Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quit making stuff up and get to work! Where would we be without imagination?

I was listening to a Sunday morning worship service talk, and the speaker said something to the effect of:

"What if Beethoven brought his Ode to Joy to be performed, and they said 'We can't use this; you just made all this up in your head!' "

A friend of my husbands ran a very successful international business for decades based on a circuit board he saw in his dreams. He drew it down in detail when he woke up, built it, and started selling it. What if someone else had the same dream but didn't write it down and forgot about it? Or didn't believe that something they "just made up" could be so valuable?

Who needs imagination?

Mark Twain once said, "You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Think of how hard politicians try to influence people to believe things that are not quite true. It takes at least a little imagination to not be taken in by someone trying hard to fool you. Or, as Einstein said, "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."

For example, lots of people know the original story the ad below is based on (click to play), but how many thought of this ending:

Of course, one of America's favorite political leaders, John F. Kennedy, said, "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were." He was echoing William Blake's comment that "What is now proved was once only imagined."

What if the things we "just imagine" are our successful business or hit record, but we just don't know it? The product of intuition and imagination, if ignored, simply disappear. How many solutions to problems or great new directions have been missed because people let them go without trying to understand what their imagination or intuition was telling them?

Don't let anyone discount your dreams (or spiritual experiences) by telling you they are "just imagination," and don't discount them yourself!

People too often forget, or even reject, the importance of imagination in their lives, sometimes thinking that it's only good for "making stuff up." But it's much more than that. An old Latin proverb states: "The imagination exercises a powerful influence over every act of sense, thought, reason; over every idea." Whether you are using your imagination intentionally or not, it is influencing your life.

Famous quotes on imagination

Here are some other quotes about imagination that I like:

Opportunities ... are limited only by [our] imagination. But so few have imagination that there are ten thousand fiddlers to one composer.
- Charles F. Kettering

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
- Thomas Edison

Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions.
- Albert Einstein

Everything you can imagine is real.
- Pablo Picasso

Imagination is the eye of the soul.
-Joseph Joubert

The imagination is never governed, it is always the ruling and divine power.
- John Ruskin

The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.
- Henry Ward Beecher

The soul never thinks without a mental picture.
- Aristotle

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
- Howard Thurman quotes

Monday, July 28, 2008

Add "under the sheets" to most sentences .. or videos!

They say if you add "under the sheets" to most sentences, it makes them funnier (Like "That's what she said!" from The Office). Just ask this cat (VERY safe for work):

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Are you a Chimp, or a chump? Could YOU do this as well?

Animals often have more human-similar abilities than we expect, but this is frankly incredible!

Random numbered boxes appear, then the numbers disappear before you can clearly see which was where. Then you have to press each box in numbered sequence. Can you remember where the numbers were? Ayumu the chimp has no problem:

Can you do better?
You can test yourself vs. the Chimp here. Don't feel bad about your results. In tests, college students have lost to the chimp.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Stand-up comedy at Bryant Lake Bowl Tuesday, July 29 7 PM

I'll be performing some of my new comedy with the Last Laugh crew at Bryant Lake Bowl this Tuesday 7 PM, July 29! This show does sell out at times, so reserve tickets early: $10/advance, $12 day of show. Tickets· FAQ · Map · Directions · Review

From the website: “Last Laugh is a hilarious evening of hysterical stand up comedy and outrageous Improv featuring some of the best and brightest comedy performers on the rise: a night not to be missed!

A wonderful and funny guy I know from Clear Channel Radio, Jason Schommer, is one of the co-founders of LaVie theater, and will be "headlining" the stand-up comedy portion of the show. He's fantastically funny! (And I hope your shoulder is feeling better, Jason!) Some of his stories remind me a little of David Sedaris, only he's bigger and funnier!

Funniest Person Contest at Acme Comedy Co.!

This follows my going onstage June 12 (my wedding anniversary) at Acme Comedy Co. in downtown Minneapolis. I recommend you don't miss the Monday night free show at Acme every week--it's is often better than some other paid shows around town, in my opinion; they have visiting comics from around the country and locally trying out new material Monday nights.

Restaurant, Theater, Bar and Bowling!

Bryant Lake Bowl Logo, Sarah Jones-Larson ComicIf you're unfamiliar with Bryant Lake Bowl, it's a cool place with a theater, restaurant, bar and bowling lanes. It's an eclectic hangout where you can get fine food, beer, espresso.. and see a play, dance performance, or comedy show--and bowl!

You also might catch a glimpse of some of Minnesota's Hollywood-connected people like Winona Ryder, Josh Hartnett (once sighted there with Scarlett Johansson), or the Gyllenhaals. It's also extremely pleasant since Minneapolis did away with smoking in restaurants a couple of years ago!! The BLB's "Theater Happy Hour" includes appetizer deals and drink specials from 3 pm-6 pm M - F.

I'll post a clip from the performance here after the show.

