Ode to the Fair

The other day, when the air turned cool, I had the thought: “This is Fair weather!”  My husband, Ted, and I practically live at Fair Park for those 24 days of the Great State Fair of Texas.  People are always surprised by how often we go, saying things like, “There can’t be that much to do,” or “It’s the same every year!”  I dispute the first statement:  there is plenty to do.  The second statement is mostly true, but, I also think that is one of the reasons I love it so much.  When I breathe in the fried grease mixed with smells from the livestock pavilion, see Big Tex waving his hand and booming out a Hello, it’s like visiting a good friend you only see once a year.

Every year, Ted and I take off Friday to go to the Fair on Opening Day.  There’s nothing quite like beginning a celebration – and we definitely don’t want to miss it.  Most people think the Fair is only vomit-inducing rides and rip-off Midway games – but it is so much more.  Ted and I hardly spend any time on the Midway.  We don’t have time!  There are the pig races to see and the butter sculpture to ogle. The Vitamix demonstrations and the car show.  Open museums with new exhibits and African acrobats defying gravity.  Cooking shows to watch and searching for friends’ award-winning jellies in the Creative Arts building.  And the food – the glorious, decadent, completely unhealthy but totally worth it food.

If we did nothing else at the Fair but eat, I would be a happy woman.  I first have a round of all my favorites:  fried green tomatoes, a cinnamon roll (admittedly, I will have more than one round of this particular item), a barbecue sandwich from Smokey Johns, and my new favorite:  fried shrimp corny dog.  We, of course, must try all the new foods, especially the award winners.  Fried Frito Pie, here I come!  But sometimes the food vendors get a little too creative and come up with something I can’t stomach.  Sorry, Fried Beer, I won’t be tasting you this year.   However, last year’s most creative prizewinner, Fried Butter, was a surprising dose of comfort food.  I wish we could try every single food item, but alas, even attending all 24 days would not allow us to try them all.

The real joy of the fair is just soaking up the atmosphere.  The Fair, for us, isn’t so much a place to do as it is to be.  It’s a showcase of Texas culture and our exuberance for doing things BIG.  Everyone is here to have a good time, suspending any dower thoughts or harsh realities.  How can you frown while watching a hawk shoot out of the top of the Texas Star (the giant Ferris Wheel, for those of you squares who don’t know) and race above your head to the stage upfront – all while eating a corny dog and a Lemon Chill?

Sometimes the majesty of the fair can be too much.  The crowds are massive and the constant sun exhausting.  But even at the fair, there are places of reflective quiet.  After an exciting day of walking 9 times around the park and eating more in a day than I do in a week, I find solace in a little known spot – The Texas Discovery Gardens.  When the day is just turning into the first shadow of night, we’ll find a bench near the fountain to watch the casual butterfly float by.  We rest our tired feet and feel the cool mist from the fountain on our sunburned skin.  We talk over the day, the food we’ve had, the shows we watched, and the friends we unexpectedly ran into (which always seems to happen).  We sit and we remember, savoring the day, and feeling just a little sad that only 23 days are left.

The E-Myth Enterprise

I went to Half Price Books the other day looking for a copy of The E-Myth Revisited, a book that’s been on my “to read” list for a long time. I arrived at the store, headed for the business books, found the Entrepreneurship bookshelf and started skimming. Sure enough, they had it! And then it caught my eye. Sitting on the shelf next to the book that warranted the excursion was another similarly titled book by the same author:

The E-Myth Enterprise: How to Turn a Great Idea into a Thriving Business.

How do you like that? Here I am, at the bookstore, with an idea that I’d like to turn into a thriving business. It must be destiny. So I purchased it and we left the store before Megan had a chance to grab her usual armful of books. (Just because they’re half price doesn’t mean we should buy twice as much!)

Over the past week, I devoured the contents of the book. I didn’t just read it; I underlined it and made margin notes. Then I turned those into notes on a separate notepad. Then I typed the notes. Then I reformatted my notes into a blog post. Yes, the very post you are reading right now.
Continue reading “The E-Myth Enterprise”

My Prediction on Tomorrow’s Apple Announcement

This morning I did a little research on all the Apple themed stories with the purpose of making an educated prediction about what Apple will announce tomorrow at their press event. As I looked into this and discussed the possibilities, I realized that there is no good way to accurately predict what will be announced tomorrow. Therefore, I will lean on the eternal wisdom:

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.

Proverbs 17:28

The illusion of my intelligence survives another day!

Merry Christmas

xmas_card_2009

Merry Christmas to everyone. If you haven’t yet received a Christmas card and you think you should have, please be patient. The cards came on time but the envelopes were late. They’ll be going out soon.

Zen TV Followup

Just a few notes and thoughts on changing the position of television in my life.

First, Megan and I spent some time talking about this last night, and one of the things we decided to do was to eat our meals at the kitchen table and not in front of the TV. We tried that tonight, and it was nice.

Second, I finished the experiment tonight. I actually sat down and watched the television for 30 minutes with it turned off. It was an interesting experience. At first, I focused on the TV itself. I noticed smudges and things stuck to the screen, that I hadn’t noticed before. Then, I started to realize that I was tired. My eyes began to blur. I had to concentrate to prevent that. Then, my mind began to wander. I noticed a set of dominoes on the shelf below the TV and wondered how long we had them. I thought of different ways the furniture in the room could be configured. I caught myself, and went back to the TV. I noticed the silence. I noticed the sounds of the house. Eventually the 30 minutes had passed.

Tonight I learned that my mind is actively focused and engaged while I’m watching TV because it doesn’t wander, my eyes stay focused, and I don’t feel tired. I also experienced wasting away 30 minutes and being acutely aware of every minute that I could have been doing something else.

Also, on a related note, what you see on TV is even more fake than you probably realize.

Why is Technology Important?

Dave Winer just wrote a thought provoking piece (as he usually does) on the importance of technology. In it, he makes this assertion:

…Technology is important because it empowers people. That’s where you start. Not in novelty or neatness, not in the fact that it changes things, because it might change things by disempowering. Change is not in itself a valid reason for anything.

This is an interesting statement because it appears to contradict itself. How can something both empower and disempower? And how can both of those be important qualities?

I like this statement because it describes what we’re trying to accomplish with TileStack. TileStack is important first because it empowers people to create their own applications. You don’t need a computer science degree to build an app, you just need a good idea. It is this fact that described how TileStack is disempowering software elite (for lack of a better term). These are the people that decide what’s best for people, and charge people for access to their software. These are the ISVs and consultants that charge large amounts of cash for custom projects. Technology like TileStack takes the power away from the elite and gives it to the masses.

NOTE: I know TileStack isn’t ready for primetime just yet, so we’re not as disruptive as I’d like to be. But watch out! We’re coming!