Chocolate Covered Resolutions

In a blog post titled Successful New Year Resolutions Mark Herringshaw proposes these five steps that goal setting experts say will "dramatically increase the likelihood that New Year resolutions will prompt genuine transformation in our lives":
  1. Make our intentions measurable and specific. I need to lose weight and I'm putting that objective into a concrete goal: "I will weigh 185 pounds on March 8, 2010 and stay there until December 31, 2010."
  2. Write them. Putting goals into words works a wonder. Psychologists suggest this exercise frees the left brain from asking "what?" and releases the right brain to solve "how?" I'm putting goals into words here and now... You can do the same in the comments section below if you choose!
  3. Tell someone. Asking for accountability from someone we trust brings extra leverage to our commitments. I'm sharing my resolutions with a friend I'm meeting with tomorrow. On top of that, I'm going public with one of them here...
  4. Formalize no more than five personal goals at a time. Five is the capacity of our focus. Trimming my "wishes" down to five priorities is difficult but necessary if I'm going to move beyond "hope" to "will."
  5. Pray. Yes, pray. I realize up front that I'm doomed to fail with all my plans to change myself. Yes, disillusion too is a necessary step, and with it a cry for help. Jesus once said, "Apart from me you can do nothing." In other words, all my intentions and plans AND commitments and disciplines Will in the end fall short. I'm not strong enough or focused enough, even with all the right strategies. Yes, I can improve the odds of success, but I can never dodge Jesus' tenet: "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." My spiritual mentor, Morris Vaagenes once put this principle into a prayer: "I can't, you can, please do, thank you!" That is the key to transformation... and resolution... I can't. Jesus can, through me. I can ask for that change, and then thank him for that completed promise.
I am not a big believer in New Years resolutions but I am a fan of setting goals. I think that we sometimes drift through life because we do not have a clue about who we are or what we want to do. So I am wondering about you.. do you make resolutions this time of year or are you more like me.. planning all the time.. and constantly readjusting those plans?

Evolution, Feminism and Gender Design

In a blog article titled How to Be Happy evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa (yeah.. I did not know there were such people) advises us on accepting our evolutionary imprint to be happier. Here are a few clips from his post:
Having said that, however, from my perspective as an evolutionary psychologist, I would say that the best thing for people to do to become happier is to get in touch with their animal nature, if not necessarily their inner fish then at the very least their inner ape. Recognize and accept that we are animals. We are all designed by evolution to be certain way, and no amount of denial or fighting will change our evolutionary legacy and its implications.

One of the things that evolution has done is to make men and women very different. In some ways (though not in others), males of one species are often more similar to males of other species than to females of their own species, and vice versa. In some ways, in many ways, men are more similar to male chimpanzees or gorillas than to women. One of the ways that men and women are different is in what makes them happy.

Forget what feminists, hippies, and liberals have told you in the last half century. They are all lies based on political ideology and conviction, not on science. Contrary to what they may have told you, it is very unlikely that money, promotions, the corner office, social status, and political power will make women happy. Similarly, it is very unlikely that quitting their jobs, dropping out of the rat race, and becoming stay-at-home dads to spend all their times with their children will make men happy.
Teach boys and girls that they are different, not the same, and that it’s okay (nay, wonderful) to be different. One is not right and the other is not wrong. Stop telling girls that they are inferior versions of boys, as feminists have done for the last half century, or, as has more recently been the case, stop telling boys that they are inferior versions of girls.

Live as you feel like, not as you think you should live like. Your feelings are seldom wrong, because you are designed to feel certain way by millions of years of evolution. Decades of feminism can’t stop that. You are seldom wrong if you follow your feelings; you are seldom right if you follow feminism or any other political ideology.
If you bristle at the word "evolution" I suggest that you substitute "designed by God" where Kanazawa imposes the evolutionary model. The idea that he is espousing however is that men and women are designed to be different and become frustrated when they try to mimic the aspirations and designs of the opposite sex. Sixty years of living leads me to believe that what he is saying may be right.. just consider how differently you related to your father and mother.

Of course this is a generalization and as such there are exceptions to this idea that the sexes are basically different. But I do think that there is something to the idea that men and women are designed to be different and are happier when they live out of who they are designed to be. What do you think? Any feminists out there?

Man Tools: The Real Definitions

The definitions below remind me of Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor.. pictured below. I think that anyone who has ever worked in their garage or basement will resonate with these funny descriptions of manly hand and power tools..

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light . Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, 'Oh sh--!'

SKILL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle... It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes , trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.

UTILITY KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

GM Hy-Wire Car of the Future

A 5 minute video of the futuristic General Hy-Wire car.. the first drivable vehicle that combines a hydrogen fuel cell with by-wire technology.. kind of amazing.

Good Riddance Day

Today is "Good Riddance Day".. a chance to say good-bye to all the bad things that happened this year, like annoying friends, bad financial decisions and heartbreaking sports teams.

