General articles showcasing the enjoyable and not-so-enjoyable aspects of my life and life in general.

Finding a Source of Inspiration or Motivation

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Finding sources of motivation or inspiration can be tough and we all tend to search for them from time to time. Well, at least I know that I do. And frequently.

I would say I’m not lazy (the first step in fixing the problem is…), yet somehow I find myself searching for inspiration or motivation at times.

Podcasts, books, songs, movies and generally Google. These are the usual suspects.

But really, inspiration can come from the strangest of sources. This morning I encountered just such a strange source motivation.

Source of Inspiration Story

It’s a Saturday morning and today I had planned on a relaxing day, consisting mainly of video games and a short shopping errand. But my "honey-do" list is long, I am behind at my day-job and have tons of side-projects that need some movement.

But it’s a Saturday! Weekend are made for fun. Of course, now, I can look at that thought process and it can go one of two ways: validation or excuse.

I had also planned on sleeping in.

But since I am use to waking early, my body woke me just after 8 AM. I guess this was sort of sleeping in.

I stepped outside to sip on my first cup of coffee, have a smoke, listen to a bit of a podcast and see what the day felt like.

This little regular ritual of mine tends to take somewhere between 5 – 7 minutes usually. And in just a tiny part of this time on this particular Saturday morning, I saw something I considered not only impressive, but rather amazing and assuredly inspiring.

I watched as one of my neighbors drove past my house and backed into their driveway, exchanging our usual friendly waves. As the car slowed to a stop, I saw his wife and two children come out of the house with bags.

The trunk popped open, and the neighbor opened up the car doors while his family stowed their bags. He shut the trunk while they got into the car and shut their doors. He returned to the driver’s seat, shut his door.

And then they drove away. Waving again.

This all happened in less than one minute.

ONE MINUTE!

Now I don’t know if you’re a family-man like me, but this was impressive as hell.

Getting everyone on the same page, same time line, same feeling of urgency, with no sense of anger nor disagreement – just getting the job done effectively in the shortest amount of time possible…

A book from my schooldays comes to mind: Cheaper By the Dozen.

Knowing this family somewhat, I am quite sure they were not on the run or any other sort of adventurous thing. But they were impressive.

And so then I decided my Saturday would be different.

I was motivated. I was inspired.

And it was from the strangest source.

Wake up and be present in life – pay attention.

You’ll never know where your next source of motivation or inspiration will come from!

The Dead Sing August

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Emily Kinney Dead Sing August

Yeah, I know I am late to the party in a lot of this stuff, but hey – I am not much into the Entertainment industry and it’s a nice break when it comes real.

This morning began with a grain of enjoyable August happenstance.

I’m not a fan of the popular show The Walking Dead. I have no mal-interest towards it. We don’t have cable TV and my significant other doesn’t veer towards the scary. Maybe one day I can trick her into watching an episode or two and then we shall come late to the party.

Perhaps more to the point is that I am unfamiliar with the cast, I guess.

However last night we did watch a movie on Netflix. This morning I began listening to an unrelated podcast.

Where am I going with all of this? And where is August? You’ll have to read on and engage the brain.

As the episode of the podcast began, my ears were treated to a very beautiful female voice singing; I was half-smitten in micro-seconds.

So of course, I listened on.

The podcast is the (evidently wildly popular) The Nerdist, hosted by Chris Hardwick.

Dude is very laid-back and easy to listen to and interviews all kinds of famous folks in a we-just-folks kind of way. I’m a gonna stay subscribed.

And this episode featured a clip of this most beautiful song. It’s called "Never Leave LA." I obviously don’t live in LA and don’t really vibe completely with all of the lyrics. But the voice. OMG! That voice!

That wonderful songstress is Emily Kinney and she makes lovely music.

She played "Beth Greene" on The Walking Dead (and evidently her character recently died). She’s also been in tons of other things.

She seems to be a very down to earth and cool gal. And man…That voice… Pure beauty.

As I listened to her tell her tale of her life and whatnot, I learned that she spent some time living in NYC (shocker, I know – but hey, she also lived in Georgia due to Dead filming). During her time in the hustle and bustle city, she did a particular play.

And that play, actually titled after a poem of the same name by Howard Starks, was later adapted into a movie by the same name.

The same movie we watched last night – August: Osage County!

So it’s aligned in the stars – we must be destined to surf the neverwas together.

Okay, maybe not. But twas just a cool little slap-my-thigh-and-call-me-martha kind of moment. 🙂

Go check out The Nerdist Podcast.

