Tuesday, December 9, 2008

World of Fritterin’

Filed under: Life — cody @ 1:24 pm

Girlzilla downloaded World of Goo on WiiWare for Fresh’s birthday yesterday. He’s nine.

Under the guise of needing to know how it works so that he and I can play together, I snuck on this morning when I should have been working and spent a guilty but enjoyable 30 minutes trying it out. I understand now why it’s such an acclaimed game: the gameplay is addictive, the design is masterful, it’s whimsical, it’s casual play, and it’s a pretty darned educational physics game only stealthily so. Doesn’t feel educational at all.

The most maddening thing for me is that there is no tutorial per se. But I found a pretty good FAQ sheet .

Oh, I can see some time frittering a’comin! The trick is to replace TV fritterin with World of Goo fritterin’ instead of just adding more fritterin’ to my fritterin’ balance.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bah Humbug Season

Filed under: Life — cody @ 1:54 pm

I am already sick of Christmas music. It must be that time of year. I won’t go into another one of my schpiels about Advent and how Giftmas clobbers it, etc. because I’ve said it before. I’m planning plenty of Christmas cheer this year. But I am actually going to wait until Christmas. Until then, well, Bah! Humbug!

Friday, November 21, 2008

River Water

Filed under: Ideas, Learning — cody @ 4:15 pm

The archetypical Master in Anthony DeMello’s books once said, “All I did was sit on the riverbank handing out river water.” In other words, all he did is point out the plainly obvious. But sometimes we need someone to point us to it. That’s the teacher I like, the teacher that hands me river water to drink, not koolaid.

I have a sense that I can trust a teacher when I get that “river water” feeling about what she teaches. I get the feeling that, even though the thoughts are new to me, they are drawn from some fundamental stream of obvious wisdom. Something that, if I had just opened my eyes, I could have discovered — or I had already known — by myself. Had I not been looking for something fancier. Or a shortcut.

I got that river water feeling upon reading the mystics, particularly of the Christian faith. Apologetics left me unimpressed. Theology was just mental gymnastics to me. It was mysticism that was my doorway back to a faith that I shed as a child.

I got that river water feeling when I first started learing about foresight and futures. Sure the ideas were new to me, but they seemed to draw from things that were obvious, things I already somehow knew. I just needed the paradigm shift to see them. So I pursued my masters’ degree in Studies of the Future.

I got that river water feeling when I encountered Lean and Six Sigma. I had that feeling that I had seen all this stuff before. Indeed, all the tools and techniques are established engineering techniques, but in a new presentation. So I pursued Black Belt training.

And my latest river water feeling comes from taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Most of that stuff he teaches is so obvious that I almost feel ashamed for not already knowing and practicing it. It is simple to understand and very hard to do, because the answers to my financial life are not sexy or exciting, but quotidian and dull. Like River Water.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Learning to Stay

Filed under: Life — cody @ 4:49 pm

Last night, I found myself in one of those negative spirals with my kids that was sucking me down. If you’re a parent, maybe you know it — you observe yourself yelling, knowing full well that it is a really ineffective way to communicate, but you cannot stop yourself because of your mounting exasperation, which is made worse by the fact that your kids are not responding to your ineffective communication…

It’s precisely the kind of situation that would usually make me contemplate fantasies of escape of some kind, usually unproductive fantasies. Indulgent, self-absorbed fantasies. Poison. But somehow I stayed in it and worked through it.

At some point in the spiral my mind said, “Stop Cody, THINK. Breathe. What is the next right step?”

I sent one upstairs. I’d talk to him later. Engage the younger two. Divide the situation into manageable pieces. Give up on some of what I was trying to achieve. And focus on compassion. Especially for my foolheaded self.

I credit my ability to not run screaming to Grace alone. To the gift of years of practice. I have just enough experience in Grace to Stay when it’s Hard. Not enough, mind you, to avoid such frustrating spirals in the first place, but sufficient for that moment. To Stay and not escape into some poisonous thought.

Post mortem in prayer, I realize that my practice could use some brush up. There are spiritual exercises I can do, like those of St. Ignatius, to prepare my mind for Grace in the midst of exasperation. One of my favorites is Lojong Practice. The slogans come from a different culture, but with a little translation, translate well to my own tradition.

