Mr. Rogers wore a lot of sweaters. He did some other stuff too.

Using data from The Neighborhood Archive, Owen Phillips charted the color of every sweater Mister Rogers wore on his PBS television program from 1979 to 2001 (via).

Some sweaters were worn once and then never again, like the neon blue cardigan Rogers wore in episode 1497. Others, like his harvest gold sweaters, were part of Rogers’ regular rotation and then disappeared. And then there were the unusual batch of black and olive green sweaters Rogers wore exclusively while filming the “Dress-Up” episodes in 1991.

His mother knit the sweaters . . . I'm gonna let that sink in for a bit. His mother. knit. ALL of his sweaters! Because that's how she loved people, by making them sweaters. “I guess that’s the best thing about things. They remind you of people.” Good GOD he's good.

To enjoy more of Mr. Rogers' brilliance, you can watch them on Amazon Prime.

I recommend closing your eyes for the ten seconds when Fred Rogers says, "I'll watch the time."

I did: Eric Beard, Eric Trauger, Mr. and Mrs. Hampstra, Paul and Dorothy Keisling, Mr. Paladino, Diane Larson, Grandpa and Grandma Miller, and in younger years, my parents. 

And of course, Mr. Rogers.  


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On Living  :  Humanity



2Cellos and some pretty beautiful soundtracks

Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser of 2CELLOS performed an incredible cover of the song “May It Be” from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with the London Symphony Orchestra. The mesmerizing track is from 2CELLOS‘ new album, Score, which is now available to purchase from Amazon (via).

The music is amazing. The video is . . . eh. When I closed my eyes, I enjoyed it much more.

I'm a soundtrack guy, especially powerful, world changing soundtracks. Now We Are Free is another one 2Cellos covers beautifully, even a clean cello is a poor replacement for the woman singing in the background.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Music  :  Movies without Soundtracks  :  Lord of the Rings



Cultural Intelligence

There is growing research and discussion about a new(er) intelligence: CQ

"Cultural intelligence (CQ) is the capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations. It goes beyond existing notions of cultural sensitivity and awareness to highlight a theoretically-based set of capabilities needed to successfully and respectfully accomplish your objectives in culturally diverse settings" (via). 

"Awareness is the first step, but it’s not enough. A culturally intelligent individual is not only aware but can also effectively work and relate with people and projects across different cultural contexts" (via).

Awareness is a first step, but being aware and doing nothing about it is almost worse. Because then it's blatant disrespect. What I like about these little blurbs though is that they doesn't say we have to agree on anything to be culturally aware. But we do need to be respectful and work hard at finding ways to relate - by embracing the cognitive friction. Which also means we need to be consciously looking beyond the single story

Stereotypes aren't untrue, they're simply incomplete. For all of us. Being culturally sensitive allows for stories that go beyond the superficial and offensive - that build walls. Rather, it allows for stories that builds bridges and opens doors.


You can take a CQ test here. It's okay. It's one of those tests where you know what you should say, so you say it, because nobody wants a bad score, but the questions are worth thinking about. Especially the last question.

I think this guy would score very, very . . . very low.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Diversity  :  Stereotypes



The Elephant's Garden is our Playground

I'm not sure which came first, the elephant or it's egg, but the video to this not-to-bad song is, like most of Felix Colgrave's work, confusing and entertaining and always unsatisfying - begging for more and more and more. And there is plenty more.

(listening to this while trying to get work done . . . brilliant!). 


"A creature is just an animal that’s wrong. Be wrong lots, and when you’re wrong in a way you like, try getting that wrong and repeat forever." - Colgrave



This guys imagination is a playground worth wasting time on.  


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Short Films  :  Art



The Game is only a fun if you win. And there are a lot of losers.

Every now and then, a certain theme will creep into life in various ways. This past week, justice and the role humanity plays, has been one such theme.

