Lessons from a Pet: 10 Ways of Happy Living

Miss Maxine
Ever since I adopted a dog, many lessons have been learned or resurfaced.  She required a lot of attention and medicine due to a broken femur (hit by a car) but as she healed, her personality started to show through.

These are 10 ways of happy living by Miss Maxine (aka Maxie):

1. Drink lots of water.
2. Sleep when you're tired.
3. Exercise in the morning.
4. Meet new people by forging new paths.
5. Don't try to make unfriendly dogs (or people) friendly.
6. When we go astray, others can help us find our way.
7. Do not bark (aka talk) without purpose.
8. Reward yourself often, even for the small stuff.
9. Regularly meet up to play with your friends.
10. Don't overindulge; save some for later.


Imperfection: The Catalyst of Our Future

I am not an audiophile like my husband but I do occasionally pick up an issue of his Stereophile or Audio Advisor to read articles about artists, the industry or other non-technical items I am able to comprehend. There was an article in the March issue of Sterophile that described the slow movement of some recording studios that are actually (GASP!) recording artists for a record together again, in one room!

Some people don’t know or maybe don’t care but as the industry has evolved to digital recording, many records are recorded separately by each musician and/or singer. This allows for the producers of the record to actually take each second of a song and contrive a “perfect” sounding song, when in reality musicians and singers make mistakes often but have the ability to usually trick the casual listener into thinking one never existed. David Grohl touted during Foo Fighters’ Grammy acceptance speech that their latest record was made in his garage, with old equipment while they played together. As it should be.

While reading the February issue of Fast Company, there was an article about Moonbot and their digital creation of apps and books, which is quite fascinating but what caught my attention was a caption box about a guy named Oz which read, “This guy is from a story in development, but we’re puppeteering him.  Why not?  It will save costs, and the audience will sense a level of handmade craftsmanship.”

This got me to thinking that the analog world will and should always have a place in our highly digitized one. I believe it is because only in the analog world can the mistake be celebrated and captured.  However, as our world becomes more digital it seems that a mistake is viewed as more detrimental than ever before when in fact, the opposite should be true.

I decided to read a little about the psychology of mistakes. It felt for me, the natural place to start.

We are taught the mistake equals bad.

My nephew, learning how to handle mistakes.
Therefore, when we make a mistake, we are supposed to be left with feelings of regret, remorse, or worse fear.  That fear then, keeps us from pursuing something anywhere near the thing that caused the mistake.  This is truly unfortunate for us all, especially in the uncertainty of our world.

I then came to the conclusion that the analog world tends to be used most by art and artists.  Think about it.  An example, chefs use a mix of analog (knives) and digital (thermometer) tools.  Artists use either or both and tend to lean toward the analog space because they know mistakes are an inevitable part of life.  In fact, as artists we tend to celebrate them, laugh about them and learn from them.  As we should.  I thought Psychology Today captured the right sentiment for what a mistake is: 

A mistake is an event, the full benefit of which we have not come to realize.

Here's a music example:  I am not a trumpeter but I’ve been told Miles Davis has tons of mistakes in his playing, yet without knowing this, all I hear is brilliantly played music.  A trumpeter can pick up on what is versus what isn’t a mistake and learn how to handle mistakes of their own.  I cannot.  However, I do often watch live musicians and have learned to pick up mistakes made by them and see how they handle them; most often with laughter that keeps them playing and experimenting.

We can and should use mistakes of others when possible as guides for what we would do if put into the same situation.  In our own endeavors, we should celebrate the mistake with appreciation instead of shunning it with unkindness.  Feel free to live an analog life in this very digital world.


Automotive Safety Standards: Truly Comprehensive?

Photo taken from our retired Land Rover

Today, I decided to rent a car to drive to my home in Palm Springs.  I didn’t have a preference what I drove, and was given a Chevy Aveo LT at Hertz.  It took me a little longer than usual to pack up a few belongings and the dog, due to sorting out details such as where the latch was placed to release the hatch and where I could put my beverage.  As I was driving, I realized the car needed an alignment.  This car only had 19,400+ miles on it, which seemed a bit early for that sort of repair.  I noticed it once I started along at 65+ mph, when I couldn’t find a comfortable "10 & 2" hand position and looked down to see why; I had to hold the wheel angled toward the right to go straight.  I told myself to “get over it” and thought about how my Fiat 500, with just 3,000 miles less than this car, felt so much newer and easier to drive.  There was no cruise control, Bluetooth to make calls, USB cable or satellite radio.  I was stuck doing this the old-fashioned way.

As always while I’m driving, I became thirsty.  I tried to reach for the tea I brewed, only to find myself fumbling behind me to retrieve it from the only cup holder I could find on my pre-trip inspection.  There were no push button, hidden holders that I saw.  This was a shallow cup holder that sat low behind the front seats for easy retrieval of a beverage from the back seat, but took Gumby-like precision to reach from the cockpit.  My tea mug was always leaning which fortunately is a no-spill mug.  Every time I reached for my tea during the next 90 minutes, I thought to myself, "Shouldn’t automotive safety standards factor details such as ease of managing in-vehicle dynamics into the overall safety mix?" 

Think about it.  If I have a car that has the same safety features as any other car (e.g. airbags, ESC, dynamic suspension) but doesn’t provide a driver with the ability to operate all of the vehicle, i.e. not just the steering wheel, brake or accelerator in a simple manner, isn’t that dangerous?

In my Fiat, the cup holder is directly below the shifter and has three slots that I can place my cup into, without having to look down.  I think that’s far safer than trying to reach behind me to complete this exact same task.  The fact that my radio and cruise control are all on the stereo also help me keep my eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.  While in the Aveo, I had no cruise that I could find and the radio had to be adjusted manually throughout the trip, and I must say, I change stations a lot!!!  Here is a link to the areas IIHS currently measures (on the right).  I don’t see a single one that says, “vehicle operation” or anything of the sort.

I recommend IIHS and other automotive safety advocates start taking into consideration how difficult or easy a task in the vehicle is while operating it.  On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being difficult to operate while driving, I would have given the Chevy Aveo a 9, at best.  I give my Fiat a 1. 
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