30 October 2011

Had Enough Chips? Pretzels? Candy?

When I ask "what is enough" and what is bothering us so much, what am I basing these questions on? Let's start with the most obvious aspect of life where people in general, and Americans specifically, are clearly struggling to get satisfied.

Food. Weight. As a country, the United States is struggling with huge (no pun intended... this isn't funny) weight issues. I've likened our culture's appearance to kernels of corn boiling in hot fat and in response, *POPPING* out of our previous boundaries.

Yep, we're fat. The government says two-thirds of Americans are overweight; one third or more are obese. And worst of all, our generation next is coming up chubby, too.

We're busy stuffing things in our mouths, looking for satisfaction. Looking for "enough." Looking to fill a hole inside of us that aches for "a little something-something." But instead of "a little," we eat everything in sight.

Come on. We've all tried to tame that one before. We have a few chips; we want a few more. Even the chip industry knows we can't let things alone. "You can't have just one" was the slogan of the nation's most popular chips for more than a decade. We're not alone in our overindulgence. The American Institute of Baking (AIB) reports snacks are a growth industry, "business insights projects that the savory snack industry will grow to $10 billion by 2012." We're nothing if not predictable.

But was there ever satisfaction in a few chips? But worse, has making it to the bottom of the bag ever inspired anything other than guilt? The salty (and now added sweet) additions to the carbohydrate load make them tasty. The carbohydrates themselves make you quickly crave more after you finish the first few.

So the big question is, when are you going to stop looking in the fridge for "enough"? And where can you look next?

24 October 2011

What Ails Us?

I've been giving a lot of thought to something lately. I've come up with an answer and I want to talk it through with you. First off, let's define the question.

When I ask "what ails us," what I'm really asking is what is ailing the U.S., our society, our country and us as individuals. What ails the U.S.?

I think it's the same question that's bothered me for a long time. When I say I'm formulating an answer, I don't mean to imply that I'm so insightful that I know everything about American culture. I am actually saying that I'm so very average and totally un-special that I'm bothered by the same things that are bothering the rest of the country. And I have mentioned the idea I have before on this blog.

I think it's a question of "enough."

I've told you before that someone asked me this question at lunch, years ago. A person who was wise beyond his years and looking at me clearly (and yet gently) enough to understand what he was seeing asked me, "What is enough for you, Marti? What is it going to take? What will be enough for you? And will you know it when you see it within your grasp?"

What a great question! I'm so glad it was put to me right then. I didn't have the answer at that time. I'm not sure I do now, although I know that many things I couldn't get enough of then are no longer troubling to me now.

So I want to start a dialogue here about our culture and the word "enough." Different aspects, subjects and theories. I want your thoughts, ideas and opinions, too. Consider it my own little research project. Topic: What is Enough?

12 October 2011

An Artful (Broken) Heart

I had my heart broken tonight. It wasn't by a person. It wasn't over a lost job. It was over this:
If you've ever loved and lost, then you know how I feel. This is an Emile Vernon oil painting that was at an auction. It's a particularly good one, because it doesn't just show the usual "pretty women" that he did so famously, but this painting seems to have an actual plot behind it: two bar maids whispering about a traveler with well-worn shoes. I bid briefly, but realized I had to walk away because I didn't have my life in order to provide the appropriate setting for this piece of art.
I'm going to remember this loss for a long time. There aren't a lot of things I truly covet and I'm sure there will be other paintings that I love in the future. But this one is a reminder that I need to work a little harder to focus my life and be able to provide a place for so much beauty.
Maybe this was what I needed to motivate me to move beyond my 40-45 weekly hours job, a job hunt, a website in development and a bunch of craft projects that so far aren't moving on Etsy.com, because as Scarlet O'Hara would have put it, "As God is my witness, I'll never be artless again." Or something like that.

06 October 2011

Steve Jobs: 1955 – 2011

The news that Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011 lit up the cyber-sphere like very few things in recent history. Seriously, I've covered the deaths of former American presidents whose passing got less interest. I hope that is a testament to the way he lived.
I never interviewed Mr. Jobs. That should be clear upfront. Having covered politics and hurricanes for most of my adult life, there were always people far more prepared than me for questioning Apple's CEO. I can respect that. But like a lot of the Americans posting endlessly on Facebook.com and Twitter.com (which appeared to shut down for a time under the load) I greatly admired his passion.
Have you noticed that in every photograph of him posted around the web, he's engaged? He might not be exactly smiling, but he is there, in that moment, focused on whatever he's doing. That is a mark of true genius, in my mind.
Tonight, I saw it best explained in an article on Mashable.com, where the writer had interviewed him multiple times, over the years. If you want to read more about that, here's your chance. Because I want to move the conversation forward.
People seem very concerned that this country has lost a visionary. Yes, that's true. But we don't need to feel we've lost our vision. I think the best way to honor Steve Jobs is to do as he did: embrace the universe of possibilities every day.
I started my little website a year ago. It's in rebuild right now and I'm grateful for a couple of very talented web developers who have gone the distance with me in decision-making and design. These two Americans have made web development into an entirely different experience than what I went through 16 months ago, working with a New Delhi team that I came to refer to, both generally and specifically, as "Pirate." I hope in another six months, when I start to rethink, they'll come with me on the second journey. (A third? I'm hoping not because at that point, I'd like the site to need so many customizations that we have to take our friendship to the level of "just friends.")
I often tease my friends and coworkers that I'm going to "take over the world" with my darling little web project. I'm only halfway kidding and those that know me well with confirm that.
I don't expect to remake my industry. I don't expect to change the way people listen to music. Or shop for cars. Or feed their children.
What I'd like to do is enhance the way people understand the world and the opportunities that people in my industry are given... and take for themselves. I can only spend the amount of time (and money... ugh, the money!) on my little web project because I am passionate about it. I'm passionate about journalism and journalists and helping people re-ignite an industry and a group of workers that have taken some hard knocks in recent years. Otherwise, with my very limited television reporter's attention span, I would have wandered off long ago. But Steve Jobs, with the way he changed computer use and the way he pushed his limits, led the way.
I hope you're passionate, too, because if you haven't seen the news lately, time is limited. Eat dessert, love deeply, wear your favorite clothes and live your own life. Steve Jobs certainly did.