Thursday, November 21, 2013

Surprising Facts about Dr. Seuss

Truth is stranger than fiction, even in the case of Dr. Seuss
Illustration by Jeremie Lederman

In 1991, a best selling author named Theodor Geisel passed away even as his latest book remained on the best sellers list. The name Theodore (Ted) Geisel meant very little to the public, and it was rare that anyone even recognized either his name or his face. However, by the time the news reached the world, that writer's 'real' name was revealed. 

Theodore Geisel was none other than the beloved writer, Dr. Seuss. It would be redundant to list the accomplishments and admiration assigned to this man. Dr. Seuss was and is a man loved deeply by the entire world. His books remain key moments and inspirations to children and adults and may remain the de facto writer of children's books to eclipse all others.

However, like most people of accomplishment and renown, his real life was full of details far more interesting than his stories.

• Dr. Seuss was very political. Some of his many notable moments include:
  • Yertel the Turtle burped at the end of his book! It had never been done before in a children's book and the publisher argued with Seuss to take it out. However, if you know that the book was representative of Hitler, it makes more sense. 
  • Horton may have heard a Who, but it was really about America listening to a post-war Japan. Dr. Seuss wrote the book as an allegory to how Japan needed America to help the beaten nation overcome its massive devastation.
  • He was employed by the United States military to produce propaganda cartoons. During that same era, he also worked with a very left leaning publication to air his views on everything from anti-semitism, racism, conservatism, and the evils of totalitarianism. 
  • The Lorax is not subtle. We all know it's about unregulated corporate power and environmental abuse.
  • Two months after Nixon's Watergate scandal, Dr. Seuss sent a copy of his book "Marvin Mooney Will You Please Go Home' to Art Buchenwald at the Washington Post. By request, Dr. Seuss allowed Marvin Mooney to be replaced with Richard M. Nixon. 10 days later, Nixon resigned. While the likelihood of the article influencing Nixon is unlikely, it has become a permanent part of the Dr. Suess cannon.

• Dr. Seuss was not a real doctor
During prohibition, Theo Geisel had a college party at Dartmouth and got busted for drinking Gin. After being placed on probation, he added the Dr. to his name to try and establish more credibility. The irony is that his success inspired Dartmouth to bestow him with an honorary Doctorates in 1957

• Dr. Seuss was creeped out by kids
He never had children of his own, and declined most occasions to meet with children in general. He is famous for saying “You have ‘em, I’ll amuse ‘em.” His widow Audrey has said that Dr. Seuss was afraid of children. She said he was always thinking, “What might they do next? What might they ask next?”

• Dr. Seuss was not a quitter
His first book "And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street' was rejected 27 times. Not exactly Edison's 10,000 failed attempts at a lightbulb, but still....

• Dr. Seuss knew how to win a bet
In 1960, Dr. Seuss's editor, Bennett Cerf, made a bet with him that he could not write a successful children's book with only 50 words. Green Eggs and Ham went on to become a best seller for over 50 years. The 50 words appear in the following order: I am Sam; that; do not like; you green eggs and ham; them; would here or there; anywhere; in a house with mouse; eat box fox; car they; could; may will see tree; let me be; train on; say the dark; rain; goat; boat; so try may; if; good; thank.

• Dr. Seuss had a sordid love life
The first wife of Dr. Seuss was Helen Geisel. She was reported to have suffered with mental illness for most of her adult life. She was a major inspiration and vital support to Dr. Seuss, but she grew deeply despondent with both his success and his relationship with Audrey Stone Diamond.

In 1967, Helen overdosed on barbiturates and left behind a letter for her husband...

"Dear Ted, What has happened to us? I don't know. I feel myself in a spiral, going down down down, into a black hole from which there is no escape, no brightness. And loud in my ears from every side I hear, 'failure, failure, failure...' I love you so much ... I am too old and enmeshed in everything you do and are, that I cannot conceive of life without you ... My going will leave quite a rumor but you can say I was overworked and overwrought. Your reputation with your friends and fans will not be harmed ... Sometimes think of the fun we had all thru the years ..."

• Nerds were born at Dr. Seuss's private Zoo
In 1950, Dr. Seuss wrote the book "If I Ran a Zoo." In it's pages sits the first recorded use of the word "NERD."

