Unstoppable Destiny?

The words on this image reminds me of the old religious cliché that opines "if God brings you to it He will bring you through it". Anyone ascribe to this version of a destiny that is predetermined apart from human interactions? To be clear, I am not speaking to eternal destinations but ones which espouse the idea that God has a specific earthly destiny in mind for all of his children. Like the idea that one person was destined to be a doctor and the other a plumber. Or maybe one person a Roman Catholic and the other a Baptist. Seems strange as I write it but I think that more people think that this is the way that God operates. I mean really, does it matter to God whether one teaches in a church or in a public school classroom? I guess all I am espousing is the idea that our future is not narrowly predestined in heaven. What do you think?

The Rich don't give to Charity?

Thought this observation from Ken Stern's "Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity" article speaks volumes:

"Wealth affects not only how much money is given but to whom it is given. The poor tend to give to religious organizations and social-service charities, while the wealthy prefer to support colleges and universities, arts organizations, and museums. Of the 50 largest individual gifts to public charities in 2012, 34 went to educational institutions, the vast majority of them colleges and universities, like Harvard, Columbia, and Berkeley, that cater to the nation’s and the world’s elite. Museums and arts organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art received nine of these major gifts, with the remaining donations spread among medical facilities and fashionable charities like the Central Park Conservancy. Not a single one of them went to a social-service organization or to a charity that principally serves the poor and the dispossessed. More gifts in this group went to elite prep schools (one, to the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York) than to any of our nation’s largest social-service organizations, including United Way, the Salvation Army, and Feeding America (which got, among them, zero)."

Not surprising that the rich sometimes simply support the rich and do not do much for the poor. How do you see it?

Dreams of Spring

This funny Shoebox cartoon reminds me of these seasonal changes ...

    •  Warmer temps in KC. Snowing now but not in a few weeks.
    •  Brown giving way to green in the grass and trees.
    •  Open windows and sitting out on my deck again.
    •  Walking to restaurants in our area and eating on their patios.
    •  Taking short road trips and not worrying about bad weather.
    •  Planting new stuff in our planters and grilling on the deck.
    •  Driving with the windows open before it is A/C time.
    •  Maybe catching a baseball game on a warm (not hot) night?
    •  Watching the sun set over the river from our deck.
    •  Walking to our neighborhood Farmers Market on Saturdays.

What are you looking forward to in the next few months?

Not liking Like

Interesting note last week from the LA Times:

Attention Facebook users: Do you "like" Mozart, science, "The Colbert Report" and curly fries? Chances are you've got a high IQ. Have you clicked the thumbs-up icon for Tyler Perry, Harley-Davidson and Lady Antebellum? Perhaps you're not quite as cerebral.

What you endorse on the popular social media website may say a whole lot more about you than you intended, researchers from the University of Cambridge in Britain have found. You may not think twice about your fondness for NASCAR, "The Bachelor" and Oklahoma State University, but those affirmations fit the pattern of a person who's conservative and less open to new things, they reported Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Even traits that users of social networks may not want to broadcast — including smoking behavior, drug use or sexuality — can be sussed out pretty accurately by their patterns of likes, the researchers found after combing through data from 58,466 Facebook members in the U.S. More than a quarter of regular Facebook users click the like button for content they find there.

Happy St Patrick's Day

On leaving our Comfort Zones

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. -Brian Tracy

To the degree we're not living our dreams, our comfort zone has more control of us than we have over ourselves. -Peter McWilliams

If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone.” -John Maxwell

I don't like to be out of my comfort zone, which is about a half an inch wide. -Larry David

I'm continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you're uncomfortable, it means you're growing. -Ashton Kutcher

When you go out of your comfort zone and it works there's nothing more satisfying. -Kristen Wiig

If we stay where we are, where we're stuck, where we're comfortable and safe, we die there...
When nothing new can get in, that's death. -Anne Lamott

Daily Devotions from James

I have so enjoyed reading through and sharing my thoughts on the book of Romans. Beginning this morning I began sharing daily thoughts from the book of James. One of the oldest books of the New Testament, it was written around A.D. 45, before the first council of Jerusalem in A.D. 50.

