"" bshawise: January 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lively Exchange

Leah and I were reading a conversation between God and Job. You can check out the whole thing here. The exchange absolutely fascinates me. It also hits pretty close to home. So I wanted to take a few parts and paraphrase it.

Here's the quick backstory. Satan and God kind of make a bet. Satan thinks Job serves God simply because God protects him and allows Job to be healthy, wealthy and wise. So God progressively removes that protection for a bit, allowing Satan to take his wealth, his children, and his physical health. Job doesn't curse God but he does, at length, wax choleric about God's unfairness and absence. Finally, God answers Job from the eye of a violent storm.

Why do you talk about things you have no idea about? Pull yourself together, man. Get on your feet! Seriously, stand up! I have some questions for you and I want some straight answers.

Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much!
Who decided its size? Certainly you'll know that!
Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?
Who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?
I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night. Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn't run loose. I said, "Stay here. This is your place."
Have you ever been to the true bottom of things, Job? Have you explored the labyrinthine caves of deep ocean?
Do you know the first thing about death? Do have one clue regarding its dark mysteries?
Do you have any idea how large this earth is? Speak up if you have even the beginning of an answer.
Have you ever traveled to where snow is made?
Could you find your way to where lightning is launched?
Who do you think carves canyons and waters the fields?
Who do you think is the father of rain and dew, the mother of ice and frost? You don't imagine these marvels of weather just happen, do you?

Who do you think taught the lioness to hunt in order to feed her cubs?
Who gave wild animals their freedom? Who has the power to tell the buffalo what to do and when to do it? You?
Did you give the horse his prowess and shimmering mane? Did you create him to prance proudly and strike terror with his royal snorts?
Was it through your know-how that the hawk learned to soar?
Did you teach eagles how to build their nests in the high cliff face?

Now what do you have to say for yourself? Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?

Job answered: "I'm speechless, in awe. Words fail me. I never should've opened my mouth. I've talked too much, WAY too much. I'm ready to shut up and listen.

God continues with his lashing.

I have some more questions for you. Do you presume to tell me what I'm doing wrong? Seriously. I'm wrong and you're right, that's what you're saying?
Do have an arm like my arm?
Can you shout in thunder the way I can.
Go ahead, show your stuff. Let's see what you're made of, what you can do.
Unleash your outrage. Target the arrogant and lay them flat. Stop the wicked in their tracks. Kill them all and put them into a huge, unmarked grave.
I'll gladly step aside and hand things over to you- you can surely save yourself with no help from me!
Look around. I created everything on land. I tell them what to do.
I created everything in the ocean. Everything! They too are my pets. Even the terrible beasts you've never seen.
Can you control such things? No. You couldn't. How then do you think you can stand up to me?
Who can confront me and get away with it?
I am in charge of ALL this!
I run this universe!

Job answers: "I'm convinced. You can do everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, 'Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?' I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I'm sorry—forgive me. I'll never do that again, I promise! I'll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor."

I like to picture God having a little sidekick/buddy inside that storm cloud who ended this exchange with a fitting, "Awwwww snap."

Monday, January 25, 2010

That's Me In The Corner

In the year Prince made famous, I worked for two amazing people/designers Nancy Skolos and Tom Wedell. They had just moved into their studio/house in the suburbs of Boston. I remember walking in and seeing iconic furniture and posters we had just studied in college. It's hands down the most unique house I've ever seen. Please click that link to see for yourself.

Tom and Nancy were professors at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and were gone a lot. I'd usually see them before they left in the morning and Nancy would leave a list of that day's projects. One of my first jobs was doing line illustrations of various chairs for a Herman Miller catalog. I spent all day "drawing" chairs. That next morning I showed Nancy what I did and she was blown away. When they took that particular job they thought it would take a couple weeks and charged Herman accordingly. So when I did it in a day, I made more money than they or any of their previous employees ever made in a single day. Her excitement was like doing a line of coke. I was instantly hooked to that rush. The rush of exceeding expectations and getting affirmation became my white whale. I needed it. My identity became wrapped up in it.

Fast forward to now. It's even worse. My name is Brad and I'm addicted to affirmation. I worship it. I want to abandon this religion but it's hard. I'm becoming painfully aware of this dysfunction and have spent serious time reflecting on it. So one last thought and I'm done rambling.

