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It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.
-- Edmund Burke

Blog Posts for May 2005

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Bring Back the Filibuster


Glenn Reynolds posts a link that supports filibustering, and all that entails. And you know - I agree.


Tags: politics
by Brett Rogers, 5/1/2005 10:15:16 AM

Subjectivity and the Means for Deeper Respect


I went painting today at the local Botanical Center.

Stefanie joined me for this, and it was fun. She tried her first watercolor (did well!) and otherwise sketched and took some great photos, which I'll post later.

We also met a person who has her work in the Smithsonian. Her name is Jean Wilson, and she does extraordinary calligraphy.

While Stefanie charmed the little kids who stopped by our little section of paved path to see what we were doing (she even coaxed one cute little girl to sketch along with us and submit her work for the contest!), I tried to figure out how to paint what lie in front of me. I learned a couple of things and had some thoughts on the drive home...

Most of my painting thus far has been from photos. Today, I did it "plein air" style, or painting in one sitting from real life. Very different.

I've mentioned before that painting is a process of constantly forcing oneself to see things as they are. You can't just see a ball and then spend five minutes at the canvas. There's no such thing as a photographic memory when painting. Memory is reconstructive and once you start reconstructing, you're guessing. Hence, the constant scanning of the subject and the few brushstrokes each produces.

Well, that's tiring mental work, and in one sitting, it's not something I'm accustomed to doing. Holy cow, my hat goes off for all of those who do this a lot. I didn't finish mine... I needed a break. I will finish it later from photos that I took, but I need to do a lot more of this. I started well, I think, but as I grew tired of the constant scanning and checking and rechecking, I found myself guessing more and just throwing the brush around in a way that felt lazy.

I don't do that when painting from photo. Why?

Thinking about it on the way home, an analogy came to me. When I'm sitting in front of my subject, painting plein air, I lose perspective. I mean frankly, there is so much that I could paint. The far wall, the plants that are closer, the bridge, the plants in front of the bridge, the people wandering around, the plants behind the main flowers that I wanted to paint, the flowers that I wanted to paint... our eyes can focus on objects far and on objects near, and it's all important.

Not so with a photograph. It's much easier to see the main elements and not get lost in everything else.

Kind of like how friends can tell you that you're engaged to the wrong person, but you have a harder time seeing their point. They see you like a photograph, but you're living it and there is so much to focus on.

"Dude, she's not right for you."
"You just can't see her like I do."

Exactly. That's the point. It's subjectivity and objectivity. I'm sure that you've been told before that you're too close to something to see it as it is. Painting from real life is just like this, ironically enough.

I think this is why Picasso painted as he did. He literally painted it as he saw it - even if his model moved or if his perspective changed - whether it made sense to others or not.

Painting is a growth experience. I look forward to finishing what I started today and then sometime this week, begin to paint what I see and stop working from photos for a while.

ETC: Pictures...


Tags: my life | painting
by Brett Rogers, 5/1/2005 6:22:11 PM




Driving to a doctor's appointment for my son today, I listened a bit to talk radio. The story of the moment was that of the runaway bride in Georgia.

Long story short: she bought a bus ticket a week in advance of the wedding and used it to concoct a story of her abduction while she basically ran from her nuptials. Everyone in the town was looking for her and they were pretty hacked off to learn that she was not kidnapped, but instead had seriously cold feet. But at least she wasn't dead somewhere.

Other than wasting some people's time and burning through about $60,000 in search efforts for a lie (which in my opinion, she should pay back), this ordeal was victimless. No one was hurt by it.

I don't know the woman. She obviously did something very stupid. But do we take one act and then judge someone by it?

I've done some stupid things in my time (such as ride on top of a station wagon at 60 mph...), that if others were to look at me, they might question whether I were fit to do many things in life. I've had other moments that were equally ill-thought and plain dumb in retrospect.

The greatest thing about America is that we don't hold down people who fail. Instead, we cheer the underdog. We want people to succeed. It's okay to fail here. That separates us from other nations.

In a victimless act of stupidity, should society render a judgment that permanently harms the life of the perpetrator for the rest of their life? Should one act where no one got hurt become the basis of a character judgment?

I hope that we hesitate before we issue such a verdict. If it's a pattern, judgment might be fair. If there is someone who gets hurt by it, judgment should be expected.

But I think we all need the elbow room to be stupid once in a while. Even if it's nationally stupid.


by Brett Rogers, 5/3/2005 6:14:08 PM


Red Flowers - First Steps


I'm having a lot of fun with this painting while INXS does "Taste It" in my headphones.

It's bigger than the little postcard paintings that I did before. After working on it more, there was this...

From this:

Woo hoo! Enough with swatches of colors and theory. It's good to push the brush around again.


Read the whole story of "Red Flowers"
Tags: painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 5/3/2005 9:57:08 PM

Left to Right


Stopping for the night. I'm going from left to right, so I should make my way to the trees in my next pass.

I'll paint the red flowers last... they're in the foreground and the focus.