James is written to Jewish Christians scattered among all the nations and tells us how to walk in faith through genuine religion, genuine faith and genuine wisdom. It is believed to have been penned by the brother of Jesus who was the head of the Jerusalem church.

I invite you to read with me (here) as I share daily devotions from James.

Happy Pi Day

Lincoln | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I liken this movie to the American version of "The Iron Lady" - a movie about a great leader that is overshadowed by the stellar acting of the person who played that leader. Lincoln is a very good movie but a few things were disturbing about it:

    1) The main and central theme that the end justifies the means;
    2) The way that Lincoln endorsed bribing congressmen;
    3) How he discouraged his son from joining the fight then got him
         a cushy job away from the front lines;
    4) How Lincoln stalled and lied about the Confederate peace envoy;
    5) The cynical (yet perhaps realistic) way that our federal government was portrayed.

Overall, I came away with a not so idealistic view of one of our greatest presidents. Perhaps it is for the best to see how our government has always operated?
Even so, I did really like the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

Catch my other min-movie-reviews by selecting "Movies" above.

Crazy Compensation

Did you catch the "What People Earn" edition of Parade magazine yesterday? A few interesting tidbits ...

  •  American Idol judges have earned up to $20m per season.
  •  27 year old Blogger made $18k and gets by on $160/month.
  •  Crazy hair guy Guy Fieri gets $100k to make an appearance.
  •  Geezer actor Mark Harmon gets $500k per episode of NCIS.
  •  31 year old ex-Intel engineer comedian makes $328k.
  •  Entrepreneurs don't seem to be making all that much.
  •  54 year old part-time clown raked in $2,500. What?!
  •  43 year old Louisiana court reporter makes $107k. Wow!?

19 year old Bieber seems to be the most outrageous on the list. What do you think is the craziest compensation?

Keurig Reflections

Seems like I am always a late adopter to new technologies. Weird for a tech-guy like me. In true form I waited until everyone else already owned a Keurig coffee maker and purchased one just before Christmas.

Here are a few surprises and things that I learned ...
  • I drink less coffee than when I used to make a pot in the morning.
  • From her wheelchair Ann is able to deal with all things Keurig.
  • With the proper k-cup brand I can get a decent cup of coffee.
Now I prefer a bold, dark and rich cup of coffee so some brands/flavors did not work for me. Here is my review (in rank order) of what I have tasted so far ...
  1. Folgers Black Silk: surprisingly the best dark coffee for the money yet. 
  2. Starbucks Sumatra: similar to the Black Silk but way more expensive.
  3. Emeril's Big Easy Bold: somewhere between Black Silk and Sumatra.
  4. Starbucks Verona: surprisingly disappointingly too weak for a k-cup.
  5. Gevalia Columbia: very weak but I will drink it in a 6oz serving until it is gone.
Wonder if you have any suggestions. I am interested to hear of k-cup brews that you love.

You might live in Missouri if ...

According to Jeff Foxworthy you might live in, or hail from, Missouri if ...

  •  someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't even work there.
  •  you've worn shorts and a jacket at the same time.
  •  you know several people who have hit a deer more than once.
  •  you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C' and back again in the same day.
  •  driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.
  •  you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both doors unlocked.
  •  you carry jumpers in your car and your wife knows how to use them.
  •  everyone in your family has been on a "float trip".
  •  "Vacation" means driving to Silver Dollar City, Worlds of Fun or Six Flags.
  •  you ever rode a school bus over an hour each way.
  •  you had school classes canceled because of cold.
  •  you think “deer season” is a national holiday.
  •  "Down South" means Arkansas and you know where Idiots Out Wandering Around are located.
  •  you had school classes canceled because of heat.
  •  you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching.
  •  you know that Harry S. Truman, Walt Disney, George Washington Carver and Mark Twain are all from Missouri.
  •  you know what "Home of Throwed Rolls" means!
  •  you know what’s supposed to be “knee-high by the Fourth of July.”
  •  you pronounce Missouri with an “ah” at the end.
  •  you’ve ever said (or heard) “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”
  •  you’ve seen people wear bib overalls to funerals.
  •  your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor.
  •  you've seen farmers stop work and remove their hat as a funeral passes by.

