A Fixer Upper

A Fixer UpperEven new houses have problems. This is what I have discovered in the first 2 years of living in my new house. Foundations and concrete heaves and shifts, sheet rock nail pops happen, residues and funny smells abound, and everything that was weakly constructed will break at some point.

Women, sit down here for a second and lets have a chat. In the last 25 years or so, you have finally come to an understanding of a phenomenon of your gender, that you tend to look past the flaws of a man and marry them based on potential, rather than their current state. Phrases such as “women marries man hoping he’ll change, and man marries women hoping she never will” and “careful women, you can’t change him” have become staple sentiments of our dating ideology.

No wonder people are waiting longer and longer to get married. Men are now expected to have it more together, to have all the partying out of their system, and to be mature… pshht. You long surpassed us in the maturity area starting at age 12, but that’s another post altogether.

This has led me to the conclusion: Women, realize that every man is a fixer upper. Granted, there are men who are more fixer uppers than others. There are some who should be downright avoided, and some abusive behaviors that can’t be fixed. Avoid those for sure. But, you need to realize that there’s no such thing as a Bisquick marraige (just add woman), and that the man you want to marry will most definitely require your guiding hand in refining his personality, habits, and behaviors.

Men… to quote the philosopher Hinckley, “the woman you choose will take a great chance on you.” So don’t be an idiot. Don’t mess with her. Somehow you have duped her into marrying you, now it’s time to pay the piper. If you absolutely trust that she has your best interest at heart, and if you listen to her, she will make you a better person.

So my conclusion is, yes, marry people based on their potential, but more importantly marry people based on their potential for change. If you share common goals and hopes for the future, and you are both flexible to each other’s wills, maybe it just might work out.

There is no more redefining moment in your life than a marriage, so just how will it define the rest of your life?

Observations of a Texan Autumn

AutumnYesterday was so incredibly beautiful here in North Texas. There was a gentle breeze, the temperatures were around 75 degrees, the sun was bright and gently warming , and the sky was blue!

I drove home with my window down and my elbow hanging out of the window. It reminded me of a study I once read that proved that the further people drive with their elbow out the window, the more happy they are. I looked around me for anyone else who was driving with their elbows hanging out of the window. No one.

In fact, the only other car with their window down was some ‘ghetto blaster’ mobile, who was bumping down the road listening to some cruelly loud, almost noise pollution, hip hop. Both his passenger and drivers windows were down, with the likely dual purpose of broadcasting his music and also relieving the outrageous sound pressure that must have been generated the sound equipment which occupied the space generally reserved for back seat passengers.

On this day, though, it didn’t irk me so badly. At least he was smelling the fresh air and enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

I like heading out into the neighborhood at dusk during the fall. It seems to be the time where the neighborhood is most active. Kids are out basking in the last moments of sunshine, and even the adults enjoying a leisurely stroll around the block. Many pull out lawn chairs and sit in the shadow of their garages, signaling to passing cars and pedestrians alike. They enjoy Texas’ signature iced tea as well as the company of their com padres, and just sit there as if the world was just put on hold for this special evening. Topics certainly drift from sports to current affairs to family and friends, and the old southern courtesy trumps opinion in every case.

As darkness and even cooler air sets in, the lawn chairs slowly disappear and hush falls over the street.

It is autumn in Texas, and all is right with the world.

A Society of Inclusion

Several years ago, a large media circus was made out of a certain courthouse in the south who had a monument on government property with quotes from the Old Testament book of Exodus; the ten commandments. As I was listening to this debate unfold, and hearing the impassioned arguments of all sides, I came to a pretty basic conclusion…”Can’t we all just get along?”

America has long been a nation of misfits and immigrants. Most of our fore bearers came to this country to flee persecution, gain new liberties, or experience the freedom of a healthy free-market economy.

The gist is this: we need to be a society of inclusion. Consider the word inclusion. It indicates that everyone is involved. Everyone has a seat at the table. Everyone has a stake in the game.

It’s not tolerance. Tolerance connotes that you are simply ‘putting up with’ or ‘enduring’ someone else’s point of view.

It’s not acceptance, either. You can still disagree with others’ values and choices while still valuing and listening to them.

Inclusion means we are giving everyone a voice, and considering everyone’s viewpoint.

I don’t see anything wrong with having a monument of the Ten Commandments in my town. I would also have nothing against a monument to the Seven Avatars of Vishnu, should someone so choose to fund it. I feel that both can equally contribute something to our society. The beauty of the American constitution is that both of them will be treated equally under the eyes of the government.

This principle can be successfully applied to many of the values issues and moral debates that we face as a nation; school prayer, gay rights, immigration, etc.

Let’s take one of the simple ones: school prayer.  Many who were raised with publicly performed prayers in school seem to think our current educational system has become godless by prohibiting the practice of public prayer.  However, this policy has not taken prayer out of school.  In fact, it has probably allowed more prayers in our schools.  Now students from all denominations. who understand and practice prayer in various different ways. feel free to do so in their own personal way.  In effect, we have freed students to practice their own prayers, their own religion, by themselves and on their own time.

