Jul 22, 2009

"Tue" I would change Golf

I’ve had some free time this summer. When you discover free time there’s a weird thing that happens for the first couple of weeks… you do absolutely nothing. Not because you want to do nothing, but mostly because you have so many things you’ve always wanted to do or learn or create that you really end up frozen by all of the options (That’s sorta why In-N-Out only has 3 options, because they understand people). But after that dies down then you start to get around to things you’ve been planning to do for awhile. For me one of those things was golf.

So myself and Ryan, my brother-in-law (I would say he’s my bro, but I think in California that just means friend or pal or something because it’s all about free love and stuff out there….Maybe. So I’m going to stick with brother-in-law; or maybe Blaw. Making his wife someone’s Slaw. That could work.) So me and my Blaw head out into 100+ degree temps last weekend to give this golf thing a shot. First of all, it was actually pretty fun. I know Mark Twain describes golf as “A good walk spoiled” but that’s probably just because he took it too seriously. He was a bit of a curmudgeon. While we were playing I was struck by some possible improvements that should be made to the game of golf. So as is tradition in this space, I thought I’d rehash some of those for you, starting with the least revolutionary.

Floating Balls
Usually on a golf course there’s lakes or rivers or in the case of Arizona golf courses, still, shallow pools of murky water. Every so often a ball makes its way towards these black pools and then is never heard from again. There are some official rules for handling this situation like you get to drop your ball near where the ball entered the water or re-shoot while taking a penalty. But I think really that ball should float and you should have to wade or swim out there and hit that ball off the top of the water. That’s how Tiger handles it anyway. So really that should be a rule already.

4 player team speed golf
This probably exists already somewhere but I’d still like to make it official. A quick rundown of the rules. Let’s say Bob and Jerry are on a team against Ben and Frank (These are all fictional people, the Frank I know doesn’t actually play golf). So Jerry and Frank would run off down the fairway and setup where they think their partners will hit the ball. A whistle blows and Bob and Ben tee-off then start running towards where they think Bob and Ben will hit their next shot and this continues until someone puts it in the hole. So you have to take turns hitting the ball, and the ball does not have to stop in order for you to hit it. I’d play that. Actually I’ll be giving this a shot soon, so let me know if you want in. No experience required.

This is really simple. Why can’t the sprinklers be going on the course while we’re out there. Seems like a no-brainer.

Opposite of Strip-Golf
This would really only work in the summer, but it’s basically how it sounds. You lose a hole to your friend, you have to put on an additional article of clothing from the box of winter clothes you guys picked up at a yard sale earlier in the day. First one to tap-out loses. This could really be an important step in the cure for America’s obese epidemic. Well this and grilled chicken at KFC. Either way they’re both steps in the right direction.

Night Golf
Did you know that golf can only be played during the day? Why is that? I mean I know we have miniature golf but first of all that was created for women, and secondly the great things about golf, the meandering around a beautiful peaceful area, the sound of hitting the ball, the severe lack of screams coming from the bumper boat area are non-existent in the putt-putt world. So if I owned a golf course, I would deck that place out with Christmas lights similar to what they do at the Phoenix Zoo. We’d play a little soft music over some outdoor speakers, the balls would have LED lights in them so you could find them and instead of a flag in the hole we’d have a tiki torch. Heck I’d go there just to hang out, much less play a game.

Golf has been stagnant too long. If I learned anything from standing around that pool of murky, non moving, puddle looking for my ball it was that stagnation is bad and breeds mosquitos which carry diseases. So it’s time to change golf before someone gets sick.

Jul 21, 2009

"Mon": I like having a bad attitude

In life things don’t always go how you plan them. You probably know this by now, because frankly most of you guys are older than I am. Personally I plan so little that when these few things don’t go well, it seems like every event ever has gone terribly. I’d like to say that when things go differently I roll with it, I move on and make due smiling like an idiot…. Actually that usually is how I deal with things. Just move on, I’m not really a smiler but I’ll usually try and keep making jokes when things don’t go well and laugh it off. But all that “move on, shake it off” rhetoric seems to be purely external. Privately it seems I enjoy hating things, dwelling on the unbelievable injustices, and really immersing myself in misery. It’s such a weird, strange and backwards idea.

