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.

Feb 4, 2009

"Tue": I would change cell phones

I kind of loathe actually talking on the phone. We’ve discussed that before. The weird thing is I do enjoy owning a cell phone. It’s cool to send people little messages, listen to music, take pictures, read the news, or various other things all with this little hunk of plastic and metal. But being the greedy, unsatisfied, fallen being that I am, I always want it to do more. I’m living in an age as Arthur Clarke said “where technology has become virtually indistinguishable from magic”, but sometimes I think we need more magic. Not just more magic, smarter magic. I was reading an article earlier in the week about how with the iphone you can take a picture and then using the phone’s GPS capabilities stamp that picture with the coordinates of where it was taken. So when you upload it to the internet, your pictures can show up on a map based on where you took them. Conversely if you want to see an area of town, you can look it up on the picture map and see all the pictures that were taken by people in that area of town. Honestly it seems like a pretty cool idea, and I’m not sure why it took so long for someone to figure out that you could do that with a phone attached to a camera.

So here’s a few other ideas features I would want added to my cell phone:

Credit/Debit Card

This one is actually happening…well, it’s happening everywhere but the U.S anyway. Instead of having to carry around all those credit cards, and then trying to figure out how to use every variation of the credit card machines, why not just touch your phone to the credit card machine and punch in a code. That’s it! Your done! The phone could even tell you right then and there how much you had left in your checking account, or how much you owed to VISA. Even better what if you could transfer the money phone to phone. If you lose that bet with your friend; you can pay up instantly. It would save friendships.

TV Remote

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to find the TV remote. Usually because someone you live with didn’t put it back. Well most everyone has a cell phone, why not just allow those to also operate the TV? You could even personalize and assign your favorite channels to buttons like speed dial. It could be a topic of conversation, “so what channels is your phone set to…..The discovery channel!? Me Too!..Let’s talk about that.”

Garage door opener

I’ve never actually owned a garage door opener, but I’m guessing it’s pretty awesome. Even more awesome though would be not having that ugly, gray block weighing down your sunvisor. I’m sure there’s some security issues to work through, but still, cell phones should be able to handle this.

Car Keys

While we’re talking about cars, why can’t cell phones start cars? They have those little key dongles that start cars that have been around since 1992 yet you’re telling me a cell phone couldn’t just take care of this and free up valuable space in your pocket? Also you could start the car from inside your house that way the A/C already has it nice and cool by the time you make it out to your car.


One of the weird features on my phone is that it will read my text messages to me if I ask it. I’m not really sure why I’d ever do that, except if I was blind or maybe driving. I can also tell my phone to do things like “call so and so” and it seems to understand most of the time. So if the phone can understand speech and it can read text, why can’t it translate a language? You say something in German to my phone, and my phone explains in English what you said. It would be like a crude version of the Rosetta Stone or the Babel Fish from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, minus the awkward worm inside your skull.

Video Phones

Honestly, I kind of thought that there was absolutely no difference between talking to someone on the phone and talking to someone on a video phone (or video chat). But after using skype a couple times let me tell you, there is. The non-verbal stuff is so huge. So most cell phones these days have video cameras included, I feel like the face to face conversations are really just a few months away.


How cool would it be once they have the camera thing figured out to be able to throw that video onto a nearby wall? I’m not talking about a building-sized, theatre image or anything, just maybe 9 inches onto the chair in front of you, the wall next to you, or the person you’re standing behind. You could pull up videos you’ve recorded on your phone and project them for your friends to see, instead of doing that awkward crowding around the 2” screen and pretending like you can see what’s going on.

Multiplayer games

If you have tetris…And I have tetris…why can’t we play each other in tetris? Or Nertz, battleship, jeopardy, pool, miniature golf, etc. These things are communication devices, that play games, yet I can only play games by myself. Why is that?

Active Listener mode

I kind of feel like the world of people that have cell phones could be separated into 2 groups, the people who need to call their friends and unload for 30+ minutes, and the people who receive calls from friends who need to unload. I would probably fall into the latter. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part we receivers do enjoy that you call us to share your life, but it can be tough trying to remain “in” the conversation enough to keep encouraging you on with the “oh yea?……..uh-huh…….yep…….mmmm……really?......oooo..”. I feel like maybe we could just create maybe a 60 second loop of that, and then when we get a call that has the feeling of being a doozy, could just turn on that the Active Listener Mode and a remix of that 60 second clip would play……while we listen of course, but just without the pressure of reassuring the caller every 7 seconds that we are indeed still enthralled.

