Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Seven Principles For Creativity And Communication

Here are what I see as seven possible guiding principles of creativity and communication for an individual looking to make an impact in the world with his or her views,talents, and effort.

1. The things we need to effectively and creatively express ourselves are all around us and are accessible if we make the effort.

2. The average person is able to understand more than they realize—Though they may not care enough to try to understand more.

3. No type of individual or group of people is by definition anything at all. You best communicate with many people at once by viewing everyone as an individual.

4. Have the confidence to make judgments about people, places, and events. Of course you have a viewpoint about what you see in the world.

5. The metaphoric meaning or value of a word or deed is as significant as the intended purpose of a statement or action.

6. Everything is connected.

7. While circumstance and luck plays a big part in life, you’ve got to work hard on your own to be creative and to successfully communicate.

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June 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

You’ll Not Be Able To Complete Your Call, But You Can Still Communicate

You’ll not be able to complete this call as dialed. Also, you will not be able to dial.

However, since the phone books are still attached, you will be able to know who you cannot call.

This one-time public phone is at the Greater Cincinnati- Northern Kentucky Airport.

The good news is that there are many different ways to communicate. In Egypt a few weeks ago, people found a way to communicate even with the internet shut down.

There is almost always a way to communicate. Often the best ways to communicate are the simplest ways.

The power of face-to-face communication, or even of an old fashioned letter, remains unabated.

March 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Just Because You’ve Been Provided With A Phone Booth Does Not Mean You’ve Been Given A Way To Effectively Communicate

Just because you have been provided with a phone booth, does not mean you’ve really been provided with a place to talk and communicate.

Take for example the phone booth you see above that is located in Cincinnati’s Burnet Woods Park. I took this picture last February.

Beyond the fact this phone booth is most likely filthy and quite possibly out-of-order, it is also stuck behind the snow in the freezing cold.

There are today more forums to express ourselves than ever before.

Yet the responsibility to effectively communicate remains with us as individuals. We are all individuals with the ability and obligation to communicate our values in way that gives our individual lives greater purpose and meaning.

Many forums exist, but we need to understand that these forums may be controlled by others who have no genuine interest in allowing us to connect with each other in ways that can better our collective lives.

We need to understand that these forums provided by others may in essence be out-of-order in that there is nobody truly listening on the other end.

If the phone booth we wanted to use is out-of-order, or if it in not accessible because it is stuck behind snow on a cold day, there are still many ways  we can effectively communicate.

We can write a letter. We can talk to each other in person. We can allow our actions to set the example. These are ways we can communicate that do not depend on a working or accessible phone booth.

We have the ability to donate money, to run for office ourselves, to start a blog, to volunteer for causes and candidates that we support.

Other may provide tools of communication that are of varying use for us to be effective citizens.

Yet in the end it is up to us to make the best possible use of these toools, and, most importantly, it is up to us to make the best use of our abilities.

(Picture copyright Neil Aquino.)

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I Enjoyed My Nighttime Drive From Austin To Houston

Last night, from about 10:30 PM until maybe 1:30 AM, I drove back to Houston from Austin. My wife is out-of-town visiting family and I had Thanksgiving dinner in Austin with a friend. I took Highway  290 to get to Austin and back.

I enjoyed my ride home.

Here is why I enjoyed this ride—

1. I had three hours alone to think.

2. It was mostly cloudy. I liked looking at the light of towns and cities in the distance reflected by the clouds. I’m not saying people are always best in the abstract, but it is good to have a mix of actual human contact and a more remote consideration of the human condition.

3. I was glad not to be robbed or to stumble upon a robbery-in-progress when I stopped at an all-night gas station at midnight to get something to drink.

4. I was able to contemplate the road I was driving on as agent of communication between people. The road is an extension of our natural desire to go other places and to see other people.

5. Consistent with the point above , I thought about how the road was built by people, yet how it also bended to the topography.  Terms like “natural” and “artificial” don’t really have clear meanings in many ways.