It is a time when New Yorkers bring all their unwanted 2009 memories to Times Square and put them in a shredder.

It sounds like a pretty therapeutic idea. Maybe I need to stick something in my shredder?

Anything you want to shred?

Above Average Stupidity

Seeing this encircled definition of stupidity reminds me of a time when we used it as a definition for insanity. I think stupidity works better.. sadly I can relate to the word in an intimate way.. we can probably all relate to the word in some way or another. I think these quotes speak to the extent and impact of the word:

The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity. -Voltaire

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -Albert Einstein

The two most abundant things in the universe are Hydrogren and stupidity. -Harlan Ellison

In view of the fact that God limited the intelligence of man, it seems unfair that He did not also limit his stupidity. -Konrad Adenauer

Stupidity is an elemental force for which no earthquake is a match. -Karl Kraus

There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life. -Frank Zappa

Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider! -George Carlin

Home Office with a View

Does this seem like a great place to work or what? According to Lifehacker:
Peter Frazier has the kind of home office and accompanying views that fill the daydreams of cubicle dwellers across the land. His office is glass on three sides with a cantilevered deck that looks over the densely forested shores of Chuckanut Bay.
Check out Lifehacker's Most Popular Featured Workspaces of 2009.. you may get a few home office ideas.. albeit most of them don't have this kind of view

Saying Goodbye to CDs, Yellow Pages, Faxes..

According to this article these things have joined the ranks of cassette players and became obsolete in the past decade:
  • CDs.. iPods and MP3 players are all the rage;
  • Land-line phones.. I still have one.. do you?
  • Yellow Pages.. never was a green solution;
  • Wires.. guess they are not counting cables;
  • Calling.. not sure why they included that one;
  • Fax Machines.. some places still use them I guess;
  • Film Cameras.. rest-in-peace Cannon EOS SLR camera;
  • Dial-up Internet.. replaced by what you are using now;
  • Encyclopedias.. who needs them.. just Google an answer;
  • Catalogs.. I still get some of these unwanted recyclables;
  • Hand-written Letters.. Christmas cards don't count;
  • Newspaper Classifieds.. eclipsed by Monster, eBay and Craig's List.
I would also add newspapers.. the paper kind.. to the list.. my fair and balanced news of choice comes in via RSS to my Google Reader. Even so, looking over the list, this geeky kind of guy has to admit that I still do play CDs and daily use my land-line.. other than that I really don't miss anything on the list.. and I do think that it won't be long before DVDs and bulky TVs are added to the list.

How about you? Do you miss anything on the list? Anything you'd add to the list?

Merry Christmas

This Christmas prayer comes from beliefnet..

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman..."

God with us,

I've come to see you. I'm not as clean as I wish I was, but I'm hoping you'll receive me just as you did the rough, and sweaty shepherds who burst in on you on that holy night so long ago. They were afraid. I guess that spectacular light show in the sky got to them. I wish I felt more afraid than I do. I should, considering this is it: the Incarnation. But all of this is so simple; so ordinary. No, it's less than ordinary. This is abject poverty. Most babies aren't born where the livestock is. I keep asking myself, how can this be God? Yet, here you are. I know it's you, because here I am, on my knees, and my heart is aflame within me.

It isn't as pristine as the Christmas cards make it seem. It's cold, and drafty, and filthy, and it smells of animals and dung in here. No wise men are hovering over you with their gifts. The shepherds aren't even here. Just me, and your folks, and my hands are empty. But Lord, seeing you like this, so vulnerable, my heart is full.

Look at you in that feeding trough. I can't get over how tiny you are, but oh. You are perfect. The scriptures say when you grow up you won't be much to look at, but I don't think I've ever seen such a gorgeous child. I hope I always see you like this: beautiful, new, and surprising.

Oh my! Your mom is bringing you to me! Thank you, Mary. You really are full of grace. This is incredible! I feel so clumsy, Lord. Like I can hurt you if I'm not careful. But you feel so good in my arms. You're like a warm little ball of pure love. Can you feel me shaking? I'm undone. You're right here at my heart. I wish I could stop time right here, and hold you like this forever, loving on you, and kissing you like this.

You still smell like the blood from your mother's womb. Oh, Jesus. You'll have this same coppery scent again in about 33 years. But it'll be a much bloodier occasion than your birth. That time, you'll be dying, so that I can be born anew. Have mercy. I don't want to think about what I'm going to put you through. Not today. But I can't help it.

Oh, man. Forgive me, Jesus. I'm crying all over you. You're the baby, but I'm the one blubbering. I'm not trying to scare you on your birthday, but the shadow of the cross is on this barn, and there isn't a thing I can do to stop what's going to happen to you. So, I'll just continue to hold you tight, if you don't mind. If I can keep you close to me we may just get through the rest of your story together. Despite how small you are, I'm the one that needs you to save me. This is craziness, but this is the way you chose to do it. Who can understand such mysteries?