It is what we practice that arises to our minds when we are tested. Being a cerebral type, I have always disdained learning by rote memorization. But some skills need to be automatic, and automatic skills come from practice. Learning to Stay instead of escape, for me, comes from cultivating thoughts that will help me derail my spirals. Like these Lojong Slogans…

“Understand Your Attachments, Your Aversions, and Your Indifference, and Love Them All.”
“When Practicing Unconditional Acceptance, Start With Yourself.”
“When Everything Goes Wrong, Treat Disaster as a way to Wake Up.”
“Always Meditate on Whatever You Resent.”
“Accept Good and Bad Fortune With an Equal Mind.”
“Solve All Problems by Accepting the Bad Energy and Sending out the Good.”

I hope I can bring these thoughts to mind at the beginning of my next spiral.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Staying Home

Filed under: Life — cody @ 10:31 am

If Wendell Berry, one of my favorite poets, had a magazine, Orion Magazine might be it. This article from Orion caught my eye in SciTech DailyThe Most Radical Thing You Can Do Is Stay Home.

I am one of those priveledged of the world who must, to an alien visitor watching from afar, seem like ants in an anthill, scurrying from place to place in endless activity. (Shades of Dave Matthews?). That’s how I feel sometimes, trapped in obligatory mobility.

I know how much I like staying home for an evening on one of those rare nights when no commitments call us away. And my current life goal is to do what I do — knowledge management, strategy, futures, teaching, consulting — without having to travel endlessly. My ultimate career goal is to get paid to be Me at Home.

Staying Home “means getting out of the limbo of nowheres that transnational corporate products and their natural habitats�malls, chains, airports, asphalt wastelands�occupy.” That hits it on the head for me. Business travel is pleasant enough, but soulless in a very crucial way. A limbo of nowheres describes exactly how I feel when I travel. When work rips me out of my context and I feel unhinged, drifting, aimless. I am disconnected from the rhythms of my life, beyond the reach of teh gravity that holds me down to the grounding love of my family and community.

Part of the solution to that is learning to be still and quiet wherever I am, to realize my connection to all places and people. But there is, at this stage in my life, no comfort more fundamentally satisfying than Staying Home.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Got Game

Filed under: Futures — cody @ 11:11 am

I am not much of a gamer. I just don’t have the time, frankly, for games. But I am willing to make this exception.

Via Boing Boing, I just discovered IFTF’s Superstructure game, probably one of the best serious games I have ever seen. It uses web2.0 technology and multimedia to create an environment where individuals collaborate on solving global problems in a rich future picture of the year 2019.

Apparently, according to the IFTF, 2019 is an intense era. (Doesn’t every generation think that they are at a crucial truning point in history, facing “unprecedented challenges?” It’s because they are.) Their YouTube videos of the various “Superthreats” are compelling. Watching each one made me realize that I, my employer, and my Church has a potential role in the solution.

The other thought I had was, “Where do I sign up?”

Superstructure is nothing more than an environment for bottom-up collaborative visioning and planning, seeded with a foresight technique called Incasting. This type of gaming could be done for a client. Hmmmm….

Below is a list of the ways Superstructure assigns reputation capital. This list of ways to advance in the game apparently is the set of skills that IFTF assumes is critical to being a future citizen.

  1. High Ping Quotient: Excellent responsiveness to other people’s requests for engagement; strong propensity and ability to reach out to others in a network
  2. Longbroading: Seeing a much bigger picture; thinking in terms of higher level systems, bigger networks, longer cycles
  3. Open Authorship: Creating content for public modification; the ability to work with massively multiple contributors
  4. Cooperation Radar: The ability to sense, almost intuitively, who would make the best collaborators on a particular task or mission
  5. Multi-Capitalism: Fluency in working and trading simultaneously with different hybrid capitals, e.g., natural, intellectual, social, financial, virtual
  6. Mobbability: The ability to do real-time work in very large groups; a talent for coordinating with many people simultaneously; extreme-scale collaboration
  7. Protovation: Fearless innovation in rapid, iterative cycles; the ability to lower the costs and increase the speed of failure
  8. Influency: Knowing how to be persuasive and tell compelling stories in multiple social media spaces (each space requires a different persuasive strategy and technique)
  9. Signal/Noise Management: Filtering meaningful info, patterns, and commonalities from the massively-multiple streams of data and advice
  10. Emergensight: The ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity that come with coordination, cooperation and collaboration on extreme scales

