December 31, 2010

My Perpetual Prayer for the New Year

Lord, help me to love people. For I hate them so much.

December 29, 2010

That Kind of Thing May Fly in California

After yet another guffaw from a family member around the Christmas table this year, my wife leaned over to me and whispered, "Well, on the plus side, you always get great blog material here."

She's right.

Specifically, what I got with that exchange was wonderful insight into what the average apathetic churchgoer thinks about the church.

"So, our new Priest scheduled a congregational luncheon and assigned seats so we'd have to meet different people in the church. I don't know what he was thinking. That's not what a luncheon is for!"

"Umm, I think that's exactly what a luncheon is for."

"Well, it was just stupid. I mean, that stuff may fly in California (where the priest came from), but not here."

Of course. What was I thinking? What could community possibly have to do with the church?

December 28, 2010

Oahu, Lost and Shave Ice



A brief highlight film of our Winter escape from Chicago.

December 25, 2010

A Mistaken Missing of Materialism

As my family and friends asked me to develop a Christmas wishlist for this year, I had a hard time thinking of anything. For a fleeting moment, I thought I might be outgrowing materialism.

Then, I realized, it wasn't that at all. It's that I've already acquired everything I always wanted.

When I got a job and got married, I developed an idea of what I wanted. The things that would make a middle-class lifestyle more comfortable. And despite my interest in cutting-edge technology, my interest in economics has always prevented me from becoming an early adopter. This Christmas, we finally bought an HDTV. And now we have everything.

So, how soon until I develop a desire for the material items in the tax bracket above my own?

Until then, Merry Christmas.

December 22, 2010

Eyes See You

A research group did a behavioral economics study utilizing the snack room at a business office.

The office had no vending machines. So there was simply a container of snacks, a price sheet, and a deposit box. It was based on an honor system.

The research group did two tests with the price sheet. In both tests, the prices remained identical. The only difference was with the image included on the top of the sheet. In the first, a picture of flowers. In the second, a pair of eyes.

Ready for this? During the weeks that the picture of the eyes were displayed on the price sheet, the deposit box received 3 times as much money.

Surely these workers didn't believe the image could actually catch them in acts of dishonesty. So how did the eyes affect their behavior so much. Does it simply trick them into behaving as if they WERE being watched? Or is it a reminder that, if God exists, they always are?

December 21, 2010

Is There an Historical Jesus?

For those of you not aware, I started a new podcast this past year with my friend Dave "Vox" Mullen and Hollywood writer and producer, Quinton Peeples.

It's called Q.E.D. And each week, we investigate a topic regarding the psychological, supernatural, metaphysical and more. Research. Discuss. Debate. And stamp our (quod erat demonstradum, "thus completes the proof") at the end of every episode.

Basically, it's an audio version of this blog!

The podcast is really starting to pick up some steam and we just released our 12th episode, specifically timed for the season. If you haven't listened yet, I think this is a great gateway episode into seeing what the podcast is all about and if you should add it to your iTunes subscriptions. Either head on over to www.qedpodcast.com or listen to this episode directly.

Thanks! And Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2010

11 Things I Learned in Hawaii

1. Don't Bring Your Baby on a Plane
I had this idea a while ago. That some airline should come out with baby-free flights. Now that I experienced a red-eye flight with an entire row of babies, and the worst one of all was a 3-year old....in diapers, I think it's time for an airline to offer a 5 years and up rule for select flights.

2. Asian Stereotypes are Weirdly True
On our way to the hotel, our shuttle driver made an insulting stereotype about Japanese people that appalled us. Claiming that their social spatial bearings were terrible. He didn't receive a tip. After a week in Oahu, I think he's right. It's bizarre. We had an inordinate amount of experiences where people wouldn't follow typical social mores (getting out of one's path, etc.) Whether it has to do with coming from a more densely populated location, or the fact that I hate people, it was weird. But some sort of genetic social awkwardness might explain the lack of Asians in American professional sports. Although, their flattering body mass index might explain that as well.

3. Asians are Short
The shower in our hotel was built precisely for my 5'3" wife. I felt like a giant.

4. I Love Asians
After all my comments about how much I loved the Asian people we were meeting on our trip, my wife suggested it was because their size didn't allow them to intimidate me...I think she's right. Still trying to figure out the Freudian creep-show with that, but I think she's on to something.

5. Golf in Hawaii is Better Than Anyplace Else
I played at Luana Hills Country Club. And it felt like I was playing in Jurassic Park. You know why? Because that area is where they filmed Jurassic Park! Jungle golf is unreal.

6. Wailua Bay Beach is My Favorite Place in the World
Not much comes close. The water is turquoise. The beach is white and soft. And the crowds are on Waikiki. It's perfect.

7. Our "Continual Wedding Album" Continued in Oahu
Many of you made fun of this idea when we started it. But it's turned into one of my all time favorite things. You can view our Facebook album here.

8. Great Service is as Important as Great Food
We got the opportunity to eat at Allan Wong's, touted in Gourmet Magazine as their #8 best restaurant in the world. The food was lovely. But more impressive than that was the service. (We had never been in a fancy-schmancy restaurant like that before). The courtesy. The kindness. The staff coming to a halt when my wife stood up to find the bathroom. The way another staff member walked her there. It was perfect. And just as my 25% gratuity to our waiter seemed almost too low, I now feel that my typical 20% raise to the wait staff at Chili's is incredibly high for what you get out of it, which is simply your food brought to you.

