Tag Archives: Random Thoughts

Reach for the Stars

I haven’t written in a while, and with thoughts and ideas bouncing around my head like a beam of light reflected by a million mirrors it seemed a good time to put pen to paper… er…. fingers to keys and let some words out into the world.

This was supposed to be a post about Lance Armstrong, doping, the spirit of competition, and inspiration. This was supposed to be a post asking questions and challenging my perceptions – and hopefully yours – about athletes, sports, and the fans that support them. 
Then another Armstrong died.
I grew up a big sports fan, not just of hockey (ice hockey for those who require the clarification) but sports in general. I was blessed with above average, but not noteworthy, skills in a few areas and to watch elite athletes perform at such a high level left me in awe. However, equally inspiring were the people that understood (or wanted to know) how our world and the universe around it behaved, as well as the people that were were not afraid to go out and explore it.
Galileo, Curie, Bohr, Darwin, Feynman, … 
Yeager, Gagarin, Sheppard, Glenn, … 
Say what you want about the moon landings (insert conspiracy theory here) and the fact that there was a list that stretched from here to the moon of people who would have accepted the offer to be the first one to set foot on it, the fact is that Neil Armstrong was the man that was chosen, and Neil Armstrong will forever be the man who made history, and inspired billions.
He was the first person to set foot on the moon. Think about that for a second. Only a precious few had even ventured that far into space before, and exactly zero had left the “comfort” of a spacecraft, donned what had to have felt like the thinnest piece of clothing ever, and set foot on the closest extra terrestrial object we could find – a mere 384,400 km away. Most people cannot truly comprehend exactly how far away that is. Walk around the Earth’s equator 9 times and you won’t have traveled as far.
By stepping off that ladder and onto the cold, grey, desolate expanse of Earth’s only satellite, Neil Armstrong forever changed the way people would view the universe. You want to talk about inspiration? I’m not going  suggest you take a look at his Wikipedia page or check out his A&E Biography. I’m going to ask you to go outside when there’s a full moon, look up, and think about the fact that there’s a boot print up there left behind by a guy from Ohio.
The instant Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon the phrase “reach for the stars” was no longer a metaphor.

The Stanley Cup is in the Building

So last year I had the first chance to have a repeat of the night before one of the greatest moments of my life – and it didn’t happen. You see, on June 13, 2002 with my wife three weeks away from her due date, Detroit won the Stanley Cup. 

I was watching Steve Yzerman kiss The Cup and I turn to my wife (she was pretending not to watch the game) and pat her on the tummy and say, “OK, you can give birth now”. Well, at 05:00 the next morning she wakes me up with, “Andrew, we’re going to have a baby”. More than half asleep I reply, “I know” and roll over to go back to sleep. She replies with, “No. We’re going to have a baby TODAY. My water just broke” and at 17:17 on June 14, 2002, weighing in at 7lbs 7oz, our daughter Avery was born.

Fast forward 9 years ago from then, and go back almost one year from now, and on June 13, 2011 a team had a chance to win the cup (Vancouver). It would have been a great moment for me. Not that I’m a fan of the Canucks, but since that night back in 2002 I haven’t seen The Cup handed out the night before my daughter’s birthday. 

For almost a decade I’ve been referring to Avery as “My Stanley Cup”, and the presentation of The Cup the night before her birthday as “My Halley’s Comet”. This year it looked promising with Game 7 happening on June 13 and what promised to be a gritty low scoring duel. Alas, with LA up 3 games to none on New Jersey it’s not looking good for an Avery’s Birthday Eve Cup presentation. 

It’s OK though, as just watching the Stanley Cup get lifted into the air is one of my favourite moments of the year, and it will hereinafter happen within a handful of days of my little girl’s birthday. So this year, like every year since 2003, I’ll record the last few moments of the game and The Cup presentation – whether that happens tonight or not – and I’ll watch them in the morning with my own little Stanley Cup and her little Drive Through Baby brother (which is a story for another day). 

Wednesday, June 6:

  • Update 1: At the time of posting there is no score in Game 4 with 14:04 left in the 3rd period.
  • Update 2: Jersey scored with 12 minutes left and LA just tied it up a minute later.
  • Update 3: Jersey goes up 2-1 with 4:29 to go. 
  • Update 4: Game over.  No Cup tonight. LA up 3-1 in the series. Game 5 goes Saturday night.

