Funny Things That Happened on the way into March

“Laughing, like elation, seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely, noticing relationships that might have eluded them otherwise…” – Daniel Goleman

And it is about this time of year when we long for a much-needed bit of warmth and sunlight, preferably accompanied by a few good laughs.  In the off chance that you might also enjoy some respite, I offer the following items collected over the past couple of months.

Brexit Drama

It is probable that you are unaware of Britain’s trying to leave the European Union, so let it first be said that this is an ongoing two-year+ political “drama” (since summer of 2016) with tremendous consequences in every phase of British life (and some in European life, also) with downstream global economic impact.  The Woes and Throes are particularly well summarized in the daily Brexit Newsletter from Bloomberg.

Overall, this is not funny.

But what is funny is the following photo of the current state of mind regarding Brexit from the offices of one of the European Union countries (I’ll leave you to search for that).

(Photo: NYTimes)

Normally my experience is that sports teams employ animated mascots to stir up the fans and sometimes shoot wadded up tee shirts into the stands, especially during long periods of inactivity on the field.

The photo above raises some speculation: granted that over two years of Brexit “action” more closely resembles two teams trying to push a large unwieldy weather balloon over one goal line or the other and making near zero progress, exactly what sort of excitement could this character stir up anywhere?  And beyond that, that is a pretty lame tee shirt to give away to bystanders.

However, the photo did bring back to mind a sports mascot introduced late last year by the Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey franchise, a “mascot” that only Philadelphia, somehow, could dream up,

Photo: Quartz

I see Sasquatch’s cousin with a tee shirt gun.  Others noticed something else,

Critics from across America immediately showered hate on the carrot-colored creature.  “Flyers’ new mascot is met with universal ridicule,” blared headlines.  But—like the president he would soon be compared to—Gritty found a way to turn on his tormenters and forge their ridicule into a mighty weapon.  After a barrage of negative national media coverage, the city rallied around him.  If there’s one thing that unites Philadelphians, it’s a good war with everyone else in the country.  (CityLab)

Apparently Gritty resonates well with Philly fans, who, in their unabashed enthusiasm, apparently also like to throw batteries at opposing players at NFL games (here).

While I deemed this as funny peculiar (thank you Stan Freeburg), I have to admit that as far as lasting impressions go, Gritty takes the cake.

It Takes All Kinds

Continuing along this rather weak thread of tee shirts, a former student recently sent me this item, remarking that it reminded her that if I had ever had this tee shirt I would have indeed worn it to class, much to the puzzlement of at least half the class,

I’ll leave further contemplation to you.

Next Week We’ve Got To Get Organized

I remember a picture that my father had hanging in his office, ca. 1955. He started, built and later sold a very successful mortgage banking and servicing business, but his filing system generally consisted of not-too-organized-piles-on-his-desk.  Sort of an early form of a category ABC “to-do-piles.”  The picture was a gift (“reminder”) from my mother,

This remained a staple in the family over the years.

I was reminded of this picture when a Vogue article on the passing of the designer Karl Lagerfeld appeared in my RSS feed.  His passing is a loss (although I must admit I knew nothing about his design legacy until I read the article – he was creative director of the French fashion house Chanel), but the photo accompanying the article riveted my attention and triggered many memories as well as a good laugh,


(Photo: Vogue)

As I pondered this visual reality, I think I eventually came to a stunning revelation about creative minds, whatever their individual size.

I have a pile near my desk, and maybe a few small stacks of notes on my desk.  (I once had a pile of sticky notes of blog ideas on my bedside table, a collection that came to me at around 4:00 am over a number of mornings. It’s true; you can see it here).  I know what’s where, and eventually I’ll get to them. But they’re small piles.

Karl Lagerfeld is in another class of his own, organizationally.  It is clear that he, and certainly no one else, is going to mess with this desk.  Think of the consequences, of losing perspective of where “it” is.  Think of the cat!

Then, out of my laughter, came a revelation.

Most likely you and I think topically when (if?) we organize things.  Things are arranged by topic, maybe then by date, placed in folders, and then maybe in drawers.  In our Bubbles we are thinking linearly, at best two-dimensionally.  This is the concept behind our computer desktops, with various “folders” and/or files arranged “neatly” in an array of rows. Click on a folder to open it and we drop into the second dimension, a linear list of files sorted by name or date.  It works, for the rest of us.

Then the stack of stuff reminded me of when I would go hiking out west and use USGS topographic maps, two-dimensional maps that represented elevation, the third dimension, by contour lines.  So in reality they were really “two-and-a-half-dimensional maps.”

And then what came to me is that Karl Lagerfeld, and probably many other “creative” people, don’t think linearly, or even two dimensionally.  They inhabit a different Bubble, and not just creatively.  They must be able to organize and think topographically, in real three dimensions,












(Photo: SweetpeaPapercraft, Etsy)

and then be able to recall, “It’s right over here, and about this far down in the stack.  Yes, here it is!”

That was my Dad.  I think.  It was not my Mother.

File drawers would never work.  Even a database like Evernote with #hashtags might work, but you could never come close to actually seeing the larger picture.

I’ll never look at that Vogue picture again without a great deal of appreciation.  Coupled, of course, by my limited two-and-a-half-dimensional Bubble vision.

But I will be grateful for the laughter.  It helped me to think more broadly, and I learned something valuable.

About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
This entry was posted in 00: Bubbles, 07: Getting It, 08: Observing, Listening, Learning, Lessons from History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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