Last Laugh with Sarah at Bryant Lake Bowl
Tuesday, July, $10 in advance, $12 day of show.
Buy tickets · Directions and FAQ · Map · Review

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Incredible synchronicity: Movie "Born Free" frees another Lion. Handkerchief ready?

Received this from a friend who said "totally made me cry. . ."

Incredibly, right after the married couple who had just finished filming “Born Free” dropped into a furniture store looking for a desk, they ran into these two guys who had raised a lion and now didn't know what to do with it. (Born Free was a movie about the inspirational story of Elsa, the lioness who is reintroduced to the wild)

In 1969, Australians Anthony “Ace” Bourke and John Rendall lived in a hip section of London. Out of curiosity they went somewhere you could buy exotic animals (which wasn't unusual back then) and spotted a 35-pound lion cub in a small cage. It was born in a zoo and sold to a department store (!). Bourke and Rendall felt sorry for the cub and bought it inexpensively.

Inspired by the Bible and a sense of irony, Rendall and Bourke named the lion “Christian,” a name that became even more appropriate when the Vicar of the St. John’s Church, which called itself the “Church at the World’s End,” gave the young men permission to exercise Christian in the churchyard.

Rendall referred to the video below in describing the reunion. "You can see in that clip his body language," he said. "When he first starts seeing us, he's looking, looking. Is it us? Is it us? And then suddenly, he says, 'Right, this is them.' And down he comes. And there wasn't a moment that we ever doubted that it was going to be a wonderful greeting ... we never doubted it." 

But the video tells what you really need to know:

Today Show interview with Anthony and John (starts at 2:02):
 "It is pretty extraordinary footage and quite humbling. But it is sort of very beautiful, the response," Bourke told Vieira. "I suppose, 35 years later, to find that people are so fascinated by it and have so enjoyed it, is slightly overwhelming ... and all the comments on the YouTube site, they're so positive. It is marvelous that so many people are getting so much enjoyment out of it."

And here's the rest of the story ... (also see this longer story)

If you loved this, consider supporting the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust, as mentioned in the Today show interview.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Neil Diamond - What can I say?

Okay, we saw Neil Diamond in a sold-out show at the Xcel energy center last night. He did a two-hour set. Amazing energy at his age.

He has everyone sing parts of Sweet Caroline, starting with 'Bahp Bahp Bahhh!" (see video). Really a lot of fun. And while the video below shows kind of a collective unconscious version of everyone you might find in the woods, there was also a wide variety of people at the concert. Besides the "out of the blue" theme, there's an out of the lonely wilderness and into love theme in the video that matches the song beautfully.

Anyway, people say a lot of things about his songs, but this (yes, VERY offbeat) ad about a man and woman trying to reconcile says it best---his songs bring people together and lift them up:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

Instant free do-it-yourself photoshopping with PhotoFunia and other online tools

Found a really fun "instant Photoshop" site: PhotoFunia! (Note: They recently moved from their old site at en.photofun.od.ua and upgraded their server to a Dell 1750 2xXeon 3.2GHz to handle all the traffic!)

Choose an effect and instantly modify the photo of your choice. 

See the example at left, where I put my cat on Paris' album. It took all of 5 seconds! Scroll down for more examples with our family photos. Other sites  such as Dumpr offer similar effects, but PhotoFunia is best! (Scroll down for ever more sites).

They have several dozen effects to try, and again, each of those shown on this page was created in just seconds with the automated tool at PhotoFunia. (If your photo needs a little adjusting first, try Improve Your Images -- quick and free.)

PhotoFunia even offers an ultra-large, ready for printing setting: just click on the "Save for Printing" option when your image is done processing. (They reserve the right to disable this option from time to time if traffic gets too heavy on their server.)

More free and cool one-click tools!

Then what? How about take your final image over to fd's Flickr Toys (most famous for their faux motivational poster tool) or Image Chef for some additional processing and then over to block posters to make a wall-size image from your regular printer!

I've already mentioned Dumpr, but did you know you can stretch your image like silly putty with Gooifier, or start with BeFunky's free cartoonizer (video version coming soon) or digital dieter and then use their free e-card or comic strip maker? Their cartoon avatar creator ("Uvatar") is also great! I like using the function to make my photo look like a sketch (in cartoonizer). You can even add their tools to your MySpace page (and similar sites).

Or heck, why not a free virtual makeover? You'll need a shot of someone with very short hair, or hair pulled back (take a new picture of yourself and try it!) but then this amazing site will take your image from nobody to celebrity!

If you want to make animated images or slideshows with effects, try Rock You or MixerCast. Some other fun and free tools out there:
Give it a try!

Here are the original photos I used, followed by some of the photoshopped versions. Those are our cats on the magazine and CD covers, Dave in giant posters, and an artist drawing me. Click any image to view larger.

