I Hate the Gym…

From earlier this week:

Dear ultra-swanky home gym (AKA The Garage): I’m going to stop pretending that I even like you. I don’t. And that’s no exaggeration.

I. Just. Don’t.

In fact, it’s been about 14 years since I first met you and your companion, the Y. And you know what? Even though the first few years were really, really good, to be honest, I’m still waiting after all those years for those mythical endorphins to kick in.

I. Hate. Your. Guts.

But here’s the thing today: As much as I despise even the thought of you, if I don’t come see you on a more regular basis, I’m going to die, and that real soon. I mean I’m going to die anyway one day, but I’d rather it not be today or this month or this year. Now I may get hit by a bus or some such. But the parts I do have control over, I need to start having control over them again.

So here we are, Monday morning at the ultra-swanky home gym (AKA The Garage). And you will not beat me today.


Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

It’s all about the details. The little things matter.

Is the colon aligned vertically when representing time? Or is it sitting on the baseline in the default position? Did you even notice? Did you change it? What about the dash between times? Did insert the n-dash or just settle for the hyphen key and call it good? What about the kerning? Did you follow the style guide?

Did you take the time to make the shadows realistic on the composite image? Or did you just duplicate the layer and position it somewhere in some sort of alignment? Did you think about where the light would actually hit? Did you make the shadow black instead of a gradient of grey-blue?

Did you check your spelling? Your punctuation? Did you leave the passive voice, or did you even think to re-read the copy?

Did you leave the piece of paper towel on the restroom floor? Did you send the thank-you note? Did you remember your customer’s name?

The details do matter. The little stuff does count. The little things do add up to big things. And if you do the little things consistently, it will become a habit. And the habit will become excellence in practice.


Image: “Needs, ” by Taber Andrew Bai  https://flic.kr/p/d1nLBW

Random things I need, in no particular order…

  • I need to lose 60 pounds by Thanksgiving. That’s 30 weeks away from right now, and losing an average of 2 pound per week is doable.
  • I need to learn InDesign, Illustrator, and maybe QuarkXPress.
  • I need to decide on the new side gig at The Y. Or I need to quit.
  • I need to write consistently and well.
  • I need to save more money.
  • I need to set up a new credit account.
  • I need to call my Dad.
  • I need to get a more positive attitude.
  • I need to read something inspiring, informational, uplifting, etc.
  • I need to get outside more. OK, I need get outside. Period. Full stop.
  • I need to unplug more.
  • I need to take all the jobs seriously, “as for the Lord.”
  • I need to get the oil changed.
  • I need to lead better–from the first chair, and the second.
  • I need more confidence.
  • I need to do stuff that matters.
  • I need to live the rest of my life in a way that counts.
  • I need to read what the boss is reading.
  • I need to contribute something of real value.
  • I need to complete a leadership certification that I’ve put off for a year.
  • I need to sleep more and better.
  • I need to listen more carefully.
  • I need to be a better friend.
  • I need to find some friends.
  • I need to get a used trumpet or flugelhorn.
  • I need to get a hobby.
  • I need to get on top of my email.
  • I need to walk the walk.
  • I need to stop hiding behind the Cynical Old Coot mask. Or the Regular People Loving and Trusting Guy. Whichever one is the mask.
  • I need to do something for the sheer joy of doing it.
  • I need to exercise more.
  • I need to encourage my son.
  • I need to do something with my son.
  • I need to take my wife somewhere.
  • I need to go somewhere I’ve never been before.
  • I need a Bucket List.
  • I need to preach better sermons.
  • I need to sing out loud, just because.
  • I need to go the library.
  • I need to go the music building at a college, sit in the hall, and listen to students practice their craft.
  • I need to leave the campus before they call security on the old coot sitting in the hall listening to students practice their craft.
  • I need to practice my craft.
  • I need to discover what that craft is.
  • I need to stick up for myself.
  • I need to know my neighbors.
  • I need to pray more.
  • I need to read some poetry.
  • I need to go to the art gallery or museum and stand there in “the pose,” and contemplate beauty.
  • I need to do the same with nature.
  • I need to offer to mentor someone.
  • I need to start a podcast.
  • I need to blog more consistently.
  • I need five more words. One.
  • I need to go to bed.

To all a good night.

