Monday, December 31, 2012

December Mission: New Job and 2 Books

So, Matt got a new job! Which means things sort of got rearranged for our Not-Rot missions at the end of 2012. But we decided we would still blog about new things we did in December and the year in review.


We did it! An entire year of this grand experiment we call Not-Rot. For our December mission we had to deviate a little from the norm, and instead of an active mission, we chose to focus on some other ways we avoided rotting. Below are some things I did this year to better myself, benefit my family, and most of all stop the creeping rot. In some ways, this blog may have spurred me to try and better myself, pushing me to do things I otherwise wouldn't, by reminding me each month that I should be striving for more in my life. Because even though the blog was mostly a once a month event, it didn't mean that I was bummin it on the couch the rest of the time. Here are some things I did this year to be a better Not-Rotter:
  • Finished my degree. Since this happened more than 6 months ago, I almost forgot it happened this year. This was a major achievement for me, and I'm proud to say I'm finally a college graduate.
  • Got a new job. This was kind of a big deal, My old job was pretty stable, I made decent money for a entry-level position, and I was good at it. The new job is with a much smaller company, there's a huge learning curve, and I went from being in a lab all the time to being on the road all the time. That's a lot of changes all at once. But as Jack London said, "I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet." 
  • Joined a climbing gym and climbed 1-2 times per week, every week this year. For years I have wanted to be a climber, and climb regularly in a gym (and outside too). Since I finished up school this year, I was finally able to make this a reality. This was so important to me because it's something I really enjoy, and it is so good for me physically. 
What an amazing year! This post sort of became a shout-out to my own accomplishments, but I feel pretty good about this year, and these things above all reflect my desire to follow the philosophy of the blog, and NOT ROT. This year will be a tough act to follow! 

I made two books for my kids for Christmas. For my 6-year-old daughter I made a "Break-A-Book." I saw a book called Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith in a bookstore, and totally ganked some ideas. It is a book that you can tear up, draw in, and otherwise destroy piece by piece. I decided to buy a blank book and write my own challenges for Cesi in it. I came up with 115 challenges, including these:

  • Stand on this page and jump up and down. Now wipe your shoes on it.
  • Poke your pen/pencil through these holes.
  • Write really hard with a pencil. Now write hard with a pen, a marker, and then a crayon.
  • Go get your hands in the dirt. Now smear a picture with that dirt on this page.
  •  Draw a big head with a big face. Now draw so much hair on the head that it covers the entire pages!
  • Find a picture of a house. Put it in here. Now find pictures of little people and fill the house up with family!
  • Ask people to draw 5 beautiful faces on this page. Now draw mustaches on those faces and laugh!
  • Scratch using a sharp object
  • Color with crayons of all colors on this page. Now cover it all with black. Now, scratch pictures into it with a paperclip, penny, or your fingernail.
She loved it of course. We're still only halfway through the book. We complete missions together, and we have so much fun. It took me about 3 hours to complete, but she loves it.

For my 3-year-old boy, I made a book that basically is a bunch of shapes from page to page that change shapes, colors, and positions as you poke them and turn the page. I titled it "Poke It Sir!" (after Scrooge's famous line urging Bob Cratchet to poke the fire instead of buy more coal), and he loves saying "poke it sir" when it's time to influence the shapes. It is such a simple idea, based on a book we found in the library called Press Here by Herve Tullet, and only took me a blank book, a new set of markers, and a couple hours to make. Such fun projects that the kids loved and seemed to appreciate the time I put into them. Of course, I only have pictures of the Break-A-Book. My son must have eaten his book or something, because we can't find it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

November Mission: Burning Shtuff


So for our November mission, we burned stuff. Yep, we stoked the bonfire, got the flames licking the tree leaves above us, sat with beer and cigars, and burned crap we didn't need anymore. The goal was to throw in objects that had been lying around gathering dust, and yet needed to tell its story. So, we unloaded any sentiment associated with the object before we burned it to hell. The idea here, children, is that we all have things we're holding on to that have some memory or importance embedded in it which end up taking up space and stealing our oxygen. More the former than the latter, but the point is, if we don't share our memories and stories and invest in our collective memory banks, then really our memories remain buried in boxes and attics and closets full of other forgotten parts of our lives. Bring those babies out and release their souls while cremating the bodies that imprison them! Keep your memories, burn your stuff. You get it.

So we committed a few belongings to the ashes and shared a word or two. Among the possessions I relinquished:

1. A book that a friend gave me that served its purpose and is no longer useful apart from the association with that person.
2. A New Scientist magazine from days gone by when I was speed-learning some science to make up for lost time with my head buried in the Bible
3. Cards from a game a bought in college which I was no longer interested in anymore
4. A plastic-wrapped memorization card from my UPS days
5. Guitar pick
6. Magic trick cards
7. A shirt
8. A beer bottle we finished while burning stuff.

A moment of silence in honor of burning trash please. They're going to a better place. Today's mud is tomorrow's Bud.


As we approached the end of the year, this mission served as a nice way to relax, sit around a warm fire, and share some stories. It was one of our least active missions, but sometimes you don't have to go far to avoid rotting.The idea was pretty simple... find some items that we'd been holding onto for some reason, but maybe we forgot what that reason was, or maybe the reason wasn't so important after all. I didn't really have anything in mind when we planned this mission, but I was able to find a few things that fit our description. Here's what I brought to burn:
  1. A board game from the TV show "24". Awful, awful game. I really like games, and I really like 24, but this game I really didn't like. I chose to burn it as a reminder that it's okay to get rid of something you'll never use, even if you're supposed to like it.
  2. A couple of magazines I bought as a younger man, Sex sells, and in this case I guess that's what I was trying to buy. Easy to burn these when you realize you've been duped into a useless purchase.
  3. An action figure that I bought as an adult. We all try to recapture our childhood from time to time. The important part here is the assumption that you've moved on from your childhood before you try and recapture it. 
  4. T-shirt from when I worked at UPS. I have some fond memories of UPS; I worked there for 8 years. Part of this mission was to revisit those memories, but then disposing of the item(s) that we were holding onto to remember. The memories are still there, but I am free of one more raggedy shirt
I liked sharing the meaning behind each item, while drinking a beer and just chilling. This feels like something that should be done each year.