Five-Minute Betterment: “The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.” – Shigeo Shingo

[Click here to read more about Shigeo Shingo and here to learn more about the Toyota Production System of lean manufacturing]

Let’s keep this healthy pace going, Dear Reader, and follow yesterday’s scintillating teaser with a Classic Glass (Glassic?) Five-Minute Betterment!

Today I want to revisit a topic that I’ve covered in a post a while back:

Simplicity (also here)

I am a fan of streamlining, which I think is part of the reason why I write such short stories.  I don’t like meetings that cover things that don’t pertain to me.  I don’t spend time with people who are toxic or who drain more than their fair share of my time or energy.  I have a hard time doing redundant tasks or ones that don’t have some purpose to them.

I think that we live in a society that can be wasteful.  We waste time on our phones or on Netflix (guilty!), we waste technology, we waste food, resources, energy, etc.  The whole point of FMB is to take baby steps toward a better you so I’m not expecting you to eliminate all of your wastefulness in one swoop.  Just start with your wallet.  Or purse, or backpack/computer bag or whatever you carry around with you.

I have on my person the following items:

my flip phone (what up); chap stick; ‘wallet’; keys (on a 300-lb rated tow clip, not a carabiner); two folding knives; a bandana; and Gerber multi-plier on my; instant emergency rappel belt.  Oh and my comb and a pen.

Believe it or not, I use just about every one of those things on a daily basis.  That’s why I have them with me.  You know what I don’t have?  I bunch of gift cards with less than a dollar on them or business cards from a guy I met at a job fair once or old receipts or notes or other junk.  I also don’t have what most people would consider a wallet.  I carry all the things I do because I use them all the time and also because I started to recognize the early warning signs of Piriformis Syndrome and decided that I needed to nip it in the bud.

I encourage you to do the same.  Give your butt, back, legs, shoulders, neck a break and streamline your #EDC (everyday carry).  It may give you the momentum you need to tackle this year in a less wasteful way.

Efficiently,

Glass

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Five-Minute Betterment: “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives” – John F. Kennedy

I, like many people I know, have a list of favorite presidents. I think G. Wash (George Washington, of course) and Abe Lincoln were cool and did wonders for our country so they’re givens. JFK is on my list because he handled some real heavy stuff like a champ despite his age and the public’s reaction to him being a Catholic. 

I’ll tell you who has climbed to perhaps the top of my list recently is Dwight David Eisenhower. If you ever get a chance, I would strongly suggest that you take some time to read his Wikipedia page, but for now I’ll just give you the one of the many reasons why I like Ike so much.

The Interstate Highway System!

Ask yourself: When was the last time I utilized one of the major highways on the map below?

  
Because I use them all the time. In fact, the Family Glass et al just traveled down I-37 to hit the beach for some fun in the sun. 

There ain't no doubt I love this land #GodBlesstheUSA #America

A post shared by David Glass (@thatmanglass) on

And before that? Well, a couple of days ago we moved camp down I-35 a ways.

And before that? Well, we took the I-30 across to Arkansas and the I-55 up to Illinois for a jaunt with Holland’s parents. 

All the while, in my most curmudgeon-y way I kept (keep) ranting about how amazing DDE is and how outstanding of an idea it was for him to establish a system of highways that drastically improved automobile travel in our nation. 

[It all started with a mission that Ike was assigned as a much younger man that involved assessing road travel conditions from the east to west coasts. His team averaged something like 5 mph over the entirety of the trip and the experience stuck. Moving on..]

My point was that young people these days (curmudgeon) don’t have any appreciation (curmudgeon) and take everything for granted (curmudgeon). 

People in general (myself included) don’t say thank you enough. 

So, today’s #FMB is take JFK’s advice and make some time to say thank you to the people who have made a difference in your life. 

[Thank you President Eisenhower, for the Interstate System. It has made the country infinitely better.]

Here’s my real one:

Thank you, Holland, for being in my life. Thank you so much for your love and support and for believing in me more than I ever could have imagined. Thank you for carrying and birthing our daughter and for keeping her alive and well all this time. I know my role in that pales in comparison. Thank you for your smiles and your tears and everything in between. You are my whole world and I love you more than life itself. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Now it’s your turn, Dear Reader. 

Take five minutes and thank someone for the difference that they’ve made in your life. And thank you, as always, for reading. 