Usually when I have a bad attitude about something, I’ll listen to angry or sad music, I’ll spend more time by myself because explaining this stuff to other people is a pain. Sometimes I’ll just walk or drive around and try and ignore all the amazing things that God has done for me. It’s hard but possible. In fact I'll consciously ignore everything that I know will put me back in a good mood. I'll avoid my family, phone calls, funny movies, my dog, good music, quiet times, all of it. I'll actually run away from it so I can delve deeper into a stronger attitude.

A good strong bad attitude is great, relatively speaking of course. It feels good, almost like sitting inside under a blanket late at night, possibly reading while it rains outside. It's like being that kid that walks and makes fun of all the other kids who are running because they were told to. It's like speeding on a freeway, or talking during a movie. It's a pure focus on self, and self feels really good to focus on.

The most amusing thing about the idea is that I sincerely doubt I’m alone. At least I kind of hope I’m not alone. All those kids with the hair in their eyes and the skintight jeans would suggest that I’m not alone. I would guess that everyone likes to be in a bad mood, to stalk around and blame everything on someone else and count how the deck is stacked against them. It feels oddly gratifying. Isn’t it odd that we pursue happiness all our lives, it’s what this country (the US) was founded on, and yet we’re only really happy when we have something to complain about. We’re only happy when we’re miserable.
I imagine is has something to do with us being fallen and sick people embracing sick practices. I think on a very shallow level it gives us meaning. I should really stop speaking for other people though, on a shallow level I feel like it gives me meaning. Seeing things that are adverse, things that I can complain about gives purpose to my life, past and future. In the past it shows that because these things bug me, because I find these things unacceptable I must have experienced things better than this. In the future it gives me something to try and fix, and even if I can’t fix it, it gives me an amazing opportunity to be a martyr. Honestly I love being a martyr (lower-case “m”).

I’m not sure why I felt like talking about this today, especially since this space is usually reserved for my lighter, more capricious ideas. Maybe I was just having a hard time being light, and thinking that whimsy is stupid. It even sounds stupid as a word. More likely it’s because like the enjoyment of a bad attitude; it’s really just narcissism. Like the rest of this blog really, so I guess really it fits right in.

Jul 8, 2009

"Fri": I look forward to moving to S.D.

God in his infinite wisdom has deemed it time for me to leave home. Also in His wisdom He decided to send me to a warm place with a beach, so currently I am very much down with His plan. It is kind of sad to leave the place of my birth, family, friends, and Quiktrip, but I don’t really see it as a leaving so much as an extending of my world. That actually sounds like a really hippy thing to say, but I feel it’s pretty true. Arizona will always be home, always. I’m sure the first blog post I’ll write when I get to San Diego will be about how much I miss AZ, but for now, I’m focusing on the positives of God moving me out to a new place.

The first and possibly most important reason I’m looking forward to heading out west is because I’ll still have family there. Growing up family was number 2 behind God and that’s it. It was above friends, it was above work, it was even above the law. (I’m not sure what “above the law” means exactly, or what that looks like, and everytime I type it I hear it in Sylvester Stallone’s voice). I liked that. I liked that I had people that in every situation would be on my side and cheer for me. Well, most situations anyway. I didn’t want to really push the envelope too much but I’m confident they would have had my back if something happened. It’s a good feeling knowing that I’m not totally losing that going to San Diego.

We gave this whole San Diego thing a trial run this past weekend and one of the cooler things I’ve noticed about the place is that things are pretty random. There’s not the order and cleanness of the strip mall that pervades so much of the Phoenix area. It’s just a bunch of “mom and pop” coffee and donut joints, Pho noodle stores, Police museums and Farmers markets all thrown seemingly haphazardly together. To add to the randomness is the curvy streets that never allow you to see further than an eighth mile ahead of you at a time. Just driving around can be full of surprises.

