Think Kit 12/3/2014 – Deck the LOLs “Let’s loosen up: share a side-splitting story from the last year. What made you laugh out loud until tears formed? What made you giggle every time it was referenced?”

I should maybe mention now, I have absolutely no qualms about writing a blog entry that is shorter than the prompt which inspired it. Just know this.

Your sides are in no danger of splitting from this story but, here is a thing from 2014 that never failed to make me laugh. I am not sure what put this particular bee in her bonnet, but last summer Melissa installed some app from Friskie’s on her iPad. This app has games for your cat. These games amount to images of birds or fish darting around the screen that disappear when tapped.

One of our cats seemed to find the whole thing a little offensive, maybe hurtful to his pride somehow. Another was intrigued by the games, and condescended to play a little. The third cat, however, was obsessed.

All cats are weird cats, pretty much. I think we can admit this. Our little girl Rocket is a cat’s cat: aloof, destructive, fluffy. I hate to say it but I think this apartment living got to her somewhere along the line and she snapped a little. It’s not unusual for her to keep us awaking swatting at lights on our walls cast by the headlights of passing cars, for example. We hung a crystal in a window that splashed rainbows all around and she hardly knew which way to jump. Needless to say, cartoon fish on an iPad mini with a Retina display were made to order for her particular mania.

Melissa would open the app and place the iPad on this large Ottoman (which Rocket ruined, by the way – she lives to claw furniture) and Rocket would immediately come running and commence batting at the fish in a frenzy. Soon, paw prints all over the iPad, and the cat parked on the Ottoman all evening, gazing hopefully at Melissa.

I worried we were further breaking her little kitty mind with this app but at the same time she clearly loved the thing, and wanted more of it. Something about her fish swatting madness never failed to crack me up. I’m really not coming close to doing her justice here; she is a curious little cat.

I’ve attached a picture of sweet Rocket checking Melissa’s computer screen, just in case her fish got over there somehow.



never read the comments

Think Kit 12/4/2014 – 2¢ “Whether you asked for it – or not – what good advice did you get this year?”

I get a lot of good advice from my wife. I don’t know how much that says about her, versus the simple truth that my life is a target rich environment for any would-be advisor. One bit of advice she gave me again in 2014, and that I continued to ignore, was don’t read the comments. She’s absolutely right – if anything, not reading the articles the comments are attached to would be an even better idea. I can’t help myself though. I take the clickbait, feel the outrage, then have to check the comments. Some people never learn.

my superpower

Think Kit 12/2/2014 – Flip the Script “What did you change your mind about this year? Was it a big deal – the way you feel about an issue? Or something small – maybe you learned to like Brussels sprouts? What was the moment or series of moments that changed how you felt?”

There must have been something, right? BUT WHAT?

2014 was the year I learned, or perhaps relearned, that I have buoyancy. When you put me in the water – at least, when you put me in the carefully controlled water of the Jordan YMCA indoor swimming pool – I float.

I started adult swimming lessons about two months ago. At the commencement of classes, even a couple of weeks into the lessons, I was certain that crossing that big black line on the bottom of the pool signaling the start of “the deep end” meant death. If I got into water over my head, I’d sink and drown. I mean, of course I would, right? It would be both humiliating and fatal, because I don’t know how to swim.

It turns out though (and had I ever known this? had I just forgotten? the pool has never really been my scene – ) I float. In fact, right now I don’t know how to productively sink. Put me in that YMCA pool water and I just bob around. I still don’t know how to swim, but to my surprise and delight I discovered that “the deep end” is not, after all, a death sentence. In fact, it’s pretty fun.

I like floating. Finally some upside to being a big fat sack of wind.


I am giving Think Kit another try. This Think Kit thing is so well done, put together with such thought and good intention, and here I reliably bring my z game to the effort. I’m a week behind in fulfilling Think Kit’s blogging orders, thought I did start this post… well… not on December 1, though not on December 8 either, which is when I am resuming it. And er, now it’s December 9. I guess my endgame here is that I write 17 posts in one afternoon, someday soon, then another 14 not long thereafter?

Think Kit 12/1/2014 – A Thousand Words “Share your year in photos. Was there a moment of unrestrained happiness? An unexpected encounter? What role do photos play in your life – were you more selective with your phone (er…camera) this year? Or are you the King of Selfies? Dig into the deeper meaning of a moment frozen in time.”

I’ve been around personal computers and their by-blows since the early 1980s. I don’t know what your experience has been but I will tell you part of mine is that those things, the way they expect you to work with them, the ways they try to make life easier for your soft, hapless human brain, they eventually just sort of get away from you. I come equipped with an iPhone and a MacBook Pro and a case in point for me is this iPhoto stuff. I’ve no doubt some committee of clever, trim technocrats whiteboarded it all out, here is how this image storing shit should work, how we are meant to use our cameraphones, but I don’t really get it. I can’t be bothered to get it at this point, if you want to know the truth. So I have a bunch of pictures on my phone thoughtfully grouped for me into ‘collections’ and ‘moments’ and then an application with a photo library on the laptop, one where double-clicking the little pictures does not make them big. And I looked at those for this post, I dutifully reviewed my Apple-designated moments from 2014.