I'm amazed that you can fall asleep in my guilty arms. Maybe you're so quiet and peaceful because even now you know you'll make it all right. Oh, Lord. Who can understand such mysteries? It's mind blowing enough to think that you are here: God as a baby, born in the humility of a barn, resting in my arms, my ragged heartbeat sounding in your tiny ear. And you will not forget me.

Amazing grace.

Sleep in heavenly peace, Lord Jesus. And welcome. I'm glad you're here.


Does Science Have Room For Miracles?

This question of science and miracles was asked a while back at Beliefnet's Science and the Sacred blog. Here is how one commenter responded:

Because science is limited to the natural world, it cannot address the question of whether or not miracles occur. This is not a flaw of science; rather, it is one of its strengths. I don't even think it is proper to ask whether or not science has room for miracles. How could it?
I like that answer.. I think that it speaks to the purpose and limitations of science. I find science to be a useful tool in that it helps our brain understand the physical universe. It is limited though because it does not help us to understand the deeper things of the universe.

Ann and I watched the HD version of The Nativity Story last night. I have to admit.. the story moves me deeply.. seeing the responses of Mary and Joseph to angelic visitations simply inspires me and so engages my heart.. and watching God the Son come into the world takes my breath away. Maybe that is what Christmas is all about.. a miracle that science and our brains cannot comprehend.. a miracle that we can only embrace with our hearts.

Celebrating Christmas with Bacon

From the Not Martha blog I present to you her world famous and healthy Bacon Cups recipe.. yet another way to incorporate bacon into your holiday traditions. After all.. some say that bacon is the reason for the season.. well maybe no one really says that.. I just made it up. 

Straight Talking Senator Bernie Sanders

An interesting eight minutes of dialog on healthcare legislation and the influence of big business lobbyists on US government. The action picks up about midway into the interview. The straight talking Independent Senator from Vermont is quite refreshing

One Language

A brief thought for the day that I recently shared at a friend's blog:

Years ago I became aware of the fact that I spoke two languages.. one with church folks and one with everyone else. I didn’t like it and began to try to speak one language.. it is still a journey because so many religious folks like the religious lingo (i.e. “saved and sanctified”).. and I am sometimes a bit guarded with folks who do not seem “Christian”. Amazingly though.. when I let down my guard.. some of these “unbelievers” say the most spiritual things.

I think that the issue with classifying the world into two camps is that we subtly create an adversarial system where it is really difficult to bear our hearts to each other.. the very thing that I think attracts people into considering the claims of the kingdom.

The Longest Night

Yesterday was the winter solstice.. and last night was the longest night of the year. At this time of the year I think that it is a good idea to acknowledge how difficult is is for so many who have experienced loss and are sad during the holidays. The following wonderful meditation was written after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and speaks to this and to the true hope of Christmas. Please share it with anyone who might benefit from it.

Longest Night Meditation

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Only it's not.
  • Not for everyone.
  • Not when there is an empty chair at the table.
  • Not when your body is ravaged with illness.
  • Not when the depression is too much to bear.
  • Not without her voice joining yours on the Christmas carols.
  • Not when you feel all alone even in a crowd.
  • Not when you are not sure you can even afford the rent or mortgage, let alone the presents.
  • Not when they are trying their best to the best of you.
  • Not when another Christmas party means he will come home drunk again.
It's the most wonderful time of the year?

No, it's not.

And trying to smile and say Merry Christmas is more than difficult. It's pretty near impossible.

C.S. Lewis once wrote:
"No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning..."
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Only it's not.
  • Not after he has died.
  • Not after the doctor gave you the news.
  • Not after they told you they would be downsizing.
  • Not after... you fill in the blank.
  • Not after September 11.
  • Not when there is so much violence and destruction in the world.
In truth, it has never been the most wonderful time of the year. Certainly not in the days surrounding that first Christmas so long ago. The story of the birth of Jesus is not to be told with a jolly voice and a merry ho-ho-ho.
It is the story of a teenage girl, pregnant with a child that is not her husband's.

It is the story of a child born in a dirty animal stall.
It is the story of a family of refugees who had to flee their homeland so that their child would not be killed.
It is the story of one sent into the world in peace who was condemned to death.
It is the story of a light sent to shine in the darkness, which the world snuffed out.
It is the story of God's never-ending, self-giving mercy which was rejected and condemned.
In the great work the Messiah, Handel quotes the prophet Isaiah, proclaiming that Jesus was "despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." One great theologian reminds us that we cannot come to the manger without acknowledging that it lays in the shadow of the cross.

It is not the most wonderful time of the year.

Only it is!

