The Big Think

September 30, 2015

Stephanie

Filed under: Disclosure,Friends — jasony @ 12:44 pm

I work with college students. A lot of college students. Over the past quarter century I’ve probably interacted directly and intensely with two or three thousand of them (and tens of thousands more indirectly and sporadically). But I get to know the main ones really well. These are the cream of the crop. Then among that cream you have the real standouts. I keep doing projects for them after Baylor, we attend their weddings, baby showers, have lunch periodically, and keep in touch with each others’ lives.

Then there is Stephanie.

I met Stephanie back in 2009/2010 and we worked together to put her organization’s Sing act together. There was just something special about this group of ladies. We had a ton of fun in our meetings, sometimes going completely off the rails and laughing ourselves silly. Wasting time in a way that I do not regret. There was an immediate sense-of-humor match that you only get with certain people. I loved working with those girls and I think the feeling was mutual. Just tons of fun. Stephanie kept in touch after graduation and Erin and I see her once or twice a year. She’s even spent work/vacation time and flown down from the east coast to stay with us for a few days to hang out, talk philosophy, art, and literature, and just generally be around. She’s become a good friend to both of us.

Stephanie is one of those rare individuals who gets it. As a fellow scanner, she’s interested in a hundred different things and wants to learn everything about everything. Her bookshelf is eclectic, her conversation wide-ranging, and her interests deep and well-connected. I count her among my most intelligent friends. I’d happily throw her in the mix with any group of people age 20 to 90 and she’d hold her own, listen intently, and have interesting things to say.

I’m proud to call her my friend.

All this to say that the other day Erin and I got this in our email. It’s a perfect illustration of who she is and why we like her so much.

Ever have one of those moments when you just love people?

I have had a few of those recently.

First there is this book I’ve been reading about the rising trend of orthodox christianity in America amongst Generation X and Y.

Then there was my first Toastmasters meeting where over 30 young adults spent their Friday night making impromptu speeches and discussing language and presentation skills.

Then there is the maker faire and the exponentially growing line that wrapped the block by 9:45 for a faire that opened at 10. And within, the fascinating ideas – both in progress and come to life – that are captivating and inspiring and brilliant.

Then there is this TV show I started watching about people who “invented” the portable personal computer.

Then there was the church service yesterday where our pastor integrated Aquinas, Aristotle, and Kafka into a discussion about the Ten Commandments being about how we love people and what God’s rest for us looks like.

Today there was the Space Exploration TED Talks with this man who wants to mine the moon to great a gas station en route to planetary exploration AND also today i learned that John Green and his brother have their own educational youtube channel for kids and adults on so far “only” 14 topics because they want to learn new things and have an output for proving to themselves they have learned them so they are making videos teaching them. (John Green- that guy does EVERYTHING!).

I get so caught up in the people around me who appear so one-dimensional and identify as only one thing, are interested in only one thing, shriek at the suggestion of a non-fiction book club, and generally lack curiosity about anything beyond where are the best happy hour deals or excuses to leave work early to watch TV. 

I forget there are other people in the world. Ones I actually want to be like.

And when I find them, I fall in love with humanity again.

Right? Like I said: she gets it. Stephanie will live an interesting life.

There aren’t many people who stand out in our day-to-day lives. Most people will make a small dent and then move on. But Stephanie has made a big impact on us and we’re grateful to know her.

She has made a difference in our lives.

June 2, 2015

Photo

Filed under: Friends — jasony @ 11:00 pm

Phenomenal publicity picture of Erin’s best friend Anne. Wow! Photographer did a great job and Anne had fun getting the professional makeup/makeover. Yes, that really is her natural eye color.

She’ll use this photo as part of her piano performance publicity stuff.

Erin and I decided that the colors and saturation in the picture almost look like a Vermeer painting. Great picture Anne! 🙂

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December 11, 2014

Unexpected Gifts

Filed under: Friends,Maker — jasony @ 11:45 am

It’s Christmas season! Which means getting to know the UPS driver and mailman really well. The other day the doorbell rang and I went down to see a large flat box perched next to the front door. Huh… don’t think I was expecting anything. It turns out it was a gift from an artist friend of ours along with this note:

Jason and Erin,

Just a small token to say “Merry Christmas!” and let let you know that, in spite of all the miles between us, we truly appreciate your friendship and think of you both often….

…I trust that it will still fin a place in your home and, just maybe, spark some pleasant memories of the Emerald Isle.