Sometimes you just need solidness and reliability though. For that I would have to point to the ocean. Living by the ocean last summer was incredible, to have that reminder of God’s amazing scope of creation, especially when you go at night and can see it in turn with the stars…..It’s something I really enjoy. It helps me think and focus on God. Going to San Diego and being around God's humongous ocean it’s like the difference people must’ve felt between hearing a classical piece of music over the scratchy radio, and seeing it live in a hall, sitting feet away from the cellos, if that makes sense.

Finally I’m looking forward to going to work. People ask me what I’ll be doing in San Diego and I tell them “I’m going into ministry with the Navigators at SDSU” and truthfully that’s as far as I know. I have an idea of what that’s going to look like from what I’ve seen in the lives of friends in ministry, but not a solid, exact description and set of tasks like I’ve had for the past 7 years of my working life. I simultaneously really look forward to it and am worried about it. I’m not really a worrier, so we’re going to focus on the “looking forward to” aspect. Also God has promised me more than a few times that things are going to be alright and not to worry. With that in mind it’s easier to look forward to being a part of and witnessing the work out there.

By the way I have another blog that I’m using to keep track of the San Diego/EDGE/God stuff that’s a little more serious. I have a link in the sidebar or you can just go to www.gabeonamission.blogspot.com to check that out and maybe follow along there.

Jul 2, 2009

Thu: I Miss the Library’s Summer Reading Program

A long, long time ago I remember I used to get paid to read. It didn’t really matter what I read, a newspaper, a novel, the Bible, or the instructions to a video game, it all paid the same. “Paid” is a pretty word for what was really going on however. More accurately I was being bribed. Brainwashed into thinking that reading was a good thing and the more you read the greater rewards you would reap. I was young and being manipulated by the public library. It was a good time.

I’m not sure if you (the reader) ever took part in a summer reading program so I’ll briefly explain how this little scheme works. Kids are given a colorful, fun looking boardgame type paper with different paths laid out. Like any boardgame the paths consist of spaces and in the world of Summer Reading Programs a space was equal to 30 minutes of reading. The idea being that for every 30 minutes of reading a kid completed, they were rewarded with progress on this board, which when they finished a path could be shown to a librarian at their local library who would then reward the kid with various prizes. Starting to see some similarities to bribery?

Let’s talk about the prizes for a second. The prizes were basically exactly what every kid ages 6-9 dreamt prizes to be. I can remember winning a small plastic bowling set, one of those cups with a ball attached that you have to swing and try and catch the ball in (I believe the cool name for them is a Bolero), pencils, stickers, amazing book markers, one of those wooden racquets with a ball attached to it by an elastic cord (which gets my vote for the most disappointing toy ever), kaleidoscopes, and probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting. To add to the greatness of these prizes was that you picked them out of a giant treasure chest. And in case you forgot, a treasure chest is basically one of the top 3 things a kid ever hopes to encounter in their young lives (the other 2 are probably a mish-mash of a rocket, a favorite animal, and/or Santa Clause). Along with the tangible prizes that you took home that same day, you could also put your name in a drawing for other stuff like movie tickets, passes to the wave pool, or a bunch of other pretty cool things. I vaguely remember winning passes to the wave pool once, but the only thing that ever really stuck in my mind from those drawings was my brother winning a poster from Jurassic Park. We had that poster hanging up in our room for man years to come. I wonder what ever happened to that thing.

The Summer Reading program taught me a lot of things. It taught me about the honor system. You were in charge of filling in your spaces yourself for the most part and it occurred to me on more than one occasion that no one would ever know if I had really read all these 30 minute blocks, that I could just initial some boxes and be on my way to treasure chest glory. I’m not really sure what kept me from doing that exactly, maybe my parents and my upbringing, maybe the work of the Holy Spirit convicting me, maybe the librarians at my library that always had an intense look practiced that gave the impression that they could see right into your inner core (to discourage against fines and book abuse allegedly).