Healthy relationships require a healthy amount of affirmation. This is true right? Leah needs to be affirmed that I love her for this marriage thing to work. I'm no Dr. Drew but this seems right. So as someone who is addicted to affirmation, a relationship with an invisible God is hard. I've had some very real encounters with him. Times when I really felt like he was real. But most of the time it kind of feels like he's gone- maybe teaching design at RISD or something. So I'm unable to receive affirmation from him. Maybe it's different for you, but God doesn't leave me little notes telling me how awesome I am. But people sometimes do. And they're visible. They're here and made of skin. So I keep trying to make stuff, do stuff, produce stuff that might get their attention. If I can't get the real thing I'll take what I can get. It's like turkey bacon.

So I'm in process of losing my religion. This religion of chasing affirmation doesn't work. And neither does a religion where my relationship with God is based on what I produce. I'm 99% there in believing that he doesn't care. Grace eliminates his need to care what I can produce. Grace eliminates my ability to earn my worth and identity from him.

That'll just take the rest of my life to figure out. I am Captain Ahab trying to get my brain around the fact that Moby Dick is a mirage. I'm on a new hunt for the real thing. A detox of sorts.

New Banner

A super dumb vid in honor of my new banner, The League of Heroic Heroes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Metaphorically Speaking

I heart this because I heart metaphors.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Good Fight

Monday, January 18, 2010

Letter from Birmingham Jail

The last time I read this letter was in college. It rocked me. As I read it again this morning I'm as shocked as I was ten years ago. His words are haunting. Not only because of the picture it paints of our shameful past, but also because of how much his message still applies today. King wrote the letter from the city jail in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was confined after being arrested for his part in the non-violent protest against racial segregation by Birmingham's city government and downtown retailers. King's letter is a response to a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen on April 12, 1963, titled "A Call For Unity". The clergymen agreed that social injustices existed but argued that the battle against racial segregation should be fought solely in the courts, not in the streets. It's long, but it's an extremely worthwhile read.

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ad Wizards

I want to meet whoever thought of this and spent an hour (ish?) executing something so genius.

Posted via email from Brad's posterous

Sunday, January 10, 2010

BESTOV '09: favorite pics

I scanned back thru all my pics from 2009. These jumped out as my favorites. No real rhyme or reason. I just like em.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

BESTOV '09: old fashioned barter

So you want to barter with the Amish, huh? Feeling lucky? Feeling like you want some of their simple bounty? Maybe some butter. Or cheese. Or a wooden rocker. There's a few ground rules to trading with the Amish.

1. Never, and I mean never look them in the eyes. They will steal your soul so fast you won't even know it happened.
2. They haven't seen AVATAR. So...don't even ask.
3. They hate Weird Al. If you bring up his name they will churn you to pieces.

With those rules in mind, I entered into Amish barterdom this summer and left with a BESTOV: Amish Pear Butter. This simple spread has changed my life. It's perfectly sweet with a tender tartness that tickles your taste buds. It goes on everything. I've put it on ham and cheese melts, turkey wraps, peanut butter english muffins, waffles, sausage mcmuffins, pretzels, fingers, bagels, I could go on and on. It's the perfect sweet to pair with savory. It's pear paste and it's gooooooood.

And the great thing....all you need is money for the trade. The Amish will give you a jar of this angel spread in exchange for a couple greenbacks. I know you're thinking, "Yeah, right." You're thinking, "Don't I have to bring some furs and muskets to trade with those Amish?" I'm here to tell you that you don't. They are interested in one thing and one thing only: making salads out of your pocket cabbage. Help them help you. That's what a good barter is all about. Buy some pear butter the next time you run into the Amish. Thank me with a nice email, or name a star after me, or buy me a segway. Whatever. It's your call.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

BESTOV '09: moment of spontaneity

For about a week this summer it got stupid hot. The sun turned into an angry dictator holding poor people hostage inside their homes or anywhere else they could find shade. One Sunday, Leah and I dreamt of what it would be like to be rich and own a pool. A pool of wet, cool refreshment. An oasis for our sweaty bones to soak. I spoke of a magical contraption I've seen in Sears Roebuck catalogs called miniature, above-ground pools. I theorized that Target might sell them. And in a moment of unexpected spontaneity, Leah said, "Let's go." The rest, my friends, is coooooooool history. At the age of 30 I became a pool owner. Eat that, John Jacob Rockefeller.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

BESTOV '09: appetizer

In June we celebrated Leah becoming a Master of Business Administration by going to the Brown Dog Cafe. It was there that we sampled the best appetizer of 2009, their cheese board. It was an adventure in combinations. A cutting board comes out bedazzled with montrachet blanc, kumquats, manchego, cinnamon pear, gjetost, goat gouda, black raspberry coulis. Paired with a good (not great) red wine, this appetizer is symphony for your taste buds.