Read the whole story of "Red Flowers"
Tags: painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 5/3/2005 11:57:21 PM

Cool Game


A friend sent me a link to this most awesome online game.

Have fun!


by Brett Rogers, 5/4/2005 7:33:39 AM

Einstein's Wife


Here's an interesting story.


1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 5/4/2005 2:30:35 PM

Getting Ready for Mother's Day


In kind of a sentimental mood, I painted this for my mom's Mother's Day card during lunch today. I've been thinking a lot about my daughter, who leaves my nest this year, and I've been reminiscing about my own childhood.

Understandably mushy stuff inside the card, of course. I love my mom.


Read the whole story of "Cards"
Tags: sketch | painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 5/4/2005 7:01:40 PM

Provocative Quotes for the Day


Some quotes gleaned from someone I respect:

"It is generally much easier to kill an organization than change it substantially."
- Kevin Kelly, Out of Control

"Incrementalism is innovation's worst enemy."
- Nicholas Negroponte

"The corporation as we know it, which is now 120 years old, is not likely to survive the next 25 years. Legally and financially, yes, but not structurally and economically."
- Peter Drucker, Business 2.0

"The 'surplus society' has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people, with similar educational backgrounds, coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar prices and similar quality."
- Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrole, Funky Business

"Our business needs a massive transfusion of talent, and talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among non-conformists, dissenters and rebels."
- David Ogilvy

"Thomas Stanley has not only found no correlation between success in school and an ability to accumulate wealth, he's actually found a negative correlation. 'It seems that school-related evaluations are poor predictors of economic success,' Stanley concluded. What did predict success was a willingness to take risks. Yet the success-failure standards of most schools penalized risk takers. Most educational systems reward those who play it safe. As a result, those who do well in school find it hard to take risks later on."
- Richard Farson & Ralph Keyes, Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins

"The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot."
- Mark Twain

"This is an essay about what it takes to create and sell something remarkable. It is a plea for originality, passion, guts and daring. You can't be remarkable by following someone else who's remarkable. The reason its so hard to follow the leader is this: The leader is the leader precisely because he did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken-so it's no longer remarkable when you decide to do it."
-Seth Godin, Fast Company/02.2003

Have fun with those!


Tags: quotes
by Brett Rogers, 5/5/2005 10:21:48 AM

Another Card


It occurred to me the other day that my web site here can be construed as:

Be At Canvas

Heh - I kinda like that.

I had so much fun painting my mom's Mother's Day card yesterday that I painted her husband's card today, for Father's Day.

He lives for golf. And for taking care of my mom, which makes him a great guy.

I like this "paint a card on my lunchbreak" thing. It's fun.


Read the whole story of "Cards"
Tags: sketch | painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 5/5/2005 7:45:44 PM

Google Maps


If you haven't seen this before, check out Google Maps.

It has a local search feature, which is kinda cool, but I don't think that either Mark Hanson (the optometrist) or the Heartland Homebrew Supply sells art supplies, which was my query. And one of the art supply stores that I use, Michael's, isn't shown. So it's a bit buggy... but you can click-and-drag the map to move to a new location, and that is cool.


by Brett Rogers, 5/6/2005 9:46:44 PM

Just Messin'



Tags: sketch
by Brett Rogers, 5/7/2005 2:18:06 AM

Dumb Reporting


I don't get this...

Senior Al Qaeda Leader's Notebook Seized - Al-Libbi's Notebook Believed to Contain Valuable Contact Information, Source Says
What public good can come from letting everyone know that Al Qaeda should relocate and get new cell phones, now that we know their contact information?


Tags: media
by Brett Rogers, 5/7/2005 10:17:33 AM

Painters: Otto Dix


I'm starting a new thread on BeatCanvas about famous painters. Their work is interesting and I want to know more about them. I'm starting with Otto Dix, who was a German expressionist painter around the time of the two world wars and served in both - although the first time voluntarily and the second time involuntarily.

He was seriously wounded several times. In 1917, his unit was transferred to the Eastern front until the end of hostilities with Russia. Dix was profoundly affected by the sights of the war. He would later tell about his recurring nightmare where he was crawling through destroyed houses. He produced a series of drawings and prints that reflected that traumatic period.

In the Weimar Republic Dix studied at the Dresden Art Academy, became a founder of the Dresden Secession, and was a contributor to the Neue Sachlichkeit exhibition in Berlin in 1925. His paintings became his expression of the bleaker side of life, especially war. He used realistic pictures of disfigured soldiers as his model.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany, they regarded Dix as a degenerate artist and had him sacked from his post as an art teacher at the Dresden Academy.

He had this to say about painting portraits, which was how he made a living.
You know, if one paints someone's portrait, one should not know him if possible. No knowledge! I do not want to know him at all, I only want to see what is there, on the outside. The inner follows by itself. It is mirrored in the visible.
Here are a couple of samples of his work:

The paiting on the left is a portrait of a German dancer named Anita Berber. The painting on the right is The Triumph of Death.