Tim is a fine guy, a wonderful, patient artist, a supportive husband, and one of those friends that you never get to spend as much time with as you’d like (in our case, we’ve spent maybe two hours total with him and his wife Katherine but hit it off right away. Just wish they didn’t live in Nashville). His out-of-the-blue gift just completely floored us. We’re looking forward to hanging it above our front door to catch the morning light.

Thanks, Tim.

Please read on to see the glass as well as to get insight into the (40 hour long!) creation process.

I stumbled across the original design hanging on a coworker’s wall and filed it away to work on someday when I wanted to try my hand at a Celtic knot project. After working on several stylistically similar pieces this year, I needed a creative palate cleanser, so “someday” came sooner than expected.

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Getting started was as simple as printing off the picture, laying it on my light table and tracing the design onto the back of the sheet with a sharpie. (Sharpies are indispensable for stained glass. I honestly don’t know how stained glass artisans worked before they were invented!) There were a few places where I had to divide a single section into two pieces, but I don’t think they interrupted the flow of the knot too badly.
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Doing the rough cuts proceeded more quickly than you’d expect. Even more than usual, this was a trade-off between making broad cuts to leave myself plenty of margin for error vs. making close cuts to minimize how much grinding I’d have to do later on. Still, coaxing the basic shapes out of sheets of glass is one of my favorite parts of the process. It’s also when the unavoidable, “Oh my, what have I gotten myself into?” moment hits.

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And now begins the long, precise work of grinding and foiling. For this project I used the narrowest copper foil tape so that I’d end up with finer solder lines. (A unique challenge in and of itself.) As I think I mentioned to Jason, the intricacy of this design translated to each piece taking several times as much grinding time as an average project. Instead of doing a rough pass and then 1 or 2 shaping grinds, I’d say I went back to the grinder an average of 8-12 times for each piece. Rinse. Repeat. (About 110 times.) Well worth it, though, as I was pretty pleased with how everything came together.

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I must admit that I had help with this project. In this case, it was a subtle reminder that I share my workshop with far more talented craftsman.

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This is where an animated GIF would come in handy to show the progression as a time-lapse [done!]. Each new section represents an average of 4-6 hours of work. I took a few extra days off over the Thanksgiving break and immersed myself in the project, which provided a much needed mental break. Though after about the fourth day the tips of most of my fingers were badly bruised from pressing the glass into the grinder. That was a new and unique experience.

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And here’s where I have to apologize for my impatience. Once I’ve completed the grinding and foiling, I always feel like I’m in the home stretch and invariably dive right into adding the soldering, frame, hangers and patina. It’s only after everything is done that I realize that I should have been taking more pictures. Still, you get the idea. Here’s the finished project next to the original design:

Anyway, that’s it. Thanks for letting me share a bit of a glimpse behind the scenes of making your piece.

UPDATE: Sorry Tim! I forgot to include a pic of the finished piece.

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December 30, 2013

You Don’t Say

Filed under: Disclosure,Friends — jasony @ 9:47 am

“I want to graciously give, accept, and even believe compliments, but our hyperbolic language has rendered the entire industry of verbal admiration meaningless. In fact, I see and hear adjectives used so far past their definitions that the excess can have the effect of making me think the exact opposite of what the speaker or writer likely intended. This happens often in status updates and tweets where bloggers recommend each other’s posts. When I see “stunning,” “breathtaking,” or “extraordinary,” I can’t help but raise an eyebrow in doubt. I’m more likely to click on a link with a toned-down description like “thought provoking,” “solid read,” or “well said.” This culture of exaggeration has made me a cynic. I’ve become suspicious of words.”

How to Give a Compliment

I have a small slip of paper I carry around that says “If your criticism isn’t true, your praise means nothing”. I try very hard to avoid all these “AMAZING!” over-statements (not always successfully). Simple, heartfelt, and _thoughtful_ expressions seem to be the ones that make the most impact. In fact, I have a VERY thoughtful Christmas card on my desk from a former Sing Chair that just about made my year. No exclamation points, not a single use of the word “amazing”. Just a quiet declaration of appreciation and friendship. Not many things can occupy the Inner Sanctum of my precious desk space, but this one will be there for quite a while (thanks, S, by the way).