• The Grinch was GrrrRRRREAT!
There are many unique pieces of information surrounding the animated feature "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," but my favorite by far is regarding the famous song.  The same person behind the voice of Tony the Tiger (Thurl Ravenscroft), is also the voice behind “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” He received no credit on screen, so Dr. Seuss wrote to every major U.S. newspaper to tell them exactly who the singer was.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Public discussion "Drawing is Easy"

"Drawing is Easy" with Jeremie Lederman

On September 25th, I gave a talk at Gangplank HQ in Chandler, Arizona. It was an impromptu talk as the otherwise scheduled speaker was unable to attend.

The topic was "Drawing is Easy / What drawing is and all of the things it is not." The purpose of the discussion was to dispel many of the misconceptions regarding the act of drawing. Drawing is as normal a human activity as anything else we do, however, the cognitive benefits of drawing are invaluable.

Some of the points made during the talk included:
• Drawing is something we are already hardwired to do
• Drawing is not art
• Drawing has no species requirement

• Drawing helps to develop many of the brains cognitive strengths

Recorded and edited by my good friend Ita Udo-Ema at

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fun Factoids for Fall Frivolity

Here's a bunch of fun factoids....

And when I say 'factoid,' I mean to say, go ahead and prove them all wrong if that's what floats your cupcakes...

Your brain makes snapshots, not movies. Unless it knows that it has a job to do, it will just use the snapshots to interpret what it thinks you need to see...

Stare in the middle of this, and watch your brain kick in with it's unique 'interpretations.'

  1. The British Army issues antimicrobial underwear that soldiers can wear for months at a time.
  2. In the entire state of Ohio in 1895, there were only two cars on the road and the drivers of those two cars crashed into each other.
  3. Listening to music for an hour every day can reduce chronic pain by up to 21% and depression by up to 25%
  4. In China, you can be a professional flatulence smeller and make about $50,000.00 USD a year.
  5. Ben & Jerry’s actually has a graveyard where they bury all of its discontinued flavors.
  6. Gary Kremen, the founder of lost his girlfriend to a man she met on
  7. Hitler suffered from chronic flatulence and took 28 different drugs to fight it.
  8. Reincarnation is forbidden in China without permission from the government.
  9. At one time, the US army used color blind people to spot camouflage colors that fooled those with normal color vision
  10. You are more likely to remember something you’ve written in blue ink than something you’ve written in black ink.
  11. When a person lies, the temperature of their nose rises -- This is known as the “Pinocchio Effect.”
  12. You are more likely to be killed by a vending machine than you are to hit the Mega Millions jackpot.
  13. In Iowa, it is legal for an employer to fire a female employee for being too sexy.
  14. It takes about 15 minutes for a man to decide whether or not he’ll go out on a second date.
  15. Dogs, just like humans, are more likely to steal objects in the dark when they think they cannot be seen.
  16. The shiny coating you see on various candies is called “shellac” - A substance which is secreted from the anus of the female Lac bug.
  17. Artificial Raspberry flavoring is partially milked from the anal glands of beavers. Beaver anal glands, known as castoreum (I guess anal glands was a hard sell), are typically used in vanilla and raspberry flavoring and can legally be labeled natural flavoring
    L-cysteine or cystine is used a dough conditioner. It’s sometimes made from human hair, but more and more from duck feathers and can be found in breads and baked goods.

    A red food coloring additive that goes by many names (Carmine, Crimson Lake, Cochineal, or Natural Red #4) is made from insects like the cochineal beetle.
  18. Watching a horror movie can burn up to 200 calories - The same as walking for half an hour.
  19. The pilot episode of the show “Courage the Cowardly Dog” was actually nominated for an Oscar.
  20. If you take your age and multiple it by 7, then multiply it by 1,443, the product repeats your age 3 times.
  21. If you make a fist with your left hand and squeeze your left thumb, this will bypass your gag reflex.
  22. Dead people can still get goose bumps.
  23. People see you as being about 20% more attractive than you think you are.
  24. Early Christians were called "atheists" by Romans as they didn't pay tribute to pagan gods.
  25. In 1980, a 2.5 GB disk drive was the size of a refrigerator and cost about $40,000
  26. 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  27. Coca-Cola was originally green
  28. The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV was Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
  29. In the course of an average lifetime you will, while sleeping, eat 70 assorted insects and 10 spiders.
  30. Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories a hour.
  31. The most common name in the world is Mohammed.
  32. Flying from London to New York by Concord, due to the time zones crossed, you can arrive 2 hours before you leave.
  33. There are more chickens than people in the world.
  34. The porpoise is second to man as the most intelligent animal on the planet.
  35. 315 entries in Webster's 1996 Dictionary were misspelled.
  36. The Average man could lift over 25 Tons if All of the muscles in his body could pull in one direction.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Did you hear the one about the 11,000 year old architects and astronomers?

