Leadership, Uncategorized

Feedback – Being S.M.A.R.T – Part 3

In Part 1, I talked about me and how people need to want your feedback. In Part 2, I talked about the sandwich method and that feedback needs to focus on substance, not form. Let’s move on to what that substance looks like.

In the Human Resources world, feedback and goals are related. Goals are the way that feedback moves forward. If there is feedback given about a performance issue, there is likely a goal on how to improve it. If there is feedback on something you do well, there is often a goal to develop that further. A common way to write goals is the SMART method. You can read more about in the link and a google search will get you dozens of articles on it.

I am going to borrow the acronym and change the words a bit but it is still applicable. Feedback should be Sincere, Meaningful, Actionable, Relatable, and Timely.

I alluded to some of the problems with the sandwich method. Because most people aren’t skilled at giving feedback, the praise or the criticism can seem forced. I mentioned how there was a study that the employees actually just wanted the criticism straight up. Or as I sometimes say, “it turns out that people can sense BS.” The solution is for your feedback to be sincere.

Sincere

If you like something or think it was well-done, say so and mean it. If you didn’t like something or think that it could have been done better, say so and mean it. A word of caution though. Being direct is not the same as being harsh, cruel, or a jerk. The letters M and R will help with that later.

When you are sincere, your body language will automatically match your words as well. A disconnect between body language and words is the biggest indication of BS.

Sometimes we are too soft in our language and that isn’t sincere either.

But it is okay to say, “I really liked the use of color in this piece,” or to say “I see where you dropped some stitches”

For those who get in trouble with directness, with let’s say extreme sincerity, the problem is that sincerity isn’t enough for good feedback. It is the root of good feedback but there are more parts.

Meaningful

Feedback needs to be meaningful. Meaningful to whom? That is the question.

The feedback needs to be meaningful to the receiver. To know that requires conversation. Ask what the person is looking for. What is important to them? Assume this is a display situation or the Midrealm Tournament of Art. Actively listen to the person. What are they aware of? What do they seem to want to know about? What area do they seem to have trouble with? That is what feedback they are after.

We can expand this too. Let’s imagine an A&S Faire situation where there is criteria. By nature of the event, there will be feedback on many pieces of the object. You as the judge must provide feedback on what does the documentation look like, how is the writing, how are the choices of sources, etc. It is still worth a conversion about whatever it is the presenter cares about. They probably also want the feedback on the other things but you can provide what they truly want.

Similarly in a job/performance review situation. There are some pieces of feedback you have to give. They might already know very well about the mistake they made. You have to bring it up for the formal review. But you can also have a deeper conversation. Did they lack the skills to make a good decision in that circumstance and want them? That can be the meaningful feedback. Did they want to grow in another area?

Actionable

It is often part of the meaningful feedback but the feedback also has to be actionable. What does that mean? It has to be something that actually can be done by the person. That is important.

Again, you need to have a conversation. What can this person do? What options do they have access to? This is where feedback and leadership can intersect. Leaders often are able to direct towards or give access to resources. Part of your feedback might be “if you could have used this material, which you can find here and here” that is actionable. You have given the recipient something they actually can use.

Feedback which is not actionable is not meaningful. “If you only had access to 1 ton of gold, you could do this.” The person can’t have that kind of access and therefore can’t enact your feedback.

Let me give an example given to me by a friend.  This friend does Commedia and they asked a Performing Arts Laurel for feedback.  The feedback given was “clearly, you’re under rehearsed.”  This feedback is not meaningful.  What was missing?  As my friend relates it, as a long distance Commedia group, they will always hurt for rehearsal time.  What should they rehearse?  What didn’t work? The feedback didn’t give any indication on what was the actual problem?  It could have been a lack of chemistry between two actors.  Or one of the actors had timing issues.  Or one of the actors didn’t feel confident.  Or almost anything.   The feedback wasn’t really actionable either.  This is a long distance group.  For all any of us know, they are rehearsing as much as is possible.  They can’t rehearse more.

If you are going to give feedback, talk to the person and find out what they have done, what they can do, and where their challenges are.

Relatable

Good feedback, especially if it is negative, is relatable to the recipient. Relatability is a useful tool to help make negative feedback palatable. I am using this a synonym for empathetic.

In an art situation, if you are providing feedback, you are likely in a position of authority of some kind. You are the judge handing out points. You are the expert offering clues to the next step. You are the confidant offering incentive to keep going. The other person is vulnerable in showing you their art and asking you for your feedback.