November 30, 2013

Thoughts on Male Friendship (Or: Saying Goodbye, the Irish Way)

Filed under: Friends,Movies — jasony @ 9:34 am

what these four young men represent is a challenge to the common portrayal of male friendship in our popular culture. It is difficult to find, especially on television, an example of male friendship (outside of the military or law enforcement) that is neither transactional nor idiotic. For cheap beer, it’s the wingman trope. In sitcoms, it’s stupid men doing stupid things in stupid attempts at liberation from wives or girlfriends. Male friendships, we’re taught, are about finding or fleeing women; they are not valuable in themselves.

Watch the vid first:

Then read the article. Brilliant.

May 23, 2013

Only a camp counselor will understand these 27 things

Filed under: Disclosure,Education,Friends,Games,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 4:33 pm

Only a camp counselor will understand these 27 things: “You know that you’re only making like a dollar an hour, but haters gonna hate, you’ve got the best job in the world. People on the outside just don’t understand what it means to spend your summer in the camp wild. They don’t understand that you can in fact survive on Oreos and Gatorade and that severe tan lines and bad haircuts can be sort of cool. And they’ll never experience the absolute pride of losing your voice after defeating every child in your cabin in a yelling competition, nor will they rock tie-dye like you do. People on the outside just don’t get it. But it’s okay. Because you get it, and really, that’s all that matters.”

February 17, 2013

Bench

Filed under: Business,Friends,Music — jasony @ 11:04 pm

Ten years ago a friend and former Pit band member asked if his young daughter could sit on the piano bench in the pit with me during a show. Since it was Pigskin (and, if I recall correctly, a club night) I didn’t think it would hurt anything. I recall her sitting next to me with wide eyes as she saw my perspective of the action going on onstage. She was overwhelmed by the lights, the music, and the dance (to quote a certain song). College students singing and dancing! How wonderful!

Fast forward a decade and that little girl, Emily, sat next to me on the very same bench last night. Emily is now a student at Baylor and is one of those performers in the show. Maybe this week a little girl will sit on the bench next to me and dream about being up there someday.

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January 11, 2013

Pour mon ami Curieux

Filed under: Friends — jasony @ 10:21 am

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December 3, 2012

So’s Your Mom

Filed under: Education,Friends — jasony @ 5:32 am

I just got into a disagreement with someone who made an easily refutable point. I brought up what I thought was a good example, then backed it up with another one, then tied it in with an overall principle I thought was pretty well-reasoned and historically supported (not to mention held by a pretty large proportion of people). His response?

“That argument is ludicrous.” No rebuttal. No counter example. No acknowledgement that millions of people and centuries of behavior might have some merit. Just an emotional appeal and that oh-so-easy CYA word that so many people think shuts down disagreement and wins an argument. Talk to the hand!

If by “ludicrous” you mean “I can’t effectively refute it with facts so I will demean it with language” then he’s right.

I get so tired of arguing with people only to have them effectively stick their fingers in their ears and shout “no, YOU’RE a poopie head!” It makes me grateful for the friends in my life who honestly listen to other points of view and are open to changing their thinking.

October 2, 2012

Happy Birthday

Filed under: Friends,Technology — jasony @ 9:45 am

Happy B-day to my brother Troy. Coincidentally, today is also the 30th birthday of the Compact Disc! Remember those?

The CD Player, and the Commercial CD, Turn 30 – Megan Garber – The Atlantic

September 18, 2012

Reach

Filed under: Business,Disclosure,Friends — jasony @ 10:28 pm

A note I just received:

My friend getting married… is now a teacher in Houston. The school district gave them STEMscopes [the Rice project I’ve worked on for over a year] as a resource and she called me today because she saw your name attached to the one about Matter she used in class and wanted to verify it was the REAL Jason Young. HOW AWESOME! Hope that makes your day, it did mine!

Yes, it did! Thanks, Stephanie!

August 19, 2012

Eulogy for John

Filed under: Friends — jasony @ 6:40 pm

Remebering John Clauson | POWDER Magazine

Good to know that so many people knew what a great guy he was.

August 1, 2012

Fly

Filed under: Education,Friends — jasony @ 1:06 pm

Congrats to my nephew Matthew for attaining his Eagle! Great job.

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April 25, 2012

Big Thoughts on a Small Subject

Filed under: Friends,Science — jasony @ 4:07 pm

Friend (and String Theorist) Matt writes:

So, people constantly talk about how tiny we are in the scope of the entire universe, how miniscule, how insignificant we are next to stars and nebula and galaxies, etc. This seems strange. The scale of the known universe is about 10^27. sure, that’s real big. but, the planck scale is 10^(-35). that’s way smaller than the whole universe is big. we’re actually bigger than about 56% of the stuff in the universe. There’s plenty more “below” us than “above” us.
so why are we so quick to marvel at how small we are? is it because the cosmologist and astrophysicists have better PR people?
i’m seriously curious about this – why would we not stop to appreciate how gigantic the “classical” scale is?

