Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The 10,000 Hour Rule

A man holds a piece of paper while he gives a speech.I am in the middle of reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  It’s a non-fiction story about success – specifically he explores why he thinks certain people excel far beyond the average.  (In statistics, something that is far outside the norm is an “outlier”.)  He talks about the Beatles and Bill Gates, Michael Jordan and Chris Langan.  His main objective seems to be to say – yes there is talent, but there are other influences like seized opportunities, special experiences and particular upbringing that has been handed down for generations.  He tells a number of memorable stories to make his points.  Some critics say that’s all his writing is good for – a good entertaining story.  Well, it worked with me and got me thinking. 

Early in the book, Gladwell talks about IQ and that after a certain threshold it really doesn’t how high your IQ is.  There are other factors after that threshold that separate people – like imagination and work ethic.  He said it’s like saying that the taller you are the better you are at basketball.  Yes, someone who is 6’6” is generally better at basketball than someone who is under 6’, but about 6’6” versus 7’?

In the same chapter, Gladwell says once talent is established that time invested in learning, practicing, exploring is crucial to becoming “world-class”.  The threshold there is 10,000 hours.  In looking at violinist, studies found children who started at the same time learning the violin and made a career in music were separated by the number of hours they practiced until employment.  The virtuosos were 10,000 hours, the good musicians were 8,000 hours and the music school teachers were 4,000 hours.

10,000 hours is 20 hours a week for 10 years.  That’s daunting to say the least.  No wonder those of us out of our childhood think that learning something well is out of our grasp.  Yet since I turned 35 years ago, I’ve been starting up with all the things that I always wanted to do.  I never expect to be world class at the level of Bill Gates or the Beatles.  But what makes my head spin, is considering what could happen if I could give 10 hours a week for 10 years that’s 5000 hours – or even 5 hours a week for 15 years is almost 3800 hours?

I can’t change the talent, I can’t change the upbringing or the past.  I can only work with what I have right now and what I can control is what I invest my time in.

What would you spend 10,000 hours on?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reunion at the Humane Society

The Greenville Humane Society had a festival weekend to promote adoptions and awareness.  Part of it was a reunion for those who had been adopted.  We were excited to go and glad the weather had worked out - it had been raining all week here, but at 10 am this morning, the sun decided to make an appearance.  People and dogs of all sizes and ages came out to show off .  We all compared notes and swapped stories.

Shadow started to make some other friends, but it's hard to wrestle and play on a leash.  The great part was to have people recognize him (by name) and remember when he was there.  It's only been 7 weeks and I get the feeling he was a bit of a celebrity while he was there.  Large, nearly pure bred, and quite "energetic".  One staff member asked.  "So, what happened [that he calmed down]?"  I just told her basically he's very social and isolation in a crate for the kennel cough was just more than he could take.  I also told her about all sorts of means that we've taken to wear him out.  All of that has made him happier and more responsive.

Now - we are still working on lunging at other dogs (which is one reason I took him over there!) But I have to say he did better than most. Of course every mama thinks their crow or in this case lab is the blackest!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Room of Strings

Having floor refinished is like moving while you still live in your house. At least we looked at it that way and took the opportunity to go through things. Questions like "Do you still want this?", "Do you think we'll ever use it again?" and "What is that?" came up. There were other statements heard like "Hey that's where that was!", "Get that out of here.", and "Lookie here!"

It also gave us the opportunity to change some things around. With Shadow still with some puppy tendencies, I've found he loves to chew up cardboard, paper and wood. He's generally good 90% of the time, but there are certain things that I don't want to end up in the 10% - like a harp, music or the cones of yarn!

With some thought, we moved all the music and the looms into one of the bedrooms. This particular bedroom we took down all the sheetrock to expose the 12 foot long beadboard that likely was original. It makes a very nice acoustical chamber. I wish you could hear it, but for now see what you think...
So now that we are a little more settled, I actually have been able to get into the strings. I've finally started on the companion piece for the wedge weave I made at John C Campbell last March. I had warped this loom for that class, but was too excited about learning to warp a floor loom at the school to use this one. I had created a design as a guide for this, but after the professor gave us the critique in Anderson on our weavings, I thinking I need to redesign it - or at least take a good look at it.
I've also started a new adventure in wedge weave. What I particularly enjoy about it is the undulations in the warp. I decided to see if I could weave pick and pick to really bring the undulations out. So essentially I have two weavings going on side by side. I start in the middle for the large red blocks and start on the outside for the narrow ones. The wedges are not all the same height, so I'm not getting exactly the effect that I want, but I also wonder how it will relax after it's off the loom. I'm using silk I had picked up from a distributor locally. The color screamed Christmas, but I'm not really sure it's doing it for me in this piece. Maybe it's the red rather than green for the tree (you do see a tree don't you???). Again I'll wait until it's finished.
In the clean out as we were putting things back together, James decided to give up two wool sweaters he bought while he was in Scotland nearly 25 years ago. I pulled them from the Goodwill heap and started tearing them apart for the yarn. I have no idea what I'll do with it, but he's thrilled I'm finding a use for the sweaters. I don't know if I have ever seen him wear them and down here likely no one would have even wanted them from Goodwill. We'll see what happens. All I know is the blue reminds me of an overcast winter day - it's a calming color.
For your Shadow fix - here he is in the chair on the back porch that he has claimed. I found a throw that has black labs on it and figured it can stay with his chair!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Swimming in Chaos Part 2