6. I liked the intermittent flashing lights on the electrical towers, radio transmission towers, and cell phone towers. Though these towers often stand isolated in remote places, they are in fact necessary to facilitate all sorts of communication between people.

7. I felt active and alert while driving and thinking, yet I felt removed from the world out in the night at a late hour. I found this to be a good state of mind.

It is helpful to have breaks from the routine of life. Such breaks can allow for reflection, for new thoughts, for the updating of long-standing ideas, and for renewed commitment to ideas that are of personal importance or that are of personal interest.

November 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

People Don’t Use Pay Phones Much Anymore—But We Can Still Communicate

People don’t use pay phones so much anymore.

Above you see a picture I took a few days ago of a pay phone in Houston.

Over time and as technology changes, we use different methods to communicate.

That’s okay. The only thing that matters is that we communicate our values and our care for one another as best as we are able.

This is something we all can do regardless of the specifics of how we communicate.

It is just a matter of carving out the time needed and of making the effort.

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

How Not To Conduct A Conference Call—People Want To Communicate

I was just on a conference call where two candidates running for public office here in Texas invited political bloggers to hear what they had to say.

(Above–Telephone from 1931.)

I won’t say who these folks are because I want them to win the election.

However…..

…Please allow me to offer some tips on how not to conduct a conference call when you are asking for support.

1. Do not start the call with everybody on mute. It was clear from the start that the idea on having folks on mute was done for a reason. Whatever that reason was, it could only be frustrating and insulting to people who dialed in and who thought the call would be an open forum.

(Above–Someone who merited being placed on mute.)

2. Do not express the concern that opening the call to all might be “unruly.” Democracy is unruly. If you find a conference call with a friendly audience daunting, just what will you do in a tough campaign?

3. When you finally do decide to open the call after nearly 50 minutes of us listening to you, please don’t cut off the call in a rush because some folks are a bit long-winded.

( Above–French army using remote phone in WW I.)

4. If you convey the impression that you don’t want to listen to people, the impression you will convey is that you don’t want to listen to people.

It is best to be open. As you can guess from this post, I did not find this conference call to be open.

People want to be able to communicate with one another. People want to be able to express what they think about things.

Who thought it would be a good idea to not let bloggers express themselves?

Here is a history of the telephone.

Here is the video of the excellent Kraftwerk song The Telephone Call.

Here is the video for Blondie’s Hanging On The Telephone.

(Below—Lady Gaga and Beyonce are on the telephone.)

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Street Corner Democracy—The Things We Need To Communicate Are All Around Us

Here is 72 second video I filmed a few days ago where I list 7 points I feel relevant to the consideration of democracy.

I made this video on a public street corner, with words that I wrote, and with an inexpensive Flip Camera, because the things we need to communicate and to be creative are all around us. They are accessible.

In the background you see a street sign, a stop sign and fire hydrant. We live in a society. For better and for worse, we are one person among many.

May 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seven Principles For Communication And Creativity

Here are what I see as seven possible guiding principles of communication and creativity for an individual looking to make an impact in the world with his or her views, talents, and effort.

1. The things we need to effectively and creatively express ourselves are all around us and are accessible if we make the effort.

2. The average person is able to understand more than they realize—Though they may not care enough to try to understand more.

3. No type of individual or group of people is by definition anything at all. You best communicate with many people at once by viewing everyone as an individual.

4. Have the confidence to make judgments about people, places, and events. Of course you have a viewpoint about what you see in the world.

5. The metaphoric meaning or value of a word or deed is as significant as the intended purpose of a statement or action.

6. Everything is connected.

7. While circumstance and luck plays a big part in life, you’ve got to work hard on your own to be creative and to successfully communicate.

April 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Good, Or At Least Neutral, Intentions Sometimes Make No Difference

I was unable to convince these seagulls that I meant no harm while walking on the beach in Galveston three days ago.

It is not that I talked to them or sought to reason with them.

Though I would try if I thought it would help.

They just flew away from me because I was within 10 feet of where they were walking around on the beach.

