Realize This!

I just realized that I say, “I just realized…” a disproportionate amount compared to normal conversation. I’m guessing about 62% of my posts contain a sudden realization. It’s like there’s a light bulb hovering over my head… or perhaps it’s more like those OCCUPIED sign lights that go on when you slide the lock shut in an airplane bathroom…

I also really like elipses. And yes, I had to Google, “elipsis plural” to know what to call more than one elipsis…

At any given time I have 30+ tabs open, and am obsessed with saving them. I use two Google Chrome extensions to manage this: FreshStart and Session Buddy. I do microresearch constantly, and go off on literally scores of tangents sometimes from one core idea.

I love numbers. I used to sit and watch my clock radio when I was a kid, just to watch the numbers turn over. I would often count, clicking my teeth together every second, and see how closely my counting to sixty would match up with the changing numbers. Sometimes I was within two seconds of counting off a minute. I could spend an hour doing this as a kid. Watching a clock. And yes, I like watching paint dry too: the way it goes from wet and shiny to matte, the way the matte spreads in reverse across the surface… I also love watching the numbers when downloading torrent files (legal ones of course!). I like knowing exact speeds and percentages. I always have.

I love riffing off of an idea. I like trying to push an idea off a cliff and see how it handles falling, twisting, landing. This might sound macabre, but to me a boring idea is macabre. You will never know if an idea can fly unless you push it off a cliff.

I love the scene in the movie Amélie (which has a much better French title: Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain) where the narrator describes the sensational likes and dislikes of various characters. Amélie likes the feeling of pushing her hand into a bag of dry beans…

I love statistics. I remember numbers better than names. I suffer from minor ‘nominal dysphasia’ where I forget a person’s name before they are finished telling it to me. I learned this term by watching the reality tv show Survivor where a character brought up his condition. For some reason, I didn’t forget the name of the condition, but the name of the character escapes me. Recently I needed to remember the numbers 6183, so I did some microresearch on I can remember the year movies came out, so I knew that if I blended Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, I wouldn’t forget it. So I came up with Breakfast On Endor. Now I don’t forget that number. (And yes, I looked up Endor on Google to see if I spelled it correctly.) What was your name, again?

I just realized that now you’ve realized a lot more about me than I intended to write about today. Because I like to post every day, I usually keep some notes of interesting things I come across, or thoughts that come up, or discussions, or even current events. Today is my son’s birthday. He turned 7. I thought I would write about that, but nothing came to me. I write about him quite often, and it just didn’t flow.

I was going to write about some other numbers: like how I just passed four thousand followers on Twitter, but that sounds like bragging (but see how I slipped that in there anyway?). My most recent SlideShare upload about The 8 Creative Types became the Presentation of the Day, and got over 20,000 views so far. That made me happy. It also means I have to get off my ass and write more about it. My bullsh*t Klout score, which I still check even though I hate it and think it’s wrong, went up a point. And despite the FITC conference this month, my website hits for April were over 500 less than March. These numbers are not important, but are no less interesting because of their irrelevance.

I think that’s all the realization I need to make today. It came upon me in a wave of rapid fatigue, that I should stop writing and get some rest.

The Baddest Robot In The Universes

Today I realized that I can name 5 metals and/or minerals that don’t actually exist, thanks to geek culture. Here they are in order of cultural exposure:

  • Kryptonite – Rare, radioactive ore from Superman‘s home planet of Krypton. It comes in many colours, but the most common is glowy and green. Created by DC Comics.
  • Adamantium – Man-made, nearly indestructible metal alloy most famous for being fused with the Wolverine‘s bones. It is nearly colourless and shiny. Created by Marvel Comics.
  • Liquid Metal– Nanomorphic mimetic poly-alloy used by Skynet to build the T-1000 robots from the Terminator series. Created by James Cameron.
  • Unobtanium – Rare mineral mined on Pandora, a planet near Alpha Centauri. Created by James Cameron for his movie Avatar.
  • Amphilicite – A mineral that is mostly inert, but becomes a potentially universe-destroying energy source after processing. Created for J.J. Abrams’ show Fringe.

Now imagine a Liquid Metal robot with an Adamantium exoskeleton powered by Amphilicite, with a Kryptonite core encased by Unobtanium. It could be a DC/Marvel cross-over, directed by James Cameron and produced by Bad Robot, Abram’s production company where this… well… bad robot from an alternate future fights Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Green Lantern, the X-Men, and the Avengers. Joss, if you’re reading this, call me.

