Intelligence having fun

This man had as much fun balancing rocks as we had watching him!  San Francisco, February 2003

This man had as much fun balancing rocks as we had watching him!
San Francisco, February 2003

“Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.”George Scialabba

Have you ever heard of rock balancing?  Neither had I, until I saw this guy, one beautiful sunny day in San Francisco, practicing his hobby for all passers-by to enjoy free of charge (though some were leaving him tips).  I don’t know who thought up that pastime, but I’m glad someone had the imagination to look at a pile of rocks and see what could be done with it, just for fun.

Have you ever found a new use for an everyday object, or created something whimsical from odd materials you found?  Do you make up silly rhymes or scrawl elaborate doodles in the margins of notepaper during boring meetings?  Have you ever made up any funny words or names for things, a sort of secret language that you share only with one or two family members or friends?  The possibilities are endless.

Let your brain have some fun – your imagination is smarter than you think!

One year ago today:

Imagination will take you


  1. Virginia Duran

    I haven’t heard of rock balancing either! This is amazing. Oh and the man must be the most patient person on earth 😀

    • I agree! In fact, I imagine it must be almost like meditation in a way, working with these rocks to achieve such results. One would have to be totally focused and unhurried. Hmmm, maybe I should try it sometime… 🙂

  2. Great balancing!

    • Yes, I think it’s quite impressive. I’m glad you like it too!

  3. Raynard

    Julia I use to enjoy” reading what my fellow soldier wrote on the Port a Johns” while we were “in the woods”I wrote a blog about “”burning waste over in Iraq& “Betty Boop”. lol. While I’m stuck on “level 23 in Candy Crush” pinball and “Miss Pac Man was how I relaxed. The Fudge Truffle cake I baked came out better than I expected. Going to send the picture of it you requested.BTW( I still watched’Jeporady& Squeal errr I meant Wheel Of Fortune and on my bucklet next to “Learning how to ballroom dance is “learning to play bridge”.. Be blessed

    • Raynard, I’m so glad your cake came out good! I will be watching for the picture. Around here it would have to be photographed quickly before it vanished!! 🙂 Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are two of Matt’s favorite shows. He actually gets the questions right quite a bit of the time. I would love to learn to dance well and also play bridge, but I doubt I will ever learn either. I’m not coordinated enough for dancing and I would rather devote whatever game-playing time I might have to Mah Jongg, where a beginner can compete reasonably well with even the most seasoned players (simply by sticking with the simple runs). Mah Jongg is very addictive and I fondly hope someday to find a group I can play with on a regular basis. However, it’s hard to find people who play. I have played by the Air Force Wive’s Group rules and the New York rules, but have never played by the Chinese rules. I was told that in Bridge you have to play with partners and I would probably end up making my bridge partner mad because of dumb moves!

  4. What fun!

    • It’s the sort of whimsical thing we always seemed to see in San Francisco, where odd is beautiful!

      • Odd is beautiful…I fit in so well.

        • Alys, that’s exactly how I always felt. I never expected to love California as much as I did. The popular mythology about it never appealed to me (Hollywood, Beach Boy music, etc.) — but when we first drove through the lovely Gaviota Pass en route to remote Vandenberg AFB, it’s like something in me just clicked into place and I felt as if I had arrived where I was meant to be. Maybe it’s some deep genetic affinity (my paternal grandfather and his family were from the west), or maybe I just really needed a place that felt safe and remote where I could be home full time with our young sons. It was beautiful, and odd, and we fit perfectly.

          • That’s a lovely description. I’m not the prototypical Californian myself, but I’m comfortable in the Bay Area. Here we meet people from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds. I love the diversity…and the weather of course.

            • Yes, I just love those aspects of California. I always felt so awake and alive when we would take a day out someplace nearby. Only the weather was predictable…what’s not to like about that? 🙂

  5. Sheila

    Julia, remember me? 🙂 We had so much happening recently…unexpectedly. All is well now but we had quite a scare Thursday. Our son-in-law had a surgical procedure (went well), only to have complications, was taked from OR to ICU on a ventilator. Prayers have been answered. He recovered and may even go home tomorrow. We never know what may happen from day to day. Hope y’all are doing well!

    • Oh Sheila, how awful! I had missed you but imagined you were probably taking a long weekend at Willow Tree. Hospitals are such scary places! I hear all the time about how many people die from post-op complications or infections, not from the procedures themselves. On a ventilator – frightening!! I had no idea all this was going on (though I have been praying for you and Bill, but more in thoughts of your recent loss of Bill’s father). Hope your daughter managed to hold up OK through all of that. I’ll be praying for all of you. Thanks so much for letting us know.

  6. singleseatfighterpilot

    So that’s how cow tipping began!