But the performance had technical flaws. Or the object shows evidence of bad technique. It could be anything. By making your feedback relatable, you show that with work, the recipient can overcome the problem and achieve your level. That offers hope, even in the face of large amounts of criticism.

Let’s try this example. ” Your pronunciation of the German in Bach’s Gott mein Herz dir Dank is offputting. It really took me out of the moment. I suggest you look at finding a German tutor to help you. Here are a few sources” It has all of the letters so far. It is sincere. It is meaningful. It is actionable.

Verses this. “Your pronunciation of the German in Bach’s Gott mein Herz dir Dank is offputting. It really took me out of the moment. I remember the first time I sung that piece and I too really struggled with the German. I suggest you look at finding a German tutor to help you. Here are a few sources.”

Instead of “here is your problem and here is your solution”, the second option offers compassion, even with the criticism. All with one sentence. The recipient sees more than “I screwed that up,” and goes “okay, it is not just me. Others had trouble with this and overcame it.”

The relatability doesn’t have to necessarily be in the same area. By the time you are in a position to give feedback, you will have shared life experiences.

Even with performance issues this can be used. Bosses aren’t perfect and mistakes don’t necessarily mean immediate termination (there are few things that will). There is no need to project perfection. Relatable feedback shows that even with negative feedback, there is a way forward.

Timely

Feedback should also be timely. It should occur close to the when the event happened.

In a judging situation, this is pretty much automatic. The performance, object, or person is right in front of you. In job/performance review situations, this is more relevant.

Oftentimes, bosses don’t want to be seen as “bad guys.” There is a temptation to let a bad behavior slide. “Maybe it won’t be a habit.” Or “surely they know this is a problem.” It is better to address the problem sooner rather than later. It helps head off confusion later. “You never told me I shouldn’t do that.” It keeps the incident fresh in your mind.

It also applies to positive feedback. Positive feedback should also occur very close in time to the event that is being praised. It reinforces that what you are seeing or just saw is what you want to continue to see.

When doing periodic reviews, the maxim is there should be no surprises. You have already given feedback, positive and negative, at the time of the incidents; you are just recapping what has happened over that period of time.

If you are periodically reviewing some in the SCA, perhaps a dependent or someone’s growth as an artist, the timeliness becomes more important. Give your feedback at each incident, document it, then refer to those documents at that periodic review to show change over time.

With SMART feedback, the form doesn’t matter. It can be a sandwich. It can be part of a natural conversation. It can be isolated comments. It is the substance that matters. If you only have one item of feedback, because that is all you have or perhaps that is all the recipient wants, SMART covers your bases. The feedback will be sincere, meaningful, actionable, relatable, and timely. All of that can be accomplished in a few sentences or several paragraphs depending on your style.

More in this series
Feedback and Leadership- Part 1
Feedback – The Sandwich Method – Part 2
Feedback – The Halo Effect – Part 4
Feedback- Getting the Most out of A&S – Part 5
Feedback – Miscellany & Conclusions – Part 6

Leadership

Feedback – The sandwich method – Part 2

Time to talk about the sacred cow of feedback – the sandwich method.

Just so you know it is not just my opinion, here are some references. This list is not exhaustive.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281034931_The_Sandwich_Feedback_Method_not_very_tasty

https://hbr.org/2013/04/the-sandwich-approach-undermin

https://www.findlay.edu/blog/feedback-sandwich-approach

https://lifehacker.com/stop-using-the-sandwich-method-to-give-feedback-1776592001

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jurgenappelo/2015/08/17/ditch-the-praise-sandwich-make-feedback-wraps/#16a9a167fa4a

There are more. As I said in Part 1, Human Kinetics is different than many companies in that we make products designed to improve how people communicate and interact. We look at our own internal processes regularly. Using research, I was able to persuade my company to change how it did performance reviews, which include how to give feedback. We adopted the method that Adobe uses and removed the feedback sandwich as well. Such a change required proof and diligence. The change came because the new way was better.

For those who don’t know, the sandwich method is basically “say a positive thing, say a negative thing, say another positive thing.” It is sometimes also called the compliment sandwich, or the hamburger method. It is a fine method IF you are skilled at it AND the person you are using it with wants the feedback that way.

Reasons to use the sandwich method are:

  • May ease the sting of hearing difficult comments
  • Encourages specificity in the feedback process
  • Allows employees to increase their receptiveness to criticism
  • Enables meetings to end on a positive note
  • Can be useful for managers who find it difficult to engage in criticism

So what is the problem then? There are two major ones.

