Monthly Archives: October 2010

Creativity is the first lamb to die

Following my exhausting school trip last Friday-Saturday (see past recounting of roommates who sleep with the TV on), I didn’t really have a chance to catch up on my sleep–never mind suitably sleep following a typical week of school/work that tends to leave me with a deficit on its own. I piled another week’s deficit on top, and then this past weekend, I slept.

No, really. This past weekend I slept. I was asleep by 8 pm on Friday, and slept in till about 11:30 am on Saturday. Then I took a nap Saturday afternoon. And, yes, I did still sleep Saturday night.

Sunday morning around 6 am, I woke up suddenly with a strong urge to create. Not like “oh, look at me, I’m so original,” but like my hands needed. to. make. My mind was whirling with ideas and plans, and it was only, like, 45 seconds since I’d woken up.

Distantly, I thought over the last however-long it’s been since I’d started school. . .any time I’d ever had a few consecutive days off– enough time to sufficiently re-organize and re-boot my system–the desire to create would come rushing back. You know that little white plastic pop-up timer in those roaster birds? It pops up, and you know it’s done cooking? Creativity seems to be my pop-up timer. That’s when you know my system is somewhat back in balance. It’s a good thing.

The sad thing is how rarely over the past however-long I’ve felt the urge to create. Could I make time? Time can almost always be “made,” if one applies enough brute force. But it doesn’t matter, not when your desire, itself, to create dissipates like so much morning mist, and where it goes nobody knows.

Fight-or-flight is a coping mechanism, they say. Your body shunts away blood from many important organs in order to give your fighting/flighting muscles a better chance at actually accomplishing it’s goal. True, that. But so does your brain. Fight-or-flight, and the ability for higher thought disappears. Chronic Acute Stress Syndrome, and other things, much more silently, disappear. We might not even notice they were gone until they come back.

I recognize the usefulness of such cognitive shelving. Who could juggle stressful situations/packed schedules if they were constantly distracted by the need to set it all aside and use their hands to cause something to come into being? But I do recognize, too, that creativity was never meant to be suppressed for long amounts of time. Some would say that creativity is not a basic life function, but I wonder. The Creator created us in His image. How can we not create?

I recognize the current need for such a sacrifice. But it is hard not to yearn for the day when my urge to create is not met with self-surprise. . .and left un-fulfilled.

You are smart, they say. Well, if God has given me a measure of intelligence, then I must count myself blessed. But God is more than smart, and His gifts are diverse. He has given other measures to me, and find I hate to leave them buried in the dirt. They aren’t forsaken, just laid aside. . .or maybe even misplaced. Someday I will find them again, and maybe others besides.

Please disregard

I’m lazy. . . this is directed at Bridget; everyone else can ignore. . .I’ll delete the post once it’s served it’s purpose.

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Picnik is kinda what I call a quick-and-dirty tool. It isn’t particularly elegant, but it’s handy, convenient and gets the job done. I would never recommend it as powerful software, but it is so portable and what it does, it does quickly and efficiently.

Here’s a few examples.

This is a case of using Picnik for minor touch-ups:

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three teachers

The first one is a pretty decent snapshot. . .but it’s still obviously a snapshot. The second one is frame-able.

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Another snapshot. You can also see in this next one that we have some pretty scary red-eye.

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I didn’t want it cropped that close, though, because I wanted to show that we were on the beach. At night. So this is my final shot:

On the beach

The red eye is gone, and you can see our faces aren’t quite as grey, as I was able to mess with the exposure some. I’d have been happier if I also had a “remove noise” option, but still, I think Picnik did a pretty decent job of taking it from snapshot to framable, if a smaller, less noticeable frame.

So would I only use Picnik if all I really needed was a quick crop and a brief touch-up? No, I still use it for some last-ditch attempts at salvaging. Someone pointed out that we were getting a lot of pictures of the girls (typical camera hogs that we be), but not so much so the guys. So I didn’t really want to ditch their only photographic proof they’d been out and about on Atlantic City, but the pictures were unabashedly horrible. (Wasn’t time for me to be messing with camera settings, and I only had two shots to work with.)