Human beings are remarkable creatures. Yet when we measure ourselves against the weight of time, our lives can feel shockingly brief. Only a handful of names are remembered of the millions that once lived. Millions of people who were motivated just as we are today. Each of us making footprints in history even as we wrestle with our inevitable mortality.
How long have we been here? How many shoulders have we all been actually standing on? The planet earth is old, the surface ancient, and our time upon it more complicated than we may ever know. Our history books pull out disjointed slivers from the fingers our our collective hands, and they build presumptive models of what we have done.

However, we cling tightly to a presumptive equilibrium. The stones that hide our evidence refuse to move without a fight; allowing us to construct assumptive timelines.

Something in our ancient soul must have suspected that we would lose our way. The scattered evidence being found seems to remind us who we really are. New discoveries bring us closer to our origins and give us reason to believe in our magnificence again. We mapped the stars. We mapped the surface of the earth. We discovered the interface of God's own engines and sailed across the abyss.
I want you show you what we have built. Echoes of giants call out to us from the very watchtowers we built together a millennium ago.

Lederman Studio is proud to present the true wonders of the ancient world...
(By no means extensive)

#1 The Origin of Time
The Mesolithic Solar Calendar of Scotland

What do I mean by old? How about the pyramids? The Pyramids are old; built around 2500 BC. That might be old, but what about calendars uncovered in the Fertile Crescent dating around 3200 BC? How about Pine boats in South Korea dating nearly 6000 BC?

Well, this location is estimated at 8,000 - 10,000 years old. This puts the needle of history shortly after the end of the ice age. Anthropologists believe that we were, at best, hunters, gatherers, and recently acquainted with agriculture. Regardless, this structure is a massive stone calendar. It not only synchronizes with a 12 month lunar cycles, it adds corrections to synchronize the calendar back after a winter solstice.

It turns out that big primitive foreheads were not just used to smash beer cans. They were actually full of brains. They were the brains of astronomical scientists who had significant architectural and mathematical estimating skills. ...Not sure I heard about that in school.

A diagram of the Warren Field site, showing the 12 pits (below) and the alignment with the phases of the Moon plus the rising of the winter solstice Sun. Note: the scale should read “0-10  meters.”

#2 Gobekli Tepe
Worlds Oldest Temple? Found in Southern Turkey

Here again is the evidence that big foreheads were housing some serious levels of intelligence. These ancient sites are even older than agriculture... if the timeline is to be believed. The site contains dozens of structures that appear to be well planned and well engineered centers of activity. Among the many remarkable items are 3-6 ton T-Shaped pillars, expertly carved reliefs of animals and reptiles, and even hand written notes that appear to be the blueprints.

Gobekli Tepe is about 12,500 years old. Some estimate even 13,000 years old. This particular ancient site is currently a hotbed of scientific activity. Even after this blog post was written, new discoveries continue to emerge. As much as I could write pages about Gobekli Tepe, I recommend that you simply begin with my STORY LINK and enjoy your own study.

#3 The 2100 year old computer
The Antikythera Mechanism


I have no idea how to explain how amazing this is...

It's a 2100 year old computer built (as best as we can deduce) by Greek Astronomers. It is a technical marvel of craftsmanship and science. The Antikythera Mechanism appears to be able to compute future lunar positions, dates, and activities. In fact, it's accuracy is so finely tuned that it has caused beliefs about ancient knowledge to be disregarded as 'too incomplete.'
Watch this video:

Native American Architects, Mound Builders, and Advanced Civilizations

A controversial TEDx Talk

The information I am about to share had a huge personal impact on me. It fundamentally changed my entire mindset about human history. Did you ever wonder what was going on in North America besides indians and hunting? Imagine how amazing it was to discover that North America has evidence of civilizations equal or greater than that of the Europeans?