We now find ourselves ordering cheese boards whenever we run across them. They hit the spot without leaving you feeling full or gross. The mix of cheeses and sweet things feels like a sophisticated and exotic version of the after school snack you had as a kid. For a few minutes you get to be a culinary Mr. Wizard, combining slices of things together to create new and tasty concoctions.

A close second are the potato rags from Habits Cafe.

Monday, January 4, 2010

BESTOV '09: scene from a major motion picture

It's that time again where I list a few things I thought were the BEST of '09 and you all disagree with me. I think we can all remember back in '89 when I said the best movie was Fred Savage's gritty performance in The Wizard. You all ripped me to shreds for that one, demanding that I recognize the bestness of Ghostbusters II.

So this year I won't declare a best movie of '09. (it was tie between Fantastic Mr. Fox and (500) Days of Summer) I will, however, give you my thoughts on the best scene from a major motion picture. When I saw this scene I wanted to french kiss the projectionist for sharing such greatness with us. It made me want to skip somewhere and buy the world ice cream. If I were at a friend's sleep over party I would stand up on the bed and rant about how much I loved this scene and then we'd have a huge pillow fight. No exaggerations here, but I would get one of those prison tattoos to declare my love for this dance number. I'd fill a ballpoint pen with soon-to-fade ink, bite down on a leather belt and make it official.

If you haven't seen the movie yet do not watch this clip. Go rent the movie asap.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Playing Catch: part two

A good game of catch has balance. Collaboration is no different.

Sometimes my dad would agree to play catch but his heart wasn't entirely into it. We'd toss it back and forth a few times. He'd notice a few weeds in the mulch, stop playing catch and start pulling weeds. I would wait patiently for him to eradicate said weeds and we'd go back to tossing it a few more times. But eventually he would find more weeds. Those games of catch were not as much fun because the balance of participation was off. I was doing all the "work." The best games were when there was perfect balance and we both were into it. A simple game of catch turned into running routes and pretending every ball I caught won the Rose Bowl and sealed my Heisman bid.

Collaboration on any kind of project requires a balance of engagement. I've been on both sides of an off balance collaboration. Speaking very plainly, it sucks to be the one doing all the work. But it also sucks (in a different way) to be the one not entirely engaged. In The Christmas Show I had to delegate more projects to more people than I ever have. On some of them I struck a good balance. There was a good back and forth in the creative process. On others, however, I simply delegated. I threw someone the ball and immediately bent down to pick weeds.

Projects where the engagement is balanced not only produce the best results, but they also produce the best experience. It's that whole cliche of the adventure being in the journey not the destination. It's a cliche because it's true. I'm able to look back at certain parts of the show and get great joy out of knowing what it took to get there. The meetings and the problem solving and the back and forth collaboration, that's the good stuff. A successful end product will naturally happen when you have balance.

A good game of catch has a balance of critique and celebration. Collaboration is no different.

One of the reasons playing catch with my dad was great was because he was a football coach. He brought a certain level of expertise to our innocent game. He was always coaching me. But what he did well was balancing his critiques and celebrations. He would tell me what I could do better, but he was also very vocal about what he felt like I did great. Striking a balance between the two is beyond crucial. Too much critique is demotivating. Too much celebration distorts reality.

When you're collaborating with people you have to know when to critique and when to celebrate. There is a time and place for both. Your partners need to know what they could do better but they also need to know what they do great. Nothing is more demotivating than receiving more critiques than celebration. Unbalanced critique/celebration is a vicious cycle that typically ends with separation or complete dysfunction. The opposite is true, however when it's balanced. Be open and extravagant with your praise and celebration. That allows you to critique in a motivational way. Striking balance in your collaboration will produce a prolific and energizing partnership. Rose Bowl victories and Heisman Trophies will be yours.