Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mr Know-It-All

My paternal grandfather did a lot to make his mark around town. In addition to being a crack math teacher and beloved superintendent of the local school he just did everything. He was a master vegetable gardener, an athlete well into his eighties, contributed to nearly everything going on around him in some way or another and read voraciously, constantly.

He, and others, sometimes referred to a time not so long ago when a person really could know it all. The body of knowledge possessed by the human race has only in the last couple hundred years gotten so large that being fluent in all areas of study has become an impossibility. Once upon a time you really could be a know-it-all.

My grandfather was now and then referred to as "the worst kind of know-it-all... he really does know it all!" Not that it was true, but he had an uncanny ability to put forth some sort of factoid about nearly anything at all you wanted to discuss. I pride myself in following in his footsteps to some small degree. Although my friends are a lot younger than his friends were so they in comparison obviously don't know as much.

But it brings me around to my point, and that is: You really should be a know-it-all.

There's something eminently desirable about being a Renaissance Man. A guy who knows about classical art and how to gap a spark plug. A person who grasps the subtleties of timeless musical works, and knows how to get your computer going again after a crash. Someone with an inkling about French cuisine, who also knows how to cook a rockin' good beer brat. You get the idea.

I'm off to read some more...

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Rembrandt

When I was in college studying theatrical lighting design I was faced with a minimum course requirement that put me officially on overload. I think it was if you were over 18 credit hours per semester. That left me looking for the easy way out on my liberal arts credits. I fount it right off the bat in a prof that taught art history, specifically baroque art.

It served me quite well. The classes were an absolute breeze. All you had to do was show up reasonably often, look at slides of paintings without falling asleep, and remember something about them come test time. I took every class she offered. And if not for her I would never have known about Caravaggio, which was quite the boon to the young student of lighting design. (That Bernini ain't no slouch neither.)

At any rate, one morning while peering up at the screen I got smacked in the face with this particular beauty of a sketch. It's a self portrait of Rembrandt, done when he was a similar age to myself at the time. And there I sat, looking at one of the most highly regarded of the Classical Masters... in a funny hat with a silly look on his face.

Now that is something I can identify with!

I don't think I need to go on at length about taking yourself too seriously. Just get out the silly hat and make a face. Go ahead and post the results here, I'd love to see em.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Back In The Saddle

After a prolonged burst of creativity I just sort of ran out of stuff to say. Over the course of a year and a half I put myself out there in four different blogs, nearly five hundred posts. And then one day the stress of job and home just got to be too much and sitting at the keyboard merely produced an hour or so of listless clicking before bed instead of any sort of cathartic experience.

After all that time building an audience and cementing some profound friendships through the aether I just, stopped. Twiddling with Effbook and mindless clicking were all I could muster. Then I took an idle poke at Twitter the other day and realized I cared again to put it simply. I had a couple exchanges with some old friends, one of whom had been on a similar hiatus. And the fire was back.

A few weeks ago someone leaned across the table at a production meeting for a musical I was mixing and said that they missed my posts here. It's high time I dusted off nine months of cobwebs and putting my thoughts into type once again. I wrote about some sort of mystical rejuvenation on my family-stuff blog the other day. That has something to do with it. But now on to the thought of the day.

I'm a little unhappy with my job. Grateful to have it but the more I look at my situation the worse it gets. People love me there and I make myself useful which goes a long way toward job satisfaction. But I looked at my finances and my future prospects and continuing to make the same money while everything else gets ever more expensive can only go on so long. And while a very short commute is a real bonus, putting some more miles on the truck would be an easy trade off if it meant not having to strain with every muscle to get those elusive ends to meet.

The problem is this: not many people have a use for a jack of all trades.

I grew up in a construction family. I built houses with my Dad for seventeen years and I learned how to do everything that goes on between digging the hole and laying out the doormat. I could likely find another small town builder who could use a man of many talents. But it's quite likely I'll spend a good deal of time laid off every year and while that works out for some, being out of work isn't an option for us.

The other option is to go into the trades for one of the big dogs. The problem in that arena is that I'm not a big dog. While I'm a pretty good electrician, wiring five houses a year isn't the same experience as pulling wires every single day. Same goes for framing, drywall, and so on. If I'm real lucky I can hone my skills in one particular area and maybe hit if off with a company, but that's just a wait and see game. Nothing's certain.

With all that said I do have one thing that I plan on using as my lead off when I finally do start sending out the resumes. Every place I've worked since I left the family biz has put me in charge after six months. In the IT department as a college intern, wound up in charge of projects right out of the box. Later on the Student Activities director tried for a year to get me to hire on after I graduated. The last construction company I worked for had me running jobs and slated to be the next foreman. And at my latest gig, I wind up sort of loosely in charge of keeping all the construction running smoothly. A ton of responsibility, a smidgen of extra pay, and absolutely no authority whatsoever.

So chew on that future prospective employer. I've got a largely unspecified skill set, dick for a resume and I'm somewhat shaggy-looking to boot. But gosh darn it... people like me.

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