Rockefeller Chapel on the Campus of the University of Chicago

Photos shot on the campus of the University of Chicago on September 1, 2014.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Commencement Address at Middlebury College

My search for my favorite commencement address of the year has happily come to a successful conclusion.  Author Jonathan Safran Foer delivered the address at the 2013 commencement ceremony at Middlebury College.  It is a wonderful talk about how our personal technologies are diminishing us.

I learned of the address when reading Foer’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, which he based on the address.  The essay was great; but the address is better.

Here are a few quotes from the address:

“Technology celebrates connectedness, but it encourages retreat.”

“Simply put, the more distracted we become and the more emphasis we put on speed at the expense of depth, the less able we are to care.”

“Each step forward in technological communication has made things more convenient. But each step has also made it easer, just a little bit easier, to avoid the emotional work of being present. To write ‘LOL’ rather than to actually laugh out loud; to send a crying emoji rather than actually crying; to convey information rather than humanity. It’s never been easier to say nothing.”

“It’s easier to friend someone than to be someone’s friend. It’s easier to like things than to love them. It’s easier to say nothing, but people who become used to saying nothing become used to being nobody.”

“I worry that the closer the world gets to our fingertips, the further it gets from our hearts.”

Billy Strings and Don Julin

Don Julin is a musician from Traverse City, Michigan, whom I have followed for a number of years.  He plays the mandolin and is the author of the recently released Mandolin for Dummies.  Until recently, I was only aware of Don’s talent as a jazz musician.

Turns out that Don is also a talented bluegrass musician.  Don has teamed up with a young man who goes by the name “Billy Strings.”  Billy is an incredible guitar player, and I mean incredible.  I got to hear Don and Billy play at Elderly Instruments, where I participated in a mandolin workshop taught by Don (with assist from Billy).  You can learn more about Don and Billy and listen to some songs from the recently issued album, “Rock of Ages,” by following this link.  And you can learn more about them by watching this brief documentary:

Micro-Episode #5: Billy & Don from andrea claire maio on Vimeo.