It is:
  • If we forget about the tinsel and the trees.
  • If we forget about the holly jolly tidings.
  • If we forget about the presents and the ornaments and the trappings.
And remember.

Remember the story.
  • Mary was alone and afraid.
    But God was with her and exalted her among women.
  • Joseph was disgraced.
    But God revealed in Joseph's cause for disgrace God's plan to save the world.
  • The world was in darkness.
    But God sent the light of life to shine.
  • The lowly were imprisoned.
    But Jesus set them free.
  • The blind wandered aimlessly.
    But Christ gave them eyes to see.
  • The lame were rejected.
    But through the Holy One they were made to leap and dance.
  • The deaf were confined to the silence.
    But the song of life unstopped their ears.
  • The sorrowful grieved.
    But God wipes away our tears.
  • We were alone.
    But in Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God is with us.
  • The people rejected God.
    But God embraces us.
  • The world crucified Christ.
    But God would not allow that to be the last word, and gave us the sure hope of the resurrection.
It is the most wonderful time of the year, not because you have to be cheery and happy and merry.

But because you don't.

You can have heavy spirits and shattered dreams. Broken hearts and deep wounds.

And still God comes to be with you.
  • To comfort you.
  • To redeem you.
  • To save you.
  • To restore you.
  • To empower you.
  • To strengthen you.
  • To grant you peace.
  • To be raised for you.
  • To hold you in the communion of saints with those whom you have loved and lost.
  • To store your tears in his bottle.
  • To offer you eternal life.
It is the most wonderful time of the year.
For Christ is born.
Love has come.
God is with us!
Thanks be to the Lord our God.

Rev. Diane Hendricks
16 December 2001

Unconservative Tax Cuts

Historian David Kaiser had a few comments about the source of the current financial crisis on his History Unfolding blog. Here is an excerpt from his thoughts on this graph:

The President is now also taking political heat because of the size of the deficit, which as a percentage of the GDP is higher than at any time since the end of the Second World War (although a long way from being as large as it was during that war.) Republicans, of course, are acting as if this problem first emerged on January 21, 2009. The following graph, produced by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities with the help of data from the Congressional Budget Office, very usefully tells us where our current woes come from.

This table seems to leave no doubt that the Bush tax cuts were, and remain, the principal cause of our financial crisis. Had the Bush Administration maintained the existing tax code, the then-existing surplus would have been eaten up by the recession of 2001 and the wars that Bush began, but the country would have been in far better financial shape to meet the current crisis.
I think that David confirms what many of us have suspected for some time. Some might say that those Bush tax cuts actually created revenue and stimulated the economy.. well maybe they temporarily did.. but the long term affects of the tax cuts were not good.

I guess what troubles me the most is the idea that some have that cutting taxes is a conservative approach. Somehow many have embraced the idea that low taxes by themselves are what conservatives believe in. In truth what conservatives believe in is not spending more than you bring in. A balanced budget is a conservative idea.. cutting taxes without cutting spending is not conservative.

These things trouble me because I think that our congressional leaders have lost the ability reign in spending and do not have the political will to raise taxes to support past spending. The economy is in a mess and I do not see conservative solution on the horizon. Let's just hope that in 2010 we do not hear conservatives chanting the "we need tax cuts" mantra!

I've Gotta Find New Christmas Songs

After yesterday's downer of a post post I thought I might start the week off with a bit of a Christmassy one by listing my top five favorite renditions of my favorite Christmas songs:
O Holy Night - Sandler and Young
Angels We Have Heard on High - Vineyard Cafe
Adeste Fideles - Bing Crosby
The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
O Come All Ye Faithful - Johnny Mathis
Wow.. looking at that list makes me feel old.. those singers are older than I am.. and some are no longer living! Feel like I should be playing these songs on one of those old 45 record players.. anyone remember those?

I gotta find some new Christmas songs and singers. Maybe you can help me out. What are your top five Christmas songs and singers of those songs?  Feel free to post them here in the comments or at your place.

Working on Bearable

This cartoon is pretty representative of my week. My wife Ann checked into the hospital on Tuesday with an infection and checked out yesterday. The doctors found some kidney stones but were very noncommital about the connection of the stones to the infection.. or even about the best way to treat the infection.. they have already tried 3 other drugs. Hence they sent Ann home with an IV line and two more weeks of antibiotics.

I am becoming more and more convinced that doctors simply practice medicine.. frustrating and stressful when you (or a loved one) are the one they are practicing on L

Color me stressed and working on bearable.. and thankful for your support.

McSuckered No More

Had to update to this 8/13/07 post (below) because the Wall Street Journal reported this week that:
McDonald's Corp. will soon start offering free wireless Internet access at its U.S. restaurants as part of the fast-food chain's transformation from its hamburger roots into a hang-out destination.

