Report cards

Yesterday my two year old got her first report card from pre-school. A glowing description of her progress made me so happy. She has done so well.

The report makes me think about how we measure progress after school. An obvious metric is money made, but that doesn’t seem enough. My daughter’s report paid attention to aspects such as social cohesion, personality and communication skills development and other “softer” measurement than her grades or her salary. Her earning power is pitiful 😉

If my own schooling was any indication, after kindergarten (which measures very interesting markers for progress) we are pushed down a narrow path towards industry and conformance. We probably need to do better.

Some ideas for metrics other than salary and position to measure progress as humans after school:

  • How do we measure our contribution to the culture?
  • How aware are we of our own true nature and personal development?
  • How much do we know about where we come from?
  • How strong is our network?

Happy Thursday chimps.

What is it for?

Designers will tell you over and over – if you are creating something, the question that should come up most often is “what is this for?”

This applies to all creative pursuits whether it is writing a paragraph, cooking a meal, or fitting a bathroom sink. Any choice you make needs to have an answer if it is to work and avoid a clumsy creation.

So what’s this blog post for? It’s for expressing myself, for practicing my writing and for spreading ideas that I think will matter. And for community – for finding people like us who do things like this.

Happy Wednesday chimps.

Designers on Instagram

Good design can help you escape your own personal jungle. These are some of the cool people I follow on Instagram for design stuff:

Studio Dylan Thomaz: @studio.dylan.thomaz – interior design in Cape Town SA with a focus on happiness through design.

Tone Alexander Design Studio: @tonealexander – Interiors and gardens designed locally here in Cape Town.

Fern & Roby: @fernandroby – Industrial design and Audio (speakers and turntables mainly) and beautiful furniture made in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

Happy Tuesday Chimps.

Chimpwithcans.com updated

If you are a regular reader, you’ll notice several updates on the site – a new background, colours and catchphrase. Also – if you click the menu/widget button top right, then you will see a “PROJECTS” tab to click on.

This is part of the new focus and purpose of chimpwithcans.com. A little explanation:

“Escape the jungle” – this is what I want the site to help people with – married husbands mainly, but also anyone who’s interested.

Clearly, not many of us live in a real jungle or rainforest anymore. However, the metaphor of everyday life becoming a tangled jungle works in my head. The writing, podcasts and projects I become involved in will be focused on disciplines that can untangle our personal jungles. Disciplines like Creativity, Design, Psychology, and Negotiation. Also, the image of the chimpwithcans, clear of the tangled jungle and free to listen to music resonates with me 🙂

The projects are going to be updated as they become completed. This might take a while.

Let me know what you think! I am excited and enjoying the rather ‘revelatory’ purpose that has been distilled in my mind.

Purpose

After years of blogging – I have finally realised why my website exists at all: It is to help husbands.

Initially, I thought this blog was about music, or maybe psychology, or maybe self-improvement – but now I realise that it is actually about the situation I found myself in.

6 years ago, I moved in with my wife after our wedding and I felt frankly lost. There had been so much celebration and planning for our married life, but once it actually happened, there were several problems; I had nowhere to call my own space (interior design and marriage negotiations). I had no creative outlet (personality type). I had no sense of self (again, psychology and personality type). I was getting unfit and unhappy fast.

The themes of Design, Negotiation, Psychology and Creativity have all been catalysts for change in my married life. I have decided to take responsibility for my own marriage and my own health. I write and create podcasts centred on these themes.

There will be lots more people who can relate to this. To date this site has only helped myself, but from now on Chimpwithcans has a purpose – to enable a husband’s health in the home. 

Not a lot will change, but I will treat this writing and podcasting as more of a job and you can expect things to become a bit more professional. There will also be Patreon content created and available to Patrons only.

Happy Wednesday Chimps.

Love and War

King of your realm? Everything in its place? You will inevitably receive a challenge to let the spirits of War or Love come in through the front door. Accept the challenge and then everything changes. You have a choice to let them in or not. To stay where you are, or to take on the responsibility.

Years ago we let a dog through the door. A long haired mutt called “Trumpet” – Hair and damp spots grew in the realm. We fed him, changed his name, took him to school, gave him haircuts and a bed of his own.

Other spirits heard our doors were open and started to arrive in different forms. We let in more dogs, fish, grownups and finally children.

If you let them in, Love and War can take over the realm. This is not ideal and can lead to eternal battles that will burn the realm to the ground leaving nothing but scorched earth. So what to do? It is tempting to enforce discipline on the spirits no matter what. To shout and push them around. This works to a point, but the realm loses something in the process so too much discipline and fear will hurt the realm. Once upon a time we shouted and ordered spirits around for three whole days and the realm turned grey. No more color was left. It was as if the realm was sick with a cancer.

Instead we recommend you provide a stage in the realm for Love and War to play out their fantasies. This stage needs to be thought out to a degree, but really you just need a snug place to sit, some open space as a stage with sunlight to light up the spirits, and some clean air. Maybe a bit of music in the background for atmosphere. Once the stage is set, sit back and watch for the magic. Note that this can be messy and cleaning up after a performance will be up to you, but pay attention when the play is on because the magic is oh so beautiful. Carry a glass jar to capture some of the magic if you can. Then you can hang the jar on a piece of string and let the children sleep easy under its light.

This will come with practice.

Making it interesting

Check out this passage from a book I am reading:

The eardrum is connected to three tiny, loosely hinged bones inside the middle ear. Each bone is delicate and exquisitely shaped. One looks like a hammer and is called by its Latin name, malleus. The next, the incus, looks like an anvil. And the third, the stapes, looks like a stirrup. When the eardrum vibrates, these bones vibrate in tune with its movement and with the movement of the air.

Three bones make all the sound you hear in your head! This sort of thing blows my mind, and yet I gave up biology at 15.

Maybe if my biology teacher had linked it all to music I would have paid attention.

Buildings through different lenses

One way to view a building is through the lens of a developer. Using this lens, a building is a foundation, a frame, and finishes (interior and exterior — windows, doors, penetrations) plus the surface finishes (floors, walls, ceilings, interior doors, rest rooms, mop closets, central plant) and the HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, controls, elevator systems.

Buildings can also be linked to health and emotion. A house can be a safe space and a home full of joy, or it can be full of anger, the scene of a divorce. Creative spaces can give you a sense of freedom and purpose. Pressurized space characterized by disjunction and poor design can give you a feeling of unease – it may even make you sick.

Depending on what you want to achieve, it helps to have the right lens. For example right now I need to sort out several functional things in our old house such as the garden lawn and the crumbling driveway. Developers lens helps here. I also have to manage a big family’s needs and expectations with my own. Seeing our home as a space for emotional fulfillment, health, and personal development is perhaps the lens to use here.

Contrast = interesting to humans

I once asked my dad why he liked The Rolling Stones so much. His answer was that they understood the need for highs and lows in a song.

It is hardwired deep in your nervous system. The senses that we humans have developed over millennia of evolution – touch, smell, sight, hearing – are made up of nerve cells linking to our brain. These nerve cells respond better to a sudden change than they do to repeated stimuli.

What does this mean? It depends on the situation.

For Mick Jagger and the boys it means that their songs have light and shade. Quiet verses and soaring choruses. Jagger will whisper and then he will growl and roar.

For emergency response vehicles it means the loud sirens are designed to be varied, sharp and with many different patterns so as to be noticed over the noise of everyday traffic. This contrast works better than one continuous noise which is easily filtered out by the human ear.

For creative people, I think it means that if a piece of art is not getting the desired response, then one of the first things to assess is the use of contrast – light and shade, highs and lows.

Contrast = interesting to humans.