Organize your photos with Pictomio

Pictomio is a very useful, fast and cool photo organizer/browser for your computer, similar to Adobe Bridge, but currently free for personal use. They're adding more features all the time too!

ther cool photoshop stuff

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Understanding cats: the short course

That's amazing: Brooke McEldowney has written (to date) 189 comic strips,
each identifying a different hallmark of Felinity. And if you're looking for tips on HOW to BE a cat, here's a great list. But if you just want to understand cats better, read on and check out the videos below.

"Cats aren't clean, they're just covered in cat spit." -Anonymous

Cats are not crazy about vet appointments:

We've got two cats. Photographic proof: That's Stasha at left sorting laundry, and Ruby dreaming of tuna at right. Below that you can see them following their rigorous lounge training schedule:

Missing socks? How would I know!?Dreaming of Mom

"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this." - Anonymous
Is there any time that isn't nap time?

"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow." -Jeff Valdez 
When we're not around, like all cats, they talk to each other:
Also, something my husband noticed: 
Dogs and people form gangs, but cats don’t. Why? 
Because the nicknames are all wrong: 
"Word up, Cuddles ... Mr. Pitter Patter ... You take down Fluffy and Pumpkin, but leave Mr. Buttons to me." 

Cats are not known to enjoy obedience training:

"There are many intelligent species in the universe. They are all owned by cats." -Anonymous

With proper motivation, cats can imagine
themselves doing almost anything:
The physics of cats:
First Law of Energy Conservation
Cats know that energy can neither be created nor destroyed and will, therefore, use as little energy as possible.

Law of Cat Composition
A cat is composed of Matter + Anti-Matter + It Doesn't Matter.

Law of Rug Configuration
No rug may remain in its naturally flat state for very long.

The engineer's introduction to cat ownership:

Ruby demonstrates how cats stay limber by stretching:

A day's work resting well done

What is the difference between a cat and a comma? One has the paws before the claws and the other has the clause before the pause. 

It's important to realize that cats, while cute, are also natural predators:

Rules for cats: HAMPERING
If one of your humans is engaged in some activity and the other is idle, stay with the busy one. This is called "helping," otherwise known as "hampering." Following are the rules for "hampering:"
  1. When supervising cooking, sit just behind the left heel of the cook. You cannot be seen and thereby stand a better chance of being stepped on and then picked up and comforted.
  2. For book readers, get in close under the chin, between eyes and book, unless you can lie across the book itself.
  3. For paperwork, lie on the paper in the most appropriate manner so as to obscure as much of the work as possible. Or pretend to doze, but occasionally reach out and slap the pencil or pen.
  4. For people paying bills or working on income taxes or Christmas cards, keep in mind the aim: to hamper! First, sit on the paper being worked on. When dislodged, watch sadly from the side of the table. When activity proceeds nicely, roll around on the papers, scattering them to the best of your ability. When being removed for the second time, make all four legs flail around wildly in order to push pens, pencils, and erasers off the table.
  5. When a human is holding the newspaper in front of him/her, be sure to jump on the back of the paper. Humans love surprises.
  6. When a human is working at the computer, jump up on the desk, walk across the keyboard, bat at the mouse pointer on the screen and then lay in the human's lap across arms if possible to hamper typing in progress.
Cats generally believe they are smarter than you:

Most cats love to help you wake up in the morning:

Multiple cats can be difficult to herd:

A Cat Workout Program:
Cat fitness really can be fun. However, it is important to start any fitness program only when you feel like it. Don't let a few extra pounds intimidate you into becoming more active.
The most important aspect of fitness is: when to start the program. The best time is at about 2 a.m. The house is quiet; there are no distractions. The warm-up is critical. Cats are experts at stretching, so this won't be a problem.
Start with a few wind sprints, full speed, toenails clicking on the tile or linoleum floors. A few low but loud growls will help you feel charged up. Now it is time to add some eye-paw coordination work. Find a marble (the big steelies work even better) and roll that down the floor as the sprints continue. See how many times you can ricochet it off the wallboards before it disappears under the fridge.
Finally, work on that upper body strength. Climbing is a great exercise. Use draperies, macramé plant hangers, or clothing on hangers. You can even find some carpeting on some basement walls. Backs of chairs work well, too.
Now put it all together. A speed sprint to the end of the hall! A race around the living room! Leap to the back of the rocking chair! Let the rebound launch you to the top of the swinging planter! Rock that baby! Feel those muscles work.
Just as the hook pulls loose from the ceiling, dash to the bedroom and dive under the covers. Establish your alibi just in time to hear the crash of the plant to the floor below.

Have a good Work-Out!

Cats love to play. Here's Stasha going after a feather:
Crouching cat, flying feather

Cats like tuna:

The only thing cats like more than tuna is catnip:

But they don't like water, generally:
humorous pictures

I gave my cat a bath the other day ... they love it. He sat there, he enjoyed it, it was fun for me.
The fur would stick to my tongue, but other than that ..
- Steve Martin

If you let cats outdoors, there will be less birds in the world: 
Humorous Pictures

more cat pictures

Excerpts from a Cat's Diary:

Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. Bastards!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now ....

In our house, Ruby is often protective of her sister:
This is my sister

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