Lance Brett Hall

Stories Make Meaning. How Do We Make Stories?

Category: Personal

By the Ice Machine of a Los Angeles Hotel

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Megan and I are in Los Angeles this week for her research.

I saw this when I went to get ice:

Wrapped bouquet of flowers on top of a trash can

For a long time, I’ve wondered about images and storytelling. It seems like a big question: “Can an image tell a story?”

We talk about a story as a series of events unfolding in time: there’s a problem, an obstacle to solving that problem, and a solution to that problem. It’s rare and difficult to find all three present in the same static image.

Once in a while, though, there’s an image that’s so strong, that the mind can’t help filling in all the possible stories: Who gave the flowers? Why? Was it an apology? Why didn’t the recipient want them? Why did they end up discarded by the ice machine… with the plastic wrapper still on?

The mind is built for stories, and when it has a sense that there should be one, it starts to wander.

(Hat tip to my old friend Tom for inspiring the title.)

Why Get an Education?

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A few weeks ago, my alma mater, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, sent out a survey, which it called the “Economic Impact Alumni Survey”.

It was never stated explicitly, but based on the questions (not to mention Illinois’ current political climate), I assume the survey is trying to tie IMSA’s worth to it’s monetary value, its “Economic Impact”: do the people IMSA has educated create wealth?

So, why do we get an education in the first place?
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A Few Christmas Stories

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Christmas gifts are somewhat misunderstood… or misinterpreted.

Yes, every Thanksgiving, people load into their cars to interrupt the day Lincoln proclaimed “should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged” in order to compete with each other for Doorbusters. Yes, the rest of us who aren’t that crazy look on in horror at the news of someone who got trampled to death for a cheap flatscreen.

The wonderful part of a Christmas present is to know someone well enough that you can give them a gift that reflects who they are and who you are. People can argue how commercialized Christmas gifts are. That won’t stop, though, the fact that giving (and receiving!) gifts is a wonderful reflection of Advent.
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1907 1908 2016: What it means

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The Cubs are special.

When I was maybe 10, my grandmother decided to take our whole family to Wrigley. All 4 of her children and their spouses and their children got on a train in Princeton, Illinois, and rode into Union Station. I don’t remember if we took taxis or the ‘L’ to Addison, but we sat in the upper deck off of 3rd base.

We played the Cardinals. We won that day. That was my first Cubs game, and the day I became a Cubs Fan.
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Portland Weird

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Megan’s 30th birthday was last week, and we took a trip to celebrate. Both of us have heard about Portland. I’ve had acquaintances who’ve moved there. We’ve also gotten curious about having marionberry pancakes for brunch. (If you don’t know what marionberries are, for goodness’ sake, go watch Portlandia.)Megan eating Marionberries

We had an amazing time.
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Paper Memories

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This past weekend, my wife Megan’s family laid her maternal grandmother, Betty Minck, to rest.

My wife has an incredible memory for personal detail, and it’s no surprise that she took it on herself to curate some photographs to display for the memorial.

I escort Betty to her seat at our wedding. Her husband, my grandfather-in-law, is behind us. (Yes, we have a hard copy of this now.)
I learned a lot about my wife and her family and history just helping her rummage through photographs. We combed through everything from my mother-in-law’s high school days up until my wife in junior high.
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