*As a disclamer, I do not attribute these proceeding examples to the claims made by LDS church. That topic is better handled by others and is not a part of this post. *

There is so much here, that I will give you a quick tour.

A. Balance Rock in Salem New York. A 6 ton stone balanced on five smaller stones. Rather than credit this to ancient people, they say the glaciers left it behind.

This marvel of 'primitive engineering' is said to be left behind by clever glaciers...

B. Dry Mounted Stone Chamber. There are hundreds of these all over the North West United States. They have Rows of 3 ton stones are ceiling cover, and line up with the sunrise of the summer equinox.

The following images are from locations within the USA. Yes, I wonder why I never knew this either.


C. Monk's Mound Cahokia Illinois. Occupied from 600-1400 A.D. Cahokia consisted of 120 earthen pyramids and mounds on a massive 6 square mile site.
At its height (1200 A.D.) it was estimated to have nearly 40,000 inhabitants, as large or larger than any European city at the time. In fact no U.S. city had a larger population until 1800. Monks Mound, the largest prehistoric structure in North America is 100 feet high, has a 14 acre base (the Great Pyramid at Giza has a base of 13 acres) and once had a 5000 square foot 50 foot high building on top. An estimated 22 million cubic feet of earth was brought from over a mile away to build the four terraced massive platform mound. A mind boggling engineering feat. The builders were far from . Cahokia once had a "woodhenge" used as an astronomical calendar and the site boasts many alignments

Monks Mound / Cahokia Illinois

I hope you found this post fascinating and compelling. If you want to learn more, there are dozens of other similar places and items throughout the world. Feel free to leave a message below if you too would like to add to this list.


Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization"The evidence revealed in this book shows beyond reasonable doubt that an advanced civilization that flourished during the Ice Age was destroyed in the global cataclysms between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago. But there were survivors - known to later cultures by names such as 'the Sages', 'the Magicians', 'the Shining Ones', and 'the Mystery Teachers of Heaven'"

Baalbek in modern Lebanon


Monday, September 9, 2013

The natural selection to flatten the earth into biblical proportions.

Understanding the origin of the 'flat earth' myth.

 Without a doubt, one of my favorite topics is true history. When you take a piece of history and remove revisions, myth or misinformation, you get 'true history.' This kind of topic gets a wide variety of reactions from people, especially those with a vested interest in the 'assumed history.'
Some classic examples of assumed history include:
• American Independence Day was July 4th
• Native Americans were not a civilization of math, science, or architecture
• Marie Antoinette told people to eat cake
• Napoleon was short
• Vaccines cause autism
and one of my favorites:
• The belief in a flat earth
Perhaps you are not reading this far yet, as you are Googling factoids about my list above. Perhaps you already did and are either angry, confused, or feeling lost as a human being...

However you feel, welcome to the rounding out of the earth. Welcome to true history, almost universally, no modern culture ever believed that the earth was flat.

Given the seemingly endless 'evidence' that goes back for centuries, it might seem hard to fathom that the flat earth theory is entirely untrue. However, as I present the information throughout this post, you will no doubt see how easily the myth became so deeply entrenched.

Most revisions of history occur when powerful forces have a vested intrest in certain viewpoints getting all the props. The basis for flattening out the earth was very simple, religion needed to look stupid. In the nineteenth century, there was a significant confrontation underway between science and established religion. The entire premise behind the flat earth was to reframe religion as an institution that opposed, blocked, and even murdered scientific advancement.

Keeping this thesis in mind, let's begin to establish the foundation of the entire big picture. All the way back to the 6th century B.C., Pythagoras — and later Aristotle and Euclid — explained through math and evidence that the earth was a sphere. Ptolemy wrote “Geography” at the height of the Roman Empire, 1,300 years before Columbus. Columbus himself owned this book.