Saturday, June 9:

  • Update 1: Jersey up 1-0 15 minutes into the first. LA better start looking better soon. I really don’t want to have to watch past my bedtime during the week.
  • Update 2: Three minutes into the second period and LA ties it up. Excellent, my sleep regiment may not be thrown out of whack after all.
  • Update 3: Dang. Jersey goes up 2-1 halfway through the second. Looks like that goal went in of someone’s butt too.
  • Update 4: LA has a goal waved off as it went in off a high stick. Sure, it doesn’t count but it was impressive nonetheless.
  • Update 5: End of two and Jersey is up by a goal. It’s far from over, but I’d really like this thing to wrap up tonight. Going 7 games would bring my Halley’s Comet around again though, so I’m a bit torn.
  • Update 6: Six minutes to go in the third. Still 2-1 Jersey and Glen Healey on Hockey Night in Canada just used a rodeo reference when talking about Martin Brodeur for the 973rd time.
  • Update 7: Well, it looks like New Jersey is hanging in there. Since I’m watching this thing wrap during the week anyway, might as well be a game 7 on Wednesday. Could this sequence of events have a 10 year cycle?

Monday, June 11:

  • Update 1: Jersey just gets nailed for a 5 minute penalty. Let’s see if LA can capitalize. As much as it would be cool to repeat the sequence of events of 10 years ago (minus Detroit winning the cup, and a baby) I kind of want LA to win this thing.
  • Update 2: No sooner did I post Update 1 and we have Update 2. LA scores and are still on the PP for another 3 and a half minutes. Could this be the night La La Land gets a Cup?
  • Update 3: Wow, another goal for LA. Up 2-0 with still 2 minutes to go in the PP.
  • Update 4: Holy crap. A third power play goal by LA – on the same power play! LA is on a roll!
  • Update 5: Well Jersey has their work cut out for them. 4-0 for the Kings of Los Angeles just two minutes into the 2nd period. 
  • Update 6: Jersey shows signs of live. One minute left in the 2nd period. Is it too little too late?
  • Update 7: Looks like LA is going to pull off the win on home ice. Going to watch The Cup get lifted tonight, and then I’ll watch it again with my kids in the morning.

    Key to Success: Weed Your Lawn

    Forget all the books and seminars. Forget classes, courses, and experts. Forget TV, movies, breaking news, Wikipedia, or Google. Forget all of it. Everything you will ever need to know about becoming successful you can figure out from doing one simple task: weeding your lawn.

    Pulling weeds from your lawn is an arduous, time consuming task, that if done perfectly and is not aided by chemical treatment, means you get to repeat the process over and over again every 30-45 days. It sucks. It sucks big time, and all it takes is one nearby neighbour who doesn’t give a damn and a light breeze heading toward your patch of suburban heaven and you’re guaranteed a summer full of weed pulling hell.

    All is not lost though; there is a lot you can learn from battling Dastardly Dandelion and its cohorts in crime Captain Crabgrass and Sinister Spurge.

    Crabgrass: Ugly. Versatile.

    Spurge: Deceptive. Sneaky.

    Dandelion: The ring leader.

    If weeds were corporations, these things would be Microsoft, General Electric, and Proctor & Gamble. They are everywhere and if you find yourself as an adversary of one of these giants you’re in for a world of hurt. So what can we learn from the weed and our individual battle against them?


    Weeds have roots. They are the foundation on which weeds are built and bring strength and energy so it can survive and thrive. If you want to be successful, you need a solid foundation, a strong mental core, and a cornucopia of knowledge on which to feed. Roots also dig deep and hold on. Your desire to be successful needs to be as deep and as secure as a weed’s roots.

    Weeds are freaking everywhere. There’s no climate they haven’t infested and can even be found in some of the most remote and desolate corners of the globe. To be successful you need to adapt to your environment, just like weeds. There’s no situation unmanageable, no adversary unbeatable, no obstacle insurmountable. Adapt. Adapt. Adapt.

