International Creativity Month

January is Creativity Month. This was created by a man called Robert Munson. No one seems to know exactly when, but he wrote about it in 2004, so it at least existed by that time. You can hear a sample of this truly entertaining motivational speaker at his website.  One of the things he has to say that particularly jumped out at me is “A center for creative learning studied the creativity of children and found that during the first five years 90% of children are highly creative. The next two years, ages six and seven, the percentage of highly creative children dropped to 10%. By age eight or nine, the percentage of highly creative children fell to only 2% and stayed about that level from that time on.” What this says is that people are born creative, and it is bred out of us. So this month isn’t about techniques for becoming creative for people who have never been, as much as it about rediscovering the creativity we all had as young children.

There are many different kinds of creativity, of course. Some people have creative jobs where this is celebrated, such as writers, actors, musicians, and other such. For others, this comes out in cooking, in making things with your hands, gardening, and just about anything you can think of. Even what seems repetitive can be done with creativity.

One thing which Amazon does – or did when I worked there – is give awards for creative thinking, whether the idea actually worked or not. Munson says something of the sort when he asks if a person’s business celebrates failure. As Thomas Edison said about creating the light bulb: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Failure shows a person is trying. Creativity doesn’t happen without it.

So dust off that creativity and do something fun this month without worrying if you do it well or poorly or if it succeeds or fails.

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Quotes about creativity

Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work, risking, and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful: yourself.–Alan Alda

Cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music. And cooking draws upon your every talent–science, mathematics, energy, history, experience–and the more experience you have, the less likely are your experiments to end in drivel and disaster. The more you know, the more you can create.–Julia Child

Creative minds are rarely tidy.–John William Gardner

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.–Mary Lou Cook

Focus should be to encourage and develop creativity in all children without the ultimate goal begin to make all children inventors, but rather to develop a future generation of critical thinkers.–Faraq Mousa

I think there are two keys to being creatively productive. One is not being daunted by one’s fear of failure. the second is sheer perseverance.–Mary-Claire King

The only truly happy people are children and the creative minority.–Jean Caldwell

The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done–men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.–Jean Piaget

We are the music makers.
We are the dreamers of dreams.– Arthur O’Shaughnessy

When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on Earth. So what the hell, leap!–Peter McWilliams

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.–Maya Angelou

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Stephen Hawking

Stephen William Hawking was born on January 8, 1942. He is a theoretical physicist of amazing talent. His main work has been in the area of black holes, which may seem like an esoteric branch of physics, but there is a lot of interest in them right now. Hawking postulated that black holes weren’t really “black,” because according to quantum theory, energy could sometimes escape from them. This energy has come to be called Hawking Radiation.

But it’s not just his genius that has made him a well know figure. At the age of 21 he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and given a very few years to live. He is now 75 and has children and grandchildren. Hawking has also done a lot to popularize physics with such books for lay persons as A Brief History of Time. He also does speaking appearances, such as the one I went to when I lived in Seattle.

For much of his professional life, he was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a post once held by Isaac Newton. Though he retired from that position, Hawking is still an active part of Cambridge University and retains an office at the Department for Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics. His title is now the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.

Hawking has twelve honorary degrees and has been awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.)

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Quotes by Stephen Hawking

At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was twelve, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don’t know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided…

If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.

f you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well.

I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.

Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.

When asked about his IQ: I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.

I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.

Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.

I have so much that I want to do. I hate wasting time.

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Silent Record Week

It may seem like an oxymoron, but this week, the first in January, is Silent Record Week. Yes, it means records that play no sound.

According to the Nonstop Holidays Website: “apparently it started at the University of Detroit in 1959. Someone put silent records into some of the jukeboxes around the university, allowing people to ‘buy’ silence. And it was a hit! Students at the university even formed the Hush Record Label to produce silent records. The next year, Silent Record Week was born.”

Another site tells us, “ One of the most popular silent records of all time was an LP titled, The Wit & Wisdom of Ronald Reagan. All the tracks on both sides of the record were silent. The LP managed sales of some 30,000 disks.”

Silence can be a protest, as in standing in silence against a wrong. Or refusing to answer a question you consider inappropriate. Or buying three minutes of silence from a jukebox. We also hear that in Simon & Garfunkel’s most famous song “Sounds of Silence” If you haven’t heard it for a while, give it a listen. If you don’t think we are living in a time when “the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they’d made,” you haven’t been paying attention.

Silence can also be cowardly, as when we stay silence in the presence of wrong. As with anything, it is how you use it. But who couldn’t do with a little silence in this busy world of ours?

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Quotes about silence

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation. Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego.–Jean Arp

Accustomed to the veneer of noise, to the shibboleths of promotion, public relations, and market research, society is suspicious of those who value silence.–John Lahr

Be silent, or say something better than silence.—Pythagoras

The cruelest lies are often told in silence.–Robert Louis Stevenson

I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

In nature we find silence – the trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence. Silence of the heart is necessary…-–Mother Teresa

It’s very important in life to know when to shut up. You should not be afraid of silence.–Alex Trebek

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose.–Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

A note of music gains significance from the silence on either side.–Anne Morrow Lindberg

One must learn to be silent just as one must learn to talk.–Victoria Wolff

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk’s flight
on the empty sky.–Ursula K. LeGuin

A properly kept silence is a beautiful thing; it is nothing less than the father of very wise thoughts.—Diodicus

Only in the oasis of silence can we drink deeply from the inner cup of wisdom.–Sue Patton Thoele

Silence is a source of great strength.–Lao Tzu

Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together.–Thomas Carlyle

True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.–William Penn

You are most powerful when you are most silent. People never expect silence. They expect words, motion, defense, offense, back and forth. They expect to leap into the fray. They are ready, fists up, words hanging leaping from their mouths. Silence? No.-—Alison McGhee

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Trivia Day

Trivia Day, sometimes called National Trivia Day is celebrated January 4. As to why it is on this day, or who started it or when, the matter is up for debate. Practically every place I read about this day, another person or event was held up as the creator of the holiday.