Starting in mid-January, McDonald's will lift a $2.95 fee that it had charged customers for two hours of wireless Internet access, available at about 11,000 of its 14,000 domestic locations, McDonald's USA Chief Information Officer David Grooms said in an interview.
Kudos to Mickey D regardless of what their reasoning is.

Do you think this news will affect where you drink your lattes?

Doesn't say FREE anywhere on this, does it? Arghh!!

Sometimes they just sucker you in L

2009 in Facebook Review

Aaaah the life of a retired (or is that tired) old guy.. coffee, food, friends and quotes


Yes.. I know.. I am one fickle purveyor of internet browsers. A few years ago I was recommending the Internet Explorer tabbed browser called Slim Browser.. then last year I was singing the praises of Firefox.. so I will understand if you choose to tune me out with regard to browser technology. That said I will now sing the praises of the newest (i.e. beta) version of Google Chrome.

I downloaded it last week along with a boatload of extensions just to check it out and go back to using Firefox.. within a day I switched and Chrome became my default browser. I found Chrome to be much faster and the extensions to do pretty much everything I needed.

If you are interested in checking it out you can download it here and checkout the extensions here. Let me know if you do and if you like it.. and what extensions you found most helpful.

For the time being color me Chrome.

Five Years Later

Kansas Bob was born five years ago today when I added my profile to Blogger and introduced An Eye for Redemption to the blogosphere. In light of this auspicious occasion I thought that I might share five things that I have learned these past five years writing here, on my other two blogs and at your place.
  1. People are drawn to vulnerability and transparency.. some of the most encouraging comments I have gotten was when I let my guard down.  Conversely folks have not reacted so well to my most sanctimonious rants.  Nobody likes a know-it-all.
  2. It is okay to be wrong.  On many occasions my views have been laid bare and exposed as narrow and ill-thought. I feel like I have grown as a person because of the kind and thoughtful ways that friends have pushed back on my views.
  3. I have learned to not take myself so serious.. I mean really.. you have to be pretty up tight if you are not able laugh at yourself and your idiosyncrasies. Maybe that is one great thing about the blogosphere.. you realize that your are really not all that smart.
  4. The largeness and smallness of the world amazes me.. visiting blogs from folks who live in Japan, Malaysia, Scotland, the Philippines, Australia, Canada, and other places.. and so many sites in the USA.. has made me aware of how connected we all are.. sometimes by ideology.. sometimes by curiosity.. and sometimes just by a desire to learn from other people.. even the ones they don't agree with.
  5. Online friendships.. not sure what I can say about the way that people who have never shaken my hand have shown care for me. Ann went in the hospital yesterday and many blogging friends offered prayers and cares about my wife and me.. one precious blogging friend from Texas even called me. This part of the phenomenon of blogging took me by surprise.
    I could say a lot more about blogging but I want to get your input. If you would be so kind.. and in celebration of the KB 5th birthday.. please list five things (more or less) in the comments section that you have learned since you began blogging or reading blogs.

    Oral Roberts, 1918-2009

    Oral Roberts passed away yesterday a month shy of his 92nd birthday. He was one of the very first televangelists this onetime Charismatic Fundamentalist watched on TV. Each week I would be greeted by his "Something good is going to happen to you" theme song and watched as he talked about things like seed faith (the roots of the prosperity gospel) and other stuff from the bible.

    I really liked Oral and in the summer of 1979 my first wife Ellen and I traveled down to and stayed at the Oral Roberts University campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was there that my eyes were really opened to the nastiness of strong-armed donation solicitation.. we left after the first night and I never quite felt the same way about him after that distasteful experience in Tulsa - one of the reasons I probably never embraced the prosperity gospel.

    Are you old enough to remember Oral Roberts' ministry or his TV program?

    Not My Deathbed Confession

    My brain is pretty fried these days. Maybe I need to spend less time on the internet.

    Don't think this will be my deathbed confession.

    Living to Learn

    Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
    Learn as if you were to live forever. -Mohandas Gandhi

    I am learning all the time.
    The tombstone will be my diploma. -Eartha Kitt

    It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
    -Attributed to Harry S. Truman

    Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.
    -Mark Twain

    You learn something every day if you pay attention. -Ray LeBlond

    I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday. -Abraham Lincoln

    I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught. -Winston Churchill

    Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. -Henry Ford

    WiFi on Wheels

    According to this Wired article auto makers have been experimenting with the idea of web-enabled vehicles. A few excerpts from the piece:
    The Japanese have had in-car connectivity since Toyota rolled out its Monet internet service in 1997. Monet was overhauled in 2002 when it was combined with Gazoo Media Services to form G-BOOK. In addition to a laundry list of vehicle targeted services, G-BOOK received a faster data link and Helpnet, Toyota’s emergency rescue service.