I think I’ll go “roll me a character” and play along. See you in the future.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Beginners’ Mind Kind of Sucks

Filed under: Life — cody @ 11:08 am

For a while, I have been wanting to become more “handy” around the house. A lifetime knowledge worker, I have never had the chance to learn many practical skills to fix things in the real world.

I have a few projects, damaged siding, light fixtures, screen door repairs, that I am determined to get through on my own. So I figure, I can learn this, right? I’ll apply my investigative skills to the analog world. I am good at learning.

This is a great chance to embrace my Beginner’s Mind and aproach this whole thing with fresh eyes.

Problem is, Beginner’s Mind kind of sucks. Well, let’s say it has a definite down side.

Yeah. Beginner’s Mind is not what it’s cracked up to be in the Eastern Spirituality section at Barnes and Noble. No, it’s not all wide-eyed openness to possibilities and experience.

It might be a little of that, but mostly it’s an exercise in deep humility. Being humiliated about how little you know, making and admitting mistakes (after mistakes), and not being able to get by without asking for help.

Jeez. How did I get to the age of 43 and not know at least a little of this stuff? Why can’t I walk into a hardware store an get the supplies for one small project without being lost and perplexed? I can’t even tell the nails and screws apart. (Why do nails have to be “hot dipped?” What are they hot dipped in?)

I repaired my mailbox after the hurricane. I felt so empowered. I rehung the back screen door, but it does not close flush and I can’t figure out why. I think it may be due to the fact that I didn’t choose the right sheet metal screws. My attempt to fix the rotten siding failed — an $80 dead end detour. A friend looked at my aborted efforts and patiently explained to me my mistaken assumptions. He’s going to help me figure it out next week.

Beginner’s Mind means being willing to understand how little you understand. Beginner’s Mind means being willing to feel like an idiot. And, as a man in the midst of men who know these things and women who lament that you do not know these things, it means feeling like less of a “real man.” Letting go of your own self image and pretensions is not a pleasant thing.

Thing is, this downside, this humbling, is probably the most important benefit of Beginner’s Mind. But it still kind of sucks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Allowable Eccentricity: Vibram Five Fingers

Filed under: Ideas, Life — cody @ 8:51 am

I am a firm believer in Hollander’s Theory of Idiosyncratic Credits. I figure the key is to be balanced in how you cash in your idiosyncratic credits and to use them wisely. Get the most life-enhancing benefit from them — like an odd hobby that brings you joy, a food item that is odd for your culture but very healthy, that kind of thing.

How about a shoe that gives you all of the benefits of going barefoot, allowing your foot to be unshackled from the strictures of shoedom, but with all the grip and protection? My latest “allowable eccentricity” is my beloved Vibram Five-Fingers shoes. I am spending the idiosyncratic credits like crazy, but I don’t care!

I admit that they look funny. My daughter is mortified when I wear them. My wife just tolerates being seen out in public with me wearing them. But. I. Love them.

I wear them anywhere I would wear flip-flops. They attract a lot of attention, which is a down-side. (Why can I not have near-barefoot shoe comfort in peace? Why? Why?)

I saw them in an Adam Sternberg article called “You Walk Wrong” in NY Mag. I initially was looking to buy the Clark’s Vivos, as I am a fan of Clark’s shoes, but they are of limited availability in the US. (I plan to buy some as soon as I can get some, though)

I bought the Five-Fingers as a second choice to the Vivos. But now I am as in love as a person can be with an inanimate object that makes your feet feel free, protected, and respected as individuals.

While I managed to play four games of racquetball in them last week, I doubt I will ever try parkour or breakdancing in them. But they are my default hanging-out shoes.

Offensive package for a seductive idea

Filed under: Life — cody @ 7:50 am

Two things I love — Coffee and Yerba Mate — combined together in one too-hip-for-its-own-good, tragically insensitive marketing gimmick. Yet I am intrigued.

