art. At times it could be misconstrued for a 3-year old’s finger painting, but it’s still art. Jen’s craftiness? Art. My sports blog? Art. We tell stories and make things and write words…and we do it because it feels blissfully satisfying to make something, step back, refine it, look at it, tweak it, send it off, and say “I did that.” Then we get emails that read: “you misspelled 7 words and I think your underlying theme is about as interesting as PBS at 3 AM” and we say “I did that, but I wish I hadn’t.”

We haven’t really gotten emails like that. Yet.

I write and Jen crafts because we each enjoy our respective work to the point that we get lost for hours on end in our own strokes and white-outs and strokes to cover up the white-outs. And even if nobody ever said, “hey, this isn’t boring, I actually like this” we would still come back and create some more. Or go away and create some more…whichever you prefer.

What is your favorite form of art?

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Artistry

Seth Godin defined art in the 21st century in this interview:

Artist and painter are two different things. You can be a poet, screenwriter, account executive, receptionist, or a school teacher and still be an artist. Art is connecting with people and giving them a gift that causes them to change in a good way.

I would add – you can be an artist as a mother or a grandfather or an uncle or a husband. You can give those around you the gifts you have been laden with. You can help other people change. In a good way.

For me, as a husband, this might mean I forgo getting on Twitter for the 293rd time in a given day to do the dishes for my wife. Or it might mean making her breakfast before I leave in the morning. Or it might mean driving her car for a few weeks so she can drive mine because it’s nicer. Or maybe it means saving up my “blow money” (this is not a cocaine reference) for a few months and buying her something she’s been wanting (like Conde Nast stock so I can resurrect Domino Magazine…she would like that a lot).

I haven’t given this a heap of creative thought so I apologize that most of these are fairly cliche forms of husband artistry…well, except the Lazarus-like comeback of Domino. I’d be a demigod in our household if I ever pulled that off.

You get the point though. I’m learning that being a leader of the home is about more than hooking up direct deposit to my bi-weekly paycheck and getting the oil changed in both cars every 3 months. It’s about weaving a tapestry of creative wonder worthy of my wife’s longing gaze. I didn’t say I was good at it or that I even do it every day. But I’m learning. One day at a time. Thread by thread on my metaphysical loom.

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9 Things We’ll Always Buy Used

Houses – When my wife says she “cherishes character over shiny new things” all I hear is money swirling down our vintage, century-old leaky drain. It’s ok though, I can live with that because she’s not kidding, old really is better than new. We just have to choose the right kind of old.

Cars – This is more of a financial decision than anything else.

Furniture – I’m not going to say we’re NEVER going to buy new furniture, but that’s the mindset right now. Like, if I get into a 3-car accident with Dirk and Mark Cuban tomorrow and they both write me a blank check I’m not opposed to purchasing a few leather accessories (that sounds terrible) to sit on. Honestly though? I prefer the junk my wife buys for pennies on the dollar and refurbishes. I also like building furniture. Although bookselves and desks that would take a normal person 3-4 hours take me 4-5 months…

Books – You can one-up the “buy it used” mantra here. Just trade for it. Or get it for free.

Baby clothes – We don’t talk about this one. In fact, why are we still on this, let’s move on.

Artwork – Every time we’re in Target I find myself staring at their artwork thinking “ooohh that looks so original and awesome, let’s buy it.” Then I become cognizant of the fact that 2,000 other people did the exact same thing at Targets around the nation that day. So it’s not awesome and it’s definitely not original. So we don’t even buy artwork used…we just make it.

Golf clubs – I’m not hitting a 3-iron pure whether it’s used, slightly used, brand new, or Ben Hogan himself forged the metal with which it was made…so I might as well go cheap.

DVDs – Buying new DVDs feels like buying toilet paper, you’re rarely (hopefully) using either one more than once. With the advent of Redbox, Netflix, and Hulu what have DVDs become other than placeholders for home collections? And DVD collections are SO 2002.

Big people clothes – This is one we’ve been discussing for a few days. We’re thinking about not purchasing any new clothing for the next year. I just asked Jen if that meant I couldn’t buy a polo at The Masters next year. She said “you’re the one who made the rule” in one of those voices that makes you want to climb a large tree and jump head first into a pool of seething tar. So I guess that’s that. I’m sure we’ll revisit this paragraph multiple times over the next 11 months…(personal caveat: I’ve been told that shoes and undergarments are the only two things we’re allowed to purchase new – and I thought I was making the rules!)

Enjoy “The Decision” – we won’t be watching.

What kind of stuff do you always buy used?

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