9. Are You Sure You're a Doctor?
Someone got sick on both our to and return flights. Each time, a flight attendant asked over the loud speaker if there was a doctor on board. One lady jumped up, started walking back, and the flight attendant said, "Are you a doctor? A nurse?" She replied, "A physical therapist...well, uh, I have a doctorate." My wife, also a physical therapist, rolled her eyes and stayed seated. What did this lady think she was possibly going to be able to do in that situation? Fortunately, an RN was also on board, and our ambitious friend quickly returned to her seat.

10. Hawaii Makes You Hot
Within a week, my skin became baby smooth and my post-nasal drip was gone. An hour back in evil Chicago, and it all came back.

11. Hawaiians love that Hawaii 5-0 is Being Made
Every night, we heard ratings news about the new Hawaiian remake on the evening news.

We had a wonderful time!

December 17, 2010

Contact Lenses Too Big: Dreams Becoming Reality

When I was a child, my recurring dreams consisted of being late for class, not being able to remember my locker combination or being completely unprepared for a play or concert.

As an adult, I now only have one recurring dream. That my contact lenses are too big for my eyes. They've grown into the size of pancakes, and I try to shrink them but can't.

I have this dream often. And this morning, when I went to get a new pair of contact lenses, I opened up the left one, and the contact was too big for my eye. It turns out that contacts must be made like cookie-cutter cookies. Because the leftover dough from around the cut-out of the lens was still attached.

It was horrifying. Because I felt so awake. And yet, this was my dream-life. So, have these dreams all been leading up to today? Have I reached some sort of life milestone here? Or am I still dreaming?

December 16, 2010

We Are God's Muse

Thought discussion for the theists here:

I'm comfortable with the Trinitarian idea that in the beginning, there was the lover, the beloved and love itself (Father, Son, Spirit). A creative trifecta. Not passive. Not bored. Not lonely.

And that both the Earth and we ourselves are the creative output of that love. So, depending on how you view time, if we have inspired any of that creation, that would make us...

December 15, 2010

No Worthier Cause Than...The Hollywood Sign

Hugh Hefner recently saved the Hollywood sign from destruction, putting $1 million of his own money toward extending the public Griffith Park into the private land where the sign currently resides.

During the fundraising for this project, a California leader stated that, "If we can't save the Hollywood sign, what can we save?"

Well, specifically with Hefner's partial contribution, 10,000 Africans from malaria.

No, I'm not trying to be a jerk. I want the Hollywood sign up, too. I really do. It's awesome. I loved seeing it when I made my cross-country road trip to California during college. It was awesome. It was momentous.

But I want to be honest with myself here. Would I rather that sign be up than providing 10,000 Africans with malaria nets?

God, I hope not. And if I use this same economic logic with my own expenditures, I don't know what will happen. But, I have to start thinking that way. Because it's reality.

December 08, 2010

Musical Orgasms

For the next week, I will be on vacation in Cleveland*
* Name of actual location changed to prevent resentment

Here's a thought to tide you over until I return. I am beginning to think that music is nowhere close to its peak. Whereas food has nearly gotten there.

Until you've had a really exquisite gourmet meal or flavor combination, you might love food. But with that single bite of flavor orgasm, your life has been changed. Food is much more than food from now on. It has the potential to be magic.

And I don't think music has gotten there yet. I think music is simply great, but that we are too easily pleased.

I want to create musical orgasms. And I'm convinced it's possible. Watch out.

December 06, 2010

Truth Telling or Treason?

I've been respectfully following the work of Julian Assange's WikiLeaks for close to a year now.

When his recent mass release of state secrets this past week received worldwide interest, I was terribly disappointed to see the public accepting the Federal Government's call for Assange's deeds as "treason".

Are you kidding me? Someone exposes the deception and corruption and duplicity of U.S. foreign policy, and he's the traitor?

If you accept the Federal response to Assange's acts, I plead for you to start developing a healthier distrust in the Federal Government.

December 03, 2010

All Quarterbacks Should be Black

I think Michael Vick is the evolution of football.

Now, I'm not saying that a white guy can't do what Michael Vick does. I'm saying that based on sheer genetic odds, the racial demographic of quarterbacks in the NFL in 10 years will probably be 75% black.

Because the fastest man in the world will always be black. And teams are realizing the benefits of the fastest man on the football field being the quarterback.

December 02, 2010

Tempted to Go Cable-Less

I can buy a Roku XD device for a one-time fee of $79 to stream HD content to my TV.

If I buy a Hulu Plus subscription for $7.99 a month and a Netflix streaming-only subscription for $7.99 a month, my monthly bill will be like $60 less than it currently is, I gain access to TONS of content, and infinite movies, and I only lose ESPN. Is that about it?

December 01, 2010

What Can You Do A Lot Better Than Everyone?

Let's stay one more day on yesterday's topic. That children don't just need "college" to be assured of a great career anymore, but that they need a specialized skill-set.

I have a friend who doesn't like his job. He called me the other day to talk about his entrepreneurial ideas, knowing that I share my own. The two ideas he pitched to me were to start up either a:

1) Used Car Dealership
2) Breakfast Restaurant

With everything in my soul, I worked to dissuade him from both.

Here's the problem. Smart people like us think that we'd be good at anything. And we're mostly right. But being "good" isn't enough anymore. My friend is smart, talented and capable. But, that only takes you so far in a super-saturated marketplace overcrowded with failing breakfast restaurants and used car dealerships.

What makes a great (profitable) breakfast place? Either unbelievable food or unbelievable prices. Well, my friend is not a chef, and since food obviously isn't a passion for him, he's going to hate having to work so hard just trying to pay the bills. Maybe if he had some great idea to re-think breakfast altogether? But, coming way late to market in a town with slightly better service than your competitors? You don't have a chance.

Opening up a franchise is NOT a get rich quick scheme. Figuring out what you're better at than anyone else, or becoming great at something that NO one else is good at yet - now that's closer.