Dixie Darr

Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

In creativity, Learning Tools on August 19, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Innovation Corral

Recent resources for creativity/innovation

How to grow ideas. Tamsen at ’Round the Square compares the creative process to gardening. Hint: It takes more than planting seeds.

Extra little touches can make all the difference. Management guru Tom Peters on the importance of design and making your products/services stand out.

Five creativity killers and how to get your creative juices flowing again.

Jon Phillips at Freelance Folder describes bad habits that interfere with creativity and how to beat them.

Blog for Creativity: Ten Reasons Your Muse Will Love Blogging. Cynthia Morris at Journey JuJu lists ways to use blogging to spark your creativity.

Addicted to the search. Emily Yoffe at Slate magazine explains why it’s so easy to lose time online and get addicted to things like Twitter and texting.


In creativity, Learning, work on August 13, 2009 at 2:39 pm

I’m rerunning this post in honor of the late, great Les Paul. For more information, Click Here.

Question Everything

Curiosity may be the primary ingredient for imagination innovation. It made Leonardo da Vinci the quintessential renaissance man. In his book, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael J. Gelb lists curiosità: “An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning” as the first of his seven Da Vincian principles. A later book, Innovate Like Edison, advises readers to “seek knowledge relentlessly.”

Albert Einstein famously said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” But he also warned, “It’s a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

Maybe dropping out of high school allowed Les Paul to pursue his curiosity and develop the electric guitar and the recording innovations of overdubbing and multitrack recording. In the documentary, Les Paul Chasing Sound, Paul recalls that when his brother flicked a light switch the light came on. When he flicked the switch he wanted to know why the light came on. He continued his search for a sound that no one had ever made before that led to his many inventions, took him to the top of the record charts in the 40s and 50s. Remember Mockingbird Hill and Vaya Con Dios with Mary Ford? Paul’s curiosity eventually took him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The DVD shows him being admired by musicians from Bing Crosby to Paul McCartney. An insatiable curiosity doesn’t retire at 65. At the age of 90, he won two Grammys at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards for his album Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played.

Gelb suggests several exercises to increase your curiosity, including make a list of 100 questions that are important to you. “Do the entire list in one sitting. Write quickly, don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or repeating the same question in different words.” Then go about finding some answers.

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In Learning on August 4, 2009 at 7:25 am

Learning History through Fiction

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is my all-time favorite book. I first read it and saw the movie in the early 60s when they first came out. I watched the movie again a couple of years ago and was surprised and pleased at how well it stood up after almost 50 years. This year the book was selected for the One Book One Denver program. I found the CD version (narrated by Sissy Spacek—a perfect choice) at the library. It tells the story of a young girl, Scout Finch, in Maycomb, Alabama during the Depression who watches her lawyer father take on the other white people in town by defending a black man who could not possibly have committed the rape he is accused of. Maybe because it was told through the perspective of a girl about my own age, it taught me more about prejudice than stories of the civil rights movement on the TV news could.

Decades later, I encountered The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

and added it to my list of favorite books. I’ve read it two or three times, listened to the CD book, and watched the movie. Last month the pastor at my church preached on the movie about Lily, a teenager in the South in the 60s. Abused by her father and believing that, at four years old, she accidentally shot and killed her mother, she runs away with the black housekeeper, who was beaten and then arrested when she tried to register to vote. Searching for her mother’s history, they find a household of black women who raise bees and sell honey.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is a current bestseller also set in the early 60s in the South with the Civil Rights movement swirling in the background. I downloaded the audio version from my local library.

A young white woman, nicknamed Skeeter, from the privileged class returns to Jackson, Mississippi, after graduating college. She wants to be a writer and lands a job at the local newspaper writing a column on housekeeping, a subject she knows absolutely nothing about because she grew up with a maid. She takes her questions about housekeeping to the black woman who works as a maid and nanny for her friend, beginning an uneasy alliance between the two women.

Another of Skeeter’s friends, a leader among the young white women in town, begins a campaign to install toilets for the black maids in unheated garages and sheds, so they do not have to use guest bathrooms, which white people are expected to use too. As Skeeter learns more and more about the life of the maids, she decides to write a book from their point of view.

I spent six hours one Saturday listening to the final disks to find out what happened. I sure never did that with a history textbook.

In creativity, Learning on August 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm

What I did for Free

Free, Chris Anderson’s tome about an economy based on giving information away for free has generated quite a bit of buzz, mostly from people in the information business who don’t want it to be true. While you can pay the full $26.99 price for the hard cover edition, I chose to download the audio version for, well, free. The book is also available to read free online.

One of the most fascinating parts is a lists of 50 business models built on free. And one of the best arguments for the book’s premise is the failing newspaper industry. Why pay for one newspaper, when you can get all the news you want on the internet?

Since reading (listening to) the book, I’ve been paying attention to things that come my way without cost.

  1. Drinks (for seniors) with my weekly meal at Chick fil-A.
  2. Ebook, The Buccaneer Scholar by James Marcus Bach – a limited time free download.
  3. Books, movies, PDF and audio downloads from Denver Public Library.
  4. Websites, blogs, and podcasts.
  5. Instructional ebooks.
  6. Classified ads from Craigslist.
  7. Concerts in the park.
  8. Promotional tote bag from Target that doubles as a checkerboard.
  9. Coupon for a free meal with purchase from various restaurants.
  10. Complete TV shows online.
  11. Cell phone with purchase of time.
  12. Gifts—a fused glass peace sign pendant from my sister-in-law.
  13. One-year subscription to my favorite newsletter, Winning Ways as a thank you for being a long-time subscriber.

I think Anderson is on to something.