Browsing the archives for the son tag

Laser Ninja Robots and the French Revolution

family, Life as it is, Mistakes

As a master of making mistakes, it is important that I recognize them and learn from them. That way I can stop making that same mistake and go out and find some new error while trying to do well.

A Video Worth Watching

In this case of an error on my part, it has to do with the French Revolution and planning. Now, I don’t mean to say that I am a revolutionary or an instigator of uprisings or anything of the sort. Rather, it has to do with my son’s report for school on the French Revolution and his decision to earn extra credit through making it a video – and, to his credit, making it the sort of wonderfully funny video that only he could make.

My Mistake

My error in this was simple. My son told me that this was his decision and that he had some ideas. Like a concerned parent that has learned some wisdom, I did try to stay out of it so that it could be his own vision and humor and video to present to the class. In addition, I also demonstrated some additional learning from other mistakes by watching to make sure he was making some forward progress. That is, I noted his study on the French Revolution and even saw that he had gotten DVD’s of documentaries on the subject, after all, I had seen what happened in his test of whether teachers really read the essays turned in for a grade.

But in hindsight, that wasn’t enough. I realized this at midnight on the night before it had to be turned in, when I realized that while fully animated, he had not yet rendered the video. Knowing what sort of computer he has in his room and how ancient it is, I quickly offered to install the software on my photoediting system so that the rendering would complete that night. And he still had to assemble the final video from there.

My mistake was simple. I have spent a long time learning how to plan and execute complex projects, but I have never sat down and shared that knowledge with him. Now, I am not talking about formal project management and creating gantt charts, but rather simpler planning on how to get from here to there – once we have identified where here and there are.

What I am Learning

I am a fan of the Getting Things Done, or GTD if you prefer, system by David Allen for most of what I need to be done. And while my execution of the system is flawed and erratic, I have long since loved and used his Natural Planning Process for most of my one-man projects at work and home. I even once made this simple diagram while reading and rereading the details of the process in David Allen’s book and I keep a copy on my wall at work where I can always see it:

[Image removed due to incompatibility issues in IE]

So I met with my son and reviewed these questions – trying to help him see where we can do better next time. In discussing what “wild success” means, it became clear that the video could have been made much cooler than it already is. When translating “wild success” to “the most awesome thing you could imagine your project doing at the end”, he responded, “It could have ninja laser robots worked into it somewhere.”

So there you have it from one wiser than me. Plan your french revolution properly, and laser ninja robots might just save the day. Of course, as it is, the teacher kept a copy and shared it with every class he had that day. Imagine what would have happened, had we hit the wild success of the laser ninja robots worked into the story line as well.


Art and Fear and Flickr


I am reading a most excellent book called Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It’s one of those books that was just in my shopping basket from an earlier visit when I was placing Christmas orders – I kept seeing other photographers mention it so added it at some time in the past. I am very glad i did.

I’m not far into it, but on reading the section the explains the difference between quitting ones art and merely stopping it, I was struck by a couple of things that i would pass on. It seems many artists will quit creating when they lose the destination for their art – that is, the place where they will share and show their art. They go on to share the following strategy to keep from quitting:

Operating Manual for Not Quitting
A – Make friends with others who make art, and share your in-progress work with each other frequently.
B – Learn to think of [A], rather than the Museum of Modern Art, as the destination of your work.
(Look at it this way: If all goes well, MOMA may come looking for you.

I was reading this over coffee while my son was sketching a comic panel based on a story we had been telling back and forth and I was commenting on his efforts between paragraphs and pages. I read this section to my son, and he said, “Well, yeah. That’s what me and my friends do,” as he continued sketching into his overflowing sketchbook.

This is how my son does it with his friends – each of his friends has one or more comic stories they are working on or will sketch a hastily told tale from lunch at shool. And this is how we all did it as kids. When we would do something cool, we shared it with out friends and they shared what they were doing. And that joy in creation and camaraderie is why we were doing it.

I realized how much provides that same sort of vehicle for myself and my photography. Sometimes when I am just shooting something for my own sake, I will have others ask me if this is for a project or for a client – and i just say no it’s for me and my friends. And of course, what I mean by that is that I will post it to Flickr and share it with my friends there. Especially my happier mistakes like this portrait:


That is part of what keeps me from the fear of shooting something that might not work. I am sharing it with friends who are all busy doing exactly the same thing with their work as well. This also means that I can try things that may or may not work and not worry too much about how they will be received.

Flickr is a frequent destination for my photography. What’s yours?

1 Comment