May 11th, 2011

You Can’t Do That

Song Info (from Beatlesongs):”You Can’t Do That” is on the A Hard Day’s Night album, and was 100% written by Lennon.  It did not crack the Top 40, but its A side song, “Can’t Buy Me Love” did in a big way. John’s guitar for this song was a No. 1996 slimline Rickenbacker, and George played 12-string guitar for the first time on a Beatles recording.

There have been a lot of people espousing the “10,000 hours” rule to success lately, it seems.  The theory is that if you spend 10,000 hours doing something, you’ll be an expert at that thing.  Some would argue that The Beatles themselves show this, as their many, many concerts in Hamburg, Germany, gelled them into the group they became.  The book Outliers reportedly hits this belief over and over again.

Recently a fellow named Dan McLaughlin was inspired by that book to put the theory to the test. He got tired of his job as a commercial photographer and decided to devote 10,000 hours to golfing, to see if he could become a professional golfer.  According to that article, “The Dan Plan will take six hours a day, six days a week, for six years. He is keeping diligent records of his practice and progress.”  The article goes on to say, “People who study expertise say no one has done quite what Dan is doing right now.”

I was hit with a swirl of emotions and thoughts when I read that article:

  • “Dude is crazy.”
  • “Would that work?”
  • “I can’t believe he quit his job to do this.”
  • “That seems like a lot of work…”
  • “…but, really, six years to become an expert in something? That doesn’t seem that bad, in the grand scheme of things.”
  • “Seriously, would that really work?”

It will be interesting to see what happens with Dan. I hope someone follows up with him in six years, and I wish him well in his endeavor.

I will admit to a certain amount of jealousy. Not everyone can do what he did – up and quit to try something new. Most of us have responsibilities that require our time and our money, which normally comes from having a job. It sure got me thinking, though: what would I devote my 10,000 hours to if I had the opportunity? Something I do now but not very well? Or something completely new and different?

My first thoughts were of music. I can play a tiny bit of piano, and I’ve always been intrigued by guitar. Golf actually seems like sorta-fun, but waaaaaaaay too expensive.  And that brings up another question: would you do 10,000 hours of something deemed “useful,” or of something more hobby-like?  Now, I consider art and music and recreation useful, don’t get me wrong. I’m using the word “useful” here in the tangible sense, a sense I’d have a hard time explaining, but I hope you understand. Golfing versus carpentry, for instance.

So… Music.  Or golf. Or… what?  I don’t have any overwhelming “I must do that!” feelings about any particular thing.  Perhaps that is what makes the difference in the 10,000 hours. If someone is driven enough to put the 10,000 hours into something, it must be something that they want to do, which makes putting in the 10,000 hours a little easier.

I suspect this is something that will bounce around in my head for some time. Perhaps it’ll land on something unexpected in there.

May 6th, 2011

Ask Me Why

Song Info (from Beatlesongs):”Ask Me Why” is on the Please Please album, and was 70% written by Lennon, 30% by McCartney.  It was not a Top 40 hit.

My BirthdayCourtesy of PBF Comics, which aren’t necessarily always something I’d recommend.

This last year was a good one!  I went and got myself married to a wonderful woman and we are going about the business of building a home and life together.  We’re a month and a half away from being married for a year, and I’m looking forward to many great years ahead.

So that’s my List of Things Done from this last year.  Shorter than the last couple of years, I know, but I don’t care.

Here’s the thing, though. If I live that long, next year I’ll turn 40. 40!  I never for a minute figured I’d get to 40.  I still might not, but it’s close enough to think about. Forty is that age where you are required by law to have a list of things you wanted to do before you got there. I never put a list like that together, and it seems like it might be a little late to cram “go skydiving!” and “learn Klingon!” into this one year.  Beside all that, I don’t really have a list of such things that I want to accomplish.

Well… there is one thing.

It’s been on my mind a lot lately that I don’t write. I certainly don’t write here, as a quick perusal of the dates on the last 5 entries will attest. I don’t really write anywhere. My Twitter usage is down and I don’t even update my Facebook status much. I don’t really have any creative outlet at all. I’m not sure if it’s my lack of ideas that keep me from creating, or if it’s my not actually doing any sort of output that is squelching ideas.  Either way, the result is the same.

So. I’ve considered this for a while, and though I am hesitant to say it out here in public, it really is something I want to do, so maybe the accountability will help.

I want to write at least one blog entry a week. Considering I’ve only done 12 in the last year, that’s a fairly sizable goal. But there it is.  I don’t know why that’s what I want to do, I only know it is what I want to do. I’m fairly certain I’ve lost any audience I had at one time, but I need to do it for me.  Sure, I’d like other people to read it and enjoy it, but I really feel like I need to do this even if I’m the only one who reads it.

If I miss a week, feel free to Ask Me Why. First goal is to finish this Beatles Week!

February 5th, 2011

I’m Down

Song Info (from Beatlesongs):”I’m Down” is on the Beatles For Sale album, and was 90%  McCartney, 10% Lennon. It was released as a single in the States on July 19, 1965, and didn’t crack the Hot 100. The Beatles used it in their live sets in ’65 and ’66, and it was the very first song Aerosmith ever recorded – they used it as a demo.

It wasn’t too long after I got married that I fell down the stairs into the basement.  No, that isn’t some way of saying my wife hits me – I actually fell down the stairs.

Technically it was only one stair, the last one.  I had left the light off because I didn’t think I needed it.  I hadn’t needed it the previous 200 times I’d gone downstairs.  This time, though, the dimness, the light color of the carpet on the stairs, and the light color of the linoleum in the basement joined forces like a malevolent Voltron bent on destroying me.

I don’t remember how I landed, I just remember that it hurt. I’d like to think I spun effortlessly and quickly in the air to land on my back, but I doubt that happened. Not even my penchant for exaggeration will let me get away with that one. I landed unceremoniously and stayed there for a while, lamenting my lack of grace, my stupidity, and my inability to turn the experience into a good story.

I fell. That was it.  I didn’t even do it with any style. I wasn’t hurt in any long-lasting way, and I wasn’t bleeding. I went on about my business after a few minutes of lying on the basement floor, and that was that.


Every time I go down those stairs now, I get nervous.  I’ve been using stairs for over 30 years now, mostly incident-free.  But this one little tumble has messed me all up.  There’ve been days when I get to the bottom of the stairs and I feel with my foot for the next step, just to make sure.

It’s been six months.  I’m not sure how to stop thinking about that last step.