The following image comes from Johannes de Sacrobosco’s Tractatus de Sphaera (On the Sphere of the World)
written in 1230 AD. It showcases the knowledge that the appearance of ships on the horizon testified to a curved earth.
There were moments in history that some did speak up and profess a flat earth, but they were soundly put down by none other than the Christian church itself. Men named Lactantius and Cosmas Indicopleustesn made claims about a flat earth, but were resigned to obscurity. There were influential monks like Bede (670-730) who was very unambiguous that the earth was round, and even explained the tides of the earth being effected by the moon. There were countless scientists, priests, and philosophers who all affirmed the spherical nature of the earth. It appears that the church itself opposed the flat earth belief for centuries. It is not to say that the ancient and pre-modern church avoided all opposition to progress or scientific discovery, but it hardly earned the eternal role of subjugator and opponent of progress.


The entire person of Columbus has been distorted into a caricature of reality even greater than the story of Da Vinci. If you were to believe what we were all taught about Columbus, we would literally have to live on a cartoon planet. The truth is, Columbus was not at odds over the round earth belief with anyone. Eratosthenes has estimated that the earth was roughly 23,000 miles across (not bad, it's actually 24,900). The entirety of human navigation from that time forward did nothing but establish this measurement. When Columbus presented his voyage plans to the committee of Salamanca they rejected his plans. Not because of his belief in the shape of the earth, but the size. They argued that Columbus would not have big enough ships to carry the needed supplied for the journey. The Queen of Spain made a handsome contribution and apparently convinced Columbus that he was thinking too small. Ironically, the real story of Columbus that is the REAL story of Columbus is far more shocking...but that's a different blog.


No, that's not the truth either. Galileo was an amazing thinker, but he didn't appear in a vacuum. He was proceeded by Copernicus and other astronomers who all believed in a round earth. He was one man among a great number of thinkers who moved civilization forward. History tells that his friction with the Pope had far more to do with his insistence of heliocentricity as a fact, and pushed it during a time that Europe was undergoing reformation anxiety.

However, it's a long story to tell and reads nothing like the tales of imprisonment, torture, and rejection that history wants us to believe.

I found a fantastic link for your personal study regarding Galileo. Let it guide you on as you find intrest.


Getting back to what I first wrote, there were opposing interests at stake. During the 1800s' there was some guy named Chuck Darwin taking cruises around the South pacific... perhaps you've heard of him? Well, it goes without saying that "The origin of Species" made quite a stir. Darwin is a significant figurehead in a large conflict that covered decades. That conflict was primarily between evolutionary biology and creation. Basically, the church against science. As it goes with any conflict, people get snarky. In painting the church as ignorant and people of faith as simpleminded, the snarky part of the argument gleaned a rather silly but effective tool.

The flat earth.
The claim that it was a long held religious belief was invented and propagated by the historian John Draper (1811-1882), Andrew Dickson White was also a noted supporter of this claim. He was the President of Cornell University, and made sure to propagate this myth in writing. One of the biggest influences on the ideas of a flat earth, Columbus, and the Christian doctrines famously stemmed from a work of fiction. In 1828, Irving wrote “The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus,” which sounds like a biography but is mostly fiction. It says that Europeans learned from Columbus’s trips to the New World that the planet was round. The idea that the sailors on board his ships feared falling off the earth, the church opposed him, and many other falsehoods stemmed from that book. Antoine-Jean Letronne (1787-1848), a French academic used old Christian writings to pin a flat earth belief upon the entire faith.

In order to avoid playing too lose and quick, there are certainly no shortage of examples to actually laugh at. There is an organization alive and well today called "The Flat Earth Society." But they have as much significance to the larger world of science as the Westborough Baptist Church does to modern Christianity.

Now, we sit in a time period where, even though the entire myth has been refuted by 'believers and atheists' alike, the idea remains firmly planted, even among clergy and academics.

If you wish to study this further, you will find (like I did) that the internet is exploding with volumes of academic and anecdotal research.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sneak Peek at my new book

I am currently writing a book about drawing. It's a work in progress, so I thought that you might like to see some selections and get to know me as I write. These sections are first draft with minor edits.

This is from the forward, I hope you enjoy this and want to return as I post further updates.