    • I think that’s more a case of “Ignorance having counterfeit fun.” I only ever heard of cow tipping in recent years, and I was HORRIFIED to think anyone thought such things were fun!! As Ashleigh Brilliant said, “People should not be treated like cattle, and perhaps even cattle should not be treated like cattle.”

  7. Sheila

    Thank you so much, Julia. As you well know, hospital hours are exhausting but love and support always sees us through. Ashley is just so relieved that prognosis now is good! Regarding Bill’s dad, St. Patrick’s Day would be his birthday so this weekend has been with lots of fun memories. I really missed picking out his birthday card. Your thoughts and prayers mean so much! 🙂

    • Thank you, Sheila. I watched the video of Russ again; I really appreciate your sharing it with us. I’m so glad that day was captured on film for people to remember. We’ll keep praying for you and especially for Ashley and her family during this time.

  8. Sheila

    Recently, on Pinterest, I saw a use for the plastic Parmesan Cheese lids and I thought it clever. They will fit on canning jars, small Mason jars, etc. and can be used for storage or insert a straw for your sweet tea. Might only be a new idea to me, but I wanted to share. But then, I don’t know what cow tipping is! 🙂

    • Hi Sheila, I’ll have to find you on Pinterest; did you pin the cheese lid idea? Pinterest is the most addictive place online that I know of. I used to say Twitter was the crack cocaine of social media, but if that’s true, then Pinterest must be the ecstasy! 🙂 I’ll look for you there! Thanks for sharing that idea; ever since I ruined a computer by spilling coffee on it, I’ve gotten very good about always using some sort of lid.

      Cow tipping is mostly an urban legend; you can read about it here, but it’s based on the idea that it would be fun to knock a cow over so that she could not get up. I hear this stuff and I have to scratch my head; aside from how mean it sounds, I don’t see how it would be remotely funny to do something like that.

      • Sheila

        And now I know! Thank you for the link! Julia, I’m not on Pinterest but connect there from various websites often. I know that I would LOVE it….. maybe when I retire! 🙂

        • Sheila, I wish I had never heard of cow tipping myself, so I love it that you had not. 🙂

  9. Sheila

    Julia, it’s so nice to end this rainy night with a smile. 🙂 I’m wondering if you’re getting snow tonight.

    • We are supposed to be getting it tomorrow. The DC area is predicting an accumulation of 3-6 inches. I hope they are wrong! We’ll keep you posted. YES I like the smiles too. I just wrote a post about smiles. 🙂

  10. LB

    Wonderful photo! Yours is the second post in two days where I’ve seen balancing rocks and fittingly the post was about finding balance in life.

    • Yes, I wonder if taking up that hobby would help me learn something about life? Balance is a continual challenge for me, and as a few writers have pointed out, it’s not a “one and done” proposition; it’s something we have to work at every day. Maybe rock balancing will get to be a trend! 🙂 Thanks for being here.

  11. I’m not sure that I’m too good at innovative uses for things, but making up words runs in my family (on my mother’s side). I know my Gran & great aunts used to have their own words for things. Now, as I’m older & have the dogs, I find myself making up more and more words, or slightly altering existing ones, as I talk yo them. Oh, and have I ever mentioned that I make up little songs & sing to them? The songs tend to be about what we are doing or seeing, usually to an existing tune. I’m sure a lot of other dog walkers must think “Here comes that mad woman” when they see me.

    • That makes two of us! I often said that Pasha was my greatest fictional character, because I was always “talking for him” and “he” had “his” own words for many things, usually whimsically warped versions of proper terms. I love that you sing to Jez and Max! I used to sing silly songs to Pasha too. I am guessing a good number of the dog walkers think “I see I’m not the only one who does that.” 🙂 Perhaps we are mad…Mad about dogs, that is! Not a bad way to be. If yours are like mine, they will sometimes give you a tolerant look that suggests they are very patient with our silly fun. I think they may even like it!

      • I’m glad I’m not the only one Julia.

        • Hee-hee, I suspect there are more of us that talk “dog language” than are willing to admit it!

  12. MaryAnn

    In August 2011, at Yosemite National Park, we saw a multitude of impromptu rock balance displays. It seemed like people used the small rocks on the open spaces, on the way up to Yosemite Falls, to “build” lovely artwork. It was another kind of beauty to behold in one of the best places on Earth where God’s Hand is so evident!

    • That’s interesting! I don’t remember seeing anyone rock balancing except that one time I took the photo. Yosemite would be a great place to try it, though…no shortage of materials to work with, that’s for sure, and lots of people to appreciate that kind of natural art. We haven’t been to Yosemite in more than 20 years but I want to go back! It is truly an amazing place, even with huge crowds there (we went on spring break). I’d like to go back sometime when it is less crowded – if there ever is such a time!

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