Vibrate schedule

It’s possible some phones already have this, I don’t really do that much research for these things. I have a pretty set schedule, and I’m tired of trying to remember to turn the phone to silent/vibrate, then remember to turn it back on. The phone has a clock, why can’t it just remember to do this itself? Sundays, I’m going to need to be on vibrate from 9-10:30. Monday, Wednesday, Fridays from 10:45-noon, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to noon. That seems pretty easy to me. The phone should know that schedule and be able to set itself accordingly.

Some of these ideas I’ll admit probably could use a little more time in the oven. But maybe some of them are already way past due. To be honest I’m not really sure which are which but it probably won’t be too long till we’re laughing at the idea of carrying around those “humongous primitive blocks of plastic” which will just make this list even more entertaining and ridiculous. Which kind of fits the part-time goal of this blog.

Feb 3, 2009

"Mon": I like arguing

I'm a naturally peaceful person. I'm not a big fan of fighting or drama. If someone ever tried to steal my car, I'd probably throw them the keys, and tell them that all the good CD's are in the back seat. It's not really because I'm afraid of them or I just want to be agreeable. It's mostly because I don't really care enough about my car to fight. If you’re willing to risk your freedom and possibly your life for this car, then you win. Chances are I’ll get it back after you’re finished anyway. That was a long way to go about saying that normally I avoid conflict, especially with people I don’t feel close to. If I do feel close to you however, there’s a good chance we’ve argued about something, and I enjoyed it.

To start off, my definition of arguing is not probably the popular definition. I would say arguing is anytime people defend differing opinions using proof, sometimes leading to resolution. Many people call this discussing, but I kind of feel that you could discuss the weather, how the Suns are doing, how great some movie was and that’s all good. But talking about how sunny days are better than cloudy days, or how the Suns need to stop feeding Shaq down low and start running again, or how Wall-E was the best animated movie in recent memory, then that’s better, and that’s arguing. The trick is to steer clear of all the negative stuff that can accompany differing opinions, otherwise it just turns into a fight. And like I said, I probably don’t care enough to fight about it.

Aside from just being ridiculously entertaining there’s some other reasons I like comparing opinions. Throughout history there’s a consistent pattern of growth following a war. That’s not a good reason for people to die, but it does show that conflict can be a good thing. It allows you to learn, and possibly forces you to think differently than you’ve thought in the past.

Being exposed to differing opinions or arguments allows you to understand your stance better. Most Christians (myself included) believe they have a good handle on the reasons for their faith and the logic behind it. Whenever I’ve had to defend my faith, or explain it however I’m usually struck bad just how badly I’ve prepared for it, or how little I know about that issue. The conflict has shown me an area I need to spend some time learning about, and to stop being complacent.

Another thing I’ve noticed about these intense talks are that people allow their guard to slip a bit. Usually because the discussion is about something they enjoy or at least feel passionate about, they let you see more of their true self. They show you not only that they care about the topic that the argument is about, but also possibly that they care about you as well. They don’t want you to be mis-informed or want to help you see something you might not have seen before.

So the next time I don’t agree with you about something I want you to maybe see that as a compliment. It means, “hey, I care about you, feel comfortable around you, and value your intelligence”. Hopefully that comes across and we’ll argue soon.

Feb 2, 2009

"Fri": I look forward to owning my own business

The big reason I got into the study of marketing was because one day I want to own my own business. People always follow that little revelation by asking “oh yea? What kind of business do you want to own?”, which is a fair question, but I honestly don’t yet know for sure. Besides, those are the specifics, the nitty-gritty, areas I’m working on. I’m much more of a big picture person (which is dangerously close to saying “I have trouble getting things done”).Also the reasons I have for wanting to be the boss transcends many different kinds of businesses. They’ll apply whether I end up owning a MLB franchise or just running the local Long John Silver. I’m not really a fan of hush puppies so hopefully the reality ends up being closer to the former.