The reading program also taught kids something else, it taught them that summers could be productive. That this time could be used to keep busy, to keep learning, and accomplishing. Something that’s been hard to keep in mind this summer as I finally have no real end to the “summer” in sight. I’m not going back to school. I’m not just biding time between semesters. I’m forever in that world where productivity is something that isn’t forced down the throat (a la school) but created through desire for things in treasure chests. One of the verses I was given for encouragement this summer was Isaiah 45:3. It talks about the treasures God promises us, that he has stored for us. So I now realize that as great as the Summer Reading Programs and all their prizes and hoopla were, I’ve appropriately moved on and yet God still takes pleasure in revealing and surprising me with His treasures chests which he “stored in secret dark places” just for me. It’s been and will be an exciting summer. Even without Jurassic Park posters.

Jun 17, 2009

Wed: I don't like getting up early

What time is it right now? Is it past 5pm? Cause if it’s not I’m probably not fully awake yet. You people who are, you people who pop out of bed like it’s Christmas morning everyday of the year, I envy you people a little. At least I used to. I used to think that waking up early and the enjoyment of getting up before the rooster was something that warranted jealousy. I guess on some levels it still is, but over time I’ve begun to realize that not waking up early is the way to go. Nearly every fiber of me is convinced of this, and absolutely every fiber when consulted at 7:30am. (If you consulted me any earlier you’d just get some kind of weird unintelligible grunting answer, and I wouldn’t remember what I told you. Which is kind of a weird thought, and makes me wonder if it’s possible that I have some kind of alternate life between the hours of 5am and 9am that I never remember? If I live to be 70 years old, that’s almost 12 years that could’ve been lived by some alternate, early morning version of me that I just don’t remember. Odd, almost as odd as the length of this parenthetical aside) Back to the point. There must be a reason mornings and I don’t see eye to eye; some rational explanation. Here’s a few of the best I could come up with.

I enjoy peace. Quiet. And as much as those coffee commercials try and convince me otherwise; mornings are not peaceful. Birds are screaming, cars are honking, garbage trucks are somehow missing mechanical slam dunks with your black bin and instead flinging your trash all over your driveway. It’s a loud, ugly mess. Everyone seems to have bought into that early bird gets the worm adage, and never seem to put together that if you’re on a jam packed freeway with 80,000 other people, then none of you are the early bird. You’re all just right, smack on-time, and miserable because of it. No, mornings are not the tranquil escapes that they’re rumored to be.

I’m not entirely sure why people think they are getting a jump on the day by waking up early. I’m sure back in the days of farming and such when sunlight was at a premium it was true, but today….probably not so much. I for one would rather take care of business the night before. Studies actually show that people work late at night are more productive than the crazy eager beaver counterparts. Do you know why those people are getting up so early? It’s because they didn’t work hard enough the night before and now they’re trying to catch up. Even worse they couldn’t sleep all night because all they could think about was how they had work they had to do “first thing in the morning, can’t wait, need to do”. People who do the work the night before can go to bed satisfied; knowing that everything is done, finished, and sleep better for it.

Still not convinced? Let’s move on to really simple science then. The last science class I took was Physical Science 143 or some such class. We studied volcanoes, colored maps with crayons, and tried to turn on little tiny light bulbs with some batteries and wire. Needless to say I didn’t learn a lot. One thing I do remember however is the Newton’s first law : a body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion stays in motion. That pretty much sums the whole thing up. Once resting it’s inefficient to try and get back to work, better to slowly get the body in motion again and ride that motion well past midnight, then work can really get done. It’s scientific, it must be true.

On a more personal note, I grew up in the desert. It’s unbearably hot during the day, and instead of needlessly banging a sweaty head against this problem and continuing to force ourselves to get up early and face the blistering sun head on all day, it might make more sense to move to a more nocturnal schedule. Take a cue from the rest of the ecosystem and sleep in a little. It’s quiet and peaceful, it’s more productive, it’s recommended by Sir Isaac Newton, and based on all the other nocturnal creatures in the desert; it’s what nature intended.