His most famous work is probably a series called "Metropolis." It depicted Germany's "Golden Twenties" post-WWI life and the contrasts therein - between the high society folks who had discovered American jazz and the homeless veterans and prostitutes.

Dix did a lot of etchings of very graphic and disturbing images from the war. There's some question as to whether these etchings constitute "art." I would say that the etchings constitute communication. And isn't that what art is supposed to be? Whether communicating an experience, a view, a feeling - something - art is communication. I think it's absurd to suggest that something may or may not be art. It may not sell, and therefore be commercial art, but it's still an expression of the artist - whatever they wanted to convey.


1 Comment
Read the whole story of "Painters"
Tags: otto dix | artists
by Brett Rogers, 5/7/2005 11:17:24 AM

Red Flowers: About 1/3 Done


ETC: I've abandoned this painting... I wasn't happy with where this was going...


Read the whole story of "Red Flowers"
Tags: painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 5/7/2005 1:19:52 PM

Hear, See, Speak



by Brett Rogers, 5/9/2005 1:59:15 AM

Dumb Marketing


I recently made mention of the capture of an Al Qaeda guy named Al-Libbi (also called Abu Farraj or Abu Faraj), and I was confused as to why we would announce that we got hold of his laptop, which seemed to contain a lot of information about contacts within Al Qaeda. Seems to me that information like that you would want to keep close to the vest while you searched out that contact information so that you could bring in as many people as you could before they knew that you knew how to find them. Make sense?

After a couple of comments from people, I decided to dig into the story a little more - to the extent that I can from the news sources available to me. Google News is a good way to generally get a feel for what's being reported on a given story, and so I got a wrap-up from it.

From reading the stories, here's what I've gleaned:

It appears that the US government touted the claim about capturing the laptop with its contact information; it doesn't appear to be a media leak. I couldn't find any instance of a government official decrying the press' announcement of the fact of the laptop. Someone vetted the information and decided that it could be used for marketing, and therefore it was reported.

It seems that the information has helped to gather up 24 more Al Qaeda members/sympathizers.

There's some speculation about Al Libbi's role and whether he was the Number 3 guy in Al Qaeda. Might be me, but in a decentralized organization like Al Qaeda, there is no real vertical chain of command, so declaring anyone as "the Number 3 guy" is dumb. There are lots of "Number 3 guys" in the Al Qaeda org chart, I'm sure.

Some left-leaning publications are taking this speculation to be a case of mistaken identity. That's a misleading headline.

So my take on it all is this...

The Bush administration/Pentagon/Homeland Security/FBI/CIA folks have taken such a bunch of abuse in the press about efforts in addressing homeland security and achieving success in Iraq that they move too quickly to find good PR and therefore make mistakes like this.

News cycles are fast. Too fast. I understand that White House and crew want to get ahead of a story quickly, but they can't afford too many gaffes, and the Bush White House has never been very good with marketing. When Time has a story like this:

Can This Man Help Capture bin Laden?

It makes it more important to remain as accurate as possible.

Bush was right when he said (and unfortunately later recanted) that the war on terror can't be won. Of course it can't - that's like trying to defeat crime. There will always be crime, and sadly, there will be always be nutjobs who want to erase Americans or Isaelis or whomever from the face of the earth. But to the degree that we Americans can best gauge success - an attack on US soil - there hasn't been one in nearly 4 years. Success? Yes.

I think it mischaracterizes what's happening in Iraq to call it any of the labels given to it by those opposed to it. The majority of Iraqis remain thankful that Saddam is gone, thankful that they will rule themselves and enjoy more freedom, and thankful that with each day, life improves for them. Success? Yes.

But all the success in the world won't make up for dumb marketing.

If you watched the president's news conference the other night, there's no way that anyone can construe that the press is unbaised. A hard question is one thing (Tim Russert is very good at this), but sermons in the form of "questions" are something else entirely. And if the press isn't friendly, good marketing is all the more important, but I'm not holding my breath for this administration to fix that problem in the next 3 years.


Tags: politics | terrorism
by Brett Rogers, 5/9/2005 12:59:38 PM



I've been catching up on my reading, and at Kris' recommendation (sort of) I've been reading Red Scarf Girl, a firsthand account of a girl who grew up during Mao's revolution in China at the mid-20th century.

I'm about halfway through, and I'm more affected by it than I thought I would be. In the sweep of revolutionary fervor that cherished everything Mao said to his people, they cast out ideas and store signs and even clothes, gathered in mobs to take from the rich and from the middle class, and placed more value on people who were mediocre and unsuccessful in life, while casting out those who were achievers.

That's Mao's socialism - destroy the old ideas, the old culture, the old customs, and the old habits. Which in itself sounds innocuous and even healthy. Except that it was extended to include thought control. All for one and one for all. No wealth, no ambition, no ego, no self.

Here on my blog and in public, I can say anything that I choose and no one can stop me. I can aspire to be anything in life that I choose and no one will stop me. My family's history and class status doesn't mark me - I'm independent of my ancestors' lives and choices.

Makes me very thankful for America.