Most people aren’t good at eating these sandwiches. What am I talking about? A standard method of getting your dog to take the medicine is to hide it peanut butter. Since your dog likes the peanut butter, it doesn’t notice the medicine. That is the problem, it is too easy to pass up the “criticism” part since it is buried in the praise. Another problem illustrated by the dog-medicine analogy is that sooner or later, the dog starts associating peanut butter with the medicine. Same with people and the sandwich method, sooner or later, the moment you offer praise, the recipient starts to wonder what the bad news is.

Or to borrow from these articles

  • Including positives may undermine the criticism involved, thus rendering that criticism ineffective
  • The method trains employees to distrust praise, as they will begin to anticipate the criticism that comes along with it
  • The method detracts from praise when it is truly due
  • The method may serve more as a crutch for managers who struggle with giving feedback rather than as a tool for helping employees improve
  • It may give employees a diluted or inaccurate understanding of their work performance and what changes are required of them

According to the first study, managers liked using the sandwich method because they felt less like the bad guy. But the employees actually wanted the criticism straight up without the praise!

The second problem is implicit in the first, not only are people bad at eating them, they are bad at making them. It is too easy to make a bad sandwich. The praise can be too little, the criticism too harsh. Or the opposite, the praise is too much and criticism is too little.

Now this is in the business world where you are normally giving and getting feedback from the same people, often on a fixed, periodic basis. Why not the sandwich method as a one-time, or special circumstance?

The main plus to the sandwich method is that it is easy to teach, in theory. Just find two things to praise and one for the person to work on and you are golden. It assumes people are good at identifying items to give feedback on, good at constructing feedback, and good at relating that feedback.

For the SCA, it is often the desire to make the other person comfortable that we use it. Like the study above referenced, we don’t want to be seen as the bad guy. Because the entrant KNOWS the bad news is coming, the praise feels fake. Add to the fact that we are often judging something we know little about, how can we make a good sandwich? We praise that which is trivial and criticize that which is next to impossible. Then we have to come up with a second item to praise!

Lastly, the sandwich method is formulaic. What if I only have 1 item of feedback? What about 5? Can I make a dagwood sandwich (two praises but tons of other stuff in between)? Do I make a club sandwich (praise/criticism/praise/criticism/praise)?

The natural response is to get better, to just train people better at feedback. I agree with that. Again, there are problems. There is no requirement that people get training. There is no budget, no mandate, no way to force this training to happen. Good feedback can come in a variety of forms, some just as easy as the sandwich method. Many are more natural to use than the sandwich method. In the SCA, we seem to insist on the form, because it is easy to teach, rather than the substance, which is easier to use by both parties. While not a formal survey by any means, my canvassing and my experience is that people want the substance. Digging through the form to get it is not helpful.

I am not suggesting that everyone stop using this. I am suggesting we stop recommending it as the default method. If you are skilled at using it and your audience wants it, do it. That is one tool.

As I said in part 1, there are no binary answers here. What works is sincere, actionable, and meaningful feedback. That can take a variety of forms. It means more listening, less judgementalism. It means the person giving feedback needs to be an active learner in this situation. You probably don’t know much about the thing to be judged. Listen, learn, ask questions, figure out what this person needs, and deliver if you can. It works for performance issues in business as well. Be sincere, provide feedback that can be done, and will be meaningful to the situation. Again, this isn’t easy.

More in this series
Feedback and Leadership- Part 1
Feedback – Being S.M.A.R.T – Part 3
Feedback – The Halo Effect – Part 4
Feedback- Getting the Most out of A&S – Part 5
Feedback – Miscellany & Conclusions – Part 6

Leadership

Feedback and Leadership – Part 1

Every living thing processes feedback constantly. Reactions to its environment, where is food, where is safety, is that a threat? As social animals, our feedback is more complex. Not only do we have biological feedback but we have a ton of social feedback to process. We are constantly scanning body language, verbal cues, written statements, olfactory senses, and more to decide how to react to another person. And we are constantly offering feedback through these same means to other people.

The process of formally giving feedback is hard. How do you overrule your unconscious feedback? What do I say? How do I say it? How will the other person(s) take it? Anyone who tells you it is easy is wrong. That is one of the few absolutes I will use in this series. It takes training and time to become good at giving feedback. Feedback is also something you have to reinforce and constantly earn the right to give. Humans are not simple.

Why should you listen to me?