I’ve had a couple of different jobs, been apart of a slew of organizations, and I feel like I’ve learned something about myself through membership in these groups. I learned that I’m a control freak. I think I might be the worst kind of control freak too. I’m the kind that if I’m not in control or leadership or whatever, has trouble caring and participating in the group. I think it’s like the tragedy of the commons, if I’m not in charge I feel like I have little ownership of that group, project, whatever, and then don’t really care about it. It makes sense in some ways, but it’s not really a very Christ like attitude. For example, I was doing most of the technical stuff for my church, and even though it was time consuming I enjoyed it because I could take ownership of everything. When I came back after the summer I wasn’t needed as much (which in reality has been great) and now have trouble caring at all to help out with the tech stuff. Like I said earlier, I realize it’s not a great reason or attitude, but it is definitely part of the mix that makes me want to be in charge of a business.

This other reason has a kind long story. About a week ago Friday I had to watch as we fired 6 guys from my job. Guys I’ve known on average for about a year. I understand why we did it, and don’t think it was a bad decision, but it still really sucked. That night I just wanted to drive around and think. I had only had like an hour of sleep (I had to work really late the night before) so my thought weren’t exactly inspired. One thing I do remember thinking however was that when I own a business I would never fire anyone. At first it sounds a little bit crazy, but there are existing places that use this philosophy and at the same time are really successful. Here’s why: If you know firing someone is not an option you’re more careful about the people you hire. Also if you know you won’t get fired you take more risks, voice your opinions, and don’t suck up to the boss. That’s what I’m looking for, a group of people who challenge me, who don’t take my word for it and tell me when I’m wrong. I feel like those kinds of people can only exist if they feel secure.

Security is only half the equation though; the other half is careful selection. There are people I’ve worked with who are amazing, hard-working people, stuck in bad jobs. Owning a business would allow me to take people like this, really awesome quality people, and give them a job they deserve. Some of the greatest people I met were working for $7.25 at Target. It was unbelievable to me. They deserve better.

Once I had my quality people who challenged me I feel like a lot of other things would fall into place. There would be just a couple of other things that I would want to do to create the work atmosphere I always wanted. I would want everyone in my company to go eat lunch together at least once a week. How awesome would that be to look forward to that day of the week when there was a mini-party at work. Speaking of parties, I would make sure we had an amazing Christmas party every year. A family kind of thing, it wouldn’t need to be expensive or anything crazy; maybe just a potluck, some music and a secret Santa or white elephant. And if we were really successful who knows? Maybe something crazy. Also the company should pay for your tuition if you want to go to school, no exceptions. The company is seeing direct benefit from you getting smarter and learning more, if you’re going to take that kind of initiative then you get a reward.

I’m not sure how successful all these ideas would really be in the real world. I just figured I’d get them down on paper so I could look back one day and see how close I came to making good on my promises. I feel like if I could even come close to these ideas it would be great. And hopefully above all else, me and my amazing, challenging group of people who work in this yet to be defined business would serve as a great witness to everyone else of Christ. If I could just accomplish that…..well, that would be a dream come true, and something to look forward to.

Jan 29, 2009

Thur: I miss Japanese food

I realized today that I have yet to post anything involving food. I'm not really sure what that's about. I'm not a food nut, or aficionado or anything, but still it's a huge part of everyone's life. What other activities have you done roughly 3 times a day your entire life? So to remedy the situation, and because the other day I had a "Hawaiian Roll" (California roll with yellow-fin tuna on top) that left me feeling less than excited to take on the rest of the day, I figured it was time to reminisce about the wonders of the Japanese culinary world.

Some Japanese food is magic. True story.

I'm not really someone who would be described as an "adventurous eater", but then again not everyone can be Andrew Zimmern. I spent a few months in Japan over the summer though and was definitely forced out my box of meat, potatoes and spanish rice. It's considered hugely improper to take food and not eat it over there, so whatever you grabbed going through the cafeteria was going to go inside of you. Because it all looked so foreign, or at times deceptively familiar (such as Eel disguised as BBQ pork) you end up trying some things that you would normally dismiss. Well that, and most of it smells so good; you don't really care what it is.