    Weeds are as hearty as they are adaptable. You can spray ’em, cut them down to the nub, mow ’em, weed whack ’em, freeze ’em, and trample ’em, and they still stick around. They’re even worse than that loudmouth “crazy uncle” who ends up drinking all your beer and spilling salsa on the carpet on the long weekend. To be successful you must be able to take a beating and keep coming back – ideally with illegal fireworks from across the border and a nacho hat.

    Unless you’re The Duggars, this doesn’t mean what you think it does. If you’re a weed, this means exactly what you think it does. Seed like nobody’s business: wherever (see “Adaptability”), whenever (see “Heartiness”), however (see “Persistence”), and then get those roots dug in deep (see “Foundation”). If you want to be successful, you need your ideas and your brand to grow.

    This one’s a no brainer. Weeds are persistent little buggers. Give them an inch and they’ll take an acre. Just when you think you’ve got them subdued that’s when they strike. You might also add patience to this section. The one weekend you don’t weed the lawn and BAM! Dozens of the little buggers pop right up. To be successful you have to never give up. Keep trying, stay patient, and keep trying.

    If it’s one thing weeds are not it’s lazy. Talk about the early bird getting the worm. While you’re busy fussing with the barbecue they’re staring you right in the face and taking over your lawn. Yup, weeds know how do get stuff done. You want to succeed? Get stuff done. Get off your ass and take action.

    So there you have it. If you want to be successful in life look no further than the common backyard weed. Respect its ability to multiply, survive, and destroy the enemy. Keep these things in mind and your success will grow like a weed too.

    HELLO My Name Is: TED

    Update: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    Dear Diary, the quarterback is taking the head cheerleader to the prom – again. What’s worse, I didn’t get that job because someone’s daddy called a friend from The Club and got him the job instead.

    Update: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    Well it looks like the cool kids are taking applications to sit with them at the lunch table again. It goes without saying that I will not be applying. Forget the fact that the price went up ten bucks. They’re still forcing an application process on prospective attendees; and I still think it’s crap.

    I can understand not wanting a bunch of shameless self-promoters clogging up the event. I can also understand excluding people that just want to use the TEDx audience to make some sort of statement or protest. But here’s the thing: even with the application process, several people reported to me that last year’s audience wasn’t all that and a bag of chips, and weren’t terribly engaged either; with a great number of faces buried in their smart phones the whole time (FYI,  there’s a lot of Blackberry in this town).

    So apply if you must. Heck, I’ll even share the application link for your convenience. If you’re lucky maybe the cool kids will let you play with them at recess too. 

    Original Post From: Monday, March 19, 2012

    So TEDxWaterloo is happening this week. I won’t be going. Why not, you ask? Good question. I won’t be going because I didn’t apply for the privilege of buying a ticket. Why not, you ask? Another good question. I think having an interest in what the event is all about, being willing to take a day off work, and dropping 45 bucks on the ticket makes me worthy enough. The people at TEDxWaterloo disagree.

    To be eligible to purchase a ticket to the event you are required to fill out an application. I didn’t check every single TEDx event, but I randomly selected half a dozen with “availability” as per the event listing from the main TED site and all had some form of application process. Apparently this is a popular trend with the TEDx events. The main TED site simply has the disclaimer “This event is open to the public. Tickets are available. Ticketing policies vary by event.” 

    For TEDxWaterloo the application asks you the following questions:

    1. How do you spend your day?
    2. Tell us how you are involved in your community.
    3. What do you hope to get from 2012 TEDxWaterloo DIS CONNECTED event?
    4. What else would you like to share with us?
    5. List at least one website that will help us understand you better (such as your blog, your company’s website, LinkedIn profile, Tumblr, your Flickr account, writing, research papers, C.V., films and book) 

    If you read the whole page those questions were taken from, you’ll see a whole bunch of words about wanting people with a “spark” and “energy” and “passion”, and they try to be quite clear that your economic situation or standing within the community or any other “accomplishments” are not relevant.

    Really? Then why recommend the applicant share their blog, CV, and other potentially non-relevant information and leave a question wide open like #4? How about a single question:

    1. What are you passionate about, and how would attending TEDxWaterloo make a difference?

    Even still, this would just turn the “process” into a different form of essay contest. 

    I am passionate about a ton of things, and I can likely articulate this in such a way that my application would be accepted. Of this I am confident. However, just because I wrote it down a little more eloquently than the person beside me I get in and they don’t? 