The 8 Creative Types Presentation

Design Edge Canada covered my presentation at FITC Toronto and wrote a great summary of the work:
Here are the eight types and [Jason Theodor’s] explanation of each:
  • The Taker (The Consumer): Desires to be creative, but succumbs to inertia. Craves meaning and voice, but dreams of winning American Idol. Needs patient mentor and a full toolkit.
  • The Mimic (The Xerox): Most of us begin as mimics, especially designers. Need to work on deeper associations, storytelling, research. Need to experiment more to find their own expression.
  • The Producer (The Machine): Get things done right, unstoppable. Fundamental understanding of the work. Have difficulty with self-expression, but love teamwork.
  • The Empath (The Geek): Live primarily in books and online. Prefer the comfort of their thoughts. Get caught in rabbit holes.
  • The Dreamer (The Wannabe): Filled with lofty, creative ambitions and ideas. Have trouble with inertia. Talk the talk but can’t walk the walk.
  • Crazy (The Wildcard): Passionate, filled with wild ideas. Lacks understanding, can’t focus ideas on a project. Too scattered to finish projects.
  • The Outsider (The Recluse): Very creative but insecure, try lots of different things. Haven’t found their passion, the meaning behind their work. Often feel like a fraud, an outsider.
  • Maker (The Creator): Have a well-balanced skill set. Make cool stuff of their own. Work, learn, play.

What’s Your Creative Type?

Today I gave a presentation at FITC Toronto 2012 about creativity. I promised I would post this diagram about how to discover your basic creative type. These are not meant as scientific labels, but as a starting point for understanding your own creative strengths and weaknesses so that you can create a toolkit to help you create more, better, and different. I’m working on an ebook to describe everything in detail, but feel free to try the test yourself and let me know how it plays out for you:

You START at Action, take the Action Test, and then choose the strong path (+) or the weak path (–) depending on your answers.

Action Test (yellow diamond)

Action is about getting things done. It is about practicing a craft and building experience. It is about having a routine, and cranking shit out. If you are strong in action, then when you see great creative work, you immediately start creating something. The important thing about your creative work is that you are doing it. You never have trouble getting started, and always have a project on the go. You usually finish what you start, and make many versions of your work before you are satisfied.

Answer yes or no to the following questions.

Do you…

  1. Have a hard time getting things started?
  2. Suffer from writer’s block, or often feel distracted and doubtful?
  3. Have difficulty finishing a project because you procrastinate too much?
  4. Hate practicing?
  5. Have lots of ideas, but precious little to show for them?
  • If you answered YES to three or more of these questions, you have an action weakness. Follow the (–) sign.
  • If you answered NO to most of these questions and only got one or two YESes then you have action strength in your creative approach. Follow the (+) sign.

Connection Test (blue diamond)

Connection is about making associations, about understanding details, about seeing the big picture. It is about storytelling, about connecting the dots. If you are strong in connection, then when you see great creative work you ponder its intrinsic meaning. The important thing about your creative work is that that it resonates with other people. You do a lot of research, you find it easy to empathize with others, and are intrigued by the many ways different cultures, races, and religions approach solutions to problems. You are never happy with a project until it ‘feels’ just right.

Answer yes or no to the following questions.

Do you…

  1. Loathe the thought of research, and avoid details?
  2. Have little patience for new ideas or cultural experiences?
  3. Have difficulty telling stories?
  4. Have a hard time seeing the big picture, of understanding the relevance of what you do?
  5. Rarely imagine yourself as someone else (in someone else’s shoes)?
  • If you answered YES to three or more of these questions, you have a connection weakness. Follow the (–) sign.
  • If you answered NO to most of these questions and only got one or two YESes then you have connection strength. Follow the (+) sign.

Deviation Test

Deviation is about experimenting enough to find your own expressive voice. If you are strong in deviation, then when you see great creative work you imagine how you would have done it differently. The most important thing about your creative work is that nobody has ever done it before. You like to experiment with a variety of options, and thrive on change. You wear ‘strange’ like a badge of honour, and if people knew all of your ideas, they would probably lock you up.

Answer yes or no to the following questions.

