Improvised Life » paths + processes http://www.improvisedlife.com If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:33:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Forssman, the Heart Pioneer who Used Himself as a Guinea Pig http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/20/forssman-crazy-pioneer-used-guinee-pig/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/20/forssman-crazy-pioneer-used-guinee-pig/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:33:00 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45742

Reading the illustrated walls of the hospital waiting room a couple of weeks ago, we learned this compelling little fact about Werner Forssmann, one of the pioneers of heart catheterization. He had the idea that you could thread a healing device through an artery and into the heart.

Then he tried it on himself.

At Improvised Life, we are big believers in the “try things out” school of discovery and creating.  (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/20/forssman-crazy-pioneer-used-guinee-pig/feed/ 0
So Many Pathways At Any Given Moment http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/16/many-pathways-given-moment/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/16/many-pathways-given-moment/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 07:59:48 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=46015

Ellie Davies

This morning we ready this haiku by Buson:

       Coming back—
so many pathways
       through the spring grass.

Only nine words, it has been resonating all day (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/16/many-pathways-given-moment/feed/ 0
An Engineer’s Strategy for Getting Things Done http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/09/engineers-strategy-getting-things-done/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/09/engineers-strategy-getting-things-done/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 08:30:32 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45868

One of the great gifts of Improvised Life has been correspondence with readers, who are a mightily varied, creative and surprising group of people. Recently, Michigan-based engineer Kevin Neff, responding to the contest/challenge we published a few weeks ago,  has been advising me on how to rig my bed to stop it from transmitting the mysterious vibration that comes through the floor. In addition to the practical solutions — making or buying concrete bed legs of a certain, carefully-calculated weight, and sandwiching them with visco-elastic Sorbothane —he offered an excellent strategy for getting project done. (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/09/engineers-strategy-getting-things-done/feed/ 2
Improvised Family http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/07/improvised-life-family-thank/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/07/improvised-life-family-thank/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 08:02:14 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45785

Isabel Rower

Since posting the sudden announcement that I would be taking a break due to a confluence of big life events, I’ve received the most generous response from Improvised Life’s readers: notes of sympathy, gratitude, understanding, support. They came in many forms: from Isabel Rower’s artwork card to emails and Comments, to hand-written notes.  Some readers subscribed to Friends with Benefits despite there being no new content, sending a little affirmation to my Inbox.

When I mentioned them to Susan Dworski, a frequent contributor who has become a friend though I have never met in person, she wrote: (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/07/improvised-life-family-thank/feed/ 7
Art Retreats as Career-Shift Catalyst http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/25/arts-retreats-career-shift-catalyst/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/25/arts-retreats-career-shift-catalyst/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 08:52:42 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=44494

A classmate inspecting a freshly-poured silver casting in Penland's metals studio

A vacation for my soul,” “summer camp for adults,” “paradise,” “the one time a year I get to make anything“—these are all common phrases heard at summer arts workshops around the country. For many without home studios or careers in the arts, these short-term art retreats (way up in the mountains or shrouded by woods and river) are the only entry point into a totally immersive environment of making and ideation.

This July, I returned from a short summer session at Penland School of Crafts where I was taking a silver casting and ring fabrication class with world-class jewelers Tim Lazure and Jen Townsend, and I decided to (more...)]]> http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/25/arts-retreats-career-shift-catalyst/feed/ 0 ‘Deconstructed Piano': a Film About Transformation http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/23/deconstructed-piano-film-transformation/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/23/deconstructed-piano-film-transformation/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:14:39 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45510

(Video link HERE.) In this assault by two robots wielding heat guns, a piano’s wood is gradually burned on and on to the point of collapse.

The film is said to “consider ‘Deconstructed Piano’ considers the gradual destruction of instrumental music through digital sound generators.

To us it is a film about change, erosi0n, aging, living, transformation… that contains both sadness and stunning beauty.

via The Dish

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/23/deconstructed-piano-film-transformation/feed/ 0
Contest: Solve the Vibrating Bed Mystery http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/19/bed-shock-absorbers/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/19/bed-shock-absorbers/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:00:25 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45046

Holton Rower

A few months ago, after a mysterious vibration coming through the floor started shaking our bed, and us, awake at night, we wrote about the improvised bed legs I’d made using yoga blocks and special thick rubber we’d researched. It worked for a while, but we are still plagued by the mysterious vibration that is keeping us sleep-deprived. (From surfing the internet we realize that THOUSANDS of people suffer from this problem). We have read endless technical papers on the vagueries of how sound and vibration travel. We’ve lost count of our attempts at damping the vibration, including the sculptural “bed shocks, above, my friend Holton Rower devised.