    Where’s the line? Why does there even have to be a line?

    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the event, or any of the speakers, or any of the attendees, or any of the volunteers. All of these people are top notch in my book, and I can really get on board with spirit of TED. I’ve drank the Kool-Aid and I like it.

    All I want is for the person on the right of that red line to have the same chance at getting a ticket as the person on the left side of it. Submit your personal information and if your name is drawn you get to buy a single, non-transferable ticket. Want the best of both worlds? What about a lottery for 90% of the tickets and an application process for the remaining 10%, with some perk offered for those who took the time to jump through the hoops?

    From where I sit, I just can’t see the event being undervalued in any way by accepting a random selection of interested people. Assuming the people who are even remotely interested are no less diverse than the current body of applicants all your demographic distributions will be met as well. Simple statistics has that one covered. 

    Wouldn’t it be something if that person just to the right of where the red line would have been drawn gets a ticket, attends the event, and has an experience that changes their life? 

    Better yet, what if you meet them there and they change yours?

    A Day Just Like Any Other? Not Really.

    My birthday is almost here again, and while I’m happy to be celebrating another one, for some reason I feel old. I haven’t felt like this since I turned 30, and this one isn’t even another major milestone. On March 13 I’ll be 38 years old, but unlike that guy from the Tragically Hip song, I have in fact kissed a girl. That’s not old by any measure, unless you live in biblical times, or you’re talking to one of my kids, or the babysitter. So what is it? It’s a day just like any other… right?

    Well, there is the whole anniversary of Ryan’s death. That was understandably the shittiest birthday in the history of birthdays, and the two that have passed since have been varying degrees of happy and sad. Happy because I have so many wonderful people in my life that wish me well and with whom I genuinely enjoy spending time, and sad because my birthday is now an annual reminder of what’s missing.

    The thing is, it would be a rare occurrence if more than two days went by where I wasn’t reminded of him, and what a big void that exists now that he’s gone. That wasn’t a fat joke Ryan, not completely at least. My birthday is a day just like any other… right?

    Last week I was cleaning out the file cabinet and I came across our will. We still haven’t changed it. Ryan was to look after the kids should something terrible happen to both my wife and I. That day wasn’t my birthday. What about when I came across my snazzy new orange shoes (orange was Ryan’s favourite colour)? My first thought was that he’d thoroughly approve of the choice, but be surprised if I actually bought them. That day wasn’t my birthday either. None of the other couple hundred days in the year where something like that happens were. So why does this one day have to be different from all the others? It’s a day just like any other… right?

    You’d think if anything it would be better, what with all the birthday wishes on Facebook and Twitter, the cards, the phone calls, and the now annual steak dinner out with friends. In that sense it is better. At a minimum I appreciate everything and everyone I have around me more and more every year, but it’s not a “better” day, it’s different, and it’s not just like all the others. It’s one that’s frozen in time and it stands out, not just for me but for the hundreds of people that knew him.

    Honestly though, with as many reminders as I get all year, having one that’s not just like any other is fine with me. Ryan wasn’t just like anyone else and our memories of him shouldn’t be like any others either.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSVM7Ho1Je0?hl=en&fs=1]

    Think Before You Tweet

    (How Twitter is Making Me a Better Person)

    Anyone who has spent a few minutes scanning my Twitter feed knows I have a tendency to over share. Granted, there are many out there who share much more and are more vulgar with their language, but I tend to just blurt out the first thing on my mind anyway and if I happen to have my iPhone on me or be near the computer, it goes out to the world.

    Make no mistake though, I am fully aware that every tweet sent is out there for the world to see, and as such there’s a certain amount of self-editing that occurs before I hit send. Most of the time it’s a self serving exercise, but regardless of the motivation behind the censorship, it still occurs, and that’s probably a good thing.

    However, on Sunday night I got a glimpse into my inner self that indicated there was something more going on than just Internet self-preservation. I was watching the Oscars, sitting with my laptop, and waiting for just the right moment to toss out a zinger and hopefully snag a few re-tweets. My initial attempt at mocking the “Who are you wearing?” red carpet question was a bit of a dud (“I’m not wearing any pants. Underwear by Joe Boxer“) so I was getting worried that maybe I just didn’t have my A-game that night.