If you actually understand more than a few of these you definitely do live, or have lived, in Missouri! Or Kansas! :)

Flight | ★★★★★★★★

This movie is not quite what I expected it to be - I thought that it would be about aviation. Boy was I wrong. What "Silver Linings Playbook" is to mental illness this movie is to addiction and alcoholism. I thought that Denzel Washington did a great job playing Whip Whitfield, an airline pilot who is confronted with his alcoholism after he makes an amazing landing of a broken aircraft. I found the story to be compelling and representative of the various stages of addiction. Like Silver Linings Playbook the movie showed how a broken person can impact family and friends. Also thought that the film presented a compelling image of the way that the American legal system can be manipulated to protect the guilty - Don Cheadle did a credible job as a lawyer representing Whitfield and the pilots' union. I recommend it to you.

I liked the movie a lot and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

The Origin of the Universe

Frank Viola says that there are only three alternatives to explain the origin of the universe: 1) It always existed, 2) It was created by chance, or 3) It was created by God. He goes on to say:
1) The universe could not have always existed, for it is expanding and contracting.
2) The universe could not have been created by chance because it is too orderly and complex.
The consistency, organization, symmetry, form, and purposefulness of the universe and all life forms testify compellingly to God’s existence. ... Incidentally, the “Big Bang” theory doesn't solve much. For it doesn't answer the probing question: “Who or what started the Bang in the first place?” ... Surprisingly, the Bible never sets out to prove God’s existence. The Lord has chosen to remain invisible. He is a God who hides Himself. He has chosen to remain unprovable.

Most Admired Companies?

Fortune magazine has produced a list of the World's Most Admired Companies. The ones to the left are the cream of their crop. I wonder what voting criteria they used? I mean really, who admires a company like Apple that uses sweatshops in China to make their electronic glip-glop? And who thinks that the billionaires at Google give us things like this blog without the bottom line in mind? Amazon makes sense in a world that values cheap stuff. And who wouldn't vote for the sweetness of a Coke? Pepsi was thirty three lower on the list. Sad that poor old junk food king McDonald's missed the list and came in at number twelve. And if you can believe it Walmart was most admired at number twenty seven and evil banker Goldman Sachs at thirty four. Interesting  to note that no telecom, gaming, health care or insurance company made the list.

I guess this top fifty list speaks to me of the ways that we value corporations. The top companies seem to be the ones that do something for us or make things that we like. Guess I am not all that surprised by the list. Doubtful that most of us would admire companies that are unsuccessful, losing business and laying off employees. Even so, are these really admirable companies?

Al Gore :: Prophet or Historian

This warning (click on it to enlarge) is no false alarm. It has been verified by that lie debunking site we know as Snopes.com. They say that it is "a genuine transcript of a 1922 newspaper article, an Associated Press account which appeared on page 2 of the Washington Post on 2 November of that year". Perhaps global warming expert Al Gore is more of a historian than a prophet. :)

I guess my point is that maybe this global warming idea is a mere manifestation of weather patterns that have existed for a really long time? I am really pretty ignorant about this (maybe a few of you will advise me of the extent of such ignorance) but continue to wonder if what we believe about such phenomenon has more to do with science or faith. And maybe there is a bit of politics in it as well?

Perhaps someone who is less ignorant than I can help me out? :)

Robot and Frank | ★★★★★★★

I loved Frank Langella in "Frost and Nixon". Loved him in this heartwarming story as well. The setting is a futuristic small town in America where cantankerous senior citizen Frank lives alone. His son is concerned about him and brings him a robot in lieu of placing him in a nursing facility. Frank struggles with the robot at first but then embraces him and teaches him to pick locks and help him steal things.

The interplay between the two has funny moments. The plot has several surprising twists and turns as Frank and his new friend gets into all sorts of trouble. Even so, this movie is not so much about the future but is more of an endearing tribute to the challenges of aging, senior citizenship and the deep love and care of family.

I liked the movie a lot and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

March Madness :: Sweet Sistene

Hope no one takes offence at this image but I do find it interesting how religious life can mirror the corporate world. The exception is that a new corporate chief executive can be recruited from another company. That aspect of the corporate world has the ability to bring new ideas and life into the organization.

That said, I think that the Roman Catholicism might look a lot different if a new leader is selected from a continent other than Europe.

Do you have any thoughts on this?