Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Get Bored (Wednesday LINKS)

I had a very startling realization the other day: between books, computers, and iPods, I rarely think for myself.

What would have been introspective moments of silence a mere decade ago are now filled with noise.  That walk to the car.  That time in the elevator.  That long run around the lake.  Radio commercial breaks.  Waiting for Jane at a restaurant.  I've filled all of these moments with podcasts, Weezy Baby, and Twitter feeds.  Ironically enough, I came to this realization through a various number of podcasts reviewing the book "Imagine" by Jonah Lehrer.  At the outset I should note that I have not read this book, but I've heard the core ideas discussed for a collective three hours or so, which makes me feel like I have a very good copy of Cliff's Notes.

In part, Mr. Lehrer argues that with all of the additional inputs of the modern age, we are inhibiting our subconscious and the ability to be creative.  One idea that he comes back to often is that the only time we are really "alone with our thoughts" anymore is in the shower and on airplanes (for those brief periods of take-off and landing).  When we are bored, we almost instinctively reach for the little computer attached to our waist to do...whatever.  One of my friends recently introduced me to the idea of the "Phone Yawn", where one person's instinctive reach for their dweeb box makes his or her companions do the same, similar to the effect of someone yawning.

I have a secret.  On 90% of mornings, I wake up with absolutely no idea what I am going to write at the top of my post.  ("Why Tom, the quality of this rant makes me seriously doubt that.  I was almost able to decipher a clear argument.")  Really!  But I normally formulate at least a title and the first few lines during the silence imposed on me while showering, shaving, and getting my things together for the day.  No shower --> no post.

Contemporaneous with all of these thoughts, my iPhone has gone on the fritz.  It constantly wants to tell me that there is something plugged into the phone when nothing it is attached.  In doing so, it will cut off whatever podcast I'm listening to, forcing me to do a succession of buttons and replugging that has made podcast listening a chore.  So I've gone back to silence when I had otherwise had noise.  It has been an interesting experience; almost as if I am reclaiming some part of my identity.  My thoughts have space.

Even since I was young, I have operated off of the idea that inputs create improvement.  This explains both a childhood bout with obesity and a voracious reading habit.  Whether I was on the couch, in the car, or even waiting in a line at Disney, I was reading a book.  I don't regret that, but I wonder what conversations were missed?  What thoughts were never had?

Unplug a little today, my friends.  Put your books down for a bit.  Just think.  It may make your book even better.


Orioles WIN!  Buck Showalter gets his 1,000 win as a Major League Manager!  And...NICK JOHNSON GETS A HIT!

David Greisman is on the Wegman's beat, covering one of the most important hearings this week -- the Alcohol Beverage Hearing Board's review of the proposed "Upstairs Spirits" on-site at the new Wegman's.  David notes that the overwhelming majority of those testifying were against the new license, but that the putative license holders believe their application is entirely within the letter of the law.  I highly recommend reading this article.  It is a detailed issue and one that may have consequences outside of the new grocery store.

Lindsey McPherson posts another Political Notebook, looking at Ken Ulman's upcoming Biz Markie fundraiser and the ambiguous (while well supported) candidacy of Jon Weinstein.  Similar to the County Executive, I have had "Just a Friend" stuck in my head for the past month as well.  It's not a good place to be. 

Baltimore is consolidating recreational centers, scheduling four to close at the end of this year and sinking another $19 million into building two new centers and renovating others.  Anyone who has read, worked on, or investigated anything to do with Baltimore City's crime problem can attest to how critical these recreation centers are to breaking the cycle of gangs, drugs, and violence.  One can only hope that this program is as focused on those goals as it is price tags.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: A while back The Sun decided to do a profile on local blogs.  They chose 317am as their subject.  That blog is going into hibernation.  Since 317 am is on HoCoBlogs, I've checked over from time to time and have enjoyed their thoughts on recent works of fiction and the creative process.  I was always a little disappointed that they decided not to engage with the blogging community (while teaching a course related to the same), but that's their decision.  Either way, Ras did a great job describing exactly what is so exhausting about this hobby in his sign off note:

What I’m quite ready to set aside is the need to have opinions, so, so many opinions. A blogger with wishy-washy thoughts is providing no entertainment and little else of value to his readers. But the burden of thinking up opinions and articulating them gets to be wearying after a while. The corner of my brain that generates chutzpah, the part of my psyche that enables me to believe others may care what I think, is wearing down as well.


That's all for today.  Have a fantastic Wednesday doing what you love!