    Then just as I finished typing something else I thought twice. I cleared the text and refreshed my screen, and immediately read a tweet just sent out by Neil Hedley (“Turning off the Twitter machine for now. The hypocrisy is becoming intolerable. #bullying #Oscars“). Apparently he was taking exception to some of the remarks being put out into the Twitterverse and was fed up. He went on to blog about it here.

    Apparently my think twice moment came at the same time as the straw was breaking Neil’s back. Right before I hit send I thought to myself, how would I explain this to my 9 year old daughter?, and I couldn’t think of anything I could say to her that would justify what I was about to tweet. Experience and conscience tells me that in cases like that it’s probably not something that should be done. So I didn’t tweet it.

    Granted, that is a far cry from not even thinking it in the first place, but it’s a really important first step. As my personal mission statement for 2012 goes…

    Be better, not perfect.

    Neil blogged about how he’s lost respect for some of his friends and colleagues who partook in the Twitter celebrity slam fest Sunday night, and though I only know him through a few Twitter interactions and one meeting a few nights ago at his book launch, I can say quite honestly that I hope I’m not one of the people he was talking about.

    Twitter is more than just what someone had for lunch or what they did at 4:20 that afternoon. If you’re paying attention it can change the way you think. It certainly has for me, on more than one occasion.

    I’m glad I didn’t send out that tweet, and I’m glad Twitter has people like Neil.

    Back to Business

    If insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result then this should come as no surprise to anyone: the people running RIM are completely insane. All that the new 2-for-1 CEO swap has done is replace a couple guys who got the company lost with a guy whose compass can’t find North.

    So I’ll go out on a limb and say this out loud (in fact at a poker game more than 4 months ago I did just that). RIM should get back to business. Screw the consumer market. I mean, don’t not have a camera and music player and integration with Facebook and Twitter, but don’t sell those bits, sell the stuff you’re good at. The stuff no one else can touch.

    There used to be a time when RIM did something that no one else did. Wireless email. It was genius. Then along came text messages and mobile browsers and portable music and cameras and tons of gadgets were introduced to the market, Apple leading the way. Meanwhile, RIM kept doing what it did best, but by this time wireless email had turned into full featured mobile business communications, and they were still kicking everyone ass.

    Then, someone over there at 175 Columbia Street thought to themselves, “Holy crap, if we don’t get the consumers on our side we’re done“, and they started to try to play with the kings of consumerism, and they got their ass kicked. Big time.

    The thing with consumers is they’re fickle. They change their minds more frequently than a certain former RIM CEO tries to buy hockey teams. Corporations, however, take eons to make any sort of change, and guess what? Tons of them out there are using Blackberries. They’re reliable, they’re secure, and they allow business to happen.

    If a hundred million dollar deal is in the works, do you want to send the draft to your CEO on a Blackberry, or with the same toy your kid uses to play Angry Birds?

    You’re working on a presentation to the board of directors and you need some financials from Larry over in accounts payable. Do you ask him to send it to the same device currently playing the new Justin Bieber video for your kid or do you use a Blackberry?

    Hell, the  President of the United States  uses a Blackberry. Now that’s saying something.

    But what the hell do I know. I’m not a CEO, or a market analyst, I’ve never even so much as taken a single business class, and I use an iPhone.

    Looking Ahead

    Don’t look back, but don’t miss an opportunity to learn from the past.

    This is not a year in review. This is a year in preview. Although, having been through quite a bit over the last year I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t learn something from the past 12 months. So with that in mind here’s what’s on tap for 2012, with a lesson or two thrown in to make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes I made in the previous year.

    Let’s start with goals. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do think setting a target is important. That’s what I learned last year with my big singing surprise for my wife. Put a date in the calendar. Set it. Make it permanent. Then do incremental things between now and then that bring you closer to that goal. 