    Honda and Nissan, not wanting to be left out, created InterNavi Club Premium and CARWINGS, while Subaru, Mazda, Daihatsu and Mitsubishi licensed G-BOOK from Toyota. The subsequent explosion of internet-enabled vehicles benefited from an advanced cellular network and a society enthralled with gadgetry.
    As for the hardware we’ll need to make all this happen, take a look at OnStar, Uconnect and the Pro edition of Toyota’s Japan-only G-BOOK for clues. They use cellular modems with associated data accounts, and customers pay as much as $30 a month. Other systems like Ford’s Sync and Toyota’s entry-level G-BOOK use Bluetooth to share the user’s personal cellphone account. Audi’s MMI (multimedia interface) web-connected nav system takes another approach, using Bluetooth to “borrow” the SIM profile of the user’s cellphone. It doesn’t require a separate fee, but it does require the customer to have a data plan and a phone on a SIM chip.
    In light of all the hubbub over texting and driving you have to wonder what legislatures are going to do with this kind of technology. I can see some application for web-enabled vehicles like downloading and playing music.. maybe a bit of driving interactions with street maps.. perhaps even some voice recognition apps.. maybe even some radio-like apps that read the news to you. But searching and browsing the internet.. watching YouTube videos.. I am not seeing it.. unless you are a passenger of course.

    What applications would you like to see on a web-enabled vehicle?

    Living Long and Prospering

    I found this bar chart from The Economist (HT: Kruse Kronicle) to cause me to ponder the so-called differences of heath care in different countries. It seems that the life expectancies in these countries are not all that different.. especially for men.

    Friendly Thoughts

    It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business. -Mohandas Gandhi

    Comedy is friendly - it's the least offensive word in our language. -Albert Brooks

    There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage. -Martin Luther

    Friendly fire - isn't! -Unknown

    Lead the life that will make you kindly and friendly to everyone about you, and you will be surprised what a happy life you will lead. -Charles Schwab

    Competition is great. And as long as it's friendly and not a malicious thing, then I think it's cool. -Janet Jackson

    A lawyer is never entirely comfortable with a friendly divorce, anymore than a good mortician wants to finish his job and then have the patient sit up on the table. -Jean Kerr

    A slight touch of friendly malice and amusement towards those we love keeps our affections for them from turning flat. -Logan P. Smith

    I play golf with friends sometimes, but there are never friendly games. -Ben Hogan

    Americans are very friendly and very suspicious, that is what Americans are and that is what always upsets the foreigner, who deals with them, they are so friendly how can they be so suspicious they are so suspicious how can they be so friendly but they just are. -Gertrude Stein

    comfortable being uncomfortable

    The title of this post was the mantra of our software development team back in the late 80s. New technology. New customers. New partnerships. Much to be uncomfortable with. At the heart of it all was a feeling of chaos. The realization of how little control we had. It took a lot to get comfortable with it all.

    Personally, I found myself gravitating to the things that I had control over. Things like religion. Right/wrong and black/white thinking strongly influenced the religion I embraced. It gave me the illusion of having answers to the unknown. It created a sense of being comfortable. And I was very uncomfortable being uncomfortable.

    Then my first wife had a heart attack and kidney failure. The controllable and comfortable part of my life was unraveling and coming apart. And a long season of grieving crept into my life. It seemed that everything solid got a bit shaky. The end result was an odd sense of being comfortable with being uncomfortable.. not that I liked it.

    These days I find that I am pretty comfortable with mystery. Answers given to the mysterious often seem to reflect the absurdity of the question. With this in mind I submit these quotes for your perusal:
    “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” -Mark Twain

    “If you want to be comfortable, take an easy job. If you aspire to leadership, take off your coat.” -Anonymous

    “Don't get too comfortable with who you are at any given time - you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be.” -Jon Bon Jovi

    “It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes... we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones.” -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    How about you? Are you a one-time control freak (not sure that we are ever free of that freakiness) like I was? Are you okay with unanswered questions? Are you comfortable being uncomfortable? Please share.

    The Nativity Story

    A clip from one of my all time favorite Christmas movies. Here is a clip from what I said when I saw it for the first time:
    Many scenes moved me at a very deep level and engaged me emotionally. Watching Joseph help Mary give birth to Jesus was an amazing experience. Seeing the responses of Mary and Joseph to angelic visitations was moving. Watching Joseph tell Mary that he believed her and would be a father to Jesus was spectacular.
    If you have never seen the movie I suggest that you rent it this Christmas season.

    Reflections from the Outside looking In

    In a post, titled Losing Your Job and Learning What You're Made Of, Mika Brzezinski begins by saying:
    Being unemployed has so many real and palpable ramifications but there are also psychological side effects which you can only understand if you've truly lived through it.

    When you walk out the door, its over. No cell phone. No email address. Nothing.

    Stripped of your link to the outside world. Many "friendships" from work evaporate, quickly, for all sorts of disappointing reasons. There is denial. Fake bliss. (I am so glad I am out of there! I am, I really am, What a mess that place was!) Then reality - You can't stop asking why.