"Art and creativity have been a part of my life from the very beginning. I still remember the day that art entered my life. I was five years old. It was an early evening during an Illinois winter season working its way well into March. A whistly' calm breeze drifted through the three story apartment buildings while a bitter smell of sour combustion was flowing in behind us from the Interstate 90 Toll road. Mom and I had just returned from Woodfield Mall with fresh velvet coloring posters. Up two creaky flights, through the cold heavy metal doors and ethnic smelling hallways, and back to her boyfriend Don who greets us at the door.
"Hey there little man,"  Don said with his raspy bearded voice. I remember being glad that we had posters, because Don was hogging the new TV. Mom and I went back to their room and laid out the posters and markers on her bed. My fingers moved around the texture of the scratchy velvet stuck on the smooth poster paper. I remember thinking how cool the monsters on my mom's poster were, and I asked if I could help her get started. I recall that during the last few weeks, my drawings had been showing the early stages of competence. In sizing up this big moment, it was clear that my budding skills were preparing me for a crucial pay off... and then it came! 
Mom looked at me. She gave me a smile and said, "I forgot, you're a good little artist."
She handed me the yellow and told me to start by coloring the big star shapes in the upper left hand corner. I'm not sure what my brain got from that moment, but it put the rest of my life into motion. It was March 1975 on the third floor of the great Rolling Meadows Apartments, and it was the day I began to forevermore draw with purpose.

Whatever else my mother didn't give me in life, she did give me a career. That night made all the difference as to how I was going to survive the rest of my life. For my moms' life, it marked roughly five years since she lived the life of a  hippie revolutionary. Even though she was a young single mom, she was still a drifting soul. By my Junior year, I had attended over 17 schools in four different states. You can easily guess how much of a valuable escape my drawing skills were. As I relocated through the years, it was a rare occasion that any other kids would ever come close to my abilities or determination, and it was always an effective game changer. Drawing skills were somehow perceived as super-powers, and I was spared the full brunt of forever being 'the new kid.' Regardless of my awkwardness or low social standing, you give me a paper and pencil, and I was a Titan among twerps.

This book is my effort to give you the same opportunity that I had. In simple terms, my mom took away a huge roadblock to an otherwise mysterious skill. My brain never had to process a negative view on drawing or creativity. But you, dear reader, have spent the better part of your life under many misconceptions. I have crafted this book knowing that your head is full of doubts and pre-wired defenses, so trust me, and trust the process.

Finally, like anything else you begin, it is important to build a solid foundation. This book will NOT be a 'how-to-draw-along-with-me' program. What I am offering to you is a wind tunnel to blow away the mental chaff and get a clear picture on how easy drawing really is."

Monday, April 1, 2013

Build to Survive!

Not every storm is a metaphor…


It was an anxious Sunday afternoon, the weather was getting fierce and storm clouds were coughing up torrents of anger. Just east of the Kansas state line, a vicious funnel touches the earth, and on May 22, 2011 Missouri was about to make history.

A record breaking thunderstorm hit the people of Joplin Missouri with unprecedented intensity. A rare EF-5 Multi-vortex tornado touched down reaching a mile in width and hitting speeds of up to 300 mph. The tornado went through Joplin like a wrecking ball. Homes were completely swept off their foundations, large buildings were flattened and debris flew for miles. The tornado was so intense, the entirety of St. John’s Regional Medical Center was said to be shifted 4 inches from its foundation.

The impact area of the tornado
When this maelstrom finally ended, the destruction was heart breaking. One could scarcely believe the extent of the damage inflicted on Joplin. Survivors have said that their minds had no way to cope with what they saw next. Yet, before there was time to comprehend the destruction, a far more gruesome shock set it; what about their neighbors? 158 people in Joplin were directly killed and over 1200 injured. The loss of human life was staggering. Shocking stories from the survivors began to be told in the news. Parents describe their children being torn from their arms, entire families were found crushed under rubble, and droves of homeless people had to find shelter.

Forever burned into the minds of the city were the satellite and ariel photographs depicting the tornados trail of destruction. It is estimated that 25% of Joplin was destroyed or made uninhabitable.

One of the many photos of the aftermath
However, as such moments of history tend to contain, one lone building survived the maelstrom. The Edward Jones financial building remained intact. It was located on Connecticut Avenue in one of the hardest hit areas in the tornadoes path. The building was brand new to the area, and while every structure around it was demolished, it remained standing. Apart of minor damage, the building was fully functional and safe to enter. The business was able to assist the community during the ensuing year, and remains a symbol of hope to the community. Naturally, people were very curious how an 8 story building survived a direct hit from an F-5 tornado.

