Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Milestones and Musings

I have been blogging for 10 years as of this month and this is my 200th posting, which might not be much to some folks but it amounts to enough words to fill a book. And on that note, I am planning on compiling a “best of” edition of posts available as an ebook so stay tuned for details.

I am also in the process of relaunching my website at and rethinking my blog format so I will post updates about that also. As for frequency of posts, I am thinking of updating my blog weekly and publishing some type of ebook annually.

I have been encouraged lately by several regular readers of my blog to keep up the good work and so am busy ramping up my writing across the board, including my print book, tentatively titled Searching for Mayberry: One Couple’s Quest to Redefine the American Dream.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Screen Age

I enjoy gadgets as much as the next guy but a series of events this past weekend convinced me the incivility of others misusing them threatens our pursuit of happiness, our liberties, and our very lives; in other words, all the things our society was founded upon, if I may be so dramatic.

Because my wife had Good Friday off we headed out to view a matinee showing of the uplifting movie Heaven Is For Real, a faith-based film focused on high-minded themes like uh, heaven and eternal life, for instance. Such topics surely would bring out the best in one’s fellow men, or at least fellow moviegoers, wouldn’t you think? Well, think again!

Before we even entered the theatre complex itself a “screenager” fixated on his smartphone acted anything but smart by walking right into me, so I suggested he watch what he was doing, which he summarily sloughed off without so much as an apology.

Once inside the theatre, the one where they play repeated reminders to turn OFF all devices, a woman sitting in front of us insisted upon checking her smartphone several times during the movie until I politely asked her to stop, at which point she reluctantly did so. Suffice it to say that smartphones and stupid people do not mix.

I once heard a clever turn of phrase suggesting that an “ipodectomy” be administered to people dependent on iPods and other such devices. Either that or a lobotomy, I think. The thing I’ve come to realize is that technology simply amplifies who we are as people. If one acts rudely without an iPhone, one is likely to act more so with one. And movie going is the least of our issues when so many distracted drivers threaten our safety with their thoughtlessness. Heaven IS for real and we need to act like it here on earth by not being so selfish using our devices.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Point of View

It was famed photographer Mario Tostino who I first heard define photography as “writing with light.” As my business is called Lightpost Communications and my blog here is called Lightpost, my chosen media for communicating have always been both prose and pictures. And so it was with delight that I came upon a thoughtful essay about photography the other day in the New York Times entitled “Through a Lens Sharply.”

Former magazine editor Dominique Browning, author of Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness, which I had read earlier, wrote the essay about her newfound love of photography and the renewed perspective of life it has given her. Incredibly, the well traveled writer had never owned a camera until a friend gave her a simple point-and-shoot model a couple of years ago and she hasn’t quit pointing and shooting it since. While I don’t ordinarily share excerpts at such length Browning’s musings are too beautiful not to speak for themselves.

As she writes, “My pictures are evidence that I was there, that I cared enough to pay attention, that I noticed, and honored, those tiny miracles of life we are all given, along whatever path we have chosen to travel. Now, when I travel, I feel a simultaneous quickening of desire, and a thickening of time. When I scroll back over the photo rolls in my computer, I study my idiosyncratic way of seeing, and I find something I think of as my own sense of time, my own rhythm of movement through the world. It is slow, and getting slower, more deliberate, more mindful of small beauties.”

My camera roll is…a way of collecting souvenirs, which, like any trinket, might be meaningful only to me. And so what? I can scroll back through time, because of my camera, and remember where I have been, what I saw, whom I was with—and this isn’t limited to what I captured in an image. Each image triggers associated recollections, and they roll alongside, hovering around each picture.”

No one sees the world the way you do. No one. If you fall in love with a photograph, it is often because of a glimpse of recognition, even a pang of desire, that things were or should be that way—or that someone came close to seeing what you saw. The photographs we take hold a place in our personal narratives, like bookmarks. We know what led up to that moment. And only we know what came next.” What a point of view.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Escaping House Arrest

It has been said that time flies when you are having fun, and so it has for us lately. At about this time only four years ago our neighbor’s huge oak tree fell unbidden on our beloved home, shaking our sense of safety and ultimately leading us to reevaluate our lifestyle. As the result of our analysis, we cast off the anchor of home ownership tying us to one locale and used the extra time and money that selling our house a year later afforded us to explore other modes of living.

In the meantime, Robert Shiller of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index made the dramatic statement that, with Americans’ growing shift to renting and city living, suburban home prices may never rebound in our lifetime. “Except for some exceptional boom periods, housing has never been a good financial investment,” he said. Shiller, the world’s leading student of bubbles, housing and otherwise, found that from “1890 to 1990, the rate of return on residential real estate was just about zero after inflation.”

According to Richard Florida, author of The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity, “Mobility and flexibility are key principles of the modern economy. Home ownership limits both. According to one important study, cities with higher home ownership rates also suffer from higher unemployment rates.” Linda and I can attest that mobility and flexibility were key qualities in our quest for a leaner style of living.

And Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in his bestselling book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: “Also consider the number of families who tunnel on their future, locking themselves into hard-to-flip real estate thinking they are going to live there permanently, not realizing that the general track record for sedentary living is dire. Don’t they see those well-dressed real-estate agents driving around in fancy two-door German cars? We are very nomadic, far more than we plan to be, and forcibly so. Consider how many people who have abruptly lost their job deemed it likely to occur, even a few days before.”

All of which suggests that Linda and I made a smart move when we escaped house arrest and adopted a more mobile means of living. Just the other day, a prominent regional magazine announced that our new hometown of Franklin, Tennessee, beat out another place we’ve called home, Savannah, Georgia, as the best southern town. And since we’ve mobilized our lives, we’ve had the pleasure of living in other popular destinations like Celebration, Florida and Nantucket, Massachusetts. While it might not be for everyone, we are loving the leasing lifestyle!