ETC: I finished the book late last night. Anyone who idolizes Mao or the reform that he brought is a dangerous fool. To use children in the way that they did and to make people choose between their family and the state over simple matters of freedom of speech and choice in friendships is utter tyranny.

At the tail end of the book, the author, Ji-Li Jiang, speaks of the freedom that we in America enjoy. I was already feeling that way in the middle of the book, but by the end of the book, her way of talking of the joy in a simple parade where no one was concerned about what said or how they acted was refreshing. I think too many people in America don't fathom the greatness of what we have, or why others in similarly restrictive regimes, like Mao's, crave these freedoms as well.

Thanks Kris for mentioning this book. My kids are now interested in reading it, by the way :)


Tags: books
by Brett Rogers, 5/9/2005 11:45:04 PM



Water is an amazing substance. We've been getting a lot of that in the past 24 hours here in Iowa. Being liquid, it channels around objects in its path, obeying gravity, just naturally falling. Water doesn't stress. It ignores obstacles. Maybe that's why we like the sound of running water... we wish we were more like that.

Reading the book, Red Scarf Girl, I lived vicariously through the author's eyes what it was to be in Chairman Mao's communist China - seeing how people had filters for others - what they could wear, what they could say, how they could live... strange rules that changed on a whim and made all of society walk on eggshells.

Or what happened with the works of Otto Dix and his fellow German expressionst painters who had their art cut short and declared degenerate by the Nazi's.

I'm reading Thinkertoys, and in it, the author talks of the things that squelch innovation. The criticism of others who insist that it's been done before, or that it can't be done, or at least not by you. Or they laugh at the result and belittle the effort.

This morning I listened to Bonnie Raitt's "One Part Be My Lover," which contains this lyric:

He's like a boxer who had to retire
after winning but killing a man
He's got all of the moves and none of the courage
Afraid to throw a punch that might land
My sons game online, and one of them has found a group of people with whom he is the most "himself" that I've seen him be with anyone. He acts goofy if he chooses, courts around having fun, and acts like a jerk on occasion, but all is forgiven. The group accepts each other they way that they are and they don't stem each other's natural expression.

I took some classes in college on Interpersonal Communication, which went into great length and exhaustive study about attraction and friendships and relationships. I've been married twice. I've seen friends come and go.

I think all that we're looking for - and feel free to bring every human being into this little circle I'm drawing here - all that we're looking for is a place where we can freely release our energies and for a group of people with whom we can freely express who we are without being curtailed. Unmitigated flow.

A friend of mine says, "Your right to throw a punch stops just short of my nose." Live and let live, so long as your own freedom of expression doesn't hurt others or inhibit them from their own free flow.

I'm going to noodle through "flow" a bit more, but for me philosophically, I'm all for free flow: whether it's a form of government or the friends that I choose.

If I run into obstacles, I'll be like water. A day is too important to waste stressing about obstacles.


Tags: my life | freedom
by Brett Rogers, 5/11/2005 2:50:42 PM



For those who read this on a regular basis, I've been uncharacteristically away. I have Qwest DSL, which has been terrific for us since last summer, but this past week, we've had more downtime than uptime. To their credit though, Qwest is working on this issue on a weekend as I write this.

I'll be glad to have things back to normal here soon :)


by Brett Rogers, 5/14/2005 1:34:38 PM

Whew - Back!


It turns out that a cable in a box about 1/2 mile from where I live was bad, but it's been fixed, so we have good Internet connection again. And Qwest gave me a $20 refund on my Internet service, so all is well.

While my connection was down, I read some. My daughter hogged my desk, though, so no painting. She had a lot of project work to do for classes. She has 4 days of high school left. That's a mind blower.

Here she is on her first day of kindergarten:

That was a long time ago.

We watched Everwood last night, as we do every Monday. Interestingly, the main characters graduated from high school last night. Thinking of Bari in her cap and gown got me choked up.

And I'm now in my third day of being white sugar free. No more Snapple (there goes my product endorsement), no more soda, which I didn't drink much anyway... all for the best. I'm changing my diet as well. My morning is an orange-banana smoothie. (Oranges are 99˘ a pound, and bananas are 49˘ a pound. It doesn't get much cheaper than that. And did I mention that I love my juicer?) Lunches are standard sandwich and carrot fare, or a salad. Dinners are meat and veggies. If I feel like eating at night, I have another orange-banana smoothie. It's filling, and good for me.

Once I make it through a week or so of sugar-free-ness, I'll work on my portion sizes. Which should reduce my size.

In the past, I've lost weight by only doing two things: dropping white sugar and walking daily. That's all I've needed to do. To write that seems so simple. Perhaps it is and I just get distracted with other stupid habits. My foot is still broken, but with the inserts I walk okay. Losing weight will probably help my foot heal more quickly, with less weight on it.

I'll find a scale and track my progress.

Historically, January 1st has been the start of resolutions for people. But I think that's a stupid time to try to change habits. April 1st or May 1st makes much more sense. Most habits that need breaking require some sort of exercise or activity, and January 1st is smack dab in the middle of winter. To make a habit change in the full swing of spring is far more sensible. Anyone care to second the motion? All in favor say "Aye..."