Do you…

  1. Have difficulty expressing yourself, finding your own voice?
  2. Avoid trying new things?
  3. Have a hard time coming up with completely new ideas?
  4. Not know how to imagine things from new perspectives?
  5. Fear the unknown and stick to what you know (do you always order the same thing at a restaurant)?
  • If you answered YES to three or more of these questions, you have a deviation weakness. Follow the (–) sign.
  • If you answered NO to most of these questions and only got one or two YESes then you have deviation strength. Follow the (+) sign.

Congratulations! You should now know your creative type.

Want to know more? I’m currently writing a book about the elements of creativity, the create types, and specific creative toolkits to help you create more, better, different. You can do one of two things:

When Idealism Meets Reality… On A Plate

You can buy Fred’s Food Face in fun kids stores, specialty kitchen shops, or online. And it’s a really fun plate with a cute face that encourages the little ones to play with their food. And it all works perfectly well in photoshoots, promotional material, and even when a creative mom or dad plates the food to start. But as soon as kids get their hands on this stuff, it starts to look like a masacre. Today my son was eating ravioli and created this face which he called cute, but I thought looked like an industrial accident at the beef-rendering plant.

We all have impossible ideals of what we might use things for, especially with kids, and we forget that kids think differently than adults. They are messy. They don’t have the same logic pounded into them. They are not hampered by needing to do things ‘correctly’, or neatly, or rightly, or any other kind of ‘ly’. They just do.

I think the Fred Food Face people should consider doing before and after shots… because I can’t stop laughing at how disgusting (and fun) this can really be.


Reasons Versus Excuses

Reasons are simple and don’t need to be elaborated on. Excuses make you sound guilty, especially if you belabour the point. For instance, I didn’t publish a post on Sunday.

The Reason: My mobile app didn’t work properly.

The Excuse: I wrote a long post on my iPhone using the buggy WordPress app, which doesn’t always update properly. I chose to write a quick ‘photo’ post, which isn’t always reliable. When I hit send, it have me a ‘PUBLISHED’ message. The next morning I checked my stats and the post hadn’t gone through. I checked my phone, and the post was in a confusing section called ‘Local’. I tried publishing it again, and it sort of worked, except it left out the picture. I back dated the post so that I would associate the post of the appropriate day (since I did write it that day after all). That confusion then caused me to think I had written a post for Monday, which I hadn’t, and then Monday’s post also fell behind.

See the difference? The more you talk about it, the more that can be questioned and the more you (potentially) incriminate yourself. And the more excuses you make, the more it sounds like life is out of control, and you with it. I try to give measured reasons for things and take responsibility. It doesn’t always work, because I like to get into the details and I have an inborn sense of ‘extreme fairness’ that has been blunted by the harsh weight of reality. But as soon as I become conscious of sounding defensive, I try to reel in the excuses and get down to the basic facts.

I should have been a lawyer.

Mow Better Blues

Today I needed to mow the county lawn. It really needed it. And if we don’t get on it and miss a few weekends, the the grass is too long to cut and we need to hire a tractor. So I got up early to cut up a few acres before breakfast. I topped up the oil on the first mower. Spilled it all over the place. Then the mower wouldn’t run when put in gear. The engine just died. I had to put it in neutral and try to push it out of the greenhouse (where we store them), but the arm got caught on the door. It took me a while to heave the heavy bastard out. It still wouldn’t start. So i topped up the oil on the second mower (yes we have two for this exact reason) and realized it needed gas too. This was in a shed up the hill. The gas can was full, and heavy, and of course I spilled gas everywhere filling up mower two. Then I realized I was missing keys. I looked all over, getting more as more frustrated. After an hour of this I gave up and went inside. My wife had the keys in her jacket pocket. I took them back down to the mower and then realized that practically all old mower keys are identical, and I could have used the keys from the first mower right from the start. Sigh.
I then started mowing. And mowing. And mowing. Acre after acre, until the sun looked too far down in the sky. When I was finished, my son was aghast. “Dad, you mowed ALL DAY!” it was true. It was 5:00 and I had only had my morning coffee. What’s the moral of the story? Not sure. Don’t have so much freakin’ land? Take breaks to eat so you don’t feel faint and grumpy all day? Don’t be a stubborn so-and-so? Anyway, the giant lawn has a haircut and won’t need trimming until next week. How the heck did the early pioneers manage? I just wish I knew small engines like I know computers…