May 13, 2009

Tue: I Would Change My Grade in this Stupid Class So I Can Graduate

Religion Class. This was supposed to be a breeze. I knew about religions, and I definitely knew about American religions, which was the main focus of this class. I figured it would be pretty interesting, maybe we’d learn about the early day’s of this country, and how Christianity was the backbone. Maybe later we'd touch on the revivals and some of the interesting things going on there. Also, we could talk about the lore involved in some of the Native America religions and that epic tale of Mormonism. So the class sounded like a good idea.

Sometimes things that seem like good ideas have the potential to be the worst ideas ever (Don’t think about that too hard, it sounds a lot more insightful than it actually is). I should have seen the red flags early on; the fact that we had to buy a syllabus, the test dates that kept getting moved around, the professor who seemed to be a luddite and refused to move into a world of Powerpoint, Blackboard and E-mail and sticking to hand-drawn overheads and a massive “reader” containing articles we needed to study. It turned bleak pretty fast. In spite of the many bad things there was a fantastic simplicity to the class. 3 tests, each 20% of the total grade and a Paper for the remaining 40%. Piece of cake. It started really well, I mean I didn’t really learn anything, but I scored well enough on the first two tests (44, and 43 out of 50). Nothing spectacular but enough to let the class fade to obscurity between test weeks. I felt like the Final went really well also, He changed the format to 40 questions which I was all for, the less questions the better. I turned in my Final paper, an exposition about Catholics in America at the turn of the century, really riveting stuff, but I felt good about that too.

The professor apparently didn’t feel so good about it though. He gave my paper that was worth 40% of my grade a 34……..out of 100. I wasn’t even aware you could score that low on a paper, I kind of figured if I printed out 8 pages with one word on each sheet spelling out “Catholics struggled in early America because of democracy” then I would at least get a 50. Not seriously, but who gets anything less than a 50 on a paper anyway? if you turn in something awful they usually at least give you a 60 for the effort. And like I said, I didn’t think this paper was anywhere near awful.

So if you’re doing the math at home you’ve realized that it doesn’t matter what the Final test score was, it’s now impossible to pass this class. I realized this earlier today at work after crunching numbers 9 ways to Tuesday trying to figure out if I had a shot at all. “Well whatever” I told myself, “I guess I’ll just take a summer class” and started looking into that. But it’s still really disappointing. Really, a 34?!

There is one small possibility however. After staring at my grades screen for close to an hour at work in disbelief at my abysmal score I started to create a crazy theory. What if I didn’t score a 34 on my paper? What if for some reason, the professor (an ace with computers) maybe put my Final exam score in the spot for my Paper score and the paper hasn’t been graded yet. That’s what I’m going to tell myself until they turn me away at the Arena door on Thursday and the reality finally settles in.

I realize I usually use the Tuesday entry to give out great ideas about improving our world, and I can’t help but feel like this world would be vastly improved if I don’t have to go to summer school. I have other things to be doing, important things. Let’s change this.

Apr 20, 2009

Mon: I like facebook

In case you haven’t heard. Facebook now has 200 million people signed up. It’s entirely possible not all of those are real people, and a couple are dogs or aprons, but still 200 million is a lot of folks. That’s 30 Arizonas, 10 Australias, 5 ½ Calfornias or 2 Mexicos (They pack them in there pretty tight south of the border). So the site is pretty popular. Because of that, people who never dreamed they would have facebook pages are finding themselves forced to participate because peer pressure really has no age limit. That, by the way is going to be a great slogan some day –“peer pressure has no age limit”- maybe for hideously expensive hybrid cars or adult diapers. I’m not sure yet. Anyway, I was talking to a recent addition to facebook the other day who wanted to know “why…why does this thing exist?” For a minute I was kind of at a loss. I enjoy facebook, and a lot of other online social stuff but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I don’t think there is an overall easy explanation. Just small reasons, here are a few of those small reasons:

Status Updates
I think Facebook changed the name of this to “What’s On Your Mind?” which makes a lot more sense. It also blatantly rips off Twitter, but that’s a different discussion. Most of the time what’s on people’s mind unfortunately is music lyrics. On the rare occasion that music lyrics aren’t the perfect thing to describe what you’re feeling; the status update is a really cathartic way to dump all those seemingly obscure thoughts you have throughout the day. More often than not you’ll discover other people are having very similar thoughts such as:

- loves the smell of rain….. almost as much as the smell of scotch tape.