    A friend of mine uses the technique of working backwards. It’s basically what I described above but works from the end back to the now. Establish your end. Example: By November 6th I want to be able to sing a capella on stage for my wife. Then, go to the step just before that. Between November 1 and 5 I will need to perform in front of a small group of friends. Then go one step before that, and so on. I will need to have taken lessons. How many? With whom? The key is to figure out what you will need to do to get yourself to that step. When you’re done planning backwards, if you’ve end up back in 2011, then you have to re-work your plan so that you can get from A to B in the time you want (practice more, rehearse more, whatever…)

    I’ve done this with my writing goals for the year. I’ve started with when I want each of my pieces to be done and worked backwards. The result is a writing schedule where I know how many words I need to write by which days and for what topic. My writing goals for 2012 are as follows:

    • Finish writing and editing 1 novel (100,000 words)
    • Finish and e-publish 3 short stories (10,000-20,000 words each)
    • Write 1 screenplay based on my finished novel (approx. 90 pages)
    • Write 25 blog posts – this one counts 🙂

    Another thing I learned from last year is that I must leverage some key P’s: 


    Being off work for more than two months with a concussion taught me this one the hard way. Things won’t happen overnight. There will be setbacks. 

    You must work within your limits but always know that it’s in you to do more

    With that in mind I’ve also set some other goals for the year. All achievable, even with the above goals in play:

    Finally, one thing I have learned over the past year is that nothing can be accomplished alone. No man is an island. Everyone needs a little help from their friends. I’ve drawn up three goals that supersede all of the above, and there’s no special formula or methodology to accomplishing them. The road to success with these starts now and continues every day for the next year, and every one that follows:

    • Be a better father to my kids;
    • a  better husband to my wife;
    • and a better friend to all the people in my life.

    Here’s to a great 2012!

    Think of the Children!

    So there’s been a lot of talk about Rick Perry’s latest campaign ad. I’ll show it here just so we all have the same information:

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PAJNntoRgA]

    My first reaction to this was pure and unbridled anger, then a friend on Facebook (with extremely different opinions politically and religiously) tells me that isn’t the point that Perry is trying to make, is that he thinks it’s absurd that kids can’t celebrate Christmas in school? Yes, Perry makes it abundantly clear he thinks the current administration has mounted an attack on his religion. OK fine, let’s run with that…

    Here’s why I am still enraged: gays in the military and religion in school are mutually exclusive.

    Issue #1: (His) Religion is Under Attack
    If Mr. Perry thinks a public education system should force religious beliefs on children then that’s one thing but I personally witnessed 8 year old kids singing “Jesus is the reason for the season” at a “holiday pageant” and many of the kids looked sad and confused, and a couple very upset. I wonder what that would feel like? To be told to sing a song praising a god you didn’t believe in? I happen to think that this is a bigger atrocity than telling someone they can’t just wave their personal religious beliefs around in a public school system, especially when there’s separate religious schools for that and churches open every Sunday.

    You can’t possibly accommodate every religion that’s represented in a public school, but since there are associations and communities outside of the schools that do (the aforementioned churches, plus mosques, and temples, …) you accommodate none, but you honour them all in the form of, oh I don’t know… EDUCATION! Which is what the schools are supposed to be for anyway, right?

    Feel free to disagree. I know many people will and that’s all fine and good. Welcome to adulthood where people with strong opinions can disagree and welcome to Canada where you can have disagreements freely and not feel the need to kill anyone over it (most of the time. We do have our share of nut jobs).

    So Rick Perry wants you to know that this offends him greatly and his country is so backwards because of this religious attack that at the very same time this is going on, gays are allowed to just walk around being gay while defending the country.

    Wait a second, he lost me.

    It’s a religious attack to allow people to defend, WITH THEIR LIVES, the rights and freedoms he wants so desperately to flaunt wherever and whenever he sees fit?

    Holy shit, are you kidding me?

    Issue #2: Gays Shouldn’t be in the Military
    I thought this issue had pretty much been kicked to the curb but let’s face it, some people don’t like gays no matter what they’re doing (like defending the country or adopting a child who was kicked to the curb), but since when has being gay and serving in the military become a religious issue? There’s a lot of history with respect to gays and the church, but being amazingly patriotic while at the same time being gay is somehow an attack on Christianity? I’m not sure I understand the correlation.

    Time for a thought experiment:
    How about instead of the “gays in the military” comparison he uses “gays getting married”. Now there’s an issue that’s littered with conflict on how to define marriage, religiously versus legally, that many would actually argue is an attack on some beliefs. It’s an equally polarizing topic, so why not use that as the comparison in the campaign ad? It seems more relevant, does it not?