Tags: bari | health | my life
by Brett Rogers, 5/17/2005 8:19:45 AM


Simply Ridiculous


I wrote a software product called Newsletter Ease back in 2001 that helped people create and manage email newsletters. Over 1,000 have bought and used the software worldwide. In doing this, I learned a lot about spam - after all, Newsletter Ease was a mass email product. (I wrote many things into the software to prevent people from using it for spam purposes.)

I don't like spam, but there's one thing that I despise more than spam. It's spoofing. Spoofing is the practice of using someone else's valid email address to send spam. So, let's say that some Russian guy decides to send spam worldwide. He might send it from his servers, but he masks the email headers to make it look it's coming from your account. In short, it's like identity theft.

You know when you've been spoofed when you start receiving "returned email" messages by the truckload for email accounts that don't exist. Like this:

The original message was received at Tue, 17 May 2005 18:38:12 -0400
from []

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
(reason: 550 No such recipient)
(reason: 550 No such recipient)
(reason: 550 No such recipient)
(reason: 550 No such recipient)
(reason: 550 No such recipient)
(reason: 550 No such recipient)
(reason: 550 No such recipient)
(reason: 550 No such recipient)

And so on...

Well, my brogers email account at this web site has been spoofed. Which is strange to me, because I've given it to very few people personally and I've masked my email address from email-gleaning robots by construing it as brogers (at) this web site. But if you look upward, you'll notice that the mask is now gone. I refuse to be spoofed, so I'm changing my email address. To email me from this web site, you now have to use an email form.

I have a suspicion how this happened. I have a relative who likes to send me mass forward email - you know, where you and 82 people are in the To address. Most of the time it's innocent, but on occasion, it's not. Spammers will get in the loop of these mass forwards where your email address is there for everyone to see. Voila! A ton of valid email addresses. A spammer's delight.

Worse, I've tried to educate my relatives about this stuff, but it's no use.

I have a Yahoo account that I use for everything commercial. If I buy something, I use that account. Unfortunately, that group of relatives will get my Yahoo address, which I check about once a week. If someone wants to spoof my Yahoo account, more power to them. But not my personal web site.

So if you've sent email to me personally here at, and you want my new email address, I'll send it to you.


1 Comment
Tags: spam
by Brett Rogers, 5/17/2005 7:32:29 PM


Laterally Creative


Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War, said, "To foresee a victory which the ordinary man can foresee is not the acme of skill."

Which sounds a lot like something I quoted the other day, "The 'surplus society' has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people, with similar educational backgrounds, coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar prices and similar quality." - Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrole, Funky Business

When asked what he believed to be the most important thing that he knew, James Watson, one-half of the people who discovered DNA, said this, "Excellence demands the pursuit of seemingly unattainable goals. Those teachers and schools that truly succeed are those which inspire their students to move beyond the expectation of conventional wisdom."

Again, from what I quoted the other day: "Thomas Stanley has not only found no correlation between success in school and an ability to accumulate wealth, he's actually found a negative correlation. 'It seems that school-related evaluations are poor predictors of economic success,' Stanley concluded. What did predict success was a willingness to take risks. Yet the success-failure standards of most schools penalized risk takers. Most educational systems reward those who play it safe. As a result, those who do well in school find it hard to take risks later on." - Richard Farson & Ralph Keyes, Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins

To see things from other perspectives, to be able to change patterns and view things in a new way is commonly called "lateral thinking." A guy named Edward De Bono coined that phrase. He said this:

I am often asked why it was necessary to invent the term "lateral thinking" when the word "creativity" seemed quite adequate. The answer is that the word "creativity" is far from adequate and does not describe what I mean by lateral thinking.

A creative person may have a way of looking at the world which is different from the way other people see the world.

If that person is successful in expressing and communicating his own special perception, then we call him or her creative and value the contribution that helps some of us to see the world through a new perspective. We acknowledge the creativity. But that person may be locked into that special perception: unable to change perception or see the world in any other way. Thus many creative people are actually "rigid" at the same time. This does not at all diminish their value to society or their ability to create within their special perception. But in "lateral thinking" I am interested in the ability to change perception and to keep on changing perception. Clearly some people are indeed creative but not lateral thinkers. Some creative people are both.

The same thing happens with young children. If a youngster of about nine is given a problem, he may well come up with a highly original solution since he is not trapped within the conventional approach. So his approach is creative and original. But that same youngster may be reluctant to look for, and unable to find, a different approach. So he is creative and original and also rigid.

Lateral thinking can be precisely defined as pattern switching within a patterning system. To explain the nature of a patterning system takes quite a long time, So in ordinary terms we can describe it as the ability to look at things in different ways.

Then he gives this example:
Grandma is knitting and young Susie is disturbing Grandma by playing with the ball of wool. The father suggests putting Susie in the playpen. The mother suggests that it might make more sense to put Grandma in the playpen - a different way of looking at things which is quite logical in hindsight.
To be successful at anything often requires a complete dismissal of previous methods. We often need to unlearn before we can learn what will make us succeed.