Introducing Meth Coffee.

Equating this long overdue combination with the drug that has destroyed thousands of lives in the past week shows some of the brash arrogance of youth combined with a lack of marketing originality (‘Cocaine’ apparently was already taken, I see.)

But still, I want to try some.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wobbles. But Doesn’t Fall Down.

Filed under: Life, Meta, Spirit — Tags: , , , , — cody @ 11:07 am

Any Gen-Xer like myself will recognize that phrase. That’s how I feel about this blog. And I do quite resemble a Weeble.

I’ll go into a several month “wobble” with no posts. Whole years will have a scant dozen original posts. But I’ve been doing this blog since the word “blog” was coined and I just cannot let Overflow fall down.

I recently lost my mojo. I was walking past my office upstairs, worried about some jejune client work matter, when I caught a glimpse of my poetry books out of the corner of my eye. I realized that I had no poetry in my life at the moment.

And that’s when I further realized — I’ve lost my mojo. No poetry, no art, no contemplation, no reading, and pretty damned minimal with the prayer life as well.

No wonder I’ve lost my blogging juju. I have no inner life left to articulate.

So I’m feeling around in the dark for my bootstraps so I can give them a yank. Maybe this weeble’s wobbling back upwards? We’ll see.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Poem: Raindrops

Filed under: Poetry, Spirit — cody @ 9:11 pm

Raindrops keep fallin on my head
and that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red.
Cryin’s not for me cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complanin’ because I’m free… Because in Christ I am free.

Free to accept getting wet from the rain
Free to accept life and walk through its pain
Free to remain in Him and attain in Him the hope
That abides the darkest night,
the hope that looks for the light when there’s none I can see.
I’m free to be me, just me,
Free to feel misery and ecstasy with equanimity
And regard those imposters equally.

In Christ I find peace that increases and never ceases

Except when I forget, hedge a bet, or get in a hurry
When the slings and the arrows come at me in a flurry
Like a cold cold rain. And I sink into worry.
I distract and delude myself trying to scurry
Around doing it myself.
Not accepting His help
Completely blind to how I put Him on the shelf.

Not willing to play out the cards I’ve been dealt
I complain. Curse the rain. And feign a campaign of control
Until His Grace smacks me upside the broadside of my soul.

Until I set aside my ego and see so it’s better that He go
And steer my ship for a while. Or better yet, forever.
Then I can smile in any kind of weather.
I can welcome the rain. Accept the wet.
Accept the death required for true life.
Accept His Cross.
Welcome the loss.

See, God’s Will will be done whether I want it or not
So Christ, help me want what I already got
Rather than jonesing to get what I want
Reveal to me the blessings I can�t seem to spot
Without a lot
of your Grace.

Please free me from noisy desires that still taunt me
Please free me from nagging temptations that haunt me
Please free me from the conceit that I am too good
To suffer a little defeat when I know You would
Die for me and rise to be my shelter for eternity.

By walking thru the pain with Him,
ultimately I gain with Him.
And I can remain with Him.

Where I can be…Free. Nothing’s worrying. Me.

Blackmail, baby!

Filed under: Life — cody @ 8:49 pm

Goofy Hannah

Originally uploaded by codyandheidiclark

Don’t step out of line with your old man, Girlzilla. Honor your father and mother, or imagine a banner-sized version of this beauty at your wedding reception.

Oh yes, you know I would…..

Is this my good side?

Filed under: Life — cody @ 8:46 pm

Head Shot

Originally uploaded by codyandheidiclark

Yes, I think it is. Rather depressing. At least I know Heidi must love me for my heart and not my money or my looks.

Mamma and her kid collection

Filed under: Life — cody @ 8:44 pm


Originally uploaded by codyandheidiclark

Heidi is every bit as warm and loving as she looks. Even Gracie has to smile when momma’s got her.


Filed under: Life — cody @ 8:41 pm


Originally uploaded by codyandheidiclark

Mr. Freshpants, or Fresh in recent years, is eight now. He’s a deeply felt little guy. All boy, awkward, hyper, jubilant. Has come a long way as he was a drug baby too. We had him since almost birth but we adopted him when he was two.

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