Eternally,

Gratefully,

Glass

Five-Minute Betterment: “And none will hear the postman’s knock without a quickening of the heart. For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?” – W. H. Auden

[Dear Reader, I encourage you to follow my blog for more That Man Glass wit and wisdom and also recommend it to a friend or two.  I would like to see this grow, but it’s going to take your help.  Thank you in advance. – David Glass]

Even in our digital world, there is still nothing quite like getting a letter in the mail.  Not a bill, not something addressed to Our Neighbor At, a real live genuine stamped postal parcel from someone you actually know.  I don’t get a whole lot of letters.  Holland (Mrs. Glass) and I enjoy sending and receiving postcards, even when it’s from something as low-key as Free Sundays at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (we all really enjoyed that by the way, even and especially Baby Glass).  We sent a few postcards that day and it was nice because they were only a quarter or fifty cents apiece.  So, for a couple of bucks (postcards and postage) we were able to insert a little sunshine into a few family members’ days.

I wrote another FMB post about reaching out to friends which I encourage you to read.  In short, I explain the need to maintain social interactions with the people you care about, even and especially if you only have a few people in your life.

Today I want to encourage you to take a few moments and GO BUY SOME STAMPS!

Stamps, you say?  Yes, stamps.  I always have stamps on me.  If you take a look at this picture

Every single day. #everydaycarry #carry #gerber

A post shared by David Glass (@thatmanglass) on

you’ll see my “wallet” which is all of my cards secured with a couple of rubber bands that were once on some asparagus.  As of right now (I just checked) I have 8(!) stamps ready to go for mailing postcards, greeting cards, thank you notes, etc.

The process of actually acquiring a postcard and/or writing a letter is going to take more than five minutes, but buying the stamps won’t.  The stamps themselves will ensure that you’re ready when the mood strikes and will be surprisingly effective at encouraging you to use them.

A couple more reasons to go buy some stamps now:

1.  This past January, the United States Postal Service raised the price of first-class letter-mailing from 46 to 49 cents, the biggest hike in more than a decade.  If you get Forever stamps, they will work, well, forever, and you won’t need additional postage, thereby securing the current rate in the event that the letter-mailing cost goes up again.

2.  Someone is tapping your phone.  Well, probably not tapping it, but there has been some conspiratorial buzz about Google or whoever keeping transcripts of people’s phone calls and text messages.  At the very least, Daily Mail reports that cyber criminals can hack Google’s voice recognition software in Chrome.  So, someone might be listening.  As of right now, there isn’t anyone going in and reading your letters (unless they have a reason to) so they’re probably much more private.  Especially if you Learn Cryptography.  By the way, here‘s an eHow to check if your phone is tapped.

3.  You’ll be more prepared than you were five minutes ago.

Number three is a really important one.  I hope you’re taking the time to follow through on some of these Five-Minute Betterments.  I’m sorry to repeat myself again, but I have mentioned before that preparation begets confidence begets perseverance and it’s true.  The more prepared you are, the better your chances will be of getting through whatever situation you might find yourself in, even if it’s something as simple as needing to send a letter.

Stamped

Glass

P.S. – As you can probably tell, I do have a Manstagram, @thatmanglass . Follow me there for the visual accompaniment to the That Man Glass blog.

Five-Minute Betterment: “Ah, how good it feels! The hand of an old friend.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Old friends.

Most of my friends are old friends.

Or not my friend anymore.

I admittedly have a hard time keeping up with other people.  Especially lately, it just seems like there are so many other things going on in the Glass House that the days slip by weeks and months at a time and I can’t remember the last time I checked in with people.  I only really have a handful a friends: one lives in town, one lives an hour away, one lives three hours away, one lives 600 miles away, and the other one lives 1200 miles away.  I used to consider a lot of people friends but, hey, we all make mistakes and so often my mistake was thinking that a lot of those people were worth a damn.

Chill, man.

Alright.  What I want this FMB to be about is maintaining relationships by keeping in touch with friends.  I want you to take a few minutes out of your day to let someone know you’re thinking about them.  In my mind, this person isn’t someone you haven’t talked to in ten years.  I would encourage you to make that phone call or send that letter/text/e-mail when you have more than five minutes to put into it.  And I’m not talking about liking a picture someone posted or whatever.  Ideally, it would fall somewhere in the middle of that.

Like I said, it’s not going to be a huge thing.  It should only take about five minutes.  But imagine being on the receiving end of a random text of kindness.  It’s a really good feeling and it helps to keep the friendship alive.