- wishes the *(insert sports team name) would get it together

- thinks ninja’s would really love electric cars.

- Just realized that plagiarism is basically the Gospel. We take credit for someone else’s work.

- is going to work.

Someone is always going to work. Always.

Picture Albums
Before facebook when someone wanted to show you pictures of something, they had to drag out their albums, and then stood there and watched as you flipped through them. Not terrible, and even better when we discovered digital cameras and could just flip the pictures right there on the digital camera. The main problem always was that they watched you look through their pictures. This meant that you had to flip through at a respectful speed, making sure to ooo and ahhh and comment on even the most run-of-the-mill pictures (Ooo nice picture of a flower…..oh what is this the sky?..nice… Oh there’s that flower again, hoho). with facebook, you can just get straight to the good stuff, and you don’t have to hide your dis-interest in the local vegetation.

I can’t remember anyone’s birthday. Ever. I also don’t keep a calendar on me that I spent 4 hours at the end of December transferring said birthdays from 2008 to 2009. I know some people do, and I think that’s admirable. Really I do. Thankfully facebook also keeps track of everyone’s birthdays and lets you know some of them are coming up. Then you can just go over to their wall and wish them a happy birthday. No crazy animal greeting card, no awkward telephone calls. It’s simple, and simplicity is really what good ideas are all about.

Most people prefer to call this “Advanced People Watching” but let’s just call it what it is. Looking up old 7th grade friends to find out how they turned out, finding people from work and discovering that they are VERY different people at home, or even just watching the conversations of your friends, it’s all inexplicably gratifying. The weird part (at least I think) is whatever you see or come across you can’t really bring up in conversation without sounding like a creep. It’s a weird disconnect.

Me: Hey man I saw that picture of your family celebrating Christmas, that turkey looked amazing!
You:….Oh…umm Thanks…..You saw that?
Me:Yeah it was on your profile.
You:O yeah……right.


Me:So I heard you went and saw The Phantom of the Opera, how was it?
You:It was….good… How’d you hear about that?
Me: I think you were telling (so and so) about it on facebook.
You:Yea, it was good… I have to go.

So there’s a ton of other things I didn’t mention. Things like Bumper Stickers, facebook chat, surveys, snowball fights, etc. If I remember maybe we’ll revisit them in the future, or you the reader can just tell me about it in the comments, either way.

Apr 7, 2009

"Fri" I look forward to finishing books.

I missed writing meaningless stuff on here, so I hope you’ll humor me as I resume wasting everyone’s time with thoughts on minutia. One new thing I did realize, these thoughts need to be shorter. So don’t be surprised if this blog gets streamlined to leverage my core-competencies accomplishing mission critical objectives and synergizing the harvesting of low hanging fruit for future applications (business school, I miss you).

So back to what we were discussing; I look forward to finishing books. I’m not one of those people that enjoys making a list and then checking things off said list because checking things off is fun. But I do like to finish one thing before I start another. Lately, through gifts, and inadvisable trips to amazon.com I’ve been piling up books that I want to read. Now I have a pretty substantial pile of books that I really want to read. There’s only one problem; I’m a monogamous reader. I feel like I’m cheating on a book if I stop midway through and move on to a new book. Every time I crack open “the other book” all I can think of is my original, sitting on my shelf, with the bookmark still painfully stuck through its midsection. It’s terrible. That why its such a relief to finish a book. It’s like a clean slate. Thoughts have been heard, a complete story told and that book can finally rest in peace on the “finished” side of my bookshelf.

Aside from just trying to get though the books I want to read I also enjoy finishing books because then we can talk about them. Books are weird, they're not like news or current events which have a nice clean time window for proper conversation. Books have kind of a nebulous window. You hear from a friend that they’re reading a book that you are reading or plan to read, then you have to try and synchronize reading that book with that friend otherwise you’ll have nothing to talk about. Or even worse you’ll finish too late and by then your friend is already 4 books ahead of you and not interested in talking about that book from 3 months ago.