The word trivia comes from the Latin term for the intersection of three paths, in other words, a crossroads, which would have been a sacred place. It came to refer to the first three liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, and logic. It is a Latin plural, with the singular being trivium.

The love of trivia games became popular on College campuses in the 1960s, at first informally, and then more formally with the quiz bowls. The day itself seems to have taken off with the public with the introduction of Trivial Pursuit in 1979. (I was once involved in a partnered game of trivial pursuit, and we got trounced by the other team, mainly because neither of us knew much about sports.) And of course, the television show Jeopardy has continued to popularize the love of trivia, and offered big financial incentives to those whose heads are stuffed with facts.

So how to celebrate this day? Get together with friends and play Trivial Pursuit, or play by yourself online. Watch Jeopardy You can also play that online.

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Instead of quotes today, I have included a list of trivial facts for your enjoyment. These come from the Days of the Year Calendar,  or Mental Floss. I do not vouch for their accuracy!

In the Victorian era, special teacups were produced to protect the mustache from being inadvertently dipped in tea.

Hallmark now produces cards for those whom have been made redundant.

On Venus, it snows metal.

Cuba is the only Caribbean Island with a railway.

19 of the 25 of the highest peak in the world are in the Himalayas.

99% of Glaciers are in the Arctic and Antarctic.

The 7 largest country in the world take up half of the world’s surface.

There are 17 active volcanoes in Japan.

Several buildings in New York have their own zip code.

There are no rivers in Saudi Arabia.

Ethiopia has never been a European colony.

In 2006, over 2 billion people lived on less than $2 a day.

The country Brazil was named after the Brazil nut, and not the other way around.

Spain means “the land of rabbits”.

Rome was the first city to reach a million people.

The entire population of the Earth would fit in Texas.

Fredric Baur invented the Pringles can, and when he died in 2008, his ashes were buried in one.

Only female mosquitoes bite.

Captain Morgan rum was named after a Welsh pirate who later became the lieutenant governor of Jamaica.

The Vatican Bank is the world’s only bank that allows ATM users to perform their transactions in Latin.

Failed PEZ flavors include coffee, eucalyptus, menthol, and flower.

A 3 Musketeers originally included three smaller bars: one vanilla, one chocolate, and one strawberry.

Lincoln Logs were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son.

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 equals 12,354,678,987, 544, 321.

In 2006, an Australian man tried to sell New Zealand in eBay. The price rose to $3,000 before eBay shut it down.

The inventors of Bubble Wrap were originally trying to make plastic wallpaper.

The 50-star American flag was designed by an Ohio high school student for a class project. His teacher originally gave him a B-.

Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.

In 1996, Mister Rogers poured the wax that made up the 100 billionth Crayola crayon.

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National Science Fiction Day

Anyone who has been reading this blog probably has guessed by now that I am a fan of science fiction. This day celebrates that genre. January 2 was chosen because it is the official birthday of Isaac Asimov, who was born in 1920. He has a special place in my heart, not only because I enjoy his writing, but because I once heard him speak in person. A prolific writer, he published something like 500 books and hundreds of short stories, not only in science fiction but in science as well, because he was a biochemist. Probably his best-known work is the Foundation Series about a future civilization, but his most enduring gift to the science fiction community is the three laws of robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. In most science fiction that involves robots, these are now a given.

Science fiction is a broad field, which, though it most often takes place in the future, is usually talking about some social problem of today. One good place to see this through time this is Doctor Who, which began in 1963. If you follow the series, you can get an idea of what people were worried about or thinking about over a span of time. In the early days, it was the Nazi’s, represented by the Daleks; whether replacing human parts with cybernetic implants would eventually make people inhuman, as with the Cybermen; or whether the at that time new computers would eventually take over the world. In more modern times, they have dealt with people becoming controlled through their technology; the acceptance of immigrants; and arguing about the morality of war – is it right to kill a million people to save a billion? And ever since the beginning through all its history, it has been about siding with the powerless against the powerful and standing up for the right against evil.

So celebrate today by reading some science fiction, or watching a science fiction movie or science fiction on television. Enjoy!

Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov

Quotes about Science Fiction

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.–Isaac Asimov

Here’s a quick rule of thumb Don’t annoy science fiction writers. These are people who destroy entire planets before lunch. Think of what they’ll do to you.–John Scalzi

…science fiction is something that could happen – but usually you wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn’t happen – though often you only wish that it could.–Arthur C. Clark

If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.–Philip K. Dick

Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.–J. G. Ballard

Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it’s the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. … Science fiction is central to everything we’ve ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don’t know what they’re talking about.–Ray Bradbury

Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive.–Ursula K. LeGuin

In hard-core science fiction in which characters are responding to a change in environment, caused by nature or the universe or technology, what readers want to see is how people cope, and so the character are present to cope, or fail to cope.–James Gunn

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