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America’s Got Talent: Real Knife

The knife used by Frank Miles on America's Got TalentI’ve gotten a few emails about my segment on America’s Got Talent asking about the knife. Yes, that was a real knife that I placed under a styrofoam cooler.

Wrong On, Dude!

Recently a group of cheery folks rented thousands of billboards to announce that the world would end on May 21st 2011. That a number of these people still haven’t admitted they were wrong is proof that if we can just tap the power of human obstinacy, we could give up fossil fuels tomorrow.

I’ve touched on this before, but it bears repeating–there’s nothing wrong with being wrong.

Unless you don’t accept it.

Frank Miles on being wrongSomeone asked Thomas Edison why he didn’t despair after he failed a thousand times to build a workable light bulb. He replied that he hadn’t failed–

“I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”

Finding out what doesn’t work is often a good way–sometimes the only way–to learn what does. And knowing that you’re wrong beats the heck out of the only real alternative in that scenario.

That’s still being wrong and NOT knowing it.

Lots of people have a rough time accepting their mistakes. It dings our self-image, because we tend to think really cool people wouldn’t have made them.

Fortunately… we’re wrong!

Bill Bradley: Piling Up & Chipping Away

Bill Bradley pushing his limitsHow do you run 135 miles through Death Valley in temperatures soaring over 120 degrees?

Maybe a better question is how do you avoid running over a hundred miles through Death Valley when the road’s hot enough to catch your shoes on fire. ‘Cause if there’s any chance I ever have to do that, I will pay good money to get out of it.

The real question, of course, is why you’d do something so crazy.

If you’re my old high school pal Bill Bradley, you do it to find out if you can. Bill is fascinated–all right, obsessed–with the limitations of human endurance. And his long list of startling accomplishments reveals the secret to achieving grand and amazing goals–

Piling up and chipping away.

Piling up means that each grain of new effort adds to the total. Chipping away means the pick head strikes the same spot each time. Because a thousand shallow holes do not make a well.

By piling up the steps behind him and chipping away at the miles ahead, my friend Epic Bill Bradley repeatedly does what seems impossible, and more importantly–

He proves that it wasn’t.

America’s Got Talent: Vegas Week

This week NBC will air the final eliminations of America’s Got Talent before the live shows. The acts that were selected in their individual city auditions convened in Las Vegas for another trial before the judges. As usual, I can’t say anything more than watch and see what happens.

Look ¬†for America’s Got Talent on Tuesday, July 5 and Wednesday, July 6 on NBC in your local TV listings.

It’s All About Wazo

Frank Miles pet cockatoo

It's a Wazo-centric world. Good thing I'm Wazo.

Astronomers using the combined power of the Hubble space telescope and the world’s largest radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico have located the exact center of the universe. It’s our pet cockatoo, Wazo.

Wazo enjoys loping around his cage, singing in his own name (pronounced wah-zoh) over and over. He’s just getting the word out. And the word is–

Wazo.

It’s all about Wazo.

You live in a Wazo-centric world, in case you didn’t know it. Or in case you forgot since the last time Wazo pointed it out. A couple seconds ago.

Wazo, Wazo, Wazo…

I can relate to all this, because I used to be pretty sure the world revolved around me. Still am sometimes. But here’s the problem. It’s not true.

And like a wheel that’s not true, not centered properly on its axle, this idea that I’m the hub of all things makes for a bumpy ride through life. So I try to let go of the illusion that when I spin, it’s really the world going around me. Because everyone knows–

The world goes around Wazo.

America’s Got Talent

Has everyone been enjoying the first level auditions of America’s Got Talent as much as I have? I’m kind of sad to see the zaniness of the first round finish.

For Sure

Frank Miles gives his dog a bath

"I know what happens next - for sure!"

Our dog, Sunshine, knows a walk is a good thing. Even a surprise walk. But you know when a walk is even better yet? When that walk is coming for sure.

Sunshine was raised in an abusive environment. When we adopted her, she couldn’t look up at us or un-tuck her tail. It helped to provide her with structure, to make her life feel safe and predictable. Like, when she gets a bath, she gets a walk afterwards. Always.

That means for sure.

She LOVES that. She bounds down the hallway from the bathroom like a wet fur ball of joy. The walk is coming now! For sure!!!

People love for sure too. They love certainty. Because what you don’t know can hurt you. The trouble is that when you have certainty, you eliminate possibility. Can’t have both.

The future is the unknowable birthplace of all things, good and bad. Stuff’s going to go wrong and you should be prepared. But there are things you haven’t even dreamed of yet that are going to go right too. You can count on it, you really can.

For sure.

 

I’ve got your Twitter right here.

Frank Miles helps Valley Wildlife Care with baby birds

Young House Finch (much larger than life size)

It’s baby bird season again, and that means our house is filled once more with tweets–real tweets–from many hungry nestlings. They’ve been brought to us as part of our volunteer work for Valley Wildlife Care. And when they’re feeling famished, which is always, the noise they make collectively could drown out Armageddon.

Someone posted a question once on an Internet board for sharing bird care information. They asked–

“When a baby bird tweets, what’s it actually saying?”

The answer, which we still laugh at, was this–

“If alone in a nest, it’s saying, ‘FEED me! FEED me!’ If it’s in a nest with other siblings, it’s saying, ‘Feed ME! Feed ME!'”

It’s wonderful to be surrounded by such raucous life, but it’s not without its sadness too. Some of these little ones won’t make it, despite the best food, medicine and environment we can provide. We had to learn to accept this as part of the reality of life.

It’s fragile, it’s precious, and it won’t be ours forever. So sing out. Sing loud.

If you’re lucky, someone might even feed you!

 

Why Magic is Magical

Frank Miles "I've always loved magic"

Frank Miles is a fan of magic and bunnies

I’m a big fan of magic. I love the surprise and wonder, the fantasy of having superhuman abilities. Although when you think about it, if you had the powers magicians pretend to have, is that really what you’d do with them?

“I can make solid objects penetrate other solid objects and teleport to new locations.”

“Wow, so you could, like, make a tumor vanish and reappear outside someone’s body?”

“Yes. But instead I’m going to make this little red ball jump around under these cups.”

The truly magical thing about magic is actually very subtle. Magic works because we can be wrong about things we’re confident we know. It plays with our assumptions, and shows us that the empty box on stage actually had a tiger in it. That’s only possible because the way we see things is far more limited than how things can really be.

Being delighted to learn that you were just wrong about something? Now that’s magical.

Cute and Dangerous

Frank Miles Danger & Cuteness with Skunks

Frank Miles weighs baby skunks for Valley Wildlife Care

I like ’em cute and dangerous. Okay, so there’s not so much danger here, but the cute is off the charts. And while these two skunks don’t pack the same punch as a couple of half-million volt stun guns, they’re still well armed. Or tailed, I guess.

In my volunteer work for Valley Wildlife Care I sometimes handle the intake of injured or orphaned animals. These little guys lost their mom, but they’ll be bottle-fed now and well looked after.¬†Eventually they’ll be released back into their natural environment to live out their skunky little lives with the best start we could give them.

Do the skunks have a lesson in courage for us? Um, not sure. How about–fear stinks? Yeah, that’ll do.