Who the heck am I that I know anything about this? I have been a middle manager at my work place for 15+ years. I work at Human Kinetics (HK), Inc, a sports, health, fitness, and coaching publisher. HK has been around for over 45 years at this point and was founded by a man whose main mission was to improve coaching. Coaching IS leadership and leadership demands feedback. As a manager, I have quarterly, 1-hour trainings on how to be a good manager that includes how to evaluate and give feedback to my staff. As a publisher of books designed to educate coaches on how to do the same things, whether they are coaching a little league/park district team or coaching professional athletes, HK has many resources on how to be a good coach. Much of our management philosophy is influenced by these books.

I have over 90 hours of management training and access to materials that help professional coaches manage professional athletes. Am I an expert? No. Do I get paid millions of dollars to advise Fortune 100 companies how to manage employees? No. But I have more training than many and due to my employer and their vision, a different viewpoint than many in the business world.

In this series, I am going to explore feedback and give you tools to improve yours. Tools, not answers. There are no simple binary answers here. We are dealing with people. What works in one situation won’t in another. Strategies evolve over time. What works with one person won’t with another. I told you there are very few absolutes. You get a toolbox to help you find the right tool for the right job.

The 0th rule of feedback

I am not aware that feedback has enumerated rules. But if it did, the 0th rule would be “Feedback only matters if the other person wants it.”

For any feedback to be meaningful at all, the person must be willing to listen to it. Otherwise, you are just talking to yourself. Reasons why someone may not want to listen to feedback are: they don’t like you; they don’t respect you; they feel they already know the answer; they are uncomfortable; and more along those lines.

This is the first thing you need to do when giving feedback is making sure the other person wants it. In some situations, the consent is implied. If they want to keep working for you, they can either listen to your feedback, act on it, or leave the job. If they enter a competition that will have feedback, it is assumed they want feedback. But they may not want feedback from you.

Like an performance, you need to know your audience. Do they want feedback? Do they want it in the form you are going to give it? Do they want it from you? Bobby Knight tactics may not be the best choice for a group of 5 year olds playing soccer for the first time. Spend some time getting to know who you are giving feedback to.

Likewise, identify the goal of the feedback. What are they needing/wanting to hear? What is your goal in providing the feedback? This blog is heavily SCA focused so I will use SCA examples.

A common SCA story is the unsolicited feedback. A new person comes to an event and is confronted by someone who offers feedback. “Your clothing should be this way”, “that isn’t a period technique”, etc. At best, the new person ignores the feedback. They didn’t want the input. At worst, the new person runs off never to be involved with the SCA again. You can break down any activity in the SCA that way. The first A&S competition, the first time in armor, whatever.

Spend a few moments finding out about the person, why they are there, whether they even want your opinion. “My friend wanted me to come. I just borrowed this from someone else.” No need to give feedback. Or perhaps after that initial icebreaker, they may want to hear “would you like some advice on that?”

That is your first tip then: “feedback only matters if the other person wants it.” Know who you are giving feedback to, figure out how to approach the situation so they want to receive it, and know the goals of the parties involved.

Coming soon:
Feedback – The Sandwich Method – Part 2
Feedback – Being S.M.A.R.T – Part 3
Feedback – The Halo Effect – Part 4
Feedback- Getting the Most out of A&S – Part 5
Feedback – Miscellany & Conclusions – Part 6

SCA Life, Vinegar

Solera Process

There are two prestige processes for Western vinegar making, balsamic and solera.

The Solera process is named from the Spanish word for floor. The idea with this process is you are mixing the age of the liquid (in this case vinegar).

How it works is thusly (assuming it has been running for a while): Imagine a pyramid of wooden barrels. Let’s say three levels. In the top level, new vinegar is aged for 6 months. After 6 months, a quantity of vinegar is removed from the lower levels. A similar amount of vinegar is then put into the lower barrels from each of the higher levels. None of the lower barrels are ever emptied completely. So the vinegar aging in the bottom level is a mix of “new” 6 months vinegar, older 12 month vinegar from the middle layer, and “old” 12+ month vinegar that has been there for a whole. When it is bottled off every 6 months, that vinegar is mix of a variety of age vinegars.

The age categories are as such:

  • Vinagre de Jerez has a minimum of 6 months aging in wood.
  • Vinagre de Jerez Reserva has a minimum of 2 years aging in wood.
  • Vinagre de Jerez Gran Reserva is a new category with a minimum of 10 years aging in wood.

Now, it all has to start somewhere and that is where I am.