I understand that this is an idealistic perspective, and that in practice it is not always possible to accommodate everyone. We’re obviously not going to be able to fit 10 different religious slogans on our quarter, so for now we stick with our history: “In God We Trust.”

But this should be the basic starting point for the debate about these issues. We should begin the discussion by saying, “hey… how can we best include our fellow human’s rights and beliefs in this discussion.”

Could it be September Already?

Wow… 2007 is just melting away as we speak. September is imminent. The summer love is coming to an end. A few random thoughts as we go into the last third of the year:

I like fall. To me fall means “education” as it has long been associated with the return to school for me. In fact, this is only the second year where the fall hasn’t brought a change in focus from work to school. I’m still not 100% used to working year round, and not having that fall transition I’m sure accounts for my lack of productivity at work.

Remember all those goals I set in January? Yeah… neither do I. I mean, I know what some of the things I wanted to accomplish this year have been, but have I really accomplished them yet? Not really. I have worked semi-consistently at each of them. Some have crashed and burned. Others have produced some results. Others have yet to produce any result. Some have gone back to being distant dreams. I suppose it’s time to whip out those written goals and do a reevaluation of them and recommit to them.

I like fall weather. I like the crispness of the air. I love the sounds of crowds in football stadiums which can be heard for miles around. I love how the mornings can be brisk, and the afternoons bright.

I don’t like what’s to come though: Fall pruning. The world dying. Putting up halloween, then thanksgiving, then christmas decorations. The rush of holiday shopping and focus on end of year profits. I could pass all those things up.

Recently I have been in what I’d like to call the “post-summer-pre-fall-funk”. This is a generally unproductive, anti-social mood you get in when summer is basically over and you didn’t get a vacation, when fall isn’t quite here and you can’t really enjoy being outside again, and when you are just plain tired every day.

Why is it at my old jobs, I could work for months on end, six days a week, with no break – no days off, and here in the “real world” working cushy hours for cushy wages in a cushy indoor chair makes me absolutely crazy in anticipation of the 4 weeks per year of paid time off?

I’ll leave you with that thought. Happy September!

Sweet Sixteen

Happy Sixteenth Birthday to my youngest, sweetest, and most spoiled brother, Tyler!

Here are a few 16 year old survival tips:

  1. Drive the speed limit and stop at all stop signs. There are too many cops in the world who are gunning for you to take chances.
  2. Resist the urge to give your friends rides. They will never stop asking for them, and you will never get gas money from them.
  3. Never drive your car off the pavement. Ever.
  4. No. Sidewalks do NOT count as pavement.
  5. Lock your car even while it’s in your own driveway. The only thing I ever had stolen from my car was between the hours of 1am and 7am while the car was parked directly in front of the house.
  6. Be friends with a lot of girls, and resist the urge to hook up with them.

You know, you spend most of your teenage years looking forward to your sixteenth birthday, then toward your eighteenth birthday, then toward your twenty-first. Each time, you’re absolutely sure that life will suddenly begin for you. Well, the truth is, life only begins after you actually begin it.

Carpe diem (seize the day).

Love ya buddy!

It’s Elementary!

It’s that time of year again. School bells are ringing, (well, actually none of the schools I ever went to had bells – they opted for the more annoying alarm-esque steady digital tone) and children are returning to school. The school yards are different, even from my elementary school days less than 15 years ago. The teeter totters and merry-go-rounds have been removed and replaced with environmentally friendly, super safe, rubber rocks. Yes, education has changed in this country.

One thing I vividly remember learning as early as second grade, was about the many explorers and adventurers of Christopher Columbus’ day. There were explorers like Vasco DaGama, who discovered the oversea trade route to India around Africa. There was Columbus, who defied all science and tradition by going west, and discovering the “new world.” There was Magellan, whose voyage ended as the first to circumnavigate the entire earth, exploring the terrible freezing passages of South American straits. The list continues: Leif Erikson, Henry Hudson, Bartholomeu Dias, & Pedro Cabral. While the accuracy of what I learned has been dramatically called into question by today’s historicity, the important thing is, this is what I remember learning when I was in the second grade.

With that in mind, let me brazenly shift gears. Many Americans are afraid of India and China, the world’s largest emerging markets. How can a country as relatively small as America have any chance of competing with countries with such vast human resources?

The answer comes from what I learned in second grade.

Americans are explorers. We are adventurers. We are innovators. We lead the world in technology, and have done so through the 20th centry. We pioneered the digital/information age, and remain at it’s forefront. Even though China and India can manufacture and produce products at much lower cost, the intellectual property and innovation which makes those product possible is still originating from this country.

So as we watch our educational system evolve, as it will inevitably do. Let’s keep talking about the explorers and the adventurers. Lets promote and enhance innovation, creativity, and change in our public and private universities. Therein lies the key to preserving our status as the world’s greatest ideological superpower.

No Time Like The Present

One of my good friends, Jeff, once told me:

There’s never a better time to look for a job than when you already have a job you love.

So in that spirit, I want to congratulate Jeff on his new job as an Arts Manager at a large university, and remind everyone that there is no time like the present to be looking for your dream job! When you least expect it, it may just present itself.