Random Thoughts on a Random Friday in April…

(Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash)

Fridays are for thinking, some deep thoughts, some not so deep, and some just random. Here are some of the random kind, in no particular order or with no rhyme or reason…

    • I may be the hardest working $14-an-hour designer-wannabe in the business.
    • The trouble with clients (members, patrons, customers, etc.) is that they don’t really know what they want, and when you produce what they say they want, they want you to change it.
    • But the trouble with clients (members, patrons, customers, etc.) notwithstanding, they do pay the $14 an hour, so there’s that.
    • Even though René Marie wrote and sang Shelter in Your Arms from a woman’s autobiographical perspective, it resonates with me on so many levels: evocative lyrics, simple, almost melancholy music, and it’s just about perfect for a random Friday afternoon in April.
    • Clarity trumps any awkwardness in the workplace almost every time. Somebody—one of the parties, or both—needs to acknowledge the lingering awkwardness and take the hard step of seeking clarity so that everyone else can get on with some sense of normalcy. Else the mission suffers.
    • Maybe a new gig will take care of that awkwardness by allowing affected people to start fresh somewhere else.
    • Speaking of new gigs, there may be one in your humble writer’s future. No definite job description, no concrete pay package, a few spotty details, but a possibility. Kind of scary for that aforementioned wanna-be.
    • Austin Kleon’s 33 Thoughts on Reading. He first published this list in 2014, but they are still helpful today.
    • And while you’re over there at Austin Kleon’s place, you should also check out his writing advice for artists and visual thinkers.
    • Each day (almost) this year, I’ve found the corresponding daily entries in Thoreau’s Journals, and I’m reading through almost in a “daily devotional” format. Finding some really powerful thoughts (some of the random Friday kind!) and some really mundane twittering. Altogether, I think I see the power of looking and seeing and thinking and recording in a systematic way what you observe. Flashes of greatness often emerge out of daily encounters.

About My Neighbor…

OK, boys and girls…here’s one for you…

Sometimes God has a sense of humor. And sometimes He uses that sense of humor to punch us right in the gut to get our attention. Today was one of those days.

We loaded up our church stuff in the car as usual this morning, and headed out of the driveway. About halfway between our house and the front of our neighborhood, we saw an olive-green car sitting at the bottom of the hill with its flashers on. As we approached to pass by, the driver was opening the door, and sitting with one leg out of the driver’s side.

My first thought was, “I wonder if she needs help?”

My next thoughts, in quick succession, were, “But I’ll be late to church,” “I don’t have time to stop now,” and “I sure hope she’s OK.”

When we got to the entrance of our neighborhood, I stopped at the stop sign. I had to wait for an approaching truck before turning left out on to the street. As the truck turned into my neighborhood, I thought, aloud to the lovely and gracious MrsCharphar, “I guess that guy will stop and help.” And with that, off we went to church.

Here’s where God’s sense of humor and the “ouch” came in.

Today’s message at The Crest was Part 6 of a seven-part series called Upside Down Stories. Throughout the series, we’ve been diving into some of Jesus’s parables. Today’s installment was from Luke 10, and dealt with…

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

…the Good Samaritan.

*Paraphrase of Luke 10: 3031…

“Jesus replied, ‘A woman was going down from her neighborhood to somewhere else in Cherokee County, and her car broke down, leaving her stranded at the bottom of a steep hill. Now by chance the pastor of Stonecrest Church was going down that road, and when he saw her he passed by on the other side.’”

Ouch, indeed.


What I’m Thinking About This Friday Afternoon…


Roberto Trombetta via Compfight

Fridays seem to be the worst and best of times lately.

The worst, because it seems the darkness feels heavier and the hope feels fainter.

But Fridays are often the best, because for whatever reason, my brain often kicks into another gear and I think about more stuff more deeply.  So here’s a rare installation of some the random thoughts that drip out on a typical Friday. Like today…

  • There are racist charlatans on all sides of the political and cultural spectrum, including some I’ve been proud to help along the way.
  • The best thing we can do as advocates for others is to model what we advocate, e.g., if we advocate for people’s health, maybe we should set a healthy example, etc. Extrapolate that out to whatever area of life in which you seek to influence others.
  • The problem with clients is that they really don’t know what they want. So when they tell you what they want – and you do that thing – then they change it. The other problem is that they’re paying the bill so they pretty much are entitled to change it. The other problem is sometimes, they aren’t paying very much on the bill, so it seems a lot like unreasonable expectations.
  • I really need some outdoor time. A good dose of a state park or a beach somewhere might be just what the doctor ordered. Or it might help me avoid the doctor’s inevitable order.
  • The mornings seem to be a blur these days, and I’m not sure why. There’s plenty of interaction with others, and there’s plenty to do. When quitting time comes, though, it appears that the time has whizzed by with no recognizable features.

