Monday, February 22, 2010


Favorite word of the day: Susurrus

A great onomatopoeia I'm going to use at least once today.
"Of its aerial roof,
arose the chant of their vespers,
Mingling its notes
with the soft susurrus
and sighs of the branches."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kindness Class

The director of a school in Washington has created an inspiring online social innovation. He calls it "Kindness Class." Andy Smallman came up with this ingenious concept after practicing a weekly activity in his school involving random acts of kindness. He thought bringing it online would provide structure for people all over the world to make a difference in a tangible way by considering and practicing kindness.

Each week students in the online course get an assignment. In week one, they do something kind for themselves. In week two, they do something kind for someone they love, and so on. Along the way, participatnts do something kind for a neighbor, provide something wonderful for someone to find, let everyone go ahead of them for a week, and do something kind anonymously.

Andy envisions this as a sort of kindness alliance, which will start ripples of kindness that will be felt in faraway places, touching others and creating even more kind acts. Infecting the world with kindness and optimism sounds like a wonderful goal. And in a world that's becoming more troubled and pessimistic by the day, Kindness Class is an idea whose time has come.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mrs. Discombobulous

When I was in Kindergarten, my parents bought me a book called Mrs. Discombobulous. It was not only the greatest title I'd ever seen, but it was filled with delicious words like vixen, virago, tyrant and tartar.

So the word 'discombobulate' is a word it seems like I've always known to refer to someone who is emotionally perplexed and who can't think clearly.

Those who know me know I'm not a great traveler. Discombobulated is how I feel when I travel, especially by airplane. Maybe it's the space limitation, the air quality, and the noise that wear away at me. Maybe it's the whiff of peril I always feel upon takeoff, when an enormous metal machine pretends to have feathers. It could just be the whole airport security protocol travelers are run through today.

Regardless, this picture was taken at the airport in Milwaukee, and I thought it was a smashing acknowledgement to the effect traveling through airports can have on a person. Workers there have given the post-security area, where passengers can lace up their shoes and reassemble their carryons, a new name. How fitting is that?

I'm working on creating my own Recombobulation space for 2010.