Monday, May 10, 2010

Learning Curve

It's Graduation time here at Columbia University and as the neighborhood prepares for the annual convergence of well-dressed parental units, it's my pleasure to present President Barack Obama's commencement address at Virginia's Hampton University. I'm intrigued by the President's speech to the 2010 graduating class of this historically-black college.

This morning, when I heard excerpts of yesterday's speech on the news, the President's remarks seemed especially applicable to older folks  . . . that is, folks in the over-30 crowd who are umbilically wired up to any or all of these toys: the iPod, iPad, Xbox, Blackberry and yes, even a PlayStation.

President Obama is spot on about the importance of proactively selecting the voices we allow into our lives. He says:

"With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs, and on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult, at times, to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who's telling the truth and who's not. Let's face it, even some of the craziest claims can quickly gain traction. "

If I'm reading The President correctly, it's this: ditch the TV and read a good book for an hour. Trade in the fake guitar (Guitar Hero) for a real instrument, the kind that Mark Knopfler plays. (Jacob, my dearest Nephew, are you listening? I have a six-string guitar waiting for you!)

And if you're a new constructor--tune out all distractions and practice your craft every day. Carefully select your information sources, as the President counsels, and seek advice from editors and constructors active in the business.

I encourage new constructors to never give up, as the learning curve for advanced puzzlemaking is steep and jagged (two steps forward, one step back); the difficulty level is on a par with learning a stringed instrument. Daily practice is key.

How we manage our time is more important now than it ever has been. That's my takeaway from President Obama's remarks.

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States addresses the 2010 graduating class of Hampton University:




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