Another great part of books is just remembering them. Thinking back to the amazing things they taught you, or incredible adventures they told. Not finishing the book robs you of this for obvious reasons. You never know how the story ended; people and characters you had invested in are just frozen with no resolution. That joy of nostalgia and rediscovered wonder that you get from recalling that book is gone, all because of a lack of dedication. It’s sad.

So moving forward (the last business jargon I’ll use for awhile, I promise), hopefully I can be more dedicated, and knock out some of those books that are on my shelf. I look forward to giving it a shot at least.

O yeah I also look forward to finishing books so I can use them build a hidden passage in my house one day. I'd feel like a phony if I used books that I hadn't read.

Feb 17, 2009

"Thu" I miss good Cartoons

If you couldn’t tell, I feel especially strong about cartoons. 66% of kids watch more than 2 hours of TV a day, and I imagine a good chunk of that is cartoons. And today that means possibly 14 hours a week of Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Codename Kids Next Door, Fairly Odd Parents, or at best Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. What are these shows? How could they possibly be helping kids grow as people? The cartoons I grew up not only were so entertaining that adults usually watched, but they also taught kids something. For example:

Idea:Scrooge McDuck is the richest Duck in the world and he travels the world with his nephews Huey, Dewey, ,and Louie looking for ancient artifacts, new technology and other ways to keep his giant money bin full. Along the way they had to avoid traps from the Beagle Boys who wanted his money, Magica De Spell who wanted his lucky dime, and Flintheart Glomgold who was basically the exact opposite of Scrooge and #2 on the world’s richest ducks list.
And it taught kids…:I would say it taught kids about the importance of family. In a couple episodes I can remember Scrooge having to trade all his money or his lucky dime for the safety of his Nephews. It also taught kids that if they were misers they would one day have a giant bin of money they could swim in. That lesson didn’t really seem to take.

Name: Darkwing Duck
Idea: Darkwing was a spinoff from Duck Tales. It was basically a junior version of Batman for younger kids. He didn’t have any powers, just a gas gun, a sidekick named Launchpad, a high IQ, and a super long intro (it always started with “I am the terror that flaps in the night…” then kind of digressed from there.) Darkwing had to battle a bunch of decent villains including Taurus Bulba (who was a giant bull and had henchmen named Hoof and Mouth), Steel Beak, and Negaduck.
And it taught kids…:About justice, bravery, and that brains is better than brawn.

Idea: A cartoon sketch show for kids, with a ton of pop culture references and hosted by the puppy/cat looking things that lived in a water tower.
And it taught kids…:Everything. They sang songs about Geography, and Astronomy, they had mice that dabbled in politics and science, they had pigeons that explained street smarts, the show was a 12 year old’s guide to life.

Idea: Doug Funny is an awkward school kid who journals about his mediocre life. Many kids really connected with this premise
And it taught kids…: Along with the usual shows that taught about being yourself, importance of good friends rather than popularity, and that good family is not to be taken for granted, Doug also taught kids to be “color-blind”. Doug was white, his best friend was blue, his girlfriend Patty Mayonaise was orange, and the mis-understood bully Roger was green.

Idea: Bonkers was a police officer in a world where cartoons and humans co-exist. He had a human partner named Lucky Piquel (They had a “one of us, one of them” policy way before Heroes) who found him annoying yet ultimately through many adventures tracking down cartoons that were breaking cartoon laws, grew to like him.
And it taught kids…: Hating people that aren’t like you is wrong. There was always a kind of racist tone about how the humans treated the cartoons, some of them hated cartoons for no good reason. The show explained that different is good and we should celebrate our differences.