In Chris’ own words:

I am Chris Hardwick. I am on TV a lot and have a blog at nerdist.com. This podcast is basically just me talking about stuff and things with my two nerdy friends Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, and usually someone more famous than all of us. Occasionally we swear because that is fun. I hope you like it, but if you don’t I’m sure you will not hesitate to unfurl your rage in the reviews section because that’s how the Internet works.


Oh, and evidently this song is wildly popular among her fans, but she’s slightly reluctant to sing it all the time, due to its downer thang. But I can sure as hell understand why it’s popular – there she goes with that beauty again. 😉 😛 🙂

For the Researcher in You

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I was doing a bit of research for my Northern Shaolin Kung Fu students recently and had a fairly eye-opening revelation.

To be honest – this little enlightenment is really positive, as it opens up new sources of information and at the same time it’s also quite frustrating.

Why frustrating? Well because it opens up new sources of information and a bit of overwhelm may ensue. 😛

As we all know, Wikipedia is user-generated content – a community-built encyclopedia of sorts, with editorial guidelines, restrictions and moderation systems (somewhat) in place.

And just a quck glance of its logo tells us that it is also translated into many different languages.

However, it is NOT merely translated into different languages.

There is different information in different languages for the same entries – sometimes more, sometimes less but usually different.

Translating NASA

For example, go to the English entry for NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

Scroll down to the last paragraph just before the big "Contents" link box and look at the last link in that paragraph; the anchor text is "Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite," and it points to a page with a fair amount of information and links about this satellite, also known as "Ibuki." On this page, we also learn that Ibuki was operated and launched by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, known as JAXA.

Next, go to the Spanish entry for NASA and look at the last link before the "Contents" box. You will see "Agencia Japonesa de Exploración Aeroespacial." And that is a link to the Spanish entry for "JAXA."

A logical argument could be made, initially, for sentence construction; that perhaps the last sentence in both languages in this paragraph contain all of the same links to their respective language entries, but just in a different order, due to their respective language rules.

However, all it takes is a quick scan through the sentences to see that this is not, in fact, the case.

Fun with Lincoln

Let’s look at another example in a different way.

Look at the English entry for Abraham Lincoln. And then the German entry for Abraham Lincoln.

And now all you have to do is look on the right hand side of each page, at the photos and scroll down. You’ll see the difference.

But, But, But…

And before you give me all of the reasons why you think I am wrong… Try it out yourself. Search for any topic, open a window or tab for the English version and do it again. Then just change the "en" at the beginning of the URL (this specifies English, for example) to another language or region – de for Germany, es for Spain, etc. And look at what you find; run your own little experiments.

Conclusion

My point?

Different people are getting different information on topics, based on language or part of the world they are in. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but definitely different.

There are many people who are unaware of the fact that Wikipedia is content created by its users. And many more, like myself, are under the impression that the various language entries are merely translations of English.

I am not attempting to make some sort of social justice comment here. What I am saying is this: If you are researching a topic and want more – consider alternative languages. It has its benefits.

It’s paying of for me already. My topical search that gave birth to this revelation has now given me much more interesting information on the topic from merely looking up the Italian entry. Now after I search through all of this new data, I can’t help but wonder what the Spanish entry will give me. Or the French. Or South African, or…!?!

It’s exciting, if not a bit overwhelming.

3…2…1… Lift Off!

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Pluto in Space

Space has always held me in a bit of fascination.

I can remember even in elementary school, when we would watch the Space Shuttle launches. I remember the devastation of the Challenger and Columbia disasters. I remember one of my classmates who was super into the Space Shuttle program. I remember learning the conste
llations
in Boy Scouts.

Even though I’ve always been interested in Space, I knew that to really get into it, I’d need do some seriously in-depth study in a whole lot of subjects that not only don’t really interest me, but neither do I really have the aptitude for.

So I’ve always just had what I’d call a casual interest.

When I was in school and learning about Space, NASA was the only one I knew of going up into Space. Since then, there is no Space Shuttle program, there are public & private corporations doing Space activities, many other countries are in the game, Pluto has been a planet, not-a-planet and back and forth, we’ve landed things on Mars, we’ve got telescopes in Space and, so many other interesting things have happened.

Like so many other things that we learn in school, the collective activity, technology, progress, media and more regarding Space has changed, evolved, progressed. But when you are no longer in school, you don’t really just "hear" about these things.

At least you might hear a smidgeon of interesting news on the news. But TV is different these days.

For most, if you want to know some details about something, you have to go search for it.

So I have been quite clueless about progress in Space.

That being said, I’ve recently come across a very cool Space podcast that I would recommend for anyone to listen to.