Tags: wisdom
by Brett Rogers, 5/17/2005 10:36:28 PM




by Brett Rogers, 5/18/2005 1:17:01 AM


Tom Peters in Saudi Arabia


Tom Peters went to Saudi Arabia to give a presentation at King Fahd University on May 16. I downloaded the slideshow that he used. Good stuff... and I haven't finished looking through all of it. Here are some snippets.

"The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind—computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people—artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys."
- Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind

Why Do I love Freaks?
(1) Because when Anything Interesting happens … it was a freak who did it. (Period.)
(2) Freaks are fun. (Freaks are also a pain.) (Freaks are never boring.)
(3) We need freaks. Especially in freaky times. (Hint: These are freaky times, for you & me & the CIA & the Army & Avon.)
(4) A critical mass of freaks-in-our-midst automatically make us-who-are-not-so-freaky at least somewhat more freaky. (Which is a Good Thing in freaky times—see immediately above.)
(5) Freaks are the only (ONLY) ones who succeed—as in, make it into the history books.
(6) Freaks keep us from falling into ruts. (If we listen to them.) (We seldom listen to them.) (Which is why most of us—and our organizations—are in ruts. Make that chasms.)
- Tom Peters

"The only reason to give a speech is to change the world."

Great design = One-page business plan.
- Jim Horan

"You do not merely want to be the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do."
- Jerry Garcia

New Work SurvivalKit2005
1. Mastery! (Best/Absurdly Good at Something!)
2. "Manage" to Legacy (All Work = "Memorable"/"Braggable" WOW Projects!)
3. A "USP"/Unique Selling Proposition (R.POV8: Remarkable Point of View ... captured in 8 or less words)
4. Rolodex Obsession (From vertical/hierarchy/"suck up" loyalty to horizontal/"colleague"/"mate" loyalty)
5. Entrepreneurial Instinct (A sleepless ... Eye for Opportunity! E.g.: Small Opp for Independent Action beats faceless part of Monster Project)
6. CEO/Leader/Businessperson/Closer (CEO, Me Inc. Period! 24/7!)
7. Mistress of Improv (Play a dozen parts simultaneously, from Chief Strategist to Chief Toilet Scrubber)
8. Sense of Humor (A willingness to Screw Up & Move On)
9. Comfortable with Your Skin (Bring "interesting you" to work!)
10. Intense Appetite for Technology (E.g.: How Cool-Active is your Web site? Do you Blog?)
11. Embrace "Marketing" (Your own CSO/Chief Storytelling Officer)
12. Passion for Renewal (Your own CLO/Chief Learning Officer)
13. Execution Excellence! (Show up on time! Leave last!)
Distinct or Extinct!
- Tom Peters

He gave this presentation in Saudi Arabia. Think about that.


Tags: tom peters | daniel pink
by Brett Rogers, 5/19/2005 8:56:14 AM


The Resumé is Dead


I want to declare the death of the resumé as a tool for hiring. It's passé. It's old school. It's last century.

Just what is a resumé? It's a list of functions that others have allowed you to perform in the past; it's not an indication of what you know that you can do in the present or in the future. Big difference.

For example, my resumé wouldn't say anything of my artistic abilities. Never really done that for an employer. And as a programmer, I show a lot of SQL Server, web site development, etc. But it says nothing of my ability to read people or my knack to rapidly see potential problems in a given solution that others might miss, which saves time and money.

I mean, think about your resumé... what's missing from it? What about you makes you stellar but isn't easily shown on a resumé?

And the interview is usually worse. It's so 1990's, it hurts.

"Tell me about your previous work... tell me about yourself... why do you think you would be qualified for this position?"

How many times have you walked out of an interview knowing that they have your resumé in hand but feeling like they have no clue what you're capable of doing for them?

I'll paraphrase one of the quotes that I posted earlier:

The 'surplus society' has a surplus of similar interviewees, exhibiting similar skills, with similar educational backgrounds, probably coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar salary requirements and most likely similar quality.
Having done a lot of hiring in the past, there are two piles for candidates: the "absolutely not" pile and the "maybe" pile. The "maybes" need more investigation: background check, reference check, and ultimately, an interview.

With the "maybe" pile during the interview, an employer generally looks for intangibles, such as personality traits that make the candidate seem more like a "fit" than the other candidates. But being a "fit" doesn't indicate breakthrough performance. It means that the person will most likely be much like everyone else already working there. Does that help the company stand out among its competitors? Normally, no. In other words, most people don't really know what to hire to make their group/division/company stand out and impress in the marketplace.

And when managers hire, they usually expect the employee to perform within the job description, which is usually based on previous experience doing exactly what they've always done. Which generally leads to this tombstone, which I've borrowed from Tom Peters slideshow:

Screw that.