Human beings are social creatures.  According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Love and Belonging are the needs that follow physiological and safety related concerns.  So if we’ve got our water, food, and physical safety covered, the next thing we need would be human companionship.  Even the more misanthropic of us (myself included) are benefited by sort degree of human contact.  In fact, I dislike other people(‘s behavior) so much that it makes me really enjoy the company of my handful of friends!  It also makes it really special to hear from them or see them, as it doesn’t happen very often.  If you’ve streamlined your group of friends to a select few, then more power to you.  Just make sure you’re taking a few minutes every now and then to check in on them and see how they’re doing.  It’ll do you both some good.

Your friend,

David Glass

Five-Minute Betterment: “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.” – Leo Tolstoy

If you didn’t know already, I really enjoy writing.  I have always gotten enjoyment out of transforming raw materials into something greater than the sum of the parts.  I like to turn sounds into music; I like to turn food into meals; I like to turn ideas into thoughts and written words.  I like to read and learn about a lot of different subjects because so many things are intertwined within other aspects of existence.  When we talk about a certain musical style or piece in my classes, I always make sure to include the social, historical, and even geographical or mathematical factors that played into that music’s creation.  I like the folk rock of the 1960s because there was so much more to it than just the music.  We suffer today, I think, because there isn’t that full-blown sense of revolution in the air like there was fifty years ago.  Or maybe there is, it’s just different because the conflict is so ingrained in our daily lives that we can’t identify the patterns and analyze it properly.  The world has paradoxically expanded and shrunk and we are still working on adjusting our perspective on everything.  We could use some substantive simplicity in our lives.

Not simple-mindedness.

Skeletal but structural.

Boil it all down to the bones.

Today’s FMB is writing a haiku.  The beauty of the haiku is that you have to take this grand idea and fit it into this particular framework:  5-syllable line, 7-syllable line, 5-syllable line.  You can reference whatever in your haiku but you are neither encouraged nor obligated to expand on it.  It is simple, but it is meaningful.  I’ve dabbled in poetry (my friend and I even have a poetry manuscript lying the bookshelf waiting to get published) and I enjoy it immensely.  I like the freedom you have to say however much you want to say about something without having to really give it too much structure.  One of my favorite haiku-type pieces was written by J. D. Salinger’s character Seymour Glass shortly before he killed himself.  It is as follows:

The little girl on the plane

Who turned her doll’s head around

To look at me.

It is the perfect example of the enigma that can shroud a small collection of words and generate speculation between both fellow characters and readers alike.

There is another piece that I would like to mention that is also shrouded in some mystery, not only because of the story itself but because of the story of how the story came to be.  It is said that Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story with a beginning, a middle and an end that was only six words long.  It is also said that he responded thusly in the style of a classified ad: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”  Whether or not it happened when and where and how it is said to have happened, this packs quite a wallop for only being six words long.  You can imagine any number of scenarios that would have led the owner of the baby shoes to have acquired them and then to have felt compelled to dispose of them.  I will save this discussion, and the discussion of Seymour’s suicide for a later date, and I will leave you simply with a challenge.  Write a little something.  Make it meaningful, but make it simple.  It may help to clear up or organize some stray thoughts or just get rid of them altogether.  Either way, I think it will be good for you.

Simply,

Glass

P. S. – Computers are cool and everything, but I like the feel of pen and paper I like to be able to scratch things out or make doodles and whatnot.  So I used to and am starting once more to carry around a notebook.  I have two, but the one I carry now is a Picadilly notebook that has graph paper instead of lined or black pages.  It like the graph paper a lot for blocking my letter and spacing things out.  I also used it to plan the furniture layout in our old apartment which came in really handy.  Anyway, it helps to have something around that you can put ideas into so they don’t get lost indefinitely.

Five-Minute Betterment: “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

I had my second ever “silent migraine” today.  Silent migraines are migraine headaches that happen without the excruciating headache.  In my case, they are also accompanied by auras in my field of vision, difficulty speaking, and numbness and tingling in one arm and my face.  It’s pretty terrifying.  The first time I had one was about nine years ago.  I didn’t know what was happening so I looked up the symptoms on WebMD and a lot of the symptoms are shared with things like strokes and retinal tears.  So I freaked out.  Especially the first time.  I wound up going to the neurologist and getting an MRI and everything was fine but for it was pure terror for a couple of days.  It wasn’t as bad this time because I knew what it was, but I wasn’t expecting it because it’s been so long and one of my biggest fears is going blind so it was still shook me up.  Anyway, the whole thing passed within an hour or so and I’m fine now.

