Month: April 2016

Kids today…

…make some great art!

After dinner earlier this week, my wife saw some art work in display from local schools in the mall where we ate. We had a few minutes before closing so we went to check out what the kids were up to.

8-bit art

There was some really cool artwork. There are some insanely talented young artists in the area. And it’s good to see their work being displayed in public. I can only imagine how exciting it is to go to the mall with your parents and see your painting or project hanging there.

We saw a ton of work from local Elementary and Middle schools. Each school or class had work based on a theme. For the younger kids, it was a book or certain style. I remember seeing a whole wall of giraffes after a book the kids read. They were a lot of fun.

Low Poly art

The older kids had some breath-taking paintings and some low-poly art, a personal favorite of mine. There was one artist in particular whose portrait of Marilyn Manson was astounding. This girl has a future ahead of her.

We used our 15 minutes before mall security ushered us towards the door. There was so much more to see since there are so many schools in our county. This is always weird to me, since I grew up in a county with two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.


Seeing more than a dozen displays from elementary aged was exciting for the depth and variety of artwork on display. The same goes for the middle-schoolers. There were so many things I never knew existed when I was their age. So many art styles made possible by computers and techniques I didn’t learn about until years later.

I’m happy to see such a rich art education in the local schools. There are some great art teachers in the area and they’re doing good work.

Isolated Youth

This could be the story of my childhood. I grew up in a small town in Northern Virginia. Berryville has about 2,000 people. My high school was 550 and my graduating class was 168.

We were near enough to Washington DC and Baltimore to pick up some music from outside the Christian and Country stations which ruled our airwaves. But it was still isolated where the goal was to get out.

“Basically, this story is a controlled experiment,” I continue. “Napoleon is a place that has remained static for decades. The economics, demographics, politics, and geography are the same as when I lived here. In the past twenty-five years, only one thing has changed: technology.”

This paragraph sums up Berryville. Static and isolated. The internet changed everything. I often hear how the internet made the world a smaller place, but for me, it made the world much larger.


I’m always a sucker for advice pieces, especially when they are directed from adults to children. Unsolicited Advice for My Three Sons, In No Particular Order is full of greats bits of advice but one stuck out to me more than the rest.

Names are a door handle to a person; that small little effort opens them up.

This is great advice, and something I use as much as I can, especially when talking to people over the phone. I work in a help desk environment and people feel dehumanized by the entire process so it’s nice to converse using each others names and not just a caller/callee relationship.

We’re both people and it’s important to remember that. We have feelings and we are working towards the same outcome. But it’s important for life too.

I try to take note of anyone with a name tag and thank them using their name. It’s fun to see the surprise in their face when I use their name when they didn’t give it to me.

I had the same feeling one day and I asked a customer when I worked in retail how he knew my name, he motioned to my name tag and winked. I had totally forgotten I had my name on my chest.

Your co-workers are not your friends

You may love your job and all the people you work with, but at the end of the day you are in a business environment where the goals of the organization are driven by business decisions.

Where I work, I am cordial and friendly with my co-workers. But I keep my outside life mostly out of work. I don’t invite them to my social media profiles. I don’t tell them about my blog. We are not friends. We are not going to get dinner or go see a movie. I keep them at arm’s length because we aren’t friends. We’re co-workers. We’re thrown together in work just as we all went through school with a random collection of people who just happened to be of similar ages.

I don’t wall them off because I want to talk smack about them online. I don’t talk about my co-workers online. I don’t blog about them. I don’t tweet about them. I don’t talk about them. It’s best practice not to because you never know who will find what you’ve said or will look you up. It’s a small world out there and you never know who’s reading or searching what you say. So be safe and don’t say it.

One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou is, “When people reveal themselves, believe them.”

I believe there is a division between work life and personal life. You may be friendly with co-workers. But they may have different goals and expectations as you. Be ready to always look out for yourself first. No one will take care of you like you.