August 29, 2011

For all You God-Beggars Out There

For those of you who don't know, my newborn girl is scheduled to have the first of two sets of kidney surgeries tomorrow. And we just learned that they're going to be doing an ultrasound before the surgery - just to make sure that nothing major has changed their game plan.

Now, that would be an ideal time for them to see that the problem had miraculously disappeared, wouldn't it?

That's what we're praying for, and for any of you God-beggars out there, we would appreciate your begging more than anything in the world.

I'll be back on Thursday with an update.

August 26, 2011

When Boonies Get Money

When boonies get money, they don't change.

They just have a bigger backyard fireworks show on the 4th of July.

August 25, 2011

Why Real Football Fans Lose Fantasy Football Leagues

I love watching football. And I don't really understand a thing that's going on.

There's 22 men on the field at a time. People who really know football watch all of them. They look at formations. They watch the war between the guards and the tackles. They watch how the corner plays off the line. They predict offensive play calls and the defensive response to them. They watch football like its a chess game - because it is.

I only watch the ball. That's where the action is. That's where the excitement is. I like seeing huge runs, big hits, and diving touchdown passes. And it's really odd that I love a game so much in which I have no real idea what's going on.

But, because of this, I will beat you in fantasy football this year.

Because knowledge of the game has distorted your view of specific players. I base my valuations on nothing but statistical evidence. I will draft better than you do, understanding the Adam Smith comparative advantage of picking the last good player at a specific position over picking the best at another because of the depth that's there.

You understand great players and why they're great. And if we were managing an NFL game, I would beg you to take the reins. But, Fantasy Football is a behavioral economists' dream. And I will beat you this year.

August 24, 2011

Create Systems. Not Silos.

"When I try to do everything on my own, too little gets done. When I empower those around me, I am surprised by how little goes wrong."
Over the past two weeks, my entire outlook on work has shifted dramatically. My plan had been to determine the most valuable and necessary tasks at my University I could personally take charge of, and exclusively focus my energy there. It's the 80/20 rule. Determine the 20% of my workday that creates 80% of my value as an employee, and spend as close to 100% of my time on these tasks as possible.

With my manpower alone directly responsible for the value of specific initiatives, I can get 40 solid hours of this amazing work done in a week.

But what if instead, I created systems?

What if instead of my control freak nature which feels I have to personally reply to every comment on our University's social networking sites - I empower others around me, much closer to the specific questions being asked to interact with. What if rather than re-writing every page of our 2,000 page site myself, I create a navigation framework and outline based on Web best practices and ask department chairs to fill in the holes.

Will the results be slightly worse than if I had done it myself? No, because the quantity getting done will be 10-20x what I could have done on my own.

Sometimes, we work so hard to prove ourselves invaluable to our organization. But if we're really looking to create value, we set up systems that won't immediately die upon our departure.

August 23, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Have Sex Before Marriage

If your first sexual experience is with a hooker, you just might "fall in love" with her. The physiological power of sex is so convincing, you might overlook the fact that you keep paying her cash afterwards, and confuse this physiological pleasure with love.

It's the same reason you probably said "I love you" to the first person you slept with. Looking back, did you? No. A more accurate admission would have been to say, "I'm addicted to you."

Your friend finally breaks up with a girl that was so completely wrong for him and says to you, "What was I thinking???"

Sex is addictive. But, if your goal is long-term relationship, you really need to wait until marriage. Because over the long term, it's much more important to be addicted to the person.

August 22, 2011

3 Days. No Cell Phone.

Last Thursday, I came home from work realizing I had left my phone charger behind. I bring my phone charger to work with me because I have an Android smartphone (that I love), but that can't even make it through a single workday on a single charge.

So, how was I going to get through an entire weekend without it? I simply couldn't. I'd have to drive back to work and get it. Unless...

I simply turned my phone off, and turned it on twice a day to check voicemails and texts.

That's what I did. And it was a freeing experience for me. Because the always-on feature is really only necessary for emergency situations, and I was with my wife all weekend anyway. So, I was never going to need to be the first responder in an emergency.

It felt very 2002'ish. It felt good.

August 18, 2011

I Refuse to Talk About the Weather

Eric: "Hey, have you ever seen the movie, The NeverEnding Story?"
Kathleen: "No, why?"

At this point, I ended the conversation. Many people would have continued, simply because they enjoy talking. Completely oblivious to the fact that the individual has admitted having no frame of reference to the subject at hand - and would assuredly be disinterested in the story's remainder.

I refuse to do this, and I think this is why I have so much frustration with interpersonal communication.