I’ve never been much of a photographer – not in terms of interest,  and certainly not in terms of ability. The main thing I noticed in looking at my pictures from 2014 is I use the iPhone camera as a utility as much as anything else. Sure I take the occasional rare selfie to share with my wife, but most of the pictures are a result of me wanting to capture something so I can look at it later. I’m at the library, or I’m at a bookstore, and I see a book but I want to know what they think of it online, so I take a picture of the cover. A cat is sick, and I take a picture of her sad little sick kitty face to show the vet. We were out somewhere and Melissa expressed an interest in something I mentally vowed to get for her someday, so I took a picture to remind me. Melissa’s dad the Hoosier Fiend of Numismatics asked if I could identify the letter printed under the year on a couple of pennies and after squinting and squinting I gave up and took the sharpest photo I could and then expanded the image again, again again… (it was a D).

There too is evidence of my genius airport parking lot scheme. I will take a picture, I think, I will take a picture of the sign that says where we parked. 1D or 14F or whatever. But then I forget to document which bus shelter we are nearest in long term parking and my genius must be quietly reassessed. I hatched my brilliant method years back though and will not abandon it. Someday it will guide me to my car.

The photos did remind me of a bum start Melissa and I had to 2014 the morning we discovered six stories of drainpipe had come crashing down on our cars overnight. It was a freak thing… we had both happened to park beside one another and near the door of our apartment building. A frozen-solid drainpipe gave up the ghost and came off the building and deposited itself across the front of Melissa’s car, and squarely on my poor car’s windshield. Ours were the only cars that were damaged, but the damage was fairly spectacular. I took picture after picture of said damage, occupied with some narrative in my head where I would need to produce just this exact picture of my safety glass strewn dashboard in order to force compensation from the landlord. In hindsight it was maybe a little therapeutic… there wasn’t a great outlet for venting, and I was in a tizzy about the state of my car, and I took picture after picture after picture and that maybe felt like doing something.

My shallowly-considered, marginally implemented philosophy of digital cam-photography was much in evidence in some of these ‘moments’. Melissa asked me to take a couple pictures of her that she might be able to use for a headshot somewhere. These are digital I think. They don’t cost anything to take, no film gets used. Take as many as you want and delete the ones you won’t use. So I wind up with 70 photos of my wife blinking in front of a brick wall somewhere. Oh yeah. I meant to delete those.

Browsing the photos did remind me of some happy times. There were some pictures I’d taken of the cats to send to Melissa. There was an image of a very sweet graph of love Melissa had plotted out on our chalkboard. Here are Melissa and our niece Michaela making brick angels in the big pile of LEGO at LEGO Kidsfest 2014. There was even a surprise picture of me someone had taken while I was sleeping.


the village that it takes

december 6: community involvement
How do you want get involved in your community this year?

Hmmm. Wow, this is a good question, too. I don’t know… I am really not much of a joiner. And I don’t like crowds. I would like to do some giving back though. I feel like I am part of some pretty great communities.

Well… we will be walking in the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. I am sure we’ll keep our membership at the IMA. I’m sure I’ll support and attend the Indy Film Fest. I’d like to join the Friends of the Library for Central Library, to support another place that I love. I might take some classes of some sort, maybe something for art, maybe something for yoga or some other form of movement. I expect or at least hope to attend some events around town, as we did in 2012.

Beyond that, well, my partner is someone who is very active in volunteering and community participation. I need to think of some other ways of being more a part of things and aware of what is going on around me. Eh at least I am not actively causing problems for anyone. It might be interesting to do some things for the neighborhood I’m living in and see how that goes.

I don’t feel like I have exactly hit on the answer here yet, though.

OK wait – I thought of something else. I am pretty sure I want to find ways to oppose this Dennis Kruse and his ‘truth in education’ bill (although, it doesn’t sound like something the Indiana Senate is even going to entertain). I need to learn more about it, get past my initial knee-jerk, but so far this looks like something where I’d like to help get the message across that there are citizens out here who think this is unnacceptable.

I am a busy man

December 5:  interviewing others
Interview 3 people about their favorite moments of the year. Share what you heard.

Eh, well. I wound up asking one person, my fiancée, about her favorite moments of the year. I did not manage to ask any coworkers, and didn’t feel right asking strangers. 

I heard about some good, sweet moments, most with family. It was nice. I wish I had managed to ask some more people.

Are they gonna say “he was a kind man”? “He was a wise man”? “He had plans”; “He had wisdom”?

What was the wisest decision you made this year?

My first answer: I asked the best person that I know to marry me. That was an action though… I made the decision/s that led to that action in 2011. So what was my wisest decision of 2012? I think some decisions about the marriage, not only the ceremony itself but about things like our last names. It’s a process though, we’re still making decisions… and that is indeed “we” stuff, tandem decisions. Probably I am crediting myself for some good joint-decisions.

Still… decisions don’t mean much without actions or other changes following. I am not a big decider but I can make all sort of resolutions I never keep. Is the decision really made until you take the act? Perhaps 2012 should get credit for my deciding to propose.

Apart from that, well, time will tell, is how I see it. Perhaps there was some little decision made that will turn out to seem wise in the future. I hope so. Maybe it was it deciding to work with a client in California. Perhaps it was the decision to overhaul the arrangement of litter boxes at our home. What about Kickstarters I contributed to? Or buying a Kindle? And then I suppose it could have been any of a number of things that I talked myself out of or otherwise decided not to do, and may not even remember.

This question does get me thinking about the year, trying to remember things.