Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thing Four: The Eeyore Syndrome

People who know me will not be surprised to know that I have an opinion about most everything: not a judgement, but an intuitive vibe that tilts me one way or the other. Commenting on them out loud, however, is not something that is always a good notion. And being a facebook participant has helped me pace myself, my words and my reactions.

I am often at the restaurant that my family has been running for 45 years. And if one thing is apparent, the social aspect of eating out is more important sometimes than the food aspect.

We have the kind of place where people are comfortable coming in groups, couples or just alone at the bar. But each of our customers comes for two things: For a meal, and for interaction. Just like Eeyore the donkey, people long to be noticed. Noticed for their presence, their conversation, their contributions. Even if they are just out for a hamburger and a beer, to watch a sports game or check in on the events of the day, they need noticing. Otherwise, they would stay home.

Commenting on blogs is certainly a way of noticing other people. It's a written response to their written statement. It's an affirmation that they were heard and evaluated at some level.
So when I comment, I will try to be as thoughtful and careful with my responses as I can.

I can only imagine how important commenting and blogging will be to the next generation of communicators. The nightly news is full of stories about people of extreme behavior, and often, if the person is of a certain young age, they'd blogged about one thing or another.

Blogging can be a good way for young people, students, to be noticed, and to hear back from someone express themselves in a place of some kind of anonymity and see how they are received. I think it'll be interesting to watch this next communication phenomenon. I see it as a very useful tool, indeed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lesson III, I'm a Loser

When I start a new project, especially from square one, I pretty much follow the same pattern. Sewing, golf, knitting, even cooking, it's always an initial wave of bubbling enthusiasm all the way to the first big crash.
Then I decide if I should continue.
Will this enhance my life?
Does it have any kind of pay-off in my practical life?
Will it stave off Alzheimer's?

Last week, my accordion lesson was nothing but pleasant and upward-lifting, because I knew nothing and had nothing to lose.

This week, I realized how much I didn't know and how far I had to go. Yakov was very encouraged and noticed that I did practice on reading music and getting the proper amount of air going in the right directions. He praised me for sitting properly and holding my accordion with the appropriate attitude for easier expansion and contraction.

We even included a new note ("A"), and I had to cover more of the keyboard. When I told him that I only knew 5 notes and 3 chords, he patted my arm and said "Dun't verry, Meddy Liu. Dats goot for TOUSANDS of songs!" And we laughed, him thinking about all he could teach me,...and me thinking that maybe that 5 notes and 3 chords may be just fine.

So, when he asked me to stay for just a few extra minutes to see his prize pupil, I was happy to oblige him. This is where I became a Loser.

Let me just say that I was unaware that one could play an entire symphony on an accordion, and was just the warm up. I was all of a sudden another okay hobbyist in the presence of a virtuoso. And his teacher was the maestro, conducting, directing. "Crescendo!...Andante!..Staccatto!"...arms flailing and the music stand the object of a laser-like focus. I could hear his fingers tap each key as he pounded through eighth notes like they were melted chocolate, and his left hand was pushing combinations of chords that are not in my current repertoire. His bellow placement was perfect and he never ran out of air.

What world is this kid from? Home school world. He also plays piano. And when I asked how old he was, "18". Really? "What are you plans for next year? Have you auditioned for many universities?" Oh, no. no plans for that. He's already working in the family business, heating and cooling. Wow. I guess I'm not the only one interested in enriching my life, just because I think it's beautiful. Someone else has guided this boy to think so too.

When I was leaving, Yakov held open the door. The boy had begun his primary piece.
"That's Handel", Yakov clued me in.
"Sounds like a requium" I guessed.
"Veedy Goot, Meddy Liu". Yakov was pleased that I had that word in my vocabulary.
Me too.
See you next week.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Fascinating Web 2.0

In my family, triumphs and tragedies seem to occur in waves and surges. All of the babies, recitals, graduations, weddings, illnesses, deaths, funerals seem to come in at least packs of 3 at a time. And as much as we like to save on dresses, shoes and airport trips, sometimes it's all a little too much at once.

When a surge of passings occurred around the time of the World Trade Center falling, all we (meaning my sisters and cousins) seemed to be able to do was clean out the next family member's belongings, assign them or donate them, and keep what we thought was important for our family legacy. And because I was the photographer and scribe, keeper of the family albums, a lot of the family archival photos were committed to my library cupboards.

This all occurred at a time of technological transition; a time when we thought the best thing we could do was to find an online geneology tree and fill it in as best we could, print it out and literally cut and paste photos onto it. But as time went on, we were able to build a Flickr site that was available to the entire national genepool, and they could help themselves to sacred photos of ancestors, family lines, immigration and census forms and anything else that was kept in a series of Jacobson's boxes in my grandparent's house.

This long story is the metaphor for why I have an interest in Web 2.0. For awhile it was enough to think that we could save valuable information in a safe place for posterity and legacy. Web 2.0 offers the option of not only saving, but managing information in a productive and synergistic way.

The way humans communicate is what make us different from the rest of the mammals. And that we can share information with each other that illuminates the past and impacts the future is the pay-off from good and thorough information management. I am already using Facebook, You Tube and Flickr, so I'll be curious to see how much more I think I need to communicate.

And in my professional life, a big part of my job has to do with sharing files, photos, information and schedules.

Looks like it's going to be a good thing for me.


Mondays with Yakov

This just in: There are a few certainties about accordions.

1. Accordions are the red-headed stepchild of the music world
2. Accordion music makes everyone smile
3. EVERYONE has an accordion story...and they smile when they tell it.

I am 2 weeks into my Monday lessons with a charming Russian man named Yakov. When I told him that I though I had practiced and learned my songs from the previous week, he replied:
"Meddy Liu, vood be meedacle!" Oh well, miracles can happen. Turns out that there wasn't one this last lesson.
With very broken English, and my non-happening Russian, we seem to meet in Italian musical direction. Multo bene!
Next week, Lesson III