Let's start with breakfast, because I enjoy proper chronology. Breakfast in Japan is typically Miso soup (a cabbage and turnip kind of thing), Nato (fermented beans) and rice. They also have this thing called the "1000 fold omelete" that pops up every so often. I'm not really a breakfast person so to be honest I don't really miss most of this stuff. Except the rice. I cannot describe to you in words the difference of white rice in America and white rice in Japan. They take it seriously over there, everyone owns at least one rice cooker and it's safe to say they know how to use it. They take it as seriously as Americans take their coffee making. So my typical breakfast would've been a nest egg, rice, and some Charlie Brown cereal. Nothing real special, and the cereal just reminded me of home, so it’s disqualified from being missed.

The best lunches always involved a small restaurant near the place where I was staying called Bochan’s. It was the essence of a mom and pop restaurant. One couple operates the place every day, he works the grill, she chops the vegetables and works the register. They were so hospitable too, it was like eating lunch in their house. She would make small talk with all the regular customers (at least I think it was small talk, they only spoke Japanese) and he would cook amazing food. There wasn’t ever anything eaten at that restaurant that wasn’t amazing. Some of the highlights were yakiniku, which was grilled meat in a special BBQ kind of sauce, torii karage which was some juicy chicken nuggets, and katsu curry which was a pork cutlet in curry sauce (I believe these names are right, it’s been a couple a months). Also the helping sizes were ridiculous. Generally throughout Japan everything is smaller, smaller cups of water, smaller loafs of bread. But not at Bochan’s. They believe in Texas portions over there. If you have lunch at Bochan’s you’re not having dinner. It’s game over.

Assuming you didn’t have lunch at Bochan’s however they was a lot of cool things for dinner. First there was the Sushi on the merry-go-round. It a conveyor belt that just brings sushi past everyone’s table and you just grab it if it looks good. Or you can order a specific dish and they send it out to you on a little train. I wasn’t really sushi person before I went, but after giving it a shot over there it’s now one of my favorites. There’s also ramen, soba, and udon, which are different kinds of noodles that they put in soup. The udon noodles in particular are huge; it’s like slurping shoelaces off a pair of Van’s, size-wise anyway.

This was just a quick list of some of the foods that I can remember off hand. Mostly I remember because of the people I was eating those foods with. I mean I live near a place that serves great udon, and another place that has halfway decent sushi, but I’m starting to realize now that meals are only 45% food, and 55% the people you eat with. So yea, I miss Japanese meals.

Jan 28, 2009

Wed: I don't like wearing contacts

There’s some things you take for granted when you’re growing up; stories with happy endings, 3 meals a day, no school on weekends, and perfect vision. I took those things for granted anyway. Inevitably things change however, you get older, you spend too much time reading in the dark, sit too close to the television, don’t eat enough carrots, and suddenly you wake up on morning and have some issues reading your alarm clock. “Whatever, it’s early, my eyes are blurry”, but slowly throughout the day things don’t clear up. You can’t read street signs, watch TV, recognize people from a distance, it’s frustrating. So you end up getting finally waving the white flag and getting glasses, or in my case contacts.

I’m really not a fan of wearing contacts for so many reasons:

Loss of sleep
I’m not a morning person so being able to hop out of bed throw on some clothes and be out the door in under 5 minutes was something I loved. It was one of the great things about being a guy. Now I have to stumble into the bathroom, and groggily try to poke some saran wrap circles onto my eyes every morning. It’s probably only an additional 2-5 minutes but when sleep is concerned every minute counts.

Inside Out?
So there’s this test to figure out whether or not your contacts are inside out or not. It’s called the taco test and basically you kind of squeeze the 2 ends together and if they form a taco then your contact is correct. I’ve been wearing these things for over a year now and still the taco test eludes me. And when you put them in backwards it’s like having a hamster claw at your eye everytime you blink. Then you’re in that weird catch-22 of opening your eye and dealing with that searing pain to get the contact out or leaving it shut and hoping it magically disappears or flips itself around. It sounds crazy now but when you have something in your eye, these thoughts seem reasonable.

Cinderella Rules
If you’ve ever had contacts then you know what I’m talking about. Right around midnight your eyes just can’t take it anymore, the dryness starts to set in. It doesn’t care that you still have 86 minutes left in Braveheart, those contact need to be quenched, and they need to be quenched now. Unfortunately this usually leads to the next reason-

Some Proverbs 16:30 Confusion
No, I’m not winking at you, I’m doing my best to keep these contacts from rolling up like nightshades inside my skull. So please accept my apologies. I realize that non-verbal communication is 93% of effective communication, but what’s going on there has no message except maybe “you don’t happen to have some eye drops do you?”

