Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Life and Star Wars - The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi, and my life through the Star Wars movies (spoiler alert)

As I settled back in my reclining seat in the Eden Prairie AMC Theaters to watch the latest in the Star Wars series, I had a moment. Watching that famous bottom crawl text, John William’s music blasting through the surround speakers, I realized I have been watching Star Wars movies my entire life. Here on the big screen are the actors, music and plots that have punctuated my earthly years, from the age of 11 to 52. The Rebellion, droids (the same ones) Luke and Leia, Chewy, the Millennium Falcon, slipping past Star Destroyers, light saber fights, and the Force…it’s as if nothing has changed.

But I have changed.

So have the actors on the screen. 

They were once so vibrant and young, full of promise. Now they’re old, wrinkled and dying off - Luke (Mark Hamill) on screen and Leia (Carrie Fisher) in real life. I did’t watch the latest installment of the series feeling young and energized. I wondered: has my life stayed in the same place, treading the same waters as the movies?

I was 11 in 1977 when the first Star Wars movie came out. We didn’t go to movies much, but the buzz about Star Wars had become so loud that even we conservative church goers in central Pennsylvania had to check it out. I remember it like it was yesterday. We all piled into our orange Dodge van, (even my 83-year-old grandmother,) and drove to the Camphill Theaters to watch it. It sticks in my mind for two main reasons: I now had my first crush - on Carrie Fisher (one that would only increase with Return of the Jedi) and my grandmother so wonderfully informed us on the way home that Darth Vader was clearly the metaphor for the Devil.

The rest of the movies have marked various chapters in my life: 1980 (The Empire Strikes Back) I had just started high school, 1983 (Return of the Jedi, I paid five times watch it at the theater) I was a junior and a camper at Interlochen Music Camp, 1999 (The Phantom Menace) I now was married with two kids, 2002 (Attack of the Drones) I was running my own business in music production, 2005 (Revenge of the Sith) I had switched to working at a church; 2015 (The Force Awakens) I was now a Professor of Music Production and Business at NCU, and now in 2017 (The Last Jedi) we are empty nesters and loving it.

So, has my life not changed like the Star Wars movies? I don’t feel as old as Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker look. They seem to be at the end of their lives and I feel like I’m at a new beginning of mine. Am I delusional? As I look back on my life, every chapter has been better than the previous one. I’ve always tried to outgrow problems and opportunities. Why haven’t the movies done the same?

I almost wish the series would end here with all the questions at the ending of the Last Jedi. Questions are so much more interesting than answers. Wondering what might happen to the rag tag group of resistance fighters is much more interesting than watching them win in the happy ending I’m sure we’ll get in 2019. As Empire Strikes back was the best of the first trilogy, I’m pretty sure the Last Jedi will be the best of this last trilogy. That’s one of the major things I’ve learned in life. Questions trump answers any day. Don’t strive to find the answer; try and understand the question. 

I don’t hold out hope that Disney will share my sentiment on this.

May the Force be with you.
Rob Barrett, Jr.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Adam Grant's Originals

Rarely am I inspired by a book or do I take as many notes than I was/did by experiencing Adam Grant's Originals. I bought it on a whim when I was looking for a book on management recommended by Dave Ramsey at our local Barnes and Noble. ( I can't tell you how long it had been since I was in a Barnes and Noble, thanks, Mr. Bezos) I decided I don't want to be a middle manager.  But I saw Adam's book next to it and the subtitle, "how non-conformists move the world" spoke immediately to where I am in my life. So I laid down the best $27 (plus tax) of my life.

Adam's book studies and quantifies how people like Steve Jobs, Jerry Seinfeld, Beethoven and others move the world and he does so not just from observing but from analysis and science and how we can learn from their successes and defeats.

I'll skip right to the meat. Here are the notes I took. If you want more explanation, just go buy the book.

1. The key to excellent creativity is a large volume of work. pg. 35-36
Great originals were most excellent when they were the most prolific.
2. Balance risk pg.17
If you're taking risk in one part of your life balance that with security in another part.
3. The best predictor of success is other creative peers. pg. 44
Don't trust focus groups or people outside your genre, fine creative peers to speak into your work.
4. Over communicate the vision, especially if it's a new one. pg. 77
I call it the Kardashian rule.
5. Staying and fixing isn't necessarily better than exiting. pg. 90
Sometimes you just have to take your ball and go home.
6. Procrastination can be good. pg. 96
Amen, said all the teenagers out there.
7. Settlers succeed more often than pioneers. pg. 108
Unfortunately, I still want to be a pioneer.
8. Don't be so extreme you splinter your group. pg 118
Of course, this rule apparently doesn't apply to recent presidential elections.
9. Values over rules for parenting creative kids pg. 165
Not just what not to do, but why not to do it.
10. Foster dissension rather than seek consensus. pg. 176
Keep your friends close, but your enemies ....
11. Don't try to calm down, get excited! pg. 216
Especially when you're nervous. I've used this countless times since reading the book.
12. Don't go at it alone, find at least one person to come alongside. pg. 225
If one falls down who can help  him up?