Signals get crossed or people are not willing to listen—- And good, or at least neutral, intentions make no difference.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

No Links, No Pictures, No Spellcheck—Just Communication

I’m not sure if the problem is with WordPress or my computer, but the blog is full of glitches this evening. I had some ideas for posting this evening, but I can’t add links or pictures. The spellcheck is down as well.

These must be the conditions our ancestors had to blog under while on the wagon trail or crossing the seas to reach the New World. (Though if you were brought here as a slave I don’t imagine you were allowed to blog at all.)

For many years people wrote letters to each other.

A letter is where you sit down with a pen or pencil and a sheet of paper. You use the pen or pencil to record on the paper what you are doing and how you are feeling to somebody you value in life.

Can you imagine the surprise you would feel if you got a letter in the mail?

I’ve thought sometimes I might be better off no longer writing this blog and just writing letters to friends. I’d write two or three letters a week to people.

Maybe you’d be better off to get away from the computer and keep in better contact with the people you value. Do you give the people you value in life the time they merit?

No–You don’t. I don’t either.

I’ve had the thought that I could write letters to people each week and post those letters on the blog. I’d cut out anything overly personal, but I’d have as blog posts things that are more thought out than what I currently post.

It is not that I’m not pleased with what I produce. It is simply that the demands of doing this each day are high. The blog might be a better production with fewer posts.

Imagine a world that was more quiet and more reflective. I feel that world just a bit by not having the ability right now to put anything from the outside in my blog.

If the pace of things were slower and we could apply more effort and thought to consider what we really think and feel—I think then we would all have better lives.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

No Kidding—Children Understand More Than Many Adults Are Able Or Willing To Grasp

Here is a shocker—Babies and small children understand more than many people imagine.

Maybe the only way to grasp this is to not have children–I have none– and see the idiocy and condescension with which many parents and adults address kids of all ages. 

I don’t know if this is because these parents are lazy or because they lack imagination.  Both I suppose. Maybe parents resent the presence of someone who they fear might have a real future.

Maybe the daily brutality and neglect with which we treat poor kids in our society seeps into people’s homes as a dislike of all children. Even people’s own kids are seen as not meriting full effort. 

From New York Times health columnist Jane Brody–“Keep in mind that preverbal children understand far more than they can say. One of my grandsons was a late-talker. When he wanted something to drink or eat, he went to the refrigerator or pantry and pointed. Our job was to ask, “Do you want water, milk or juice, cereal or raisins?” and wait for his response. When we guessed right, we reinforced the verbal message by saying, “Oh, you want cereal.”…Count the steps as you go up or down. My twin grandsons’ math skills flourished long before they could speak in sentences because they live in a third-floor walk-up. At whatever age your children start talking, let them know you are interested in what they are saying by repeating and expanding upon it and asking them to repeat what they said if at first you do not understand them.”

I don’t have kids and fair portion of my life is over. Why should I care? It’s just as how I’m willing to pay taxes for the benefit of other people’s kids, while so many parents won’t pay up for the good of their own children or other people’s kids.

And yet–I get tired in life of seeing kids who clearly have some smarts and who have questions about the world, being so poorly served by the adults in their lives.

If you have kids, please make the effort required to teach these kids. The future may well be one of disappearing jobs and rising oceans. Folks without the needed skills to do well are going to be out in the cold.

Beyond that—People with strong verbal and communication skills have better lives all around. They have better relationships and they learn more about the world.

So many parents just seem to be lousy parents.

October 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 8 Comments

You Are Able To Discuss Any Topic—Not Just Dumb Stuff

Yesterday I went to the dry cleaner. I’ve been going to the same dry cleaner for the 11 years I’ve lived in Houston.

During my visit yesterday, the dry cleaner lady made a comment to me about the new music director of the New York Philharmonic. The dry cleaner lady is the only employee at this shop. She and I get along well.

( Above–Ureli  Corelli Hill. Mr. Hill was the founder of the New York Philharmonic.)

I’m no expert on the New York Philharmonic, but I had heard a report about this gentleman, Alan Gilbert, on NPR. This being the case, I was able to conduct a conversation on the topic with the dry cleaner lady.