Fear of “the Lost Contact”
I’m told that this is physically impossible but it still has me worried. What if that contact decides to swing around to the back of you eyeball and just fall off or something? Where does it go? Does it just bounce around your head? (Did you just shiver right now? I know it’s gross right?). It is an eyeball after all and relatively round, what keeps the contact from just getting stuck on the inner hemisphere. Also you wouldn’t even know the contact was gone and you’d just be poking at your eye for hours trying to grab the contact that is no longer there.

It’s not getting better
Contacts aren’t like crutches, casts, splints, or braces. Your eyes aren’t going to “heal” and never need them again. It’s only downhill from here, and that means that everyday of your life you are having the worst vision that you have ever had. For those graph people, it’s a continuous, steady downward slope. The best days are behind you.

So I’m not really this jaded about contacts. In reality I appreciate the amazing technology that they are, and am grateful to them for helping me see every day. These gripes do float around in my head though, when I’m feeling particularly and unjustly stricken with the affliction of bad eyesight (which really isn’t that bad, it’s like a -1.50 or something). These Wednesday posts just allow me to make a list of things that remind me that God has a world waiting for me not affected by sin. And a body waiting for me that can sleep in that extra 5 minutes because it has perfect vision.

Jan 27, 2009

Tue: I would change the "Feed the Pig" ads

I’m a Marketing major, so when I watch TV one of my favorite parts are the commercials. Maybe it’s cause I have a short attention span, or a primitive sense of humor or something but they just fascinate me. Actually I think they fascinate a lot of people. A good commercial can get more people excited and thinking than a 90 minute movie. And at the worst a bad commercial is like a car accident that you’re driving by, it’s painful to look at but will be gone soon. So when I see these commercial I kind of internally rate them. The Rhapsody commercial where that girl is floating in bubbles = Great, the Whataburger commercial where….well actually every single Whataburger commercial = Terrible. There is a series of commercials I’ve seen lately that just has me absolutely mystified. They’re called “Feed the Pig” ads, and are created by the Ad Council. The Ad Council according to people in the know (AKA Wikipedia) is a non-profit organization that makes Public Service Announcements about…well…everything. Look it up online if you’re bored you’ve probably seen a bunch of them like the fish out of water that’s supposed to educate about Asthma, or the “Buzz driving is Drunk driving” commercials. Generally they put out some pretty good stuff. The “Pig” ads however are just surreally bad and definitely send the wrong message. Well here see for youself:

Financial Literacy- Feed the Pig - The most popular videos are here

I know it’s kind of hard to tell, but the idea is to get people to revive the long lost art of saving money, or at least maybe stop spending money they don’t have. Did you get that? No? I didn’t think so. Here’s why I think that is:

First of all, MAN, THAT PIG IS CREEPY! He’s exactly what I always pictured Napoleon looking like at the end of Animal Farm. If that thing comes up to me asking for money I’m giving it to him. Then I’m running and praying I never run into another cloven hoofed nightmare again.

Not only is he absolutely terrifying, he doesn’t really seem like he’s helping people save money so much as extorting protection money from them. Like some muscle for a farmyard mafia who also runs moonshine and insurance scams. It doesn’t feel right to give him money. There’s no way his intentions are good. And the look on the people’s faces when they see him coming just absolutely cements it. Also the piggy bank should be their friend not the local bully forcing you to “feed” him, especially since he’s already borderline obese. I mean I know he’s a pig but we have an analogy we're trying to create. People aren't saving ergo people aren’t feeding him! That’s why we’re doing the ads, he should be Ethiopian skinny! Also, he’s dressed in a cheesy but expensive looking suit. The pig is poor, he should be dragging himself around in a hollowed out barrel like something out of Bugs Bunny. In this commercial he endears himself further by physically abusing some guy.