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It’s a crappy picture. It is. My “save” isn’t all that much better, but it is better.


You still can’t say it’s a great picture, but at least now it says “city night life” instead of “dumb camera operator can barely remember to take off lens cap.”

This one was even more of a save.

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Um, yeah. What are you going to do with that? But since “grainy” is now a certified art effect. . .well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.


Still not world-class photography, but at least now we have a picture of Phyo, the city-loving extrovert, instead of pictures of vendors shop lights and shadowy figures. It’s a save, and a save that did not require, particularly, either knowledge or skill. Somebody brilliant with a more powerful program may have been able to pull of an even better save, but even convenient little Picnik was able to make a half-way decent salvage.

But. . .you can use Picnik for more than minor touch-ups or last-ditch save efforts. You can also use it to take already incriminating photos. . .

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and give them that little extra somethin’-somethin’ that makes them really incriminating!

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People who are serious about post-processing I’m sure wouldn’t be bothered with Picnik. . .but mere mortals who just want to mess around with our cameras can be pretty satisfied with it.

(This post was for Rundy, who said he’d heard of Picnik, but wasn’t really familiar with it. This gives you a better idea of what Picnik can do than telling you that it’s an online photo-editing program streamlined for the masses.)

My school trip. . .

So we had a school trip to Atlantic City for a PT conference. I think I was the only one who found my course to be the real highlight of the trip, but that’s me!! Summary in lists:

Things that made me absurdly happy:

    The sign for the Children’s Hospital Of Philly, saying “Hope lives here. Right here.” I felt like maybe I should hang it over our doorway. Or on my forehead. Or something.

    The old architecture of Philly. People useta know how to build stuff.

    People singing along with the radio. Signing = happiness.

    Being on the beach. We weren’t there for long, but I discovered I really, really, really like the sight, sound and feels of the ocean. I need to go to the ocean again sometime.

    Someone else driving and the exceedingly low stress environment of people who weren’t stressed by traveling.

    Sleeping on the way home. Sleeping is always a good thing, but the more difficult the sleeping environment, the more irrationally pleased I am with myself for having accomplished it.

    Starbucks half-caf mocha frappicino. I don’t remember how much it cost, and I’m trying hard not to, but if you’re going to drink caffeine, that’s a pretty good way to do it. Even if it was more like a shake/smoothie/icy dessert.

    Cherry limeade. Among other attributes, it helped get rid of a lingering headache.

    The really, really, really dark curtains that made the bedroom darker than my room at home, even though Atlantic City never turns the lights off.

Things that annoyed me/made me unhappy:

    Fighting a headache the entire time. This led to me unilaterally decreeing to my roommates they had to be quiet for 5 minutes. Whispering was enforced for said amount of time.

    The peculiar habit of my roommates to sleep with the TV on. Seriously??? This totally obliterated the point of really, really, really dark curtains. I guess they still needed a night-light, or something, because it was BRIGHT. Either that or the modern person is so addicted to stimulation of sound and noise they can’t go without. However, it didn’t work at keeping them asleep, because they still woke up as soon as anything went bump in the night. (It’s a hotel full of people; of course things go bump in the night!)

    The fact that Atlantic City let it’s tallest buildings be built right on the ocean front. I know, I know, you get expensive shore frontage and you want to make the most of it. But, from a non-selfish point of view, it would make more sense to build progressively taller buildings the further you went inland so more people could get a shot at seeing the water. Instead, even though we were so close to the water we were practically sitting in it. . .all we saw was buildings. Gaudy, tacky buildings.

    Be dragged through a couple of casinos. I wanted to stay on the beach all evening, but I was out-voted. For some absurd reason, people wanted to walk through casinos even though we weren’t going to gamble. Casinos, generally speaking, ignite in me a general loathing for human-kind.

