Catastrophe Week Recap

Here are the drawings and quotes from this past week. The theme, in honor of the horrific calamity in Japan, has been ‘Catastrophe’.  Let’s hope I am not inspired by events to do something like this again in the immediate future.  To read the accompanying commentary just click on the image.

Friday, 3/18/11 – What quarrel, what harshness, what unbelief in each other can subsist in the presence of a great calamity when all the artificial vesture of our life is gone and we are all one with each other in primitive mortal needs? – George Eliot



Thursday, 3/17/11 – The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and thus we drift twoards unparalleled catastrophe. – Albert Einstein




Wednesday, 3/16/11 – When calamity has been suffered remember first how much has been escaped. – Samuel Johnson



Tuesday, 3/15/11 – History is a race between education and catastrophe. – H. G. Wells







Monday, 3/14/11 – Calamity is the great leveler. – Edmund Burke









All drawings and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily.  All images and commentary are copyrighted and may only be used with permission.



Catastrophe #5 – Mortal Needs

Catastrophe has seen it’s last day here at the NDD.  Let’s hope next week brings brighter days for the world.

My older sister and I are a lot alike in some ways. Because of that, on occasion we can grate against each other.  In 2009 my then 91 year old father had a fall and broke his hip.  My younger sister, who lives closest to him and sees him often, was just about to go on a long planned family vacation when it happened.  My older sister and I flew out to take care of him while she was gone.  Honestly I had a bit of anxiety wondering if my sister and I would get along.  We ended up spending 10 days together taking care of him in the hospital, sometimes tag teaming it, other times being there together for the entire day.  The rest of the time we were at my younger sister’s home. We didn’t argue, we didn’t grate and we didn’t disagree about anything, at least not from my perspective.

What we experienced was miniscule compared to what happens in a calamity the size of the events in Japan, Haiti and Banda Aceh over the past few years.  But the idea is the same; in circumstances where you are either trying to survive or helping someone else survive you lose interest in petty squabbles and selfish positions.

The question is, how do you tap into that sensitivity when life is ‘normal’?  What do you have to remember, do, say or not say to make it happen?  Give your insight and advice in the comments, ok?
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Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), 1819-1880, English novelist
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One year ago today at the NDD – Wisdom, Luck and Preening
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Catastrophe #4 – The Atom

Sadly, it’s one catastrophe on top of another on Day 4 of Catastrophe Week at the NDD
The man who discovered the power of the atom, the man whose brilliant understanding of the universe led to a burst of scientific discovery, that man, Albert Einstein, said this.  And he was right.

Our human mode of thinking is still dominated by fear, greed, power and prestige.  It’s as if we were given new ingredients for a new recipe in a kitchen with new appliances but we insisted on cooking it according to an old recipe.  We cook, disaster. We try the same recipe again, disaster.  One more time, disaster.

I think it’s time we realized we are in a new human kitchen and need new recipes for how to cook.
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Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by Albert Einstein
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One year ago today at the NDD – Being Irish – A Personal Story
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Catastrophe #3 – What has escaped

It’s day #3 of Catastrophe Week at the NDD.  Remember that even if your world is normal today, there are plenty of people in the world, Japan in particular, for whom this is still another very bad day.
Easy for me to say.  I am not suffering in the cold of northeast Japan with no water, no electricity, barely any food, family missing, and a very real threat of nuclear contamination.

If I were my thoughts wouldn’t stay long on what I have escaped. My thoughts and actions would turn to survival, finding what my family and I need.

But here’s the thing.  It doesn’t say make the escape thought your only thought, just that you make it your first. Why? Because it brings your heart and mind into a grateful attitude. That attitude will help you hold to what is good as you move into your hunt to survive.
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Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, British author
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One year ago today at the NDD – Luck Affects Everything

Catastrophe #2 – Education vs Catastrophe

Catastrophes, cataclysms, and calamities are the topic of the week here at the NDD.  By the way, I added the original woodblock print that my napkin was an interpretation of to yesterday’s blog so if you want to see what I started from, go check it out.
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When I witness from afar the past 2 earthquake/tsunami combination disasters, the recent one off Japan and the one in 2004 in the Indian Ocean, I am struck how education raced catastrophe in both cases. Both are immense disasters, both overwhelmed the affected area far beyond their ability to respond in time. But there seems to be a huge difference between the two.

In the 2004 Indian Ocean event there was no immediate warning to citizens close by in Indonesia and Thailand and no warning to citizens hundreds of miles away in Sri Lanka. Close to 230,000 people died in the land areas around the rim of the Indian Ocean.

In the 2011 Sendai event warnings were given immediately to the entire population of the region and the country.  The millions who lived in the affected area knew to get to higher ground almost as soon as the earthquake struck.  Those who were hundreds of miles away in Hawaii and even further on the west coast of North America knew well in advance about the Tsunami.  So far the death toll, in a much more populated area than the epicenter of the Indian Ocean event, is hovering around 1/10 of the other event.

Why is that? It’s because of education.  Education was crucial in knowing how to set up a warning system and how to evacuate. It wasn’t perfect, too many people died.  Yes, money has a lot to do with it, I know.  The blame game can be played out against capitalists, politicians, and many others.  But, no matter where the blame is laid, the more educated we are about any subject, especially those that can adversely affect millions, the better chance we have in the race against catastrophe.
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Drawing by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by H. G. Wells, 1866-1946, English author
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One year ago today on the NDD (also apropo to current events) – There is No Data on the Future

Catastrophe #1 – Calamity is the Great Leveler

In honor of and remembrance for those killed and injured by the Sendai earthquake and tsunami.
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The Great Wave - Calamity mug
The Great Wave – Calamity by NapkinDad
(My profits will to go to the Red Cross)
This is my interpretation of ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ a woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai. Here is the original:


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Calamity is the great leveler. It did not care if the person was good or bad, rich or poor, old or young.  It didn’t care if they were driving a fancy car or a beat up one.  It didn’t care if the person was a office worker with a smart phone or a farmer with a iron plow.

Calamity only knew to level.  No morality, no ethics, no prayer, no wish, no hope dissuaded it from it’s mission.

But calamity isn’t a match for humanity.  Humanity builds.  It keeps what is good about being leveled, the lack of pretense and judgment, and builds from there. It does respond to hopes, wishes, prayers, ethics, morality.  It does care.

Humanity always beat Calamity. Always.
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Drawing by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote is an interpretation of ‘Public Calamity is a Great Leveler’ by Edmund Burke

>They Who Smile

>A vintage napkin from 2003, given to my daughters’ in their lunches. Two daughters (at the time) were in high school and I drew a napkin for each of them.


Of course, it’s a balancing act. It isn’t realistic to just smile at all things. If you do you aren’t able to protest injustice, you aren’t able to let your anger be known, among other things. But in the end, the angry raging person is unhappy, becomes shrill and unattractive and as a result is weaker and less able to be a positive influence in the world.

If you have trouble finding the smile inside, try to think about what you get out of being angry. What does it feed in you, what does it validate, or hold at bay? Do you really need that anger and rage to be successful or happy in life? Take a chance, let go of it, just a bit. I bet you will smile at the results.

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote is a Japanese proverb

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