It’s run by a couple of "regular guys" named Stephen Hackett & Jason Snell and, for the reasons stated above, makes it great for me. They are obviously much more educated about the topic than I am, and thus my continued desire to listen.

I learn so much from them on a regular basis and yet I don’t feel like I am being "talked down to."

Instead it’s like listening in on a highly-informative and interesting, yet light and fun conversation about Space and what them science-folks do about it.

Just today I learned about the CST-100 being named "Starliner" and about the Orion program. I learned of these awesome new photos of Pluto thanks to New Horizons and, the knowledge gleaned thus far from them. I learned of some really cool apps, like Did an astronaut enter space? Get a notification! and Luminos.

In short, if you’ve a slight interest in Space like I do, you will love subscribing and listening to Liftoff.

In their own words:

Liftoff

Visit Liftoff

Liftoff is a fortnightly podcast about space, the universe, and everything. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand the latest developments as explained by enthusiastic space fans Stephen Hackett and Jason Snell.

Are you Silly?

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Definition of Silly

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? Yes. No. Ummm…

With the definition provided by Google (define silly), I’d rather like to say no. Being labeled a "fool" is not something anyone wants. But acting "foolish"? Good and Plenty. And moar please.

Being Silly

If you know me personally, you’ll most likely agree with this statement: "Craig Kiessling can be a silly guy."

There is most definitely a serious side to me, but then there is also this clown character.

I love to watch practical joke clips on YouTube. I love to read, hear and tell jokes. Comedy flicks crack me up. Teaching seriously-intense Northern Shaolin Kung Fu classes, I’ll inject a bit of humor to lighten the load. Mahjong games are full of my odd quips. And if you’ve ever heard me on our podcast, Hiyaa…well, nuff said on that.

Humor as a Defense Mechanism

Craig Kiessling with Daughter Athens, GA

Childhood was a dramatic time for me so I guess I can agree with the head doctors’ view on Humor as a Defense Mechanism.

Divine Caroline (okay, I admit I simply searched Google for "Humor Defense Mechanism" and this page seemed appropriate) classifies Humor as a Mature defense mechanism and has this to say about it:

There are some defense mechanisms that indicate overall mental health and maturity. What makes them unique is the fact that people deliberately choose these methods of handling stress, rather than allowing their mind to react unconsciously.

Humor can be a defense mechanism, too. Making people laugh can be a way to lighten and defuse a tense or sad situation. Pointing out absurdities or making jokes is a mature and healthy way to ease tension, so there’s no need to feel bad the next time you feel the urge to crack a joke at an inappropriate time. If you’re driving in a funeral procession, pointing out a hilarious road sign can lighten everyone’s mood.


(Defense Mechanisms: What’s Normal and What’s Nuts [Article Removed])

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? In this regard, yeah, I’d have to say I am.

Humor and Teaching

Regarding this topic, I’d like to introduce you to the beginning lines of "Pedagogical Effect of Humor on Teaching", written by Said Shiyab, of United Arab Emirates University:

Humor is a social phenomenon and a form of communication that should not be disregarded in any learning or teaching environment. It plays a fundamental role in creating harmony and cohesion between students and teachers. The significant role humor plays stems from the fact that humor is conducive to the learning process and intercultural awareness.

In an article entitled "Transforming Thought: the Role of Humor in Teaching", Brunner (2002) shows how humor can change the way individuals think about problems and situations. The new way in which individuals view problems and situations is called the chemical element that transforms the individual’s mood (Lin Yutang 1976). Yutang suggests that the effect of such transformation is that of a catalyst, or may even be silent but inevitable and dramatic. This, according to Brunner (2002), belongs to the teaching toolkit, and it should be used by teachers most of the time. Brunner believes that the substance of what most teachers have to teach is problematic and is not funny, but in order for humor to be effective, it must rely heavily on delivery. Although teachers have not learned this kind of delivery in school nor was it part of their professional training, Brunner still believes that great teachers display the ability to use humor effectively for the purpose of learning.

While humor has good advantages in teaching, there is a dangerous side to it. In an article entitled "Humor as a Double-Edged Sword: Four Functions of Humor", Meyer (2000) rightly asserts that while humor use unites communicators through mutual identification and clarification of positions and values, it divides them through enforcement of norms and differentiation of acceptable versus unacceptable behavior of people. This paradox in the function of humor in communication, Meyer argues, functions as a unifier and divider, allowing humor use to define social boundaries.

Craig Kiessling teaching Northern Shaolin Kung Fu weapons


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To add some punch to his paper, Said conducted a study.