Idea: It was the comic books, except it was a cartoon. Probably one of my favorite cartoons ever, it had some really elaborate and complicated stories usually based on a comic book arc.
And it taught kids…: Another racism is bad show (racism must have been really rampant in the early 90’s), but also the importance of integrity. X-men only fought when they had to, in defense of someone who couldn’t fight. They worked as a team to accomplish something together that none of them could accomplish alone. It also touched on consequences of time travel, privacy issues (Professor X reading minds), Sacrifice (the Phoenix Saga), and the evils of big government (Sentinals and evil senators).

Name:Environmental cartoons (Capt Planet, Widget, Denver the Last Dinosaur)
Idea: The planet is dying, kids can save it, but only with the help of a green guy in a belly shirt, a purple alien that could shapeshift, or a dinosaur that skateboards and ime travels.
And it taught kids…: Adults are killing the world, you are going to have to clean it up when you get older, and global warming is imminent. I’m not really thrilled with that message exactly but the shows were entertaining and I’m not wholly against recycling.

These were just some of the amazing cartoons I grew up with. Back when cartoons were good, they taught you something; they entertained you and challenged you, they blew today’s cartoons out of the water.

So my favorite class so far 5 weeks into the semester has been my pop culture communications class. The teacher takes it really seriously, in a good way though. I kind of thought we would just end up talking about how movies and music affect people, that sort of thing. And it’s possible we’ll still go there, but the professor so far has approached it like an anthropology or maybe sociology class. It's been really interesting.

One of the things he pointed out last week was that the pop culture you grew up with will always be way better than whatever follows it or came before it. He couldn’t explain why that is exactly, but it seems about right. 40 year old women chase down Bon Jovi, 30-somethings always talking about how awesome movies in the 80’s were, and kids today actually sit down and watch whatever garbage cartoons that are popular. So even though I feel that this list contains some of the pinnacles of cartooning goodness, there's a good chance I'm more than a little biased.

Feb 7, 2009

"Wed": I dont like asking "So what are you doing after college?"

They say that the only things you can count on in life are death and taxes. “They” possibly did not go to College. If they did, they would’ve realized that you can also count on all 89 of your friends and acquaintances asking you “So, do you know what you’re going to do after college?” It's a lock. What you wouldn’t guess however is that 45 of those friends immediately follow that question with an apology for asking such a “painful” and “old” question. Those apologies caught me off guard. You just showed interest in my life, don’t apologize for that. In fact I applaud you for asking that question, it’s a tough question to ask, and I don’t like asking it.

First of all the question is so risky. It’s somewhere between asking someone how their grandparents are doing and asking a women if she’s pregnant. You might be bringing up a touchy subject. You open yourself to the awkwardness that this person possibly has no plan after college. Then you have to desperately back pedal and try and reassure them that it’s normal not to have a clue about life, and that they’ll figure it out. Or maybe you feel so terrible about the position your question placed them in that you immediately start to try and help them out. You start asking “Well, what do you like to do?”, or maybe “You know I have a friend who works in so-and-so field, they really like it, you should look into that”. Those attempts are admirable, and definitely appreciated, however it doesn’t do much to change the level of awkwardness that the question has introduced into the conversation.

Personally I don’t really enjoy asking the question because it sometimes seems like I’m asking "so, now that the world has beat the ambition and wonder out of you, what kind of life are you going to settle for?". So many of my friends enjoy college so much that slapping them with the reality of their inevitable exit and entrance into “normal” life sometime seems cruel. Not only that but in the event I do ask even the best answers are rarely too encouraging. Kids grow up wanting to be Doctors, Astronauts, Professional Athletes, maybe even a Chef. Rarely does that come true, and hearing the answer to the “after college” question just reminds me of that sad truth every time.

So all that being said, I had a friend ask me this question the other night, followed by the apology, and then followed by something new. My friend said that it would be sad if no one asked what I had planned after college, implying that it would mean they didn’t care. So with that in mind, even though I don’t really like the awkwardness, and I’m not a fan of cold reminders of reality, I’m going to continue to ask that question. It’s going to be awkward, possibly painful. But caring about someone’s life is often awkward and painful. I’m going to try and remember that for the next 90 times I’m asked the “After” question and appreciate how someone could do something I don’t like doing.