I don't want to talk in the trivial. I don't want to listen to your commentary on the weather. I only want to talk about our overlapping passions. Behavioral and post-modern economics. Political and theological liberty. Emergent musical theory.

I don't just want to socialize. I want to think.

Note: for those of you who have seen the film, my podcast co-host got to interview Atreyu the other day. It was awesome.

August 16, 2011

Reluctant Runners

I had an opportunity to guest post on the amazing comedy + running site, Reluctant Runners yesterday, "a site for people who love running - just not while they're doing it."

So, today, I'm going to send you over there to read it. It's probably more funny than what I would have written here anyway.

August 15, 2011

The Difference Between Me and a Serial Killer

Have you ever thought to yourself how you could probably kill someone and get away with it?

You know who else thinks like that? Serial killers.

Now whenever a friend enthusiastically tells me how much they enjoy the television show CSI, I can't help put have the same slight feeling of nausea I would if I spotted, "How to Make a Homemade Pipe Bomb" on their bookshelf.

CSI teaches us what not to do. What mistakes not to make. Now, I just need to develop some intense hatred toward an individual or group. Because I'm confident I could get away with it.

My Baby Turned Me Into a Narcissist

For the past 8 weeks since my daughter entered the world, I have engaged in conversations with others - not really paying attention to what they're saying.

Because I don't care.

I can't. My insomniac head is completely drained of any remaining empathy. It's all been used on myself. Our daughter is, statistically, a horrifically fussy child. And we have also learned that she will need two serious kidney surgeries within the first year of her life.

Because of that, I haven't cared what's going on with those around me. And it makes me feel horrible. I listen to their stories, thinking to myself, "that's awful!" but without "feeling" awful in the slightest.

Is this what Californians feel like all the time?

August 10, 2011

Sad Lessons I Learned from the London Riots

I recently read a story about a scientific researcher who bought a small sustainable farm out in rural Northern California in case of a overwhelming environmental disaster.

He wanted his family to be safe - just in case.

If I've learned anything from the riots taking place this past week in London, one of the Top 10 cities in the world, it's that after a global catastrophe, he'd have people storming his land, looting his storehouse and setting fire to his livestock within an hour.

To prepare for a global disaster, don't buy a farm. Buy a lockable bunker.

August 08, 2011

Your Friends Must Live Within a 10-Mile Radius

One of my close friends is moving to Madison, WI. Just 2 years ago, she moved back to Chicago from living out of state, and I was so excited. We could actually be friends again. But, in the past two years since her return, I saw her only once...on her wedding day.

3 years ago, another close friend moved back even closer to me. From Nebraska, to a Chicago suburb just two towns over (30 minutes away). I've seen her 3 times in those 3 years.

These are close friends. Well, at one time they were. But, if you don't live within a 10-mile radius, good friends become great acquaintances.

It's why we should all live in a giant house together.

August 05, 2011

Charity by Force

Love is a command. Not a mandate.

August 04, 2011

Books Should All Have Multiple Authors

Whenever I read one person's opinion of a topic I'm unfamiliar with, I'm quickly convinced they're right. After all, the author has posed a feasible answer to the problem. And I'm left unaware there are multiple ones.

Recently, I read a book, co-authored by 5 individuals. Ch. 1 consisted of the 1st author's thesis. Ch. 2 consisted of the remaining authors rebutting his thesis. Ch. 3 consisted of the 2nd author's thesis... and so on.

By the end of the book, I was so much more intellectually edified and had so much deeper a grasp of the issue than if I had read any one of the author's opinions alone, accepted it blindly, and been on my way.

All books should be written in debate format. So should all blogs....

August 03, 2011

The Nonvolution of Society

Scientists build upon the best science from the prior generation. Engineers build upon the best designs from the prior generation.

But I still see fathers at the park yelling at their kids for crying while trying to learn baseball precisely because they're so scared of letting down their dad.

Why aren't the rest of us learning from the best examples of morality and parenting, and evolving too?

August 02, 2011

Handing out CDs at a Concert

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of going to see Bon Iver at the beautiful Chicago Theatre.

On our way out of the show, there was a guy handing out CDs of his band, free of charge. I started thinking about how smart this was. This guy was marketing directly to people that spend good money going to see live shows - the exact market a working musician depends on. I was so impressed by the brilliance of this move...and then I listened to the album.

The CD was close to the opposite musical style of the performer we had all paid good money to see.

Good idea guy. But next time, wait 'til Korn plays here.

August 01, 2011

Angel Food Cake vs. Devil's Food Cake

Until this weekend, I never really made the connection between Angel Food Cake and Devil's Food Cake.

And now that I have, I can't really get past the idea that it's kind of racist, isn't it?