I’m thinking they realized the fact that the Pig was wildly creepy because lately they changed him to something a little less creepy, but still rivals the Burger King “King” for top spot of advertising characters who could mentally scar small children . Have a look:

Financial Literacy - Royal Family - Watch the best video clips here

So here’s the change: We keep the Piggy bank idea, it’s nostalgic, universal, relatable etc. We change that freaky pig to something more like HAM from Toy Story, except skinnier.
And follow one character as me makes some wise money saving decisions throughout his day. He eats a brown bag lunch instead of going out with his co-workers then throws some money to the tiny famished pig. He rents a movie instead of going to a movie and throws more money to the slightly less thin Pig. He cancels his magazine subscriptions and throws more money to the normal sized Pig. He consolidates his credit cards and lowers his interest and throws more money to the Pig who is now RIPPED. Then he gets in a car crash, but it’s OK cause the Pig hops out of the back of his car, focuses on the car and magically the car is good as new. The pig is then slightly smaller but the guy can drive off with no worries.

You could do this type of thing over and over, incorporating different tips and using different rewards. Woman forgoes Starbucks, and the pig gives her new shoes. Guy starts biking places and shutting off lights when he’s not home and the pig makes his tiny TV into Big screen TV. A family takes a smaller vacation like camping or hiking, start getting movies from the library and the pig magically turns their apartment into a house. And on and on.

So less creepy pig, more interesting story and even (gasp) education and then I think the Pig Ads will be cool. What’d you think?

Jan 24, 2009

"Mon": I like The Shack

The trouble I have writing about this is that there’s a good chance you –the reader- haven’t read this book. So it’s tough to tell you what I thought was cool about it without either A-influencing you’re future opinion, or B-telling you too much and ruining the experience for you. A isn’t really a huge concern because let’s be honest I don’t have that kind of influence over you…..yet. So that leaves me to discuss my “like” for this book and future books, movies, music, etc leaving out the best parts so that you can enjoy them also if you so choose. So keep that in mind while I describe why I liked this book

First let me give you a brief overview of the plot of the book. Mack is a family man that had something terrible happen to one of his family members. He sorta kinda blames God for that. He gets a note from God to meet him at the scene of the terrible thing- the Shack. The rest of the book is Mack talking to God about their misunderstanding.

Mack as a character is supremely relatable. Even though I haven’t ever had anything terrible happen to me, there are always the day to day “disasters” of car trouble, bad grades or even sad world events that allow me to glimpse the frustrations he has with understanding God’s will in this world. He’s also a typical guy (like myself) who has trouble getting things out there on the table and avoids serious conversation and questions with jokes or deflecting answers. That unity the reader is allowed to create with Mack just makes this book all the better.

The Author W.M. Paul Young --who was apparently raised in a stone age tribe by his missionary parents— has a couple of pretty cool goals with the book; as near as I could tell anyways. He wants to shake your mental picture of the Trinity to open your mind to re-considering the box you’ve put them in. He also wants to reveal the unfairness and ridiculousness of us sometimes judging God and his decisions.

The most effective way to get people thinking outside of their normal presuppositions is to shock them. Young does that by portraying the God the Father, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit as a large black woman, a giggly middle-eastern man, and a mysterious asian woman respectively. At first this will make you super uncomfortable. Well it made me uncomfortable anyway. But hopefully you’ll soon realize that he’s not defining the trinity this way, Young is just trying to shake you out of that Grey-haired older man God, Handsome White man Jesus, and magical foofoo dust Holy Spirit stereotype that you’ve created. Personally I realized that I really don’t consider The Holy Spirit as a sentient being so much as a force such as gravity or magnetism. Something I’ll definitely explore more in my quiet times.

The conversations between Mack and God’s different iterations are definitely the highlight of this book. It took a ton of guts for an author to write lines for the character of God, and although it may seem borderline blasphemous, in reality Young is just doing his best to apply what God has said before in the Bible to a real life situation. Mack will bring a problem to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit (which Young emphasizes are all one being) and they then proceeds to try and work through the problem. The results are amazing, ideas or questions I’ve had and probably you’ve had such as “why does God allow evil?” or “How could a great God care about me?” are laid out and talked through. Sometimes they come to an answer, and sometimes appropriately enough God has to tell Mack that “Mack doesn’t have the capability to fully understand his complex works”. A lot like the end of the book of Job.

I did have one major gripe with the book. The cover of the book really does a lot of disservice to the book, primarily because it sets such a high bar. The cover is inundated with quotes from critics and celebrities proclaiming The Shack as the Pilgrim’s Progress for our generation. I mean the book was good, but Pilgrim’s Progress is incredible. It’s akin to crowning up and coming basketball players as “The Next Jordan”, or new movies as “This Year’s Citizen Kane”. The fact that there is a comparison already disproves the idea. Nobody said Jordan was the next Wilt Chamberlain or Pilgrim’s Progress was the next Confessions, because to be that good means there is no comparison. So it’s obviously no Pilgrim’s Progress, but the book is still good.