    Paying way more than was decent for crappy food. I decided just to pretend that everything I spent on food was really the $$ necessary to cover food AND transportation AND a place to sleep—wot a deal!!! (All the other stuff was actually paid for by club funds. Sans the 14 hundred million tolls.)

Peculiar things that may or may not have been mildly disturbing, but in any case I can’t quite figure out:

    The appeal of Atlantic City. Having already opined on the the merits of casinos, that leaves stores. The stores fall into two categories–the same ones we have here (payless shoe stores? Yankee candle?), and stores that are wwwaaaaaaaaayyyy out of normal mortal price range. The whole place struck me as tacky and un-noteworthy.

    When my roommates demanded to straighten my hair. I let them, because (1) it was temporary, and (2) it kept them quiet. (See above about managing headaches and roommates who are afraid of silence.) When they were done, they said it looked beautiful. I said I looked like Mrs. Munster.


    Alternatively, I felt like maybe I should be singing “I’m here for the party” a la Gretchen Wilson:


    What do you think?

    wilson hat


    The barely-speaking-english rickshaw people on the boardwalk. Um, the board walk is flat and the easiest walking in the world. Why would anyone have the need for riding in rickshaw? But people were. I found it demeaning, I think.

    The people on the trip (all over the age of 20) who took along stuffed animals. Um. . .okay.

    The appeal of trying to get tractor-trailer drivers to honk. The students in the car harassed the assistant teacher in the front seat to open her window and wave madly at the tractor-trailer we were passing. She complied; he didn’t even notice. She was charged to try again on the next one. He waved back. Students’ windows opened, arms were flailing, everyone was hooting and hollering. He honked the horn. Everyone was happy. Um, what?

    Dutifully trying a sip of someone’s margarita. It tasted like alcohol. Duh. No appeal there for me, thanks.

    The collection of “Miss America’s” shoes at the hotel. They looked like they had been made by a 6th grader with a hot glue gun and access to a dollar store.

Verdict? Atlantic City, thumbs down. Beach, thumbs up. Traveling–only if with people who like doing it and the opportunity to sleep on the way. Conferences? Thumbs down to the vendors. Two thumbs up to the teacher I had. Casinos? Two thumbs down.

That about covers it!

On Learning.

I found this while doing research for a school paper. It was non-applicable, but I was pleased to find someone else saying what I’ve often wanted to express. It is written to therapists on the topic of motor learning, but it is obviously much more applicable.

Learning is a process. We deny that process if we attempt to provide the solution. We must view learning as a process of coming to terms with a task in a self-referential fashion. It is the understanding of the all the elements involved in the task that enables the product (ie, the movement) to emerge.

Our goal, as facilitators of learning, is not to get the learner to perform a movement, but rather to facilitate the understandings that produce that movement. Our goal as therapists is to facilitate the learning process in a way that is suited to the unique characteristics of the learner and to respect the product for all it has to tell us. Too often we view the product as deficient and wrong, rather than as an evolving reflection of the learner’s current level of understanding and control. In this sense, it is never wrong. . .

With learning, there is a generalizability. With training, there is a memorization of solutions that are nongenerlizable and of limited value. If we teach solutions, rather than encouraging discovery and active generation of strategies, we short-change the learner. In order for the learner to become fully functional, he or she must engage in teh learning process autonomously–independent of us.

Our ultimate goal is to help the learner become autonomous as a learner, with teh most effective set of resources possible and with the means for self-enhancing those resources. We wish the learner to become a competent problem solver whose movements are effective in a achieving his or her goals. Our role then is to assist the learner in understanding, amassing, and refining the resources that serve as the “raw material” for skill expression and learning. We wish to assist the learner in the development of his or her abilities to both analyze tasks and develop effective, personally suited, cooperative relationships between the body and the environment for any task he or she may encounter. In essence, we wish to assist the learner in exerting control over the factors that influence the detailing and progressive refinement of movement–self-understanding, environmental understanding, and self-as-agent in teh environment for the task at hand.

Susan Higgens, “Motor Skill Acquisition.”Physical Therapy/Volume 71, Number 2/February 1991.