A few months ago, I started this vinegar and it is now ready to start aging. I think we got the sherry wine at Aldi or Trader Joe’s.

It is important to harvest your mother’s so you can use them again. The label isn’t right. I just reused the jar. I have a sherry mother 🙂

I bought and conditioned an untoasted 2L white oak barrel for this project. Here it is.

And it is reasoably full of sherry vinegar for the initial 6 month aging.

In 6 months, I need to have another batch of vinegar ready to start aging and a new barrel. 12 months from now, I add ~ half of “new” 6 month vinegar to half of this barrel. I should get another new barrel let this one age by itself. 18 months from now, I add half of the “newer” 6 month vinegar to the 12 month barrel and half to the 18 month barrel. 24 months from now, I have Reserva vinegar ready. And every 6 months after that.

Now let’s see if the fruit fly colonies will develop sentience by then.

SCA Life, Vinegar

Preparing for the ToA

I had the time and motivation so I decided to prepared for the ToA (Tournament of Arts). Next Saturday (Jan 11, 2020), about three dozen or so of the artisans from the Midrealm will head to Ayreton for the ToA. It is not a Tournament in the strict sense but it is a chance to display and talk with knowledgeable people about whatever you are doing.

For starters, here is my vinegar room.

Ok it is really my hobby room but most of it devoted to brewing and vinegar.

For starters, I needed to decide on what to display and I needed bottles. As Gertie likes to say, “the cobblers children have no shoes.” Or in this case, the vinegarie’s wife has no vinegar. I had to find enough samples for much of it but I succeeded.

I decided to go with 8 oz bottles when I could. For some vinegars, I could have used 12 oz bottles but for many samples, I didn’t have enough.

The top photo is the variety of samples from my tasting classes. Then off to wash bottles.

After the wash, I decided on what to display.

I have a mix of vinegars from alcohols I have made or commercial alcohols. I wanted to show a range of flavors and techniques.

Unless I say so specifically, the alcohol is commercial. From left to right, the Pinot Noir vinegar from the Pinot Noir I made, Prosecco vinegar, Sauvignon Blanc vinegar, Pecan Brandy Vinegar that I made the cordial, Coconut Vinegar that I made the coconut “wine”, Apple Cider vinegar, Apple Cider vinegar from a cider I made, Malt Vinegar, Sake vinegar, the two small jars stacked on each other are the Xocovez malt and the faux “balsamic”, then two different mead vinegar.

Then to decide on what else to bring.

Since I want people to taste the base alcohol, a bottle of the wine and apple cider. Some mustards made from my vinegar. A mother so people can see it. An example of the toasted oak barrels I use (this one doesn’t hold water anymore). And some documentation. I forgot to take a photo of the books.

So that is it. Twelve-ish vinegar. I need to buy some small tasting cups so a trip to Gordon Food Service is in order. I have a box of crackers.

It isn’t sexy. It isn’t flashy. But it is what I do. See you there!

Uncategorized

The Office – Oswyn edition

I was sitting in the back part of my office because I needed the space. I thought, why not show it you all?

It is after Thanksgiving so Christmas/Yule stuff is out. Not pictured is my North Pole mailbox outside my door. Most of the time, my door is plain. But as the holiday approaches, I do decorate it.

You can barely see the Lego guards that protect the measuring tapes and box knives. People can borrow them but they have to bring them back.

Then we move around to the corner of my work area. I don’t say desk because of desk is a pile of papers that denote a variety of projects I am working on.

Lots of stuff going on here. My spear, Staccata, is here and my letter from the Queen. Of course, the photo of Gertie. That corner has a bunch of knick knacks. A pillow with part of the Tapestry on it. A Horde Wyvern (I actually played Alliance) and stuff for tea.

A collage of photos of the boys when they were young. And my device with one of my mottos on it (Thanks Wilhelm). I put several of the cranes from Seto and Ynes’ coronation around the room too.

Now we come to the sea or as close as the middle of Illinois will allow. I have always loved orcas and I am probably like 8% Scot. But I like the flag. Not pictured is a fake tree in the corner with the Union Jack, Australian Flag, Canadian Flag, and New Zealand Flag. One of our international sales people left those in their office when they moved on. I took them 🙂

Oh yeah. There is the tree. But the important stuff is on the shelf. A book on the San Juan Islands and a book on Lighthouses. I told you, I like, and miss, the ocean.

Then we make it all the way around. Several SCA photos and more recent photos of the boys (and daughter in-law).