Design Aesthetics…

The best part of waking up

Rux Hall via Compfight

Simple. Classic. Elegant. Clean. Understated. Timeless. Whimsical. Appropriate. Gracious.

Real Simple (If only there were a similar publication geared toward men).




Bodum. Chemex.

Bill’s khakis. Bass Weejuns (when they were made in Maine). Converse Jack Purcells. Sperry Top-Siders (when they were made in the USA).


Good pencils.

Audrey Hepburn. Grace Kelly. Coco Chanel. Mary Tyler Moore.

Cary Grant. Fred Astaire. Frank Sinatra.

Another Friday Afternoon…

143/365:DiaryCreative Commons License Magic Madzik via Compfight

Afternoons seem to be the worst times, and even more so lately. Especially Fridays. Today in particular, for some reason. So rather than waste a lonely afternoon, I thought I’d try to add to the regular challenge of writing something, anything, in the hope that something good or thoughtful or productive might work its way to the top. Here goes…

  • It’s Saint Patrick’s Day. That means it’s time to wear the traditional color and display the time-honored symbol of Ireland. You know…blue and the harp. You didn’t see that one coming, did you? Well, of course not, because everyone knows the color is supposed to be green – emerald, specifically – and the the symbol is the shamrock. Right? Except, of course, the color most associated with Saint Patrick is blue and the harp is the universal sigil (see Guinness, for instance).
  • Nightnoise is providing the soundtrack for this lonely Friday afternoon of Irishness. Playing right at this moment is the classic At the End of the Evening.
  • And don’t you wish Nightnoise and Windham Hill were still around?
  • From my Moleskine: “Sometimes I feel like I have some of the sensibilities of an artist (substitute creator, designer, whatever floats your boat), but none of the skill.”
  • That Nightnoise album is from 1988. Serendipitously, I watched two movies from that year last night: Working Girl and Big. Iconic and cliché 80s flicks, but still enjoyable, and still a couple of my favorite diversions.

Random Thoughts, 03.12.17…

marielinden4 via Compfight

Some random smatterings from my Moleskine, via my head and my heart and my reading this weekend. No particular order, no particular subject, no particular plan or process, just words, such as they are…

  • Now closer to sixty than fifty, he felt the burden of the years piling up. Everything was the same from day to day. Which is to say, everything seemed pointless-er and hopeless-er every day.
  • It’s quiet, eerie quiet. Restless quiet. Unsettling quiet. Weird quiet.
  • (From Frederick Buechner) “The magic of words is that they have power to do more than convey meaning; not only do they have the power to make things clear, they make things happen.”
  • For me, the real adventure is in creating the adventure, in my head, in my heart, in my words – to tell the story as though it really happened, whether or not it really did.
  • Slowly, deliberately, he fit the pencil neatly into the crease of the book, and slid it away from him on the floor. The pencil and blank lines seemed to take a life of their own, and they were whispering, calling, beckoning him to enter into their world. These inanimate objects now fairly pulsed with life, and they called to him, and at the same time, chastened him, mocking and taunting because he was unable to pick them up, and yet unable to turn away.
  • We’re doing good, but we’re not doing so well.
  • We lost the hour this morning to the dreaded Daylight Saving Time transition, and every time I’ve stopped today, I’ve nodded off. Now, all of a sudden, I have that second wind and I can’t turn off my mind.
  • Twenty more words to three hundred. Now thirteen. Only 211 more to the mythical 500! Now seven.
  • The desire is there, but not the talent or the skill.
  • He whisked the sugar, strong, dark, and sweet, into the scalded milk. The coffee would come later, and the sugary milk was now almost as dark as the coffee itself would be. There really wasn’t enough coffee left in the grinder from two days before, but the grinder was too noisy to use after she had gone to bed. So, he imagined, the dark sweetness of the sugar would make up for the weaker brew. “Not sweet enough,” he thought after the first sip. “Coffee that is neither sweet enough nor strong enough is not fit to drink.”

A Little Ditty About Generosity…

Image: Taylor’s Acre Barn, via Lori Grieg https://flic.kr/p/7mic5V

When you’re in a rut, and down in a dump,
There’s a little trick that will make your heart jump:
Find something to give, and give it away –
You’ll make magic in someone’s day.

Give from your heart, no matter the cost;
You’ll find you’ll gain much more than you’ve lost.
The smile on their face, and the joy in their heart –
These are the generous giver’s art.