"Our business needs a massive transfusion of talent, and talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among non-conformists, dissenters and rebels." - David Ogilvy

"My wife and I went to a [kindergarten] parent-teacher conference and were informed that our budding refrigerator artist, Christopher, would be receiving a grade of Unsatisfactory in art. We were shocked. How could any child - let alone our child - receive a poor grade in art at such a young age? His teacher informed us that he had refused to color within the lines, which was a state requirement for demonstrating ‘grade-level motor skills.'" - Jordan Ayan, AHA!

A resumé is exactly that: it shows how well you've colored within the lines. But it says very little about what you can really do. It only shows what you've been allowed to do.

Screw that.

All in favor of the death of the resumé, don't just say "Aye!" but instead, go create a portfolio of your talent in such a way that everyone can view it and get a real sense of who you are and what you can truly do.


Tags: tom peters | resume
by Brett Rogers, 5/19/2005 11:58:50 AM

No Surprises


We didn't watch The Apprentice finale; we watched CSI (which was very very good and directed by Tarantino). During CSI's commercials, we flipped to watch Trump interview Kendra and Tana, who is from here in Iowa. Tana shot herself in the foot last week by shooting off her mouth. Prior to that she had my vote, but the way in which she positioned herself above her teammates was sheer stupidity. I mean, if you're going to carry on like that, that's something to share with your spouse or with people you trust. You don't do it on camera in front of millions of Americans where people can TiVo your idiocy.

And even if she was kidding, as she haplessly insinuated by saying that people didn't get her humor, she wasn't mugging for herself. She was acting as the brand of Trump, and there is no way that The Donald would accept such bad branding. She should have known that. To act that way on camera is lousy business. Whether she was truly better than Kendra or not became irrelevant.


1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 5/19/2005 10:30:02 PM



I saw this survey from Blogthings on Kris' site (Random Mentality), and decided to see how they derived their assertions. So here are my results:
The Keys to Your Heart
You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.
In love, you feel the most alive when your lover is creative and never lets you feel bored.
You'd like to your lover to think you are stylish and alluring.
You would be forced to break up with someone who was emotional, moody, and difficult to please.
Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets.
Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.
You think of marriage pessimistically. You don't think happy marriages exist anymore.
In this moment, you think of love as commitment. Love only works when both people are totally devoted.

What Are The Keys To Your Heart?

I agree with almost all of that. Love should be free, honest, devoted... I like creativity, but I don't see it as someone else's responsibility to make sure that I'm not bored. Of course my lover should think that I'm alluring.

I'd have to agree with having a tough go when my partner is "moody" or "difficult to please." Emotional doesn't bother me - I cry at a decent number of movies.

I wouldn't say that I'm pessimistic about marriage at all. I'm not interested in a relationship at the moment, but I know plenty of people happily married. Doug and Jody, several people with whom I work, my mom and her husband... Which question was it that suggested that answer? Maybe it was because I answered "Dinosaur..."

My answers were:

1. Horse (most utilitarian)
2. Monkey (most interesting)
3. Cat (loved by most, can be just about anywhere, and they get around well)
4. Snake (where I live, I'm not bothered by sharks, lions, or crocodiles)
5. Horse (I almost answered bird, but horses seem more friendly)
6. Human (well, of course)
7. Dinosaur (how exotic!)
8. Pigeon (oh, to fly...)


by Brett Rogers, 5/20/2005 12:58:41 PM

Howard Dean on Meet the Press


I'm watching Howard Dean on Meet the Press. That's a good thing because Tim Russert asks some pretty tough questions of the guests on the program, regardless of which party stripe they are.

Same for Howard Dean.

"I think women should have the right to choose their own health care," says Howard. Who would disagree with that? But he gave that answer in response to the Democratic stand that supports abortion on demand.

"I don't think he should be in Congress," says Howard. This in regard to Tom Delay over ethics charges. He wants to clean up Washington. I'm all in favor for that, and while we're at it, can we apply that same standard to both Republicans and Democrats? Half of both parties would be gone tomorrow. I'd support that, but I don't think that's what he meant.

"They were misled by the President." This was his answer about why many Democrats supported the President in going to war against Saddam Hussein. Except that Democrats are on record in 1998 in support of going in to "finish the job." Pre-Bush.

Look, I'm all for tough questions, brutal honesty, and confrontation on important issues of the day. We need that. But in each of these instances (and others) Howard Dean avoided the truth or twisted it for his own purposes.

He stated that he was for personal rights, individual freedoms, and individual responsibility. And then said that raising taxes to repair social security was perfectly fine. No, it's not fine. Where's the individual responsibility in that, when our children today will need to be the chief contributors for baby boomer retirements for social security to remain solvent?? It's an outrage.

I say this about both parties: can we have a fact-based, realistic discussion?

I listen to Sean Hannity on the way home some afternoons when I have to drive my truck to work, and he misconstrues what people say to the point that I really can't listen to him much any more.

Neither is right. For any successful discussion, we need to get the indisputable facts on the table, but we're having a hard time doing even that.