    In my opinion it is more relevant, but it’s not quite polarized enough and it’s not quite broad enough. Gay marriage is only a “concern” in a few States and it’s not a federal issue. The military? Well, they’re everywhere and they’re the reason a surprisingly large number of small town kids end up getting jobs instead of becoming criminals. To over-simplify it, “gays in the military” reaches a broader audience – the audience that Republicans want to reach – so they picked that to use in the ad. Hell, they picked every single word so carefully it makes me wonder how much of a puppet Rick Perry actually is, and who’s actually pulling the strings.

    My conspiracy theory: Republicans Bigger than Perry are Pulling the Strings
    Rick Perry is pretty much a non contender in the race for the Republican nomination, but the fact that he is a non-contender is exactly why I think the other Republicans want him to do things like this. They win either way. On one hand the Rick Perry supporters get their chance to let themselves be known, and on the other it provides the Republicans an out by way of running someone more moderate and hopefully winning back those middle of the pack swing votes that crossed over to Obama.

    If enough right wing religious nuts get on board, the extreme right drives the agenda. I don’t see this as very likely but it does offer up an interesting opportunity for the Republicans to say: Wait, wait, wait. Yes we strongly believe in these things but the Rick Perry’s of the country are too nuts, even for us, so here’s someone else a little less extreme to vote for. Someone a little more palatable. So, come back: Florida, Ohio, Indiana, New Mexico, and Colorado. Let me pour you some Kool Aid.

    The sad part about all of this is that the issues that are really hurting everyone always seem to take a back seat to the issues that people are more passionate about. Hey, I have an idea! Let’s get people to make important decisions by ensuring they vote emotionally instead of rationally.

    Yeah, how’s that working out?

    Kids Make Great Teachers

    My daughter’s first spoken word was “shit”. I’m not even remotely joking. She was doing something cute and my wife sent me running upstairs to get the camera. At the top of the stairs I hear from below, “Never mind, she stopped doing it.” I let the expletive slip out and within seconds of the word leaving my mouth from downstairs I hear this cute little baby voice say, “shit”. That pretty much spoiled my chances at the 2002 Parent of the Year award. Her next word a day or two later was “da da”, but it was too late, “shit” would have to go in the books as my first born child’s first word.

    She was, of course, just mimicking what she heard me say, but as a parent something like this does make you suddenly very aware that those little ears hear and those little eyes see EVERYTHING. Offspring from all sorts of life learn from their parents. It’s how the world works for many things. You are born (or hatched) and your mom or dad (or both) teach you what you need to know to survive. You pick up a bunch of other stuff too, just by interacting with your environment in general, but you’ll get a ton from your parents whether you like it or not. Sometimes though, the kids will show the old folks a thing or two.

    After the big earthquake and tsunami in Japan my daughter and her friends really wanted to help out. The outpouring of compassion they showed was on its own something to be really proud of, but they took it one step further. They started making beaded bracelets and selling them to their friends’ parents for a buck a piece. Some people started donating more than a dollar, and one even sold for $20 on its own. Before they knew it there were school lunch hours set aside for more kids to make more bracelets. They raised over $1000 that they sent to the Red Cross. Did I mention these kids were only 8 years old?

    Lesson #1 that kids can teach adults:

    You can make a difference. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you just get off your ass and do something about it. 

    I was in the kitchen the other day and my second child (a 5 year old boy) was sitting at the breakfast bar waiting for me to get him going on his juice and cereal. I noticed that when I was preparing everything that his eyes were fixed on my every move. I had to open the new juice, pour it, open the vitamins and take one out, open a new box of cereal, open the inside bag, pour the cereal, close the box, and then put it all away. Not until everything was back in its place did he stop watching me and start eating breakfast. It dawned on me right at that moment that the little bugger was learning. Simply by paying attention he had just learned how to do something. My bet is he picked up a better way to open the box of cereal so he doesn’t rip the tab off every time or tear a giant hole in the inside bag spilling Corn Flakes everywhere.

    Lesson #2 that kids can teach adults:
    If you shut up and pay attention you just might learn something.

    Unfortunately many adults are a lot harder to teach than most kids. Adults come with their own biases and agendas (hidden or otherwise) and tend to take a different approach as a result. Which is really too bad, because we are usually the ones who have the most to learn.