So if you want to be a middle manager, go get that other book, but if you want to put down the sugar water and change (move) the world with me, read Adam Grant's Originals. Hopefully you'll find it as inspiring as I did.

Rob Barrett, Jr.
Third Street Music
Cooking for Dads
Copper by Rob

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Past Presidents, the National Debt, Republicans versus Democrats, and electing a non-senator/governor/rep.

Can't help myself as I woke up at 4:00 a.m. this morning. Who really has added more to the national debt, Republican Presidents or Democratic Presidents? (disclaimer- I am  a strict Republican but the math doesn't change.)Do governors, senators or representatives really make good presidents?

So here is the table - by President, previous experience, $ added to National Debt, % of debt added during term.

While these aren't perfect numbers (there are many ways to look at this), they do show some interesting trends. See for yourself:

Presidents and Debt

President                          Previous Experience $ Added to Debt % Added to Debt
44. Barack Obama (D)  Senator                       $9.4 Trillion 88.2%
43. George W. Bush (R)  Governor  $4.9 trillion 85.5%
42. Bill Clinton (D)  Governor $1.54 trillion 36.7%
41. George H. Bush (R) Representative/VP  $1.49 trillion 55.2% (1 term)
40. Ronald Reagan  (R) Governor                      $1.77 trillion 190%
39. Jimmy Carter (D) Governor                      $281 billion 43% (1 term)
38. Gerald Ford (R) Representative/VP $172 billion 37% (<1 term)
37. Richard Nixon  (R) Senator                         $119 billion 33% (>1 term)
36. Lyndon B Johnson (D) Senator                      $54 billlion 17.5% (>1 term)
35. John F. Kennedy  (D) Senator                         $19 billion 6.6% (<1 term)

pres Start in bils  finish added  perc
obama 10,626         20,000         9,374 88.2
bush 5,730 10.630         4,900 85.5
clinton 4,190 5,730 1,540 36.7
bush 2,700 4,190 1,490 55.2
Reagan 934         2,700 1.77          190
carter 653           934 281          43
Ford 482           654 172          37
Nixon 362           481 119          33
Johnson 308           362 54          17.5
Kennedy 289           308 19            6.6

Average percentage per party:
Democrats in office 28 years - 192% added- 6.85% per year or 27.42% per term

Republicans in office 28 years - 400% added - 14.3% per year or 57.24% per term

So unfortunately for me, the Republican Presidents added more than double the percentage of National Debt per term as the Democratic Presidents.

As you can see we've always elected either a Governor, a Senator or a Representative to the office of the President. how's that working for us? Maybe we should try a business man. Even a flawed rough around the edges business man. #justsayin

Good luck every one this fall.
Rob Barrett, Jr.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Making our Black Friday Thursday

Just a fun little song we did one night about how Black Friday has crept into our Thanksgiving Thursday. Enjoy.

You can download a music mp3 of it here if you'd like.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Our Albino Hawk and Me.

Our Albino Hawk
About 7 or 8 years ago we had a new visitor. What appeared to be a large white or albino eagle or hawk moved into our neighborhood. At first the crows were relentless, attacking and dive bombing her continuously. After a few days the hawk was gone and I figured the crows had gotten the best of her. Rats.
But a week or two later she was back and we've been enjoying her and her exploits for the past couple years. She eventually took a mate and has raised quite a few broods.
We've tried to get a good picture of her for quite some time, but never had the camera and her approach in the same place at the same time.
Last June, on my birthday, she showed up and landed in the tree right behind her house. I grabbed our cheap point and click and walked down to the tree to see if I could get lucky. Normally whenever I approach, she takes off so I have lots of pictures of her flying off in the distance.
But that day I didn't see her leave. I walked right up to the tree and scanned it for the great white bird.
Suddenly, there she was. Staring right at me. I shot the best shot I could but the back lighting was not good for my cheap camera.
White Hawk in Tree

Face to Face with our Albino Hawk on my birthday.

Then last night we finally took the plunge and bought a good camera, a Canon T4i. So I put on the telephoto lens and walked down to the end of the yard to see if by chance she would fly by. Living right must have its advantages because in less than 30 seconds both the Albino hawk and her mate flew by quite a few times.
First good shot of our white hawk

Black feathers on wings are new this year.

White hawk tail slightly reddish too.

The White Hawk's Red Tailed Mate.

So this year our albino hark looks less albino as it now has 2 black wing feathers and some red in it's tail. Its mate looks very much like a red tailed hawk so I'd guess our white friend is also just an albino version or a very white version.