It is good that two people could have spontaneous discussion on this matter. Often all people talk about is dumb stuff.

Let us all please have more conversations about things other than pop culture and half-informed opinions about sports. People are capable of more than they realize. Soon enough you will be nearing the grave and you may realize that you missed out on a lot of things in life.

Here is information about Alan Gilbert.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Show Respect For Others By Communicating In A Clear And Concise Manner About Complex Things

Please take one minute to watch this video I filmed in Houston’s Memorial Park. In this video, I hold up a sheet of paper that reads “Show Respect For Others By Communicating In A Clear And Concise Manner About Complex Things.”

The video has sound. You can hear the motorcycle that passes by and the people talking on the motorcycle. 

I believe all people have the ability to understand complex things. It is a respectful course to follow to make the effort to convey to others what you feel and believe.

Behind me in the video is a flag at half-mast for the death of Senator Kennedy. A flag at half-mast conveys complex ideas of loss, care, loyalty, respect and patriotism. It is a simple symbol that conveys a great deal.

We all have the ability to communicate and to understand. We all merit the respect inherent in the effort to communicate and understand.

September 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Words Spoken Outside

A few years ago I read a few pages of an autobiography of Laurence Olivier. I’m sorry, but I don’t recall the title of the book.

(Above—Laurence Olivier with Peter Ustinov in Spartacus.)

I remember reading that when filming scenes in Spartacus that required him being outside, Mr. Olivier felt that his words were lost into the air. He felt the impact of his acting was muted off of a sound stage. As I recall from the book, one of Mr. Olivier’s co-stars in Spartacus, Peter Ustinov, felt the same way.

( Here are facts about Laurence Olivier . Here are facts about Peter Ustinov.)

Sometimes I think about this concept of effort dissolving into air. Don’t people often feel this way? We try in life and our time and effort is sometimes just so much smoke.

Being outside does have virtues. A few days ago I had dinner with the wife outside at a restaurant and it restored us to a degree. We’d had an annoying  string of days—just the hassles of day-to-day life—and being outside for a couple of hours on a nice evening brought us a measure of relief from what was bothering us.

Maybe a difference was that the wife and I were not acting.  In any case, it’s good when your words are useful to someone else. It’s good when your words reach the person you are speaking with and are not lost to the wind.

(Below—Laurence Olivier. Not at his best I suppose. Though Spartacus is possibly my favorite movie.)  

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elvis & Communication

Sometimes I send out e-mails to be my friends just to keep in touch and to relate thoughts I’m having at the moment. Below is one such e-mail I sent today. Though I only sent it to half my list because I’m just that strapped for time today. Here is a link to read about the Elvis book I referenced in the post.  
 
Hello folks. This is an e-mail to stay in touch that may double as a blog post. Time is short. Today and always.
 
I’ve been reading a biography of Elvis Presley called The Rise Of Elvis Presley—Last Train To Memphis. It’s the first of two volumes.
 
I’m only to page 65, but I’ve been so interested in the author’s discussion of the emotional vulnerabilities that Elvis had and was able to convey to others. The author, Peter Guralnick, writes that in the way a young Elvis sang and interacted with others, there were clearly evident, if mostly non-verbalized, insecurities and emotional needs.
 
While maybe this is true for many of us, when you think of the connection Elvis gained with a wide public, it gives rise to the idea of unexpressed vulnerabilities as a starting point of communication.
 
If we understand our own vulnerabilities and try to reach a respectful understanding of the vulnerabilities of others, we will then have a very good starting point for useful and meaningful communication.
 
By communication in this context, I mean interactions that bind together our personal lives with our more public existence. Like it seems Elvis was able to accomplish at the beginning of his career.  
 
I’ve long held, but have yet to muster the discipline to fully express, by either direct commentary or personal example, the needed connection between our private selves and our more public selves. When the two are connected, both have more value.
 
By “public selves” I mean the full range of interactions with people other than ourselves.
 
Drawing this connection is a project I need to take up soon.
 
I hope all are well

June 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment