David Howell is an author and teacher living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He works at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in the General Studies Department and teaches courses in creative thinking, ethics, composition, technical writing, leadership, public speaking, and so on. He has a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and an Individual Interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Washington State University.
I’ve decided to stop blogging for a while. It’s been engaging, especially this last June when Kait and I had our big bike ride, and the blog served as a vehicle for letting you all know what we were up to.
Why end the blog? Two reasons:
I’m writing two books, and it’s difficult to blog when writing manuscripts (not enough hours in a day, not enough writing energy to sustain it all)
I’m participating in a social media launch on September 1st for Epiphany Consulting, and I’ve committed to that endeavor
Thanks for following the blog. It’s not really going away; it’s just taking on new shapes.
I’m not a big fan of over-stimulation. I like managing thought process, and its difficult to do that when you’re over-stimulated. When the environment presents so much data that it’s difficult to know what you’re thinking about. When your thought process simply reacts to the overwhelming amount of stimulation that’s coming at it.
I thought about this yesterday when I let my dog Rush out in the back yard. Our neighbors have a couple of dogs–Stan and Charlie–and Rush loves to bark at them. And Charlie likes to yap back. It’s as if Rush has no choice, as if he’s biologically driven to bark at Charlie. It’s deafening, when the two of them get into it. Our only solution is to tie Rush to the deck when Charlie is in his yard, preventing Rush from running up to the fence that separates the two of them. Roping him to the deck creates enough separation that Rush isn’t compelled to incessantly bark at Charlie.
Sometimes, I feel as if my environment is like Rush’s experience in the back yard. I simply respond to the stimuli and seemingly have no control over my response. Of course, I can control my response, just as I can control my thought process that dictates the response. It just takes a great deal of mental discipline. And, it helps to adjust the environment, to minimize the stimulation, the amount of data coming my way. I can turn off the music in the car, put my smart phone to sleep, turn down meeting requests–I can make my lifestyle quieter. And as a result, I can create more opportunity for serenity.
The back yard is quite a tranquil space when Rush and Charlie aren’t going at it. Maybe we’ll build a better fence to prevent the two of them from barking non-stop, just so we can all experience a bit more tranquility.
It may be an historical exaggeration, but Einstein owned a number of suits, and they were all the same. Because they were all the same, he didn’t have to think about what he was going to wear that day, since he always wore the same thing.
I’ve often given this thought–what it is I want to think about and not think about, since we are each comprised of our memories, thoughts. I don’t like thinking about what to wear every day, so I tend to purchase durable clothes and wear them in the same rotation.
This is well illustrated with my shoes. Because I always bicycle, I always wear bicycle shoes. The last pair I wore were made by Shimano, size 48. They wore out, so this morning I purchased a new pair of shoes–made my Shimano, size 48. Yes, I did look at other brands and models of shoes, but at the end of the shopping experience, it was a bit of a no-brainer: stick with what works. And, don’t give it much thought, so you can think about other stuff.
When I was on this summer’s bike tour through Oregon, I ran into Robert, a Scotsman who was cycling from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. We ended up biking together for over a week through Oregon, Idaho and Montana, before we went our separate ways in Missoula. I took the train back to Milwaukee, and Robert continued to bike across Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, and recently, Wisconsin.
He’s now staying at my house in Milwaukee as he continues on his cycling journey east. Yesterday he took a day off from cycling, so we went sailing on Lake Michigan with my friend Matt. We had a great time, talking mostly about politics, culture, and sailing.
I had a great adventure cycling this summer, benefiting from the generosity of those who hosted me. It was good to host Robert, to introduce him to my Milwaukee home. Good to give back a bit to balance out all the goodness people afforded me on this summer’s travels.
A year ago, I wrote the first draft of a book that’s about adult friendship. I did this because I don’t have many friends, and I figured that writing a book about friendship may help me understand why. The project is coming along; some answers are slowly presenting themselves as to why I only really know a half-dozen people on this planet. But it’s taking time. I had to put the manuscript down for a while to let some of the ideas germinate. I opened the document today and started to work on it again.
When I was in grad school, getting a fine arts degree in writing, I learned that the space you write in is critical to the writing process. I’ve been scouting out a suitable place to finish this writing project, and I think I found one: the back corner at the Stone Creek Coffee on Silver Spring. The baristas are nice, the coffee is good, the music is contemporary but not too contemporary, and it’s not too busy after nine in the morning. Hopefully, I’ll be spending a ton of time here for the next 6 months.
There’s too many beer gardens in Milwaukee. I know this, because yesterday I was biking home and decided to stop off at the Hubbard Park Beer Garden–which is not to be confused with the Beer Garden at South Shore Terrace, the Estabrook Park Beer Garden, the Landing at Hoyt Park, or the Traveling Beer Garden (which locates itself at Greenfield Park in West Allis, Grant Park in South Milwaukee, Scout Lake Park in Greendale, and Doctors Park in Fox Point). The beer garden was nearly empty, and that’s somewhat sad, because it’s a great place to be.
Sad, yes, but personally wonderful given that I’m an introverted outdoor beer drinker. A half liter of Sheepshead Stout, a half hour in the shade of oak trees, and nothing but gratitude that I live in Milwaukee. If this beer garden were in Seattle, where I used to live, it would be jammed non-stop.