The experience reminded me that we tend to take our senses for granted.  We don’t take the time to think about how fortunate we are to be able to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell.  What blows me away is that you can’t really taste without smelling or smell without tasting because the two are so intertwined.  Or how smell is the sense most closely tied to memory.  Or how you could literally bleed out internally or succumb to some other condition if you had no feeling in your body.  It’s crazy.

So today’s Five-Minute Betterment is about taking some time to appreciate the beauty around you: your spouse or your kids, the sunset, your favorite song, a passage from your favorite book (or your favorite blog wink wink), a delicious treat.  Find something beautiful and embrace it.  Turn the entirety of your attention on it and appreciate it and only it for a small part of your day.  This is something you should be doing all the time, but start small and do it consciously and diligently, allowing that beauty to grow in your life.  Because it’s right there in front of us, we just have to look for it.

Godspeed,

D. Glass

Five-Minute Betterment: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Listen:

Kurt Vonnegut is another one of my favorite authors.  When people ask (and they never do any more) who my favorite author is, I say “J. D. Salinger.”  When they ask for my Top Three (which they definitely never do), I tell them “J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, and [my Brother-in-Arms, currently and eternally representing El Paso, TX, “The Jewel of the Southwest].”  I actually just say his name, but, you know, privacy for now.  These three speak to me in a way that I understand, which is not to be taken for granted in a world like the one we live in.

I’ve read and re-read and re-re-read the more-than-ten Kurt Vonnegut books that haunt my shelves and I find that the messages he delivers continue to be relevant today.  Player Piano talks about an over-reliance on technology and the vanishing (banishing?) of the American laborer.  Cat’s Cradle discusses the abuses of science and the atrocities of World War II.  Slaughterhouse Five covers the lesser-known but still tragic bombing of Dresden, Germany in World War II as well as time travel and a myriad of other topics.  It is also the inspiration for this post.  There is a part in the book where the main character, Billy Pilgrim, is at a POW camp in Germany.  The English prisoners have been there for some time and have a relatively luxurious existence.  As the Americans are being prepared to be moved to Dresden for work detail, an English officer imparts some advice on the American that he hopes will improve the overall condition of the Americans’ lives.  I have reproduced it below:

“The Englishman said that he, when captured, had made and kept the following vows to himself: To brush his teeth twice a day, to shave once a day, to wash his face and hands before every meal and after going to the latrine, to polish his shoes once a day, to exercise for at least half an hour each morning and then move his bowels, and to look into a mirror frequently, frankly evaluating his appearance, particularly with respect to posture.”

Today’s Five-Minute Betterment is the last chunk of his recommendation.  “Look in a mirror.. frankly evaluating [your] appearance, particularly with respect to posture.”  We as a society spend a lot of time slouching down in uncomfortable chairs at uncomfortable desks and ogling a bunch screens.  Believe it or not, people’s neck skin is even aging faster than it should because they spend so much time looking down at our phones.  So..

STAND UP!

Stand up as tall you can.  When we talk about posture in music classroom, I tell the kids to imagine that they have a string that connects their ankles, knees, and hips, and comes up their spine and out through the top of their head.  I don’t want them pulling their shoulders up so I don’t even mention them.  Then they reach above their head and pull up on their imaginary string.  I tell them (kindergarten mostly) to try to be taller than I am (6’5″) without taking their feet off the floor.

Try it.  Maybe do a few back bends or side bends.  Twist at the waist.  Take a deep breath down into your diaphragm, not up into your shoulders.  Relax your shoulders and roll them out.  Run a comb through your hair and get the boogers out of your nose.  It will only take like five minutes, but it will probably improve your overall condition as well.

Because we are what we pretend to be, but we have to really take care of ourselves if our selves are going to be taken care of at all.

Poo-tee-weet?

Glass

P. S. – If you are a man and you are looking for a no-nonsense and incredibly durable comb to run through your hair, might I suggest perusing the Chicago Comb Company‘s wares?  There combs are hand-forged in Indiana from American steel and laser-cut in Chicago.  I got the Matte Model 1 (pictured below) maybe a year and a half ago from Huckberry and I love it.  It can be hard on tangles, but it really provides a look that is as polished at the comb itself.

comb