Category Archives: Art

Art and artists inspire us. And the interesting thing is that the way workers approach work is starting to look more and more like the way artists approach art.

Happy at writing

Lois McMaster Bujold: The Vor GameLois McMaster Bujold, one of my favorite sci-fi authors, tried a new approach for her latest book: Having fun writing it.

The first ideas for this book surfaced in June, 2004, when I was out on my back deck trying to soak up some Minnesota sunshine for the long winter ahead. (In other words, I made it up, in a welcome idle moment.) I began writing in August, quite soon after I’d turned in the final manuscript for The Hallowed Hunt. This was to be a book written for my own pleasure, at my own pace, without the constraints of a contract or pressure of a deadline. The duology length came as a bit of a surprise to me, but it was precisely what the story, as it developed, needed. Also a surprise was how fast the writing went; I finished the first draft in Aug. 2006, a mere year after I’d started, the time it would usually take me to write a single much shorter book. It was fun!

If you’re into sci-fi at all, try reading her Vorkosigan books, featuring Miles Vorkosigan, the most unlikely sci-fi protagonist ever. There’s about a dozen of them and they’re all great fun, my personal favorites being Memory and A Civil Campaign.

I find it interesting that Lois decided to skip deadlines and just have fun – only to find that her writing went faster and she enjoyed it more. This is at odds with the more traditional image of the artist suffering for her art.

And the same concept probably also applies at work. Focus less on deadlines and more on enjoying work, and you will find that you get more work done and have more fun.

By the way: Bujold’s publisher is Baen. Check out the proud motto of the Baen online bookshop:

If it’s in stock , We have it!


After all, what is art? Art is the creative process and it goes through all fields. Einstein’s theory of relativity – now that is a work of art! Einstein was more of an artist in physics than on his violin.

Art is this: art is the solution of a problem which cannot be expressed explicitly until it is solved.

– Piet Hein

Friday links

No Cilantro (fresh coriander)Here’s an excellent interview with Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning, safe-cracking, bongo-playing physicist. The introduction alone is great: Feynman explains how a scientific world view doesn’t detract from, but adds to, the beauty of a flower.

I hate Cilantro (fresh coriander) too. Finally a worthwhile, global cause I can get behind.

The guy who always wears a name tag and the guy who’s trading a red paperclip for a house are both still at it. That’s life art life-art.

Crane, moon, chimney

The other morning as I was leaving for work the view from our bedroom window contained this tableau:

I had to grab the camera, improvise a stand of 3 books I grabbed off the bedroom floor and try to catch it.

And here’s a sunrise from the other day:

Not bad, huh? Living on the 7th floor rocks! Patricia and I talked about it the other day, and though our place is small, it would take a LOT to get us to move. We have everything we need and the rent is next to nothing. And then there’s the view :o)

Billy Idol

Billy Idol was in Copenhagen last night playing at a sold out Vega. In short: He still rocks. It was great to hear Rebel Yell, White Wedding (my favourite) and the concert closer, a 15-minute long excellent version of Mony Mony.

Laugh of the evening: Billy Idol presenting the band:

On drums [some name]. On bass [some other name]. On guitar Steve Stevens. And I’m Billy F*cking Idol.

Plus he looks better shirtless than any 50-year old man has a right to :o)

Art: The office assistant

Consider this a tribute to the unsung heros of the workplace. The people who make the whole thing work. Artist Zen Parry has taken up a seat in the Portland Building in Portland Oregon, where she crochets a a huge blanket while talking to the public.

During a temporary job I had in the corporate world, the office always functioned well, but “felt” even better when the Office Assistant was present. This woman brought a sense of comfort into that cold sterile environment – she did all of the unseen things that the rest of us didn’t know how to do. I often thought of her as providing a comforting blanket of functionality within that office – you could always rely on her “just being there.”

This installation symbolizes the comfort experienced in that environment. There is a lot of security in having a routine and identity that a job provides. Even though you might not be happy with your job, you will still come to work on a regular basis, and perform your duties, comfortable in the familiarity of that rhythm. I am doing the same – coming to work each day, performing my duties by being here and making a rug of comfort.

You are invited to interrupt my performance – sit and chat, call out to me as you walk through the lobby or use the ATM machine – you might even try to ignore me as you hurry to your next appointment. Artists often strive to create an environment as a work of art. In this installation/performance, I will strive to create an environment as the art of work.

Even if you manage to ignore me, I know that you will miss me when I am gone…..

What a cool, fun, innovative way to comment on work, especially unfulfilling work without condemning it. Read more about the installation here and
Zen is blogging about it here.

Death and music

The New York Times profiles Frank Minyard, a 76-year old New Orleans coroner known for marching in funeral processions wearing a white suit and plays jazz the trumpet.

At 76, on the brink of a retirement that was supposed to combine oyster dinners at his favorite restaurants with a simple life on his cattle farm on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Dr. Minyard has found himself living in an R.V. on the grounds of a temporary federal morgue in St. Gabriel, a small town just outside Baton Rouge, grappling with the still-increasing death toll, the bewildering red tape and the urgent calls of bereaved families.

In the kind of twist that might strike New Orleanians as perfectly natural, their coroner began his medical career as an obstetrician. Before that, he was a tall, blue-eyed pretty boy: a lifeguard in the summers and, once, second runner-up in a Mr. New Orleans bodybuilding contest. During medical school, he said, he spent his summers in New York City giving “nightlife tours.”

By the late 1960’s, Dr. Minyard had a successful practice, a family, a tennis court and a swimming pool, beside which he was sitting one day when he heard Peggy Lee singing, “Is that all there is?”

“Prior to that I was very selfish, like most young doctors and lawyers and dentists,” said Dr. Minyard, who gave up his private medical practice soon after he became coroner. “I was just trying to get the Cadillac and the country club membership.”

However inexpert his playing, Dr. Minyard became devoted to jazz, and soon he was sitting in with the venerated Olympia Brass Band and hiring musicians as morgue assistants to help them make ends meet. In his first year as coroner, he was arrested while playing in the French Quarter to protest a crackdown on street musicians.