In order to achieve the objectives set out at the beginning of this study, questionnaires were distributed to students in four separate courses within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the United Arab Emirates University.

These courses were Business Correspondence and Promotional Material, Basic Issues in Translation, Introduction to Linguistics, and Introduction to Language and Communication. Students spanned from different academic disciplines: Education,English Literature, and Translation Studies.


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Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that the results were as expected – students felt humor in learning is a good thing. I suggest you visit the paper, scroll down and look at the actual results; it’s pretty interesting to say the least.

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? In this regard, yeah, I’d have to say I am.

Humor in the Workplace

Oddly enough, as silly as Craig Kiessling is, and as much humor that I like to inject into things, I’ve only recently began to inject it into the workplace.

From Eric J. Romero and Kevin W. Cruthirds ‘ "The Use of Humor in the Workplace":

Humor is a common element of human interaction and therefore has an impact on work groups and organizations. Despite this observation, managers often fail to take humor seriously or realize its numerous benefits. Humor is more than just funny concepts; it represents a multifunctional management tool that can be used to achieve many objectives.

[This article describes] how managers can use humor to reduce stress and enhance leadership, group cohesiveness, communication, creativity, and organizational culture. Specifically, we suggest humor styles that are best suited to realize these outcomes.

At the Taste of Chamblee event, after a Kung Fu performance

Additionally, the effect of humor on organizational outcomes is moderated by individual differences such as ethnicity and gender. Much like selecting the proper tool from a toolkit, managers can select the appropriate humor style suitable for the desired organizational outcome, adjust for individual differences, and achieve positive organizational outcomes


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The reason I’ve only recently begun to inject humor into the workplace can be fairly obvious: it’s a delicate dance; you can’t just willy-nilly crack jokes, silliness or humor – it must be relevant and appropriate. You need to know if your coworkers, boss, etc. will enjoy it ahead of time. And you need to know what is funny and what is not in this context.

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? In this regard, no. But I am trying to learn how to better inject humor intelligently into the workplace.

Humor in the Home

Holiday Fun with my Daughter - 2012

I have a three year old little girl and she is definitely the firelight of my world.

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly? In this regard, yeah, I most definitely am.

I’m watching her sense of humor mature, grow and evolve and it’s a wonderful thing.

Craig Kiessling, Are You Silly?

Hell Yes I am!

10 Hottest YouTube Videos of 2012

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We love Youtube and all it has to offer, don’t we? It can be used for marketing purposes, training, education, communication, and just plain fun. Of course the N00B comments we could do without.

Here’s a quick look at ten of the hottest Youtube videos gone viral of 2012.

  1. KONY 2012
  2. Gangnam Style
  3. A Dramatic Surprise on a Quiet Street
  4. Opera duo Charlotte & Jonathan — Britain’s Got Talent 2012 audition
  5. Call Me Maybe
  6. Catch the Ice Dude
  7. Somebody That I Used to Know
  8. Donna the Deer Lady
  9. Arrested Drunk Guy Sings Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
  10. Golden Eagle snatches kid

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did!

A Monday Morning Funny

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Good Monday Morning!

Ya know, Mondays can be crappy. Gotta get up early, do your stuff, go to work, etc. and all from a blurry haze of weekend-deprivation.

We need some funny for the Monday.

Paranormal + Coordinated Practical Joke = Rockin Good Time and Just What we Need for a Monday Morning!

Busy-ness

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busy-ness

Nose to the grindstone as of late. Some of what has been keeping me busy:

  • Tweaking some Elements of this most magnificent Site
  • Researching News Articles for Hiyaa Martial Arts Podcast
  • Building relationships for future Hiyaa interviewees
  • Learning and Training "Sup Ji Kuen", 1st form in Lama Pai Kung Fu
  • Reading Battling the Inner Dummy
  • Contacting Friends & Relatives regarding my mother’s recent passing
  • Planning my mother’s Memorial Service
  • Creating new Social Media accounts for Hiyaa Podcast
  • Writing up Mini-Manuals for my Northern Shaolin Kung Fu students
  • Beta-testing a few different MMORPGs
  • Raising and Playing with my Daughter
  • Planning and moving into new Kung Fu School
  • Juggling bills while Searching for Employment
  • Doing Thanksgiving
  • Putting up Christmas decorations
  • And way too much more

It’s been a long, busy and crazy ride and I’m nowhere near being done.

It kinda goes back to that "Different $&*t, Different Day" type of thing.

And although it is sure difficult to do, every busy day reminds me that I should really somehow figure out how to enjoy the busy and the crazy.