Why Mind our Manners?

Apart from the joy in just witnessing my daughters growth from a 19 inch rather helpless infant to the 42 inch bright, beautiful and fully conversant five year old she is today, one of the great rewards of fatherhood for me has arisen from the constant need to revisit and call into question those principles which were ingrained in my own mind during those same formative years.  Recently, my daughter has been asking “Daddy, why are there so many rules and why are they always made by the grown-ups?”.  “Actually” I said, “There is only one rule: stay safe and healthy.  All the other rules are just to help you with this one and that is my job; to keep you safe and healthy.”  Once in awhile I am brilliant and I was pretty satisfied with this answer.  Still, I am constantly questioning the rules I make and the practices I try to encourage and It supports a lot of real thinking to explain why I think my daughter should do this or that at any given moment.  Much thanks to Popeye for setting such a fun example about why iron intake is so important, but for the rest of the billion why’s, it takes some reflection on things we, as parents, have merely assumed for a long long time.  Why do I have to clean my room?  Why can’t I finish my homework after I play?  And Why must I mind my manners.

To be honest, my daughters manners have been impeccable as of late, so pristine in fact that I’ve had to wonder why we regard them so important a tool as to spend all this time cultivating them.  My answer?  Manners are an advertisement.  Advertise-verb: to describe or draw attention to.  Manners describe and draw attention to the benefit one gets from knowing us in any capacity.  If you are applying for a job these days, you know a well crafted cover letter can be far more important than the contents of your resume.  You want the salutation, body, and signature of this letter to reflect not only your capabilities but your esteem for the company and the position you are applying for as well.  The details of your qualifications are to be found in your resume.  The province of respect however, it is the sole duty of the cover letter to address.

This is the purpose of our manners then.  To premise our actions with the promise of respect.  Let our consequent behavior define our integrity but let our manners at least start us out on the right foot and get us ‘in the door’.  It has been said that ‘ it doesn’t matter what people think of you’ but this statement is quite in need of modification.  Better to say I think, that it only matters what certain people think of you.  We are a collaborative society, humanity, and it is always to our benefit to cultivate the interest of those who promise to further our goals.  Manners then, are also the quintessential social networking resource that help us both identify  and make ourselves known to those we should associate with.

I consider myself a musician, a trumpet player, before anything else and I have absorbed several mantras from my teachers.  ‘Practice makes permanent’ I will cite for the purpose of this article ignoring others like K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid) that are not so relevant.   It is to our benefit to be courteous on line at the grocery store, for example, if for no other reason than that it keeps us in shape to exhibit good manners when it matters most.  As a side note, you never know when it matters most and are continually making a first impression.  The guy on line behind you could be your future employer or the person who introduces you to your spouse.  Practice your manners every chance you get.  It is the only way to make them permanent fixtures.  I have cracked enough high notes to know this is true.

Give credit where credit is due.  It’s only polite.  Recently, a waitress (in her 40’s I presume) observed me pushing in my chair after dining at her table.  “Your mother raised you right.” she said.  Some weeks later, after I held a door open for an older woman she said “Thank you very much.”.  “Don’t thank me” I said overcome again by brilliance.  “Thank my mother.”  It made my day, the opportunity to say such a thing, as I like to think it made that woman’s day to hear it.  Nothing ventured nothing gained.

And so my dear daughter, I tell you this.  First of all, never start a sentence much less a paragraph with ‘and’ like I just did.  And always mind your manners.  Are they the key to success?  No, those would be oxygen, water and food in that order.  Somewhere along the line however, we find ourselves at liberty to act as we choose.  Say please and thank you every chance you get.  Say may I instead of can I; it will distinguish you.  At the very least, with minimal effort you’ll have offended no one.  At best, you’ll enjoy a more fullfilling life by noticing and being noticed by those that practice the simple discipline of manners.  Now will you please clean your room.  I am afraid that you will trip on one of your toys and hit your head on the bookcase.


Five fourths of Americans don’t understand fractions

Regarding my recent post, statistics on statistics, I need more votes. Granted the question is absurd, however I am planning a legitimate analysis of the data and there are, I believe, some potentially interesting conclusions to be drawn therein.  In the scientific world, statistics are regarded as mathematical facts; their purpose being the formulation and validation of assumptions that could not otherwise be ‘proven’ even by an inexhaustable amount of empirical data.  In the commercial world however, statistics play a  very different role and are interpreted with an equally distinct degree of rigor.  I don’t want to spoil the punch line but it promises to resemble something like what you see when you stand in between two mirrors.  So click on the link above and send some votes this way please.

