Friday Link Love: Character, Luck and Love, and a Homemade Helicopter


Away we go:


Poetic Cosmos of the Breath — Colossal


The artist took huge sheets of colorful foil, taped the edges to the ground, then filled them with air. Transcendent:




Children Succeed with Character, Not Test Scores — NPR

An interview with the author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. I’m seeing stuff about this book all over the place.

The author’s focus seems to be on how kids prevail in rough neighborhoods and despite socio-economic disadvantage. As a parent in a very different context, I’d like to know specific ways to encourage my own children. The schools are still focused on IQ and test scores as measures of success. How do we transition toward grit, curiosity and character?


What Can I Say That’s Actually Helpful in Times of Grief? — Lifehacker

A very good list:

“I’m so sorry for your loss.” Yes, it’s completely unoriginal, but that doesn’t really matter here. If you knew the person who passed away, you could add in meaningful memories. When my previous boss died this year, I told his family, whom I was also close to, how he had been my mentor when I was just a kid out of college and one of my biggest supporters. I’m not sure if it helped them, but probably most families would appreciate your recognizing their loved one and their loss.


Tough Times, Luck and Love: One Family’s Story of Childhood Leukemia — Vimeo

I am acquainted with this family through friends. Sweet and (some) wrenching photos combined with an interview with the mother. Wise and heartfelt.

Tough Times, Luck and Love: One Family’s Story of Childhood Leukemia from Liisa Ogburn on Vimeo.


The Water-Park Scandal and Two Americas — Esquire

Waterparks are implementing “flash passes” so people can pay more to cut to the front of the line. The author sees this as a metaphor:

It sounds like an innovative answer to the problem that everybody faces at an amusement park, and one perfectly in keeping with the approaches currently in place at airports and even on some crowded American highways — perfectly in keeping with the two-tiering of America. You can pay for one level of access, or you can pay for another. If you have the means, you can even pay for freedom. There’s only one problem: Cutting the line is cheating, and everyone knows it. Children know it most acutely, know it in their bones, and so when they’ve been waiting on a line for a half-hour and a family sporting yellow plastic Flash Passes on their wrists walks up and steps in front of them, they can’t help asking why that family has been permitted the privilege of perpetrating what looks like an obvious injustice. And then you have to explain not just that they paid for it but that you haven’t paid enough — that the $100 or so that you’ve ponied up was just enough to teach your children that they are second- or third-class citizens.

It wouldn’t be so bad, if the line still moved. But it doesn’t. It stops, every time a group of people with Flash Passes cut to the front. You used to be able to go on, say, three or four rides an hour, even on the most crowded days. Now you go on one or two.

Praise and thanks for Disney, whose Fast Passes are free and available to anyone who wants to go to the trouble of retrieving them.


Less — theskyislaughing

My goal for the year is “less.”  I just want to keep all my vices but engage in them less often.

I’m not giving up Diet Coke, but I’ll drink it less (like once a day during work days)often.

I’m not giving up driving, but I’ll do it less often.

I’m not giving up computer time, but I’ll do it less often.

This is excellent. I think there are Sabbath implications here. We sometimes think that if we can’t do it perfectly then we won’t do it at all. If a weekly Sabbath seems impossible, how about every two weeks? Every month? How about a commitment simply to labor a little less?


The Two-Spirit People of Indigenous North Americans — Guardian

Interesting article about Native Americans’ reverential treatment of sexual minorities (including gay persons) in their communities:

Rather than emphasising the homosexuality of these persons, however, many Native Americans focused on their spiritual gifts. American Indian traditionalists, even today, tend to see a person’s basic character as a reflection of their spirit. Since everything that exists is thought to come from the spirit world, androgynous or transgender persons are seen as doubly blessed, having both the spirit of a man and the spirit of a woman. Thus, they are honoured for having two spirits, and are seen as more spiritually gifted than the typical masculine male or feminine female.

Therefore, many Native American religions, rather than stigmatising such persons, often looked to them as religious leaders and teachers.


Everything Is Incredible — Vimeo

A man in Honduras, crippled since birth, has been building his own helicopter for more than 50 years. This is funny, sad, and inspiring all at once.

Everything is Incredible from Tyler Bastian on Vimeo.


Have an incredible weekend, everyone.

4 thoughts on “Friday Link Love: Character, Luck and Love, and a Homemade Helicopter

  1. Bob Braxton

    Magda Gerber: wait, observe, enjoy (WOE is me) – be a good green bean (plant) gardener – do all you can to set up the conditions, step back and watch God work, no tugging on the plant to get it to grow – the green bean plants grow from within and toward God (and the sunshine)

  2. Teri Peterson

    The difficulty with “I’m sorry for your loss” is that we are so conditioned in our society to accept “I’m sorry” with “that’s okay” or some similar phrase, even when the reality is that it’s not okay at all. How can we separate the apology “I’m sorry” from the sympathetic/compassionate “sorry”? I keep looking for something else to say that would convey that compassion without the expected answer…
    When my mom died and people would say “I’m sorry” I would say “me too.” From the looks I got I could tell that wasn’t how I was supposed to respond, and I’d clearly broken some unspoken social convention, but it was at least the truth. Perhaps if they’d said something else, I could have answered both honestly and compassionately in the midst of my own pain.

    1. MaryAnn

      Very good point. The language is imprecise. I’ve had people respond to “sorry” with “it’s not your fault!” As if I’m claiming responsibility.

      That said, if people are uncomfortable with “me too,” that’s their problem, not yours. I realize I can’t be dispassionate about this–not this week. But still. A grieving family is under no obligation to make the rest of us comfortable.

  3. Bob Braxton

    More than imprecision of (the English) language, our society in general is less than forthright about death itself. A great reversal which to me is attractive is to speak of the beginning (individual) life on this earth saying that one is “dying into this world” and that one’s departure is “being born” into the “world” next. After all, one does not elect to be born and most humans do not elect their manner of death, thus the metaphorical “birth” through which our own death may take us.


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