Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Thoughts on "Like"

The following two clips say more about "like" than I can put into words. Enjoy...

As mentioned Monday, Taylor Mali is one of my favorite performance poets. I first saw him in the mid-1990s at a few poetry slams in the Chicago area. A former teacher, Mali's poetry focuses on some of his experiences in the classroom...

If you feel strongly enough about "like," feel free to get some anti-"like" gear on Taylor's website. I don't know him or get any commission, but I do think it is great.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Just Say No to "Like"

One great thing about being a member of Toastmasters is that it helps you to become not only a good speaker, but also a great listener. I find myself catching successful business leaders (and otherwise good speakers) saying “um” and “uh” frequently. At our club, members can be heard saying, “you know” quite often. But, perhaps, the most overused word that I hear on a daily basis is “like.”

I remember the first time my uncle, a former college professor, heard me repeat “like” several times in a conversation. He later wrote me a letter telling me I wasn’t using the word correctly. Up until that point, I was not aware that I repeated “like” frequently. I got the message and from that point on, I've made an effort to not overuse “like.”

Just as hedge words such as “it seems,” “I guess,” and “I believe” tend to make a speaker seem less confident in their statement or opinion, the word “like” makes a speaker sound less polished and credible.

According to a segment from Good Morning America Weekend, linguists say that “like” is not as misused as we think. While it may not be misused, it is definitely overused. The key to eliminating “like” is to be aware. Listen to conversations around your cubicle, at meetings, with your kids. Listen to yourself. With a great deal of vigilance, we can cut down and minimize this bad, four-letter word.

One of my favorite performance poets, Taylor Mali, has spoken about this on Def Poetry Jam a few years back...How about do you feel about "like?"

Friday, April 24, 2009

Weekend Musical Diversion: Ellis Paul

April is National Poetry Month and I can't think of too many songwriters as poetic as Ellis Paul. You may have heard his music in Me, Myself and Irene, NBC's Ed or at your local coffeehouse. One of my college friends, Jim, turned us onto his music and I've had the fortune of seeing him at least five or six times over the past ten or fifteen years. His music is mellow and reflective and his lyrics paint vivid pictures. I recently stumbled upon the video for the song "Speed of Trees," which is one of my favorites. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

Normally, Earth Day is not a day that has any great deal of significance for me. Yes, I have a deep appreciation for nature, I abhor suburban sprawl, can’t stand the idea of logging, and I lose respect for anyone who litters. But, I watched Frontline on PBS last night and I was alarmed and outraged at what is happening in our country when it comes to our clean water. To its credit, the episode of Frontline did not sugarcoat the situation. Puget Sound, which I have always thought of as a beautiful natural body of water, is sick and polluted. Companies and municipalities, which are responsible for this pollution, point fingers at each other rather than take responsibility and do the right thing and clean up the mess.

Last night’s program convinced me of one thing: things are not going to change unless we, as citizens, get outraged. If there is one tip I can offer everyone for Earth Day this year, myself included, is to take action. This means we need to write our congressmen and get involved in this important dialogue. It means learning more about these issues and getting involved and doing something about it. I know life is tough these days and if we are fortunate to have jobs, we are probably too tired to take action or care. But we must. It is not just about saving certain species of sea life or animal life, it is about the survival of human life and preserving our quality of life.

One place to get involved is the EPA, the official Earth Day site, or even Oprah. I welcome any other suggestions in the comments section.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Deep Thoughts: Soul Pancake

I have always been intrigued by the deep, big picture questions in our life such as “what is the meaning of life?” and “what are we doing here?” So it was of great interest to learn about a blog called Soul Pancake which invites its readers to “chew on life’s big questions.” The site was founded by Rainn Wilson from “The Office.”

So far, I have enjoyed the musings on spirituality, creativity and philosophy. I’m not sure any of these big questions get answered, but it is comforting to know there is a forum to discuss these topics.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weekend Video Diversion: New New Yankee Stadium

Have you noticed the new padded seats at the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field in New York around the dugout and behind home plate? For the amount of money those seats cost, you would expect that those seats would be heated and feature a back massage. With that in mind, here's an absolutely funny clip courtesy of the hard-hitting news team at the Onion...

Yankees Building New Vacation Stadium In The Hamptons

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Creativity: Just Do It!