One final disclaimer. This book is a work of christian fiction, and as such should not be read to learn theology. As proof there is never any direct quotes from scripture to back up any of the responses or explanations from the God characters. Fictional books have a wonderful role, but education is not it.

So this was not one of those here’s a problem and here’s a bunch of anecdotes and scripture to fix it books. It’s not going to fix anything. What it does do however is potentially get you really excited about the personality and attributes of our amazing God. Then you can get back to your Bible and hopefully strive after God even harder than before. So even though it’s no Pigrim’s Progress, I have to say that I enjoyed and appreciated the message behind The Shack.

Jan 19, 2009

Fri: I look forward to My Last Semester

It took me 1607 days to get to this point. Sooo close to finishing. I remember growing up, and being in 4th grade or so and thinking “oh man, I’m going to be doing this school thing for another 12 years!” At the time it was staggering, but now here I am 6 months from never having to open another text book again. That’s what I’ll tell myself anyways, there’s always a chance in this evil fallen world that text books could yet be in my future. But I’m not going to think about it. As I reach this milestone, final lap, last chapter, end of the road, curtain call, and numerous other analogies for my final semester. I find myself looking forward to this, my farewell semester for quite a few reasons.

One of the first reasons that comes to mind is that I’m taking some relatively interesting classes. There’s few things worse that sitting through 5 months of how to use Microsoft Excel (CIS 105), how to find the Z-score of an observation (GBS 221), or how to find a solution using anti-derivatives (MAT 212). I mean if you’re into those things, or I just named one your favorite classes ever, that’s great for you. I truly mean it, I’m breaking the 10th commandment all over that joy you have for those classes. Because for me those and a few other classes will go down in the area of my brain that rarely gets a visit from the consciousness in hopes that happiness and excitement can continue to live on in my world. So yea, interesting classes are crucial to this next semester meeting the criterion for being mention on a “Friday” (in this blog anyway). What is an example of an interesting class? Well hopefully American Religious Traditions, Comm approach to Pop Culture, Relational Communication, Hip-Hop online, and Public Speaking are example of interesting classes. Public speaking in particular should be at least good for a few amusing mornings. There are few things more enlightening than watching a student absolutely nail a speech, or conversely crash and burn. It’s just so dynamic.

Along with classes that have me interested, another reason I’m looking forward to this semester is that it is my final term. As I subtly hinted to earlier, I’m not a huge fan of school. Usually when I’m in class doing the homework I’m struck by the fact that I’m not learning anything. I’m at school to learn right? Yet after all this work, after all these hoops, reading numerous pages of the arguably the most monotonous text ever forced on a group of people, I feel like 95% of the valuable things I’ve learned have come from outside the classroom. I’ve earned about office politics and running a small business from the job I worked all through college. I learned about communication and interaction from the friends I’ve made the last 5-ish years. I’ve learned about other cultures by taking non-school related trips out of the country and talking with immigrants that I’ve worked with. There are a great many other things I 've learned that I could attribute to sources outside of the four walls of College, yet to be honest I did pick up a few skills and tidbits of knowledge within those walls. I’ve just always felt that the way we go about learning things, or maybe more accurately the way the world is setup to formally teach us things is flawed and generally ineffective. So the sooner I can finish doing this little dance for that piece of paper that is mysteriously so crucial to future opportunities and success, the better.

Outside of the school angle, there’s a couple other reasons this semester could be cool. The Guy’s Bible study I’ve been attending has shown so much potential for being an amazing time I’m excited to see if it can capitalize. The material last semester was great, but really it’s the guys that come that make it incredible. The ideas and insights they bring to passages and stories I’ve heard or read multiple times makes them seem new and fresh. I really look forward to getting back with them.

Finally this semester will bring me to a crossroads in life. At this point it seems like an important decision making time and I’m anxious to get to it. Because the sooner it comes, the sooner I can start getting involved with whatever God has planned for me next. And lately being able to witness the fruition of the plans of God has been very exciting.