The secret? Hurricane straps. A small feature with mild additional costs that allows the truss system in the roof to endure the cyclical nature of high impact winds. When Don Swanson added this feature in the construction of his building, it made all the difference.

Each of us makes decisions every day about how we are going to build. We build relationships, families, partnerships, financial plans, and business. When we face the costs of building, do we decide to build cheaply? For the people of Joplin, the phrase, ‘preparing for a rainy day’ is no longer a platitude.

How many of us miss the opportunity to slow down, plan better, and build smarter? Do we cut corners that presume ideal weather conditions. What happens to us when faced with real storm fronts? What happens to us when we face family drama, relationships going cold, illness, loss, bad business deals, accidents, or life savings drying up?

While I’m sure that comparing our own trials to the losses suffered in Joplin seems very glib, it's the people of Joplin themselves that ask this question. Many have spoken about what it took to recover, and how it changed the way they choose to live thereafter.

Thousands of people poured into Missouri to help their fellow countrymen in this time of need. Are we also willing to help one another as we face our own storms? Are we willing to forgive, talk, and take actions that bring us all closer together?

A memorial now stands in the city of Joplin. Paula Baker, president of Freeman Health System, pulled down a cloth to reveal the structure at the memorial ceremony. A choir of Freeman employees sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

The sun, obscured by gray clouds, suddenly broke through." 
Said Baker: “Joplin is proof that from tragedy can spring hope. That even the darkest night is followed by dawn. That a once-stormy sky can again be filled with the colors of the rainbow.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Effects of Drawing on your Brain

Human beings are creative machines. Creation is an ongoing process that defines us both biologically and psychologically. Our brain has built in tools that allow each of us to adapt, alter, and control our environments in a way that secures the perception of survival. Unfortunately, our society has given a very confining definition to what constitutes an act of 'creation.

This brief post is going to try and offer you some food for thought.

As you read, it is vital to remember that your brain LIKES to create. It is in your DNA, it is in your cells, it is in your sub-atomic structure. YOU are a creative being.

Now, here is a question: Do you like to draw?

I didn't ask if you were an artist, if you were any good at it, or if you could draw a straight line. I just asked if you liked to draw?


The act of drawing effects your brain in a way like nothing can. Check out the benefits that drawing has on your brain.

  1. Improves hand-eye coordination
  2. It can actually add synapses to your neurotransmitters  This means that memories and experiences stored in your brain can become stronger, more vivid, and easier to access.
  3. Drawing increases many of the cognitive functions that researches typically label as the 'creative' and 'right brained' activities.
  4. Intuition increases.
  5. Produces positive brain chemistry like Serotonin, Endorphins, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine.
  6. Your brain stem can actually get thicker.
  7. Your awareness of your surroundings can get sharper.
  8. Your memory can improve.
  9. It produces an overall state of alertness that all of your other brain functions can use for improvement.

Brains are mysterious. These results are studied all over the world. But I submit that 'drawing' is the purest form of creation that can produce deliberately. We are literally taking our brain's machine and creating something 'outside' of ourselves as an interpretation of something inside of ourselves.

Drawing effects the brain in a way that music, reading, sports, singing, or nearly any other activity can induce.

So, what constitutes drawing?
...anything your hand puts on a surface for the simple reason of 'just because'.'
doodles, sketches, creative dabbling, you name it.

It does NOT have to be art, it does not have to look like something, it has no rules, it has no evaluative property, it is just whatever creative little thing you just made.

Our society tries to shout down our right brains by the time we are 8 years old. That does NOT change the nature of what the brain IS.

I know drawing scares people, but that's not your fault. If you are overweight, does that mean you should NEVER work out? If you play an instrument, did you have any expectation that you were going to be proficient without a lot of practice?

Don't apply rules of perfection to drawing that you do not apply to anything else. That is the lies and fears of bad programming passed on to you from an inherent fear of 'creativity.'

Here are some examples of 'drawing'


Now, the one major rule that DOES exist to gain these benefits, you have to draw consistently. I suggest stapling a wad of paper together, and calling it your sketchbook. Nobody has to see it you know...