It started out with the podcast, "A forgotten History of How the U.S. Government Segregated America," which left me fully frustrated and at a loss on what to do. On what role I can play. 

This one, "Null and Void," cheered me up a bit.

Should a juror be able to ignore the law? From a Quaker prayer meeting in the streets of London, to riots in the streets of LA, we trace the history of a quiet act of rebellion and struggle with how much power “we the people” should really have.

Not only does it offer some hope that the power still resides in the people - the conscious of America - it is an honest portrayal of the complexity of mankind. And I love that. 

The discussion near the end is one of the best things I've ever heard on a Podcast - an sincere discussion, with strong disagreements, yet fully civil and appropriate. 

Later in the week, I was shown this video from a young brilliant mind, Davis Campbell. His thoughts on the matter are worth reading.

The video is worth watching.

Like the " . . . U.S. Segregated America," podcast above, this video left me fully frustrated and at a loss on how to change the rules of the game.

This TED Talk helped a bit.

I don't have any answers to these seemingly impossible problems, except this. And it comes from the philosophy of J.R.R. Tolkien: All I have to decide is what to do with the time that is given me and to do what is good for all, not just myself.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Humanity  :  History



Music in Objects

Anytime someone can find the ordinary and make it extraordinary, I'm all in. The vast skills and abilities it takes to create these songs is astounding. But there's also a healthy dosage of patience, persistence, and . . . what's another "p" word . . . let's go with personal confidence involve here too, which creates a few minutes of pure entertainment.

You can learn more about Music in Objects, click here.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Art from War Weapons  :  Escobar's Son Building Peace



Mother's Day : A History of Dian(n)e

In elementary school, my best friend was Ronnie. He lived a few blocks down, was always game for building a fort or playing football or basketball, and was either, at all times, my best friend or my worst enemy.

Some of the greatest memories of my childhood come and go with the smile and laugh of Ronnie because for a few years we were inseparable. I remember he had a scar on his arm, a nasty, cool lookin thing that ran like a thick vain up his forearm. He got it from trying to catch a football and, instead, ran through a glass door.

When Judah was five, he fell through a glass floor and cut his arm pretty bad. He received seven stitches but should have had about twice as much, but because we didn't take him to a doctor and a local friend stitched him up, without Novocain, he only got seven. Now, he has a nasty, cool lookin scar that runs up his arm like a thick vain, and every time I see it, I think of Ronnie.

In my first year living in China, after years of being out of touch, I found out, via Facebook, that he had died a few years prior. Ever since, Ron, more than ever, has been constantly on my mind. Every time I think of him, when I get lost in memories of flashlight tag, peeing the bushes beneath the front window of his house, or wasting hours on Nintendo 64 with my good friend, I can't help but think of his mom, because she was always there.

I was recently chatting with a friend about the importance of parents and how each parent seems to have a specific role in the development of a child. They mentioned that they often hear me talking about and telling stories of my dad, about how he taught me to take care of another's property, how to work hard and be diligent in our given tasks, and how to be a man of character. Then they expressed how they often feel lost, how they don't know how to parent and work through various struggles, because they're mother never taught them because she was consistently absent.

Dads seem to bring the affirmation and approval side of life. When he slaps you on the back after cleaning the garage and says, "Nice job - this looks great," that means a whole lot. More than any allowance. 

But moms bring the, no matter what happens, you're accepted, side of life. Their love is unconditional, and it builds a wall of safety around the heart and mind of a child. They might fight for Dad's approval, but beneath it all, they know they're safe, because Mom is always there.

As my friend continued to share her heart, I thought of my childhood and the many mistakes I made, and that lead me once more to Dianne Larson. 

She was great mom, to Ronnie, and to me. And I've never forgotten her.

One memory that often clings to the front of my thoughts is of a time I was at Ronnie's house, killing time in his room, a few days after his birthday. Ronnie stepped out for something, leaving behind a twenty-dollar bill on his dresser, and I had to have it.

I remember working through, rather quickly, the rights and wrongs of the situation, and how I would explain it. I didn't really know, but I had to have it. So I took it, just in time, then told Ronnie I had to go home for something. About an hour later, Ronnie's mom called, "Hey Brian, did you see a twenty-dollar bill on Ronnie's dresser?"


"Really? Because it was there this morning."

"Uhh, nope, I don't think so."

"Okay. He must have lost it somewhere. Thanks Brian."

"You're welcome," and I hung up the phone, feeling terrible and wishing I wouldn't have taken it. I remember talking on the phone, in my parent's kitchen, wishing I could just tell her the truth, but I couldn't, because then she wouldn't let me come over anymore. So goes the mind of a ten year old.

I knew, deep down, that she knew I took that money - of course she knew - but what has stuck with me after all these years is how she knew, and what she did about it. 

She let Ron invite me over the next day. And the day after that. She didn't stop letting me into her house, feeding me Ravioli dinners (which I loved!) and letting me go camping with the family, or ride around looking at Christmas lights. Her love for me was unconditional. And she was, and is, a great mom.

Judah has his own Momma Diane, and the way Judah and her son play and fight and laugh remind me so much of Ronnie and me. And his Diane reminds me so much of mine. When Judah shares random stories about what Mrs. Diane did or said or where she brought them to eat or to what crazy activity she found for them, I smile with endless gratitude because I know how much Momma Diane's can mean, and how much they are loved in return. Even if we don't say it.

Dianne Daum Larson, happy Mother's Day! I love my memories with your son, and I truly thank you for loving me like one. 

Diane Sonam, happy Mother's Day! The memories you have built with my son, the love you have shown him and the care you have given him is a blessing I cannot express. I just know how much it means to him, and how much it's shaping him.

To both Dian(n)es, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

To all mothers, happy Mother's Day! Your role is more crucial than any of us know. 


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Parenting  :  Other Holiday Thoughts



Lord of the Rings : A Philosophy Lesson

This scene has been in my mind lately, because I resonate with it.

But it's the next line, the, "I need a holiday. A very long holiday. And I don't expect I shall return" that I struggle with. In the scene that follows, he puts on the Ring and walks off and gives up.

Later, when Frodo considers a sort of giving up, he's rebuked.

"I wish none of this had happened."

So who all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that was given to us."

When we're stretched and tired and exhausted, we have a decision: give up, or keep walking, fighting, and trying.

It may seem impossible, or we might be lost and alone, but "there are other forces in this world, besides the forces of evil. . ." Forces that want to help, encourage, and support. 

Forces that want to improve and build, not destroy.

"And that is an encouraging thought."

This "thesis statement," that all we have to decide is what to do with the time given us, coupled with the encouragement that there are other forces besides evil, is then supported throughout the story.

With Aragorn:

After he realizes he can no longer help Frodo, Aragorn makes the decision to rescue Sam and Pippen from the orcs. Because the fight is not yet over, and it's the right thing to do.


With Haldir:

History and past wrong doings don't influence Haldir's decision, because what was is not for him to decide. All he has is the time given to him, and the decision to make. To honor an aligence. 


With Theoden:


Gondor calls for aid, the same Gondor that has abandoned and seemingly ignored Rohan when they were in need. The same Gondor that incited Teoden to earlier spit, "Where was Gondor when the westfold fell? Where was Gondor when our enemies closed in around us? Where was Go-." 

But when Gondor calls for aid, when the beacons are lit, Theoden and Rohan answers the call.


With Sam:

This is why Sam is the hero of this journey - because his hope, his resolve, and his courage is what carries Frodo to the end. Even when Frodo abandons him, when he gives up and feels thin, like butter spread over to much bread, Sam carries him. With all that he has, and with whatever he has left, he decides to use it all, to give it all, because he is the other force besides evil.

And that is an encouraging thought.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On Living  :  Humanity  :  Movie Clips