It’s always struck me as weird that, as vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big space is (not just “out-of-our-conception” big, but “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me” big), as Matt says, there’s “more small” beneath us as there is above us. As to why more people don’t realize this, I suspect it has something to do with the fact that we can hold a nigh-infinite number of “smalls” between our pinched fingertips and so they don’t have as much, ahem, weight as the one single “big” we can see just a tiny part of on a dark night.

“When you wish upon a proton” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

April 20, 2012

Ideas

Filed under: Friends,Humor and Fun,Mad Science — jasony @ 6:50 am

This one goes out to Sean (h/t Scott):

February 23, 2012

Political Mad Libs

Filed under: Friends,Humor and Fun,Politics — jasony @ 11:44 am

Let your voice be heard! Just fill in blanks on this convenient election template and be a contributing* member of your representative democracy**!

Now that ______ is the candidate for the ______ party, I could never vote for him/her. I mean, the other potential choices were bad enough, but that man/woman (is crazy/is scary/is a fascist/hates women/is fundamentally unelectable/goose steps for [fill in scary deity of choice]). Have you heard that he/she said (pick sound bite [bonus points if soundbite more than five years old. Extra bonus points if out of context]).

Even though I’m not happy about it, I think my candidate, (fill in blank of candidate/party you voted for last time, and until recently was dissatisfied with), is SO MUCH BETTER than this crazy person we’d have as an alternative. The devil you know, you know?

Fun*** for the whole family!

*cynically manipulated
**those with memories that last more than 4 years need not play
***divisive

January 16, 2012

Katie’s Clay

Filed under: Business,Friends — jasony @ 12:01 pm

Erin’s cousin Katy is a polymer clay artist in Anchorage, AK. We went to visit the family this past March and had a great time seeing Alaska, visiting the family, and getting to watch Katy make her really cool polymer clay art. Katy is the featured artist on polymerclaydaily today. Congrats, Katy! Now sell online! 🙂

December 12, 2011

Dear 16 Year Old Me

Filed under: Disclosure,Education,Friends — jasony @ 11:43 am

My mom was diagnosed with stage 3 (bordering on stage 4) melanoma over a decade ago. After a long course of extensive chemo and radiation she beat it. A few years later the breast cancer hit. She beat that too. Thanks to her incredible doctors she conquered some astronomical odds and is healthy today.

This video talks about the risk factors for melanoma (early sunburns, family history, moles, etc). I have just about every risk factor except red hair (who knew?). I also go to the dermatologist once a year and have had at least a dozen moles removed since mom’s diagnosis. I share this because keeping up with this has become easy, routine, and something that we budget for in our annual medical expenses. $250/year isn’t much to pay to make sure I don’t die from melanoma. It’s not fun or painless, but it just may be the difference in the future.

This is for you, mom…

Worth watching.

December 8, 2011

Matt Makes Good

Filed under: Friends,Music — jasony @ 8:06 pm

(not that Matt)

Friend Matt Trevino appears as Sarastro in the current production of Mozart’s Magic Flute in Dublin. Check out this video.

Matt is the Black-Adder look-alike at :12. Good on you P.O.F.!

from Irish Theatre Magazine:

But it was Texan bass Matthew Treviño who truly galvanised attention: his Sarastro was magnetically sung and acted, an eerily hermetic presence with an insinuatingly malevolent agenda (he manhandles Pamina creepily during one aria). Sarastro’s part goes very low musically, but Treviño’s bottom Fs were unpinched and beautifully supported, his sonorous, burnished tone and clear enunciation a source of constant pleasure.

I always thought of Matt as being “eerily hermetic”. Whatever that means.

December 5, 2011

Mobile Man

Filed under: Business,Friends — jasony @ 10:20 am

Sean has a post over at his blog about his impending job move from Magnolia to Mutual Mobile, an up-and-coming company in downtown Austin. I know it’s been a tough decision for him and he’s considered a lot of factors, but I really am happy that he’s making this move. Maybe I’m just selfish, though. This means more lunches since we won’t be facing an 80 mile round trip to spend time together. Hooray!

Seriously, though, it’s good to see a friend making conscious moves to do what they love, and it’s something that I wish on all of my friends. Way to go, amigo!

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