I understand that some people don’t bring as much into their offices. This is 20 years of stuff going in. If they fire me, it will take several people to help get all of the stuff out. So job security 🙂

I spend 40 to 50 hours here per week. I might as well be surrounded by things that help remind me why I do what I do.

cider, SCA Life, Vinegar

Ciderize – progress report on a lot of stuff

I started batch number of two of my cheap cider and added it to the blueberries last night. 2 gallons of cider over 3 pounds of frozen blueberries. I will let that sit for a while and see what we get.

I had friends try my cheap cider this weekend. The two who sampled it said it was good. The one prefers dry and liked it very much. It is dry despite my efforts to backsweeten it. The other also said it was good but prefers a sweeter cider. I will consider it a win.

I divided up the malt vinegar I had for those who wanted it. The Xocovez is different than I remember. Time is an ingredient you shouldn’t forget with brewing or vinegars. Gertie suggested I make more and then do my cask aging on it. I think I will 🙂

Started a new batch of malt with Blue Moon. 14 for a 12-pack was too much to pass up for new vinegar.

I figured out some character issues in my roleplaying 🙂

That is it for progress report for now.

Uncategorized

Overthinking and Second Guessing

I am very prone to overthinking and second guessing things. November was very much about that. I did it at work, I did it in the SCA, I did in my gaming. Pretty much everywhere, except my marriage 🙂

The “where is my passion” post is an example. By overthinking in this case, I went back. Why am I focused in this area if I don’t seem to care about it as much? So sometimes overthinking is good.

In examining my SCA paths, it was probably a bad thing. My time and energy is spent second guessing things. Should I have done this? Should I have done it in this way? It is too late. I have done them. Reflecting isn’t bad; you can determine you were wrong and hopefully do it better next time. But second guessing in a vacuum is probably bad.

In gaming, I have looking at the story I am telling and whether it is right and asking my players what they think. That is good; a few problems came out of those discussions and they can be fixed.

Here is hoping that December is less thinking and more doing 🙂

cider, SCA Life, Vinegar

Blueberry cider

I finished the first round ciders. I set aside 16 oz bottle of each to be a sampling kit for my cider class. I then took ~ 1/2 gallon of one to make into vinegar. This is part of the “step back process”. The rest are for general consumption of my gaming group to improve what I am doing.

What do I mean by “step back”? I mean “can I take this process and make it a step closer to period practice?” Doing the Orleans Process on my apple ciders is a step back. Making my own alcohols verses store bought is a step back. There aren’t a lot of step backs in vinegar making. Once you are growing your own fruits and making your own alcohols, that is about it. I guess you could try to reverse breed back to a medieval strain of fruit. I suspect that is very hard and unless you can go back to Europe and figure out how to reset the soil chemistry 1000 years, you have made a close as you can get.

I started a new cider to make a blueberry cider. I think I have frozen cherries and raspberries I need to use too. Just like when I started cordials, I am in the “let’s play with this” phase. Make a ton of variants to see what I like and what works.

I still need to make “Froderick’s World Hopper” Perry. That is a goal. French pears and Indian spices. Looking at cardamon and vanilla I think.

Vinegar

What is my Passion?

I have been seriously thinking about things lately. And more importantly, why do I do it?

I will try to finish my paper project but I don’t love it. That is clear. Why? I find reasons not to do it. I believe my reasons to start it were wrong. I did it because I wanted to give something back but I also wanted something to sell. I don’t really want to sell things either. So we will see but that isn’t my passion.

Brewing is sort of a passion but only because I can turn it into vinegar. But again, there is a bad reason I started it. I was told I wasn’t a brewer because I only really altered existing alcohol. So I did ciders to prove I was a brewer. I know I have people who tell me I am still a brewer but this person’s opinion mattered so I wanted to branch out. Ciders did have connections to my passion though. It was very English (at least eventually). And it could be vinegar 🙂

Glass is a passion and I plan on getting back to it when I can learn some new styles. I need to be able to control my environment. I hope that enamel and cloisonne will help that.

So it turns out that vinegar, English history, cider, and glass are the passions. I will make time to do those things. Everything else takes a backseat. When it is time to make vinegar, I jump to it. I am willing to figure out the steps to “take it one step back” for that.

I am not sure why I resisted it. I did at least verbally. But I am willing to admit I like vinegar. I like making it. I like thinking about how to make more of it and how to make it better. I don’t know why but I do.

There is history as well. I have “mothers” that go back to the first mothers I used. I have generations of acer-bacteria.