We have taken Shadow to water and all he will do is drink. The first trip to Furman he would not even get his elbows wet. We've checked and his feet are webbed. Drastic measures were in order, so we took his favorite ball to the lake early in the morning before the crowds would come.
As you can see, the ball he left behind, but he was exploring... in the water.... It took a little enticing, but he started to warm up to it - or at least lose himself in the playing.Every time he got the ball, he would come out immediately - tail wagging!So I'd stay on shore to throw the ball in (there are advantages to also being behind the camera!), and James got in the water to entice more, encourage and just help all around. And here was Shadow's first time swimming!!!! He repeated it a few times that day - doesn't he look proud?!? There was really an ulterior motive in making sure he realized he could swim. Greenville Rec has a water park as one of the county parks. At the end of the season, they open it up to dogs. It's called Waggin and the Waterpark. You can check out the Greenville News photos at:


Shadow starts by checking out the water. He was in overload - There were easily 100 dogs there the hour that they allowed the large dogs in.

Getting to know other dogs (i.e. sniffing rear ends), Shadow ended up following another dog into the pool before he knew it - and there he was swimming!
He wasn't sure about getting in though himself. Again James is in the water. Boy did we wish we had brought his ball.
Other had balls there and fortunately, the one time he jumped in again was because two others had just jumped in after their ball. Then he did go for a long swim (with encouragement). One of the women on the side said, "Oh how cute - he's learning to swim - look at how he's splashing!"
It was a great day and we'll plan better for next year to make sure he's better prepared and has his favorite ball!
PS - we took him back to the lake the next week and he went in all by himself and readily swam for the ball. We have a water dog!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Swimming in Chaos Part 1

We've had the floors in our three bedrooms refinished and it's been quite a time of chaos. It's like moving but still living within your own home!!! Here's what it looked like to have three bedroom's worth of stuff crammed into one room...and how we made a makeshift bedroom in the the middle of the dining room! Shadow doesn't seem to mind. Some have asked for pictures when I mentioned it earlier. So I thought I'd treat you to before and after. The house was built in 1945 and these floors are likely original. There was an oil furnace in it's history and much of the floor have a black hue, but there was also a fire at one point. The floors nor the walls were repaired or replaced. Everything was simply covered up and we're bringing it all back out. So here's before (complete with dear Shadow prints when he walked on the floors before the finish was dry - but that's a story I'd rather not retell...)
And here's after...
Shadow did finally get to go back into the rooms after they were dry. He immediately went to check out his favorite window - yes the one he jumped out of!!! Not today Shadow!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Something Fishy at the Anderson Art Center

The retreat and the exhibition for the Tapestry Weavers South was and is held at the Anderson Art Center. There's something fishy going on there. We'll start here. Can you tell what this is???? I'll let you think about that a bit and tell you about other features to the center. This is an renovated CSX warehouse in downtown Anderson. There are many features that I love about the building. The large open spaces and the interior brick walls. But the engineer in me particularly enjoyed the elevators. It seems these are not what one would expect where there's a floor and something rides up and down on that floor. It's seems to be more of a crane that lift and lowers. Of course the holes in the floor no longer exist, but the framing and lift remain.
The new way of getting up and down is a set of stairs in the center of the building. Artist John Acorn took drawings made by children and went through thousands of rivets in the treads to recreate the drawings. Replicas of the 19 treads are available for purchase. It's certainly something to smile at as you wander around!
Fish really are a theme at the Anderson Art Center. Why I don't really know, but there was this fish hanging on the wall with this enormous glass eye and copper body. This one is about 2 feet long - and that's not a "fish tale" If you think that's big, he seems to have a big brother right across the was that was easily 4 feet long. He was hanging across from the stairs so I could get views from multiple sides.
Okay the there are more fish that seem to be from one of those community events where people and businesses sponsor a fish and local artists decorate them to have them displayed around town. These were only about a foot long, so maybe someone decided they would be safer at the center.
So there is the fish, but what is fishy at the Anderson Art Center? It turns out that first picture is a flurinal that is in the women's bathroom at the top of those wonderful stairs!!! I'll let you read the display beside it for yourself!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sharing Tapestries at Tapestry Weavers South Retreat

We did have more open time in this retreat than I understand normally happens. We did fill that time then with sharing. Since this group had met there were two members that had traveled to Africa and brought back photos and weaving samples to share.

The first group here is from Ghana. A number of colors could be chosen and patterns would vary within the piece. The TWS member was even able to spend some time weaving on one of their looms. She could not have been beaming more in the picture of her a that loom.
The second member had taken a trip to Egypt not long after her first tapestry weaving class. She was a weaver otherwise, but the class allowed her to fully appreciate what she was seeing in Egypt. Note that despite the patterns, these were made WITHOUT a cartoon. These weavers simply begin and go as they see fit. The weaving is very tight, but the pattern is free flowing and often eccentric. Therefore, the weaving was frequently not flat.

The first piece was about 12" by 8". Nearly all of the rounded patterns were made by weaving eccentrically. A detail of the that weaving follows. Hopefully you can see how the surface "bubbles" from the tension and the eccentric weft.This second piece was about 36" wide by 20" tall. Again remember there was no plan written down by the weaver prior to the weaving.
I took many detail pictures of the birds. These first are in the lower left hand corner of the piece. Aren't they just sweet???
These next are at the top of the piece and are in order moving from the left to the right. Here is a detail of the flowers in the mid region of the piece. You can see some of the 3D effect of the eccentric weaving, but it's better in the next picture I took from an angle to the side. PS This post took me 45 minutes - we're heading in the right direction!