    You feel left out. The days get extremely long. You are cut off from the rest of the world. It continues on without you. People are busy, but for you, it is over.
    Before 2001 I had no experience with the world of unemployment.. I had not been out of work since my teen years.. even my transition from the US Army to civilian life was just a few weeks long.. my former company was legally required to hire me when I left the military.

    In May 2001 I, like Mika, found myself on the outside looking in after I was laid off from EDS.. I had no idea that the layoff would last 15 months.. had no clue about how hard it would be to find work.. found out that guys in their 50s are not in much demand. That time started off happily.. like Mika's "I am so glad I am out of there!".. yet life quickly turned difficult.. my immediate family got some shocking news.. my dad got ill.. I had major surgery.. my dad died.. another family crisis.. then my wife Ann had her first stroke-like NMO relapse.. the following months we consumed with hospital visits and physical therapy.. and the first time I watched Ann learn to walk again.

    So when I finally returned to work in August 2002 I was glad to get back to a bit of normalcy.. yet the work was different than the one that I had become accustomed to.. I had to get used to the idea that my career was not in an upward climb.. I had to find a way to enjoy work again without all the strokes to my ego. Mika says it this way:
    Starting over, the work may not be exactly what you want but it's work. And that in itself has special value. Hard to accept at first, but if you can take that first step back in the door, any step...its worth it.
    In many ways retirement has a bit of an unemployment feel to it.. hard to settle in to a different lifestyle.. a life where work (or finding work) was not the center of my day. Of course I am not retired from life.. just employment.. for now anyway 

    So how about you? Do you have an unemployment story to share? What part of it challenged (or challenges) you the most? Any advice for those who find themselves on the outside looking in?

    Guess the SciFi Legend

    Guess who this is? 

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    I Crack Myself Up!

    I love to laugh. I shared this Bill Cosby quote today on Facebook:
    "Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it."
    I followed it up in a comment by saying:
    Humor gets me through life.. laughter is very therapeutic.. I often laugh out loud.. the older I get the more I am able to laugh at myself.. and there is plenty of material there to smile about
    So with that backdrop I thought that would share a few things about me that crack me up:
    • OCD: I often become aware of my obsessive and compulsive nature.. don't ask me how much time I spend obsessing over blog templates or other computerish things.
    • Personal Appearance: I have to laugh when people think that only the gals are obsessed with their looks.. guys are often obsessed with the hair on their face and the lack of it on their heads.. I am no exception.
    • Phone Calls: I love to answer the phone with "Joe's Pizza Shop" or some other bogus greeting.. caller id is my friend.
    • Dancing: Not a pretty image but I laugh when I think about how I move to the music.. and am glad that we do not have more mirrors in the house.
    • TV: I really get involved with it.. my wife tells me that she is amazed at how often I laugh out loud at The Office and Seinfeld.. says she can hear it all through the house.. I won't go into the way that I can tear up with sad movies though.
    • Serious Bob: I chuckle when I reflect on the ways that I take myself serious.. really.. the things I have gotten upset at cracks me up. I have learned that being right is not all that important.
    I know that my children could add pages to the list.. may you could too.. but I digress.

    What things about you crack you up? Be brave and share at least one thing.. it may be a bit therapeutic.. and it might make you laugh out loud.

    Global Tobacco Epidemic

    According to a Yahoo/Reuters article titled Most of world exposed to deadly tobacco smoke "More than 94 percent of the world's people are not protected by laws against smoking, leaving them exposed to the biggest cause of preventable death".. here are a few excerpts from the article:
    In a Global Tobacco Epidemic report the WHO said smoke-free policies were crucial to reducing the harm caused by second-hand smoke, which it said kills around 600,000 people prematurely each year and causes crippling, disfiguring illness and economic losses reaching tens of billions of dollars.
    Scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability. Over the past four decades, smoking rates have fallen in rich places such as the United States, Japan and western Europe, but they are rising in much of the developing world.
    Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, killing more than 5 million people a year. A report by the World Lung Foundation in August said smoking could kill a billion people this century if trends hold.
    Last week I reviewed Thank You for Smoking.. that movie got me to thinking about the corruption and influence that the Tobacco Industry has had in our world. This morning I googled "famous cigarette smokers" and was surprised at the folks on the list. It seems that we have made some progress in this area but maybe not as much as I thought.

    Why do you think people still smoke? Do you smoke or have you ever smoked? If you have quit please share with us why you did. And do find that ashtray image above to present conflicting messages?