While I could never cover the entire topic here, if you are interested, I recommend a time honored book.

Please stay tuned. I will be addressing more about this in future posts. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have on this subject!

Go draw something

Monday, February 11, 2013

How a traveling Hippie's message to a Japanese bookseller in 1973 finally ended World War Two

Hiroo Onoda

When it comes to stubbornness and denial, few people on earth have ever defined the role like Hiroo Onoda. Hiroo was a Second Lutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army and an officer with military intelligence. In 1944, Hiroo was stationed in the Philippines to conduct guerrilla warfare. Much like everyone else in his position, he was convinced that his role was both glorious and divinely epic.

Hiroo's role was to aid a division of soldiers heavily entrenched on Lubang Island. His orders were "...that under no circumstances was he to surrender or take his own life." He apparently dug in, and prepared for a long and honorable battle for his Emperor. However, reality came along and really messed up Japan's big plans. In early 1945, the Allied forced wiped Japan off of Lubang Island. All but four soldiers were killed, and those four ran for the hills. Among them was Onoda.

Jumping ahead to 1945, Hitler has died from 'shot my own face syndrome,' Japan is now the smoldering ashtray of the Pacific, and Onoda is still diligently fighting on. Locals try to convince him that the war was over, but Onoda is not a run of the mill chump. He and his squad know it's just a ruse. In 1952, reality tried again. Aircraft dropped family pictures and letters from home with pleas to surrender. However, no amount of reality could make a dent in the loyalty of Hiroo Onoda.

By 1954, Onoda had become the equivalent of a tropical Sasquatch. Locals knew he was out in the jungle, but sightings were getting very rare. Anytime someone DID manage to find Onoda, gunshots were involved, the local government continued to try and convince the Japanese soldiers to come down..

Over time, the legend of Onoda grew to epic proportions. Many wondered if he was alive or if the entire story was a myth. He and the three other soldiers faced all the fun of living in a jungle. They survived tropical heat, bugs, rats, extreme weather, not to mention each other's company. The ate banannas, coconuts and had a series of bamboo shelters. Over time, one man died of illness and two others were eventually killed by police. It makes you wonder if Onoda had his own version of "Wilson..." By 1959, the lack of sightings and the passing of time led the government to declare Onoda officially dead. The crazy bigfoot of Lubang passed into memory. However, in late 1972, a surprise shootout by local police with a man dressed in Japanese uniform reminded everyone that the crazy Jap was still out there.

This news eventually caught the attention of a traveling Japanese hippie named Norio Suzuki. After some efforts to communicate, he managed to make pals with Onoda. During a visit to Onoda's secret base, Norio was able to introduce Hiroo's incessant loyalty with reality. He finally got to ask Onoda that nagging question that we all had, "Why won't you come out?" Onoda replied, "My superior told me that he would give me orders when it was time to surrender."

Suzuki returned to Japan with his news. He produced the jungle vacation pictures of he and Onoda chilling on Lubang. This revelation from Norio led to the discovery of Onoda's former commanding officer. Major Yoshimi Taniguchi was now a quiet little bookseller in Tokyo. Japan sent a formal delegation to the Philippines and finally gave Onoda his papers. Back home, the news that Hiroo never surrendered made everyone in Japan feel like a bunch of quitters.

On March 9th, 1974, the last known soldier of WWII turned in his sword and rifle bringing hostilities to an end. Like a Samurai of old, he surrendered his sword to President Ferdinand Marcos...who pretty much gave it right back to him ( this was an act of pardon by President Marco for crimes committed against the Philippine people; Onoda and his team killed over 30 people during their occupation of Lubang ). His rifle was still fully operational, his sword and knives sharp, and his rounds of ammo still clean and usable. In an epic example of "Well why didn't you say so," Onoda returned home to the Japanese version of a proud golf clap. Actually, Japan went a little nuts but still...

Thanks to the efforts of a traveling hippie, World War Two was finally able to come to a complete close. Whatever manhood you think you have, consider the sheer force of unrelenting loyalty of Hiroo Onoda.

This post was written in February of 2013. On January 17, 2014 word got out that Mr. Onoda passed away at the age of 92.

Death of Mr. Onoda

"ALLRIGHT! I'll surrender..."