Howard Dean gave a lot of red meat to conservative talk show hosts for the next week. He's too easily refuted on many of his points, which he could have avoided by sticking to the truth. Which means that Sean Hannity and others will have a great opportunity to then in turn twist Howard's words for their own purposes. The cycle goes on.

Makes me glad that I'll be riding my bike to work for most of the week.


by Brett Rogers, 5/22/2005 10:57:15 AM

The Beauty of No


I mentioned a week ago that I had given up white sugar. I'm now one week in and still sugar free.

A couple of days were tough. But there is beauty in the word, "No." I wrote something about two years ago. I'll quote it here:

We humans have a great advantage over the rest of the animal kingdom. Know what it is?

It's choice.

Animals run on instinct. They do what they do because their very nature tells them that they should. They don't really have a choice. There are no second thoughts. There is no guilt. Ambiguity? Not a chance.

Not so with us humans. We have second thoughts and guilt and indecision. But wait - I did say that this was an advantage...

Like animals, we also have instinct.

It may be our genes driving our impulses. Maybe it's how we grew up. Whatever drives our baser instincts, there are natural tendencies that we all have. Some are beneficial, and some are not.

But unlike animals, we have choice.

Choice can allow us to select our way. We don't have to be a slave to instinct.

At many moments throughout our day, we make small choices, almost imperceptible choices that determine what it is that we do each day.

And I found that I would check myself at these moments and stop what had become my habit. Whew! Today, it's easier to say, "No." It's more obvious to me that I don't lick the jelly off my finger when I make PBJ for the boys. There is beauty in the word, "No."

And thank god for orange-banana smoothies. Because there is beauty in the word, "Yes," too.

The next step for me is daily exercise. And then portion sizes.

Here's me about 8 years ago.

That's the first goal.

The second goal is drop further, down to about the weight that I was in the Army, which looked something like this:

Hopefully next summer, I can post pictures that show serious achievement toward these goals.

I don't need the food. Life is delicious all on its own, and I want to be a glutton of it.


Tags: my life | health
by Brett Rogers, 5/22/2005 5:14:38 PM

Taxpayer-Funded Pedophilia


Evidently, the taxpayers of New York have been footing the bill to provide sex offenders with Viagra.



Tags: government
by Brett Rogers, 5/23/2005 10:09:55 AM



My daughter had her last final today. That's it - absent the diploma that will be handed to her on Sunday, she's done.

As she left the house today...

My relationship with my daughter has always been special. I remember when I looked at my wife, Jamie, and told Jamie that she was pregnant and that it was a girl. Jamie didn't know. In fact, it was only a few days after Bari's conception. Later that month when she suspected that it might be true and got a test, she was in fact pregnant. In the hospital eight months later, Jamie sprouted a fever and they took her to the operating room for an emergency C-Section. The nurse looked at me while Jamie succumbed to the general anesthesia and asked me what names we had picked out.

"And if it's a girl?"
"No, that's the girl's name. Bari - with an 'i'."
"And if it's a boy?"
"It's not."
"You had a test? The doctor told you?"
"No. I just know that she's a girl."

The nurse kind of shrugged and went to work with the doctor and 5 minutes later, she confirmed that Bari was born and doing great. Because Jamie was out cold, I was the one who held her for the first 45 minutes of her life. She looked at me and I'm not even sure if she blinked that whole time. I was crying, of course, and talking to her, but it was just me and her in the rocking chair in the 5th floor nursery.

Fast forward nearly 18 years, and here we are today. Bold, vibrant, loving life, and ready to rock the world... that's my daughter. She leaves in a couple of months. I'm glad that I have unlimited long distance.

This summer will be nutty. My son, Aaron, goes up to spend the summer with his mom. Nick will spend some time there too, but how much time is up in the air at the moment. During weekends, I plan to go camping with whichever kids are around. In thinking of that, and since my busy schedule lately hasn't allowed me much time to paint, I did a lunchtime sketch of a guy sitting in front of his tent.

He looks so relaxed. Sounds good to me. But with my boys bouncing around all over me.


Tags: bari | painting
by Brett Rogers, 5/24/2005 9:25:53 PM



Bari graduated.

The ceremony was cool, including inflatable beach balls and an inflatable shark passed and bounced over the heads of the graduates. I don't have a zoom powerful enough on my little camera, but plenty of others do, and we'll get those pictures later.

The after-graduation party was great. Here's me and my tribe.

That's Bari on the far right.

Relatives from all over attended, and it was wonderful to see them again. My ex-father-in-law and I get along well, and we were laughing it up by the grill while we tried to get enough food cooked for everyone. He's a really good guy.

Later, we did a bunch stuff together. Here's Nick on a piggy back ride with me. That's his girlfriend, Ali, with Austin on her shoulders behind us.

And Bari's friends showed up and stayed for food and laughs.

It was a good day. Next stop for her: adulthood.

For about a week, I've been mulling over her life and her future. And with everything happening, I haven't emailed or blogged much, as you might know if you read this site often.

In two months, she leaves. Wow...


Tags: bari | my life
by Brett Rogers, 5/31/2005 7:18:33 PM