It’s been so long since I’ve logged in here that i forgot my password

Not really. But I did update at least half a dozen point releases of wordpress. I have no intention of apologizing to you for my absence. You don’t come here for whining. According to google you’re here because I once blogged about women farting.There’s some esoteric crap below, so if you’re not interested, just skip down to the section labeled SO MY POINT IS THIS.

I’ve been thinking about some things lately

that I wanted to write about. One of which is the idea of the Ulysses Contract. The concept of using a group dynamic to help you commit to future action. In The Odyssey, Ulysses needed to sail past the Syrens. He also wanted to hear the syrens for himself. He also wanted to survive and get to his destination where he was going to ride a big rocking horse. So he made a deal with his men. They would block their ears with wax to avoid becoming enchanted by the syren song and lash Ulysses to the mast and ignore any pleas or orders from him until they were safely past the syrens.

Of course he went mad with the sound. All he wanted was to steer the ship toward their rock, or dive into the sea. Either option would have meant his death. He wanted what he wanted and nothing would stop him. Except the ropes and his hearing impaired crew.

You see this all the time

The only way to deter immediate instincts or desires is with competing immediate instincts or desires. The strongest one will win. Fitness challenges like Nike Fit or Endomondo use a group game dynamic to let you commit in the present to future behavior by using group awareness and interaction as a less dramatic version of the Ulysses Contract. If you don’t go run, ride, ski, whatever, then you either get outed publicly, or, which is probably worse, you have nothing to talk about and nothing for people to comment, like, retweet or hashtag (which we know is a powerful motivator). Social rewards are as powerful as the desire to stay in bed and sleep another hour .

My friend Colin is doing something similar with his goal of “Becoming a Better Writer.” By announcing it to his community and posting regular updates he’s hoping that we’ll hold him to his goal and that our awareness will affect his adherence to the goal. And I’m sure it’ll work.

There are a couple awesome examples

in a Radiolab Podcast from a few weeks ago. In it they describe a path to quitting smoking which mirrors how I gave up being a finger sucker when I was a kid. It’s an urge. My mom didn’t believe in pacifiers, so I made my own. It was comforting, relaxing. A very difficult thing to give up voluntarily, and not something that is easy to avert with physical means or a vague notion of future consequences, like “you’re going to have to get braces if you keep sucking you finger!” (Especially when all the cool kids have braces…)

My parents had a foster kid at the time named Todd. Todd was AWESOME! He was older, cooler, more rebellious, and more awesome than anyone I had met up to that point. We’d hang out in his room and he’d tell me stories and talk about cars and music videos. He was the one who set up the contract for me.

He told me he had a friend who sucked his finger. This friend wouldn’t quit either. And he suffered. Big Time. He got gang green. And his finger got moldy and fell off. Then his arm got moldy. And it spread. It was smelly, and disgusting looking and super painful and he just got more disgusting and moldy and miserable until he just lived in an attic and they fed him through a slit in the door. All from sucking his finger!

It left a big impression on me. I thought about it a lot. I had a vivid picture of Todd’s friend doubled over in agony as his arms fell to the floor and a putrescent cloud filled the room as he slowly suffered the consequences of finger sucking. From then on whenever I put my finger in my mouth, I saw (and smelled) that, and I pulled it out. Even when i was asleep.

I don’t know when I realized what he’d done. When I realized he just made it up. But the habit had already been kicked. The other think I don’t know is what to do about the fact that my son sucks his finger too…

So my point is this

I want to become a better Videographer. For the free subscription, Vimeo lets you upload one HD video per week. I will create one HD video per week and post it to Vimeo. You will, hopefully, watch that video and give me some kind of feedback. A like, a favorite, a comment, a tweet, a “sweet video” shouted out the window as I’m walking down the street. Something. Could be anything. In return, when it’s late on saturday evening and I’d rather watch an X-Files episode on Netflix and sleep in, I’ll finish a video…

This Week’s Video


Music by Phoenix. Check them out and buy their albums!

This is from my nephew’s 1st birthday party. It’s a family thing. It seems simple, but I spent a lot of time going through the clips and pulling out the ones that captured the mannerisms, expressions and essence of the people there. I spent a lot of time selecting the music and then cutting the clips to match the track beats, changes and timing. In the end, it probably won’t mean much to you. But I’m hoping that in 5 or 10 or 50 years, it’ll mean a whole lot to us.

Upcoming Videos:

  • Cooking with Clint Jolly
  • Photography in Zion National Park
  • Tallcan TV
  • A modestly intelligent person’s guide to making coffee

-M