    Three D's and the Size of Your of Success

    Found this in my email inbox this morning.. it is an insightful thought:
    "The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way." -Robert Kiyosaki
    I like what this is saying.. breaking it down I think it communicates these three ingredients of the size of one's success:
    1. Desire: Race car driver Mario Andretti said "Desire is the key to motivation". Desire can really be a good thing yet I think that the word gets a bad rap because it is sometimes linked to its dark side.. the side that drives people with less than noble motives to act in foolish and sinful ways. Despite that I think that it s a very positive word. Many succeed in their chosen field or profession because their desire for excellence is greater than most.
    2. Dream: Author CS Lewis once opined that: "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." Engaging with the dreams of our hearts is such an important part of success in life.. and yet it can be so difficult to envision a dream coming true.. especially as we get older and many of our youthful dreams have seemed to die. Good idea to dream anyway.
    3. Disappointment: Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison are great examples of a people who did not let failure get in the way of pursuing their desires and dreams. Lincoln lost many elections before he was elected president of the United States and Edison once said "I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work." A great perspective to have when things do not work out the way that we expected.
    Interesting note that Kiyosaki's quote speaks of the "size" of one's success.. of course one can be successful and not have great desires or dreams.. and some seem to succeed without having to face great disappointments.. after all success is not a matter of following a set of rules.. if anything it is breaking many of the rules that bind you up.. it is often about following those dreams and desires that God has put in your heart.

    A Date which will live in Infamy!

    A few excerpts from United States President Franklin D Roosevelt's speech to the U.S. Congress on December 8th, 1941:
    Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
    No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

    I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the People when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
    With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our People - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.
    I sometimes wonder if presidents since FDR have wondered what would have happened if the US had entered the war earlier. Maybe that is why some have felt a need protect US soil by preemptively waging war overseas. Just wondering.. what do you think?

    Space for the Rich and Risky

    This artist's conception of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo during a sub-orbital flight into space cues us in to the latest plans of Virgin founder Richard Branson. According to Reuters this six-passenger vehicle will undergo test flights in 2010 and start commercial flights between 2011 and 2012. Anybody rich and risky enough to fly?

    Nepotism and other Abuses of Power

    The recent story of Democratic Montana Senator Max Baucus nominating Melodee Hanes, his live-in girlfriend, for a U.S. Attorney position reminded me of how power can often blind people and cloud their wisdom. My hometown Kansas City has been embroiled for a year or so in a weird battle over the mayor's wife and whether she should have the sway she seems to have at city hall. I do think that it can be a rough call at times.. people want to help and promote the ones that they trust the most.. but really.. nepotism is.. generally speaking.. not a good idea.

    Over the years I have witnessed this phenomena inside of religious circles.. it is often said that one of the most powerful people in the church is the pastor's wife.. sometimes other family members are on church boards or placed in ministry positions of the church.. sometimes churches can look a lot like the family business. Again I think that mostly these people simply want the people they know the best to be involved in the things that they are involved with and have influence on.. but sometimes people in power are simply not wise when their decisions appear to be influenced by nepotism.

    A search of the word "nepotism" in Google News for the last week produces 1,157 results.. seems that charges of nepotism have been leveled against all layers of power.. from UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Saturday Night Live cast member Abby Elliot stories abound of how people are involved in nepotistic activities.

    An interesting aftermath to the Melodee Hanes appointment was that she withdrew her name earlier in the year but in June she became acting Deputy Administrator for Policy in the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.. of course both Senator Baucus and the Department of Justice said that she got the job solely based on her qualifications.. hmmm.. gotta wonder.

    Guess I am wondering.. wondering if you have any experience in this area of nepotism. Have you ever been affected positively or negatively by this phenomenon? Care to share?

    Top 100 Movie Quotes

    A great and nostalgic video for anyone who love the movies.
    See if you can name the actor and actress who appeared the most.
    Also let me know what quote (or quotes) is your favorite.

    Chicken Fried Bacon

    Now you know how I love bacon.. but this just grosses me out :)

    313 Miles on Single Charge

    According to this Wired article a Tesla Roadster has squeezed its battery for 313 miles.
    "The red Roadster competing in Global Green Challenge traveled through the Australian outback from Alice Springs to Coober Pedy and rolled into town with three miles left on the battery. Owner Simon Hackett and co-driver Emilis Prelgauskas covered 501 kilometers — 313 miles — on one charge."
    Gotta hope that electric cars will one day be up to replacing our gas guzzlers.

    The Soloist | ★★★★★★★★

    Once again I was surprised by a movie that I thought would be somewhat of a downer.. I left this movie renewed and encouraged. Jamie Foxx did a knock-out job of portraying a broken, yet brilliant, homeless man who once studied cello at Julliard. The movie takes us through his character's life and how he came to be a man of the streets. It shows the challenges of a man (played by Robert Downey Jr) who befriends him and tries to fix him only to realize that true friendship is the only way we can really help anyone. The scenes of homeless life in Los Angeles are moving and heartbreaking. I recommend this one to you.. it is both educational and inspirational.. I think you may like it.

    On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★★