If there is a topic that intrigues me more than any other, it would have to be creativity. I am instantly drawn to any book that explores the creative process and how to become more creative. While I do not consider myself artistic, I feel that I am creative. One of my favorite bloggers out there, Scott Ginsberg, wrote a great post today called 12 Ways to Jumpstart Your Creative Metabolism.

One of my favorite points that Scott makes is that “the medium is you.” It really has nothing to do with how well you can draw, paint, write, dance or sculpt. Personally, I feel creative when I can add a different ingredient to my omelet or cook something new and out of the ordinary. I feel creative when I can take a picture and focus on something that nobody else would notice in that photo. I feel creative when I can answer an email with a clever, seldom-used combination of words. I feel creative when I incorporate a new word into my conversation that I learned from something I just read. Creativity is about attitude, not about ability.

I have two main points when it comes to creativity (in my humble opinion):

1. We are all creative – too many of us think we are not creative.

2. Just do it! – don't worry about perfection, just enjoy the process. I am an expert procrastinator (see my previous entry about this) and I know when it comes to expressing myself creatively, I need to just do it more often. It is time to gain some creative momentum. Thanks for a great post Scott!

What is your favorite way to express your creativity?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Weekend Musical Diversion: Jeff Beck Redux

I don't mean to turn this blog into a Jeff Beck appreciation page or even a music appreciation page (though I am crazy about both), I wanted to share another clip of a Jeff Beck performance with Imogen Heap that I stumbled upon during the week. I was captivated by Ms. Heap and her performance, but was blown away by Jeff Beck's guitar solos in this clip. BTW, this is available on Jeff Beck's new DVD and the audio is available as a free download on Enjoy this clip and the rest of your weekend...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Weekend Musical Diversion: Jeff Beck

I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. To me, music is too personal for this. Each of us has our own music hall of fame, our favorite musicians and their CDs and albums.

That being said, one of my favorite guitar players is being inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame tonight: Jeff Beck. He's already in the Hall of Fame as a member of the Yardbirds, but he is being inducted as a solo musician this evening. If you have never heard any of his solo stuff, do yourself a favor and buy/download/borrow some of his work. Start with Wired and Blow by Blow, mix in a little Truth and don't forget some of his newer work such as Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop and Jeff. If you really want to treat yourself, pick up one his live CDs such as his official bootleg, Live at B.B. King's Blues Club.

I've had the privelege of seeing Jeff Beck live and he is simply spectacular and jaw-dropping. Once, I went by myself on the day of show and picked up a tenth row center ticket at the Chicago Theater. Amazing.

I used to live across the street from a mom and pop video store. I spent considerable time looking for movies and talking with one of the employees, Eddie, about music. Our conversations revolved around great classic rock guitar players such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Rory Gallager and Jeff Beck. Mostly it was about Jeff Beck. Everytime I came back during his daytime shift, he shared a tidbit and recommendation about Jeff Beck. Our conversations in many ways was was like a broken record: Jeff Beck, Jeff Beck, Jeff Beck. Yeah, we talked movies, but when Eddie talked about Jeff Beck, his face lit up and he was excited.

In my book, Jeff Beck (the solo artist) should have been in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame years ago. I feel compelled to re-visit the video store to see if Eddie is still there and give him a high five. In the meantime, enjoy Jeff Beck's version of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Turning 40 and Starting Over

Just a couple days after turning 40, I found out that I was let go from my job along with 15 other employees at my company. I was not surprised-- we had been pretty slow. This makes it my third layoff in five years. Along with getting unemployment I will now be attending Adversity University and figuring out my next move.

On the positive side of getting laid off, being a free agent means that my possibilities are wide open. Yes there is plenty of anxiety that goes along with not knowing about what is ahead. At the same time, I also get excited about my future job opportunities. I think many people spend their job hunt scouring the ads looking for a company they will fit into. I have been guilty of this in the past. Today, I am excited about the possibility of creating my own opportunities. Thanks to blogs such as Escape from Cubicle Nation, Christine Kane’s Blog, Phil Gerbyshak, Work from Within and Tom Peters, I can dream about the possibility of doing work that has meaning to me. In addition, reading books and blogs from successful entrepreneurs such as Scott Ginsberg makes me realize and understand the amount of hard work and tenacity that goes into their success. I am prepared for this challenge.

Yes, there are many ways I can react to my adversity. I will have some tough days ahead, but I am ready to use my experience and wisdom that I have gained to bounce back and make a better life for myself.