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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 2.17.2023

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder Making A Way Out of No Way “If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment.” From the lips Spencer Silver originator of post-it notes. Post-it’s are the currency of design thinking and yet, post-it’s were done without much intentional thought. So much for design thinking or even thinking. You can do more than you can tell. Where does that creative spark come from doing or thinking or both? Action or contemplation? When I went to the LA Fountain Pen Conference last Saturday, I went to visit Mike Masuyama. Mike is arguably the most sought after nibsmith in the world. A nib grinder smooths the nibs of pens so the ink flows out as a response to your personal touch giving you a “smooth ride” and glide with your pen over paper. It sounds a bit silly if you don’t know about it but once you experience a tool crafted to your personal touch there’s a moment like, how the hell did that happen? People writing with fountain pens line up at 7 am in the morning to sign-up and get their nibs ground. One wealthy person avoided the lines by asking Mike what was the closest airport he lived near? Then, he got in his private jet with the sole purpose of going to Mike’s house with who knows how many pens and got those nibs milled. Aside from paying for a pen of your choice by the look of it, people pay a good price to get their nibs done. Enter Mathew

Years ago, I met a young Mathew and his mom at a pen show setting his grinder next to Mike’s. At that time Mathew was in high school and grinding nibs was what he wanted to do. His mom supports his decision 110%. This is what he loves. Mike is Mathew’s mentor and to watch them work together is just a sight to behold. Someday soon, Mike knows that Matt will take over entirely but for now side by side they have their own businesses. When you do this type of work, you are engaged with the public who want more than a service. They want a relationship not only with their pen, ink and paper but also with the nibsmith. As you get your nib ground, you are having a conversation with Mike or Matt. They are doing something with you that you can’t do and you appreciate the care and attention you are getting. It is a small price to pay for the writing you love to do. Here there is an aesthetics to writing both about what you write with and how you write. It certainly makes a difference in what you put down on paper. Timing and touch are part of thought. Action and contemplation take on a natural rhythm of the body. Mike is also a surfer. He is probably more eager to get out on a wave than grind down a nib. But, think about it for a second, isn’t surfing a wave something like moving a pen across paper? Does one influence the other?

Here's a photo of what is on Mike’s wheel. Each of us is an experiment of one. Each is a unique never-to-be repeated event.” – George Sheehan

I had a whirlwind tour of Oakland and Berkeley with Gary Reeves at meetings with Clutch Sports, Jamie Foxx’s manager, the publisher of the Oakland Post – Paul Cobb and many more. Aside from the face-to-face meetings, Gary peppered me with calls from one of the owners of the Texas Rangers and Bip Roberts, a former major league ballplayer and now announcer for the Oakland A’s. Then, the next day I was off to Kansas City barely missing the Superbowl Parade to meet up with Jen, Eunice, Carlos, Sonn, Karla and Corey Scholes to prep for Big Bang 2023. We had a great time together and a lot was accomplished. The first day, I went out with Corey and Sonn and then Jen. For me, Corey is the unofficial mayor of Kansas City. We saw things that were way off the beaten path that are part of KC’s past. Then, on Friday Jen and I went to The American Jazz Museum and Mutual Musicians Foundation. The latter is a living museum meaning that the history of the place is embedded in the actual performances that are still on-going. On Thursday – Sunday starting at 1 am and going to 5 am local musicians and anyone in town get together and play. In KC that’s my Milkman’s Matinee Leaving to Learn.

Making A Way Out of No Way This week Education Reimagine’s Learning Out Loud podcast hosted by Bobbi MacDonald had Viv White – co-executive director of BP Australia, Sandra Milligan from the University Melbourne, Andrea and me for a discussion on the International Big Picture Learning Credential. There was quite a big crowd at the podcast to hear what we had to say and from the feedback, it sounds like things went well. We got our points across from multiple perspectives: The innovator, The psychometrician, and The adapters in the US. All of us on message about crediting learning where, when and the many ways it happens in and outside of school. Next stop on our end is a presentation by Andrea at SxSW.

Last week the US Department of Agriculture tried to propose limits on sugar and salt in school meals. The proposed guidelines are part of the Biden administration’s plan to take effect in 2025. Yet, as soon as the new limits came out the dairy industry and others started to push back on the guidelines. dairy industry? Sugar and salt? Yep! The flavored milk served in schools has lots of sugars and they want to keep it that way. So much for concerns about the dairy industry's push around health. Got Milk? When I was in Oakland I took a tour of the UC Theater in Berkeley where we will have our BPLIVING honoring this June 2nd. The theater is beautiful. Details to come.

Next week, I’m meeting with Danny Corwin from Harbor Freight Tools for Schools and then off to Kauai to work with Kapua and her team for a few days. “I took a speed reading course last week and then read War and Peace in an hour. It’s about Russia.” There are no shortcuts to learning. Be well!

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