Thursday, June 29, 2006

Everything I Need to Know I've learned in...

School. That's right, I actually learned something in school, regardless of the fact that I spent much of my time doodling in the margins of my notebook. And what's more, my approach to life comes from that childhood nemesis; Word Problems!

Now that one paragraph seems to blow out of the water several of life's "givens", doesn't it. To be honest, and frank, though, the misconception of "why do we need to learn this stuff for, it won't do us no good in real life" basically lies with the speaker. Like everything else in life, you get out of an education what you put into it. Any adult that goes back to school can tell you this.

But let's not digress, and please don't get me started on the abundance of ignorance I see each day I walk out my door. My topic today is Word Problems, Shrubbery, and Cartooning.

A week or so ago, the outside temperature was around 90 degrees, so of course I took it upon myself to begin a major landscaping project; the removal of ancient shrubbery. Like most folk, I just took some gardening implements of destruction, and started hacking away, removing branches willy nilly, and making a general mess of things. Please note: this is back breaking and exhausting.

So, although I am an artist, I have been trained in the scientific method. What's that, you ask? Simple. The scientific method is basically a solid philosophy for approaching life's difficulties with your brain first, so as to make life that much easier... and is the method we were all taught to use to solve those pesky word problems.

Yes, that's right... for all of you who have ever wondered why "Joe leaves his house at 7 Am, and drives east at 40 mph" is important to life, and concurrently wonder why life is such a mess, the answer is... Oh, you really should have paid attention in school!

Lots of people have told me that I should have been a teacher, to which my response is, "what did I ever do to you?" Just kidding... teaching is a noble profession, and I do like kids, but I realize that I just don't have the patience and inner serenity to deal with 20 small kids with the combined energy of a nuclear reaction, or worse, 20 teenagers with the combined arrogance of a Hollywood charity fundraiser.

That aside, I will attempt to teach you the philosophy that has made me the success that I am today, all from the safety of my home.

The next time you face a word problem, a tough sudoku puzzle, the challenge of writing or illustrating a graphic novel, or the might of a 40 year old evergreen, do the following.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Look at your givens.

Your givens are the things that you know, such as 7 am, and 40 mph. Or, yard waste must be collected in bundles of 3 feet long or less, or the dimensions of a comic book are 6.625" x 10.25" with a .25" bleed on all sides.

Adding up all your givens should put the problem in focus, and more importantly, it gets you started! Nothing is worse than standing around scratching your head, and few things waste more time. Getting started is the key to everything. Writer's block means that you aren't writing! Grab a pencil and write a letter to a friend, real or imaginary, and writer's block dissappears.

Also, once you lay out your givens, you are now faced with what you don't have. This puts the solution in focus by defining it. We usually call this "X". By defining the problem, we open our minds to the solution.

Now, depending on the size and nature of the problem, the next approach is taking the big stuff and breaking it down into smaller, easy to manage chunks. For shrubbery, you take the small branches off in 3 foot lengths, then remove the bigger branches and trunks again in 3 foot lengths, and then tackle the stump and roots. Ta-dah! You're done, and you bundle everything up in twine, and bring to the curb.

Take things one at a time, step by step, starting with the easiest stuff and keep going until you are done. Ta-dah!

Yes, it really is that easy.

Oh sure, hard work and perseverance are still needed, but a little brainwork can make things so much easier.

And that goes for creating a comic strip, the great American novel, and even landscaping.

Thank Goodness for word problems :0)

PS Now if this darn would only work consistently!

I've lost this post twiceFOUR TIMES now (!!!!), and luckily had saved some of it. I've heard from some of you who have had similar problems, where you type up a brilliant reply, only to have it disappear into the e-void.

Please don't let that stop you. Keep saving your work until blogger finally lets your reply through.

I know people are reading this, but I'm not going to blog more often until I start getting more replies at the blog.

I need to know; am I a rambling nutter or a focused philosopher when it comes to blogging? :0)

YOUR opinions, please :0)

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