So we’re issuing a challenge to Improvised Life’s clever readers: help us devise a solution to keep the bed from being shaken by the vibration coming through the floor. The winner will receive a lifetime subscription to Improvised Life. Here’s what we’ve tried already (call us crazy but we can’t sleep): (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/19/bed-shock-absorbers/feed/ 27
Air Baths and Other Ways to Enhance Creativity http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/18/daily-rituals-artists-work/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/18/daily-rituals-artists-work/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:15:17 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45477

At Improvised life,  we’re always interested in ways to become more creative and productive. So when we came across Mason Currey’s latest book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work we were excited. Currey describes personal quirks and daily rituals developed by many of the world’s great artists, musicians and film makers.

From the bizarre right through to the strikingly simple – the book reminds us that we all work in individual and often improvised ways: (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/18/daily-rituals-artists-work/feed/ 0
“Triumph” Writ Large in the Street http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/16/triumph-writ-large-street/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/16/triumph-writ-large-street/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 20:00:20 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45194

Sally Schneider

We find that as we practice LOOKING on our walks around the city, we really do cultivate SEEING. It happens automatically when we slow down a bit. Look UP! we often write, encouraging a shift of perspective. The other day, we unexpectedly looked DOWN, to find, etched in one of those massive steel plates maintenance crews use to cover road work, this powerful sign.

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/16/triumph-writ-large-street/feed/ 0
Our FIX for the Flawed Cos Backpack http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/10/annals-bad-design-fix-flawed-cos-backpack/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/10/annals-bad-design-fix-flawed-cos-backpack/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:00:50 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45163

Sally Schneider

In July, we posted a compelling backpack we’d bought from the stylish COS site only to discover that its design was profoundly flawed. If you put all but the lightest items in it, its magnetic closure instantly popped open, inviting strangers to dip their hand into the bag and steal our wallet (image below).  In that post, we experimented with a possible fix by using binder clips. Since the approach seemed workable, during our recent break we hacked the straps and sewed on sliding holders. We’re proud to say our fix WORKED: a lesson in trying ideas out, and flexing our own untrained design muscles to make things better or at the very least learn a few things.  (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/10/annals-bad-design-fix-flawed-cos-backpack/feed/ 0
Why Walking Helps Us Think + Create http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/09/walking-helps-us-think-create/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/09/walking-helps-us-think-create/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 08:32:38 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45240

Richard Tuvey

In this week's New Yorker, Ferris Jabr describes research that shows why walking goes beyond being a great physical exercise, but a catalyst for creative thinking as well. We go for a walk daily in the park we look out on. Every time, we discover something new AND find our mind shifting, ideas sparking, problems beginning to yield. Nature reminds us of possibilities...]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/09/walking-helps-us-think-create/feed/ 2
Reorganization as Soul Cleanse http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/04/workspace-reorganization-soul-cleanse/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/04/workspace-reorganization-soul-cleanse/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 08:54:33 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45132

A 48-hour disappearance into the depths of my studio was finally interrupted late yesterday by a well-meaning friend. He peered in to find me on hands and knees wiping out the lowest shelves with damp paper towels.

“Jeez. Still at it?”

I swiveled and growled like a rabid dog, sweat pouring down, hair plastered, eyes raccooned by melted mascara. “I can’t stop now. This is important. This is soulwork” He faded without a word.

Panting, disheveled, covered in cobwebs, I sat back on my heels. WTF? Why did this reorganization seem like a matter of life and death? Taking a swig of ice water, I collapsed on the floor. Presently, it came to me why it was––and is––such a big deal. (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/04/workspace-reorganization-soul-cleanse/feed/ 4
Re-entry…What We Learned On Our Summer Stay-cation http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/02/back-retreat/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/02/back-retreat/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:01:28 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45095

?

Monday evening of Labor Day, we could positively FEEL the shift of air and energy as the entire country grabbed every last BIT before the official end of summer. In the park we look out on, there was SERIOUS barbecue action, music, dancing, LIFE going on. We spent the day hanging on the terrace reflecting on our three-week stay-cation that turned out way different than we had imagined. (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/02/back-retreat/feed/ 9
Anthony Giglio Kills at the Moth! http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/07/30/anthony-giglio-kills-moth/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/07/30/anthony-giglio-kills-moth/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:00:01 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=44608

Anthony Giglio is journalist, sommelier, and author of Food & Wine Wine GuidesCocktails in New York and Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide. He is wine blogger for Details and Improvised Life’s deviser of brilliant, simple strategies for celebrations both grand and low-key.

Of late, Anthony revealed yet another side of himself: a superb storyteller whose personal stories move and transform. He brought down the house at The Moth when he performed “Listen Here, Fancy Pants!” live in May of 2012. Due some non-public-radio-friendly language (we disagree), it has taken two years for it to be made public and accessible online. (more…)

]]>
http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/07/30/anthony-giglio-kills-moth/feed/ 0