HTML-Bridging the gap between human & machine

Amazing.  Having outgrown the customization options of the wonderful free services here at wordpress.com, I decided to venture over to their .org sister site.  Minutes later I was (virtually) knee deep in HTML tutorials and today, a mere 18 hours later I’ve written pages and pages of code defining an attractive and fully functional web-page.

I will take about 2% of the credit for this, give another 8% to the age I was brought up in for preparing me, and give the rest to the genius’ that have developed this code and the mechanisms necessary to decipher it.

I suppose I’m what ‘they’ call a newbie and I’m sure the learning curve begins to level off significantly from here on in, but that’s just the way I like it.  Entice me with instant gratification and then toss me to the wolves and see how I fare.  How could I fail though?  The language is so damn logical and, who knew what that magical menu item “page source” was for on your browser.  Learning HTML is much simpler than teaching your five year old to read is all I have to say.  Sound it out?  Sure, that works about 10% of the time.  Do you know how many different sounds the letter ‘a’ makes?

<HTML>-one tag, one meaning.</HTML>  Brilliant.  The only challenge is planning ahead and remembering to close all your “‘s and <‘s.

It is truly a credit to our great minds and not a thing to be taken for granted that we have developed a language so powerful.  The syntax is such  that a human can begin to write it with little practice and a computer can understand it provided you ‘dot your i’s and cross your t’s’ so to speak.

I don’t even have a web-host yet much less a reason to publish a site.  I’m only writing to celebrate the awakening I’ve had.  If I wanted to I could do this, or that, or this-and-that….and it would show up in your home for $6.95 a month.  Currently, I don’t have any monthly bills in the single digits and most, to tell you the truth are in the triple if not quadruple digits and so I’m enticed all over again.

All I need now is some inspiration.  Hmmmm?  What to publish and why?

Please resurrect Jimi and Miles for just one day.

Rumors that Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis were planning to record together when Jimi passed away in 1970 are not easy to stop thinking about once you consider the idea.  Yesterday I was listening to ‘Live Evil’ and thought (ironically), if there were a God, and he were a kind one, he would have let us hear Jimi and Miles play together.   Were he a vengeful one I still think he would have chosen to make this one small concession.  Today I am thinking, if there is a God, let him show me a sign.  Let some recording of these two surface after 40 years.  (I’m just kidding.  Please don’t let this heresy offend you.) Can you imagine what Jimi would have done in this group for example?

Q-Tip – Let’s Ride

Today’s song of the day comes from the album ‘Amplified’ in 1999.  Dig the Coltrane changes on guitar over these beats and under these rhymes.

Children’s Artwork Gallery

February 2009 As the father of a five year old and a general appreciator of art, I have come to adore the images our children offer us.  Just give them a paintbrush, a crayon, anything that will leave a mark and they know just what to do.  Forget to supply them with paper and they will choose their own medium; walls, floors, furniture…

Now that I have this space available, I thought I’d try and host a site where parents could send their children’s work to be displayed with that of their contemporaries.  I have started a gallery of my own with just a few of myFebruary 2009 daughter’s recent creations.  I am hoping that word will spread and we can begin to amass a more substantial collection.

If you or anyone you know would like to participate, you can contact me via email  at swensena@gmail.com or else by leaving a comment on this post.

In searching around, I have not found anything quite like I am envisioning.  There are many children’s art galleries displaying the work of gifted young artists.  I find though that they are geared towards older children with the talent and motor skills to represent things in a realistic way.  What I intend to embrace

The Artist

The Artist

here though is the fact that our children are drawn to make art as soon as they can grasp a crayon.  Before they can even speak, and perhaps because of this, they exhibit a joy in leaving behind a lasting impression.

This project is purely for fun, it is inspired by the potential to collect scribbles and doodles, paint spills and masterpieces  from around the world in one place and for one purpose.  Because we love our kids and everything they do.

So send me a photo of a play-dough sculpture or of what your son drew on his little sister’s face.  Scan your child’s drawings like I do or else take a picture and email it.   My own gallery is rather primitive at present but I will be glad to solicit my friend, the brilliant web designer, to build us a website should this project gain sufficient interest.

Thanks for visiting,


Miriam Makeba – Click Song

Today’s song of the day comes from South Africa via Stockholm in a live performance from 1966.  In a separate interview, Ms. Makeba relates “Everywhere we go people ask me, how do you make that noise?  It used to offend me because it’s not a noise, it’s my language.”  She laughs as she explains this and goes on smiling as she demonstrates the pronunciation of some words.  Click on her picture to see and hear ‘Click Song’ and enjoy.