Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sucks being duped.

I’m in a little bit of a mood today. It could be because my daughter beat on some kid and had to get sent home early, or it could just have been my irritation with a product which was too expensive to begin with.

I purchased the grammar checking tool WhiteSmoke about two months ago. This is essentially the Word grammar checker on steroids, and works in any text editor. Truly, it’s a pretty good tool. You highlight your text, hit F2 and it’ll open in an editor and either automatically fix errors, or show them and recommendations to fix. The recommendations are far better than Word recommends, and it’s great to have grammar and spell checking in every text box, no matter what program you use. There are only a few down sides I’ve seen:

  1. It works in it’s own editor. I’d rather it let me edit directly in the text box.
  2. It doesn’t work in Microsoft Word when track changes are on. It sees deleted/changed text as regular text, and messes up pasting and such. After contacting support the answer was they they don’t support it. Personally I’d rather it replaced my Word grammar checker.
  3. They don’t support Windows 7. Again, contact support, I finally got it fixed myself by uninstalling and installing the newest version.
  4. It requires Internet access. If I’m not on the Internet it doesn’t work since it gets the grammar rules and dictionary from there each time I need it. Essentially this is a client and the checking occurs online, which makes me wonder a little at the safety of grammar checking private or secure content. Though in general I do trust companies like this to not store any of the information.
  5. Their ads are incredibly misleading. I ended up somewhat impulse buying this because I thought it was a big sale through a newsletter I read for just that day. Went back the next day, and the next, and even today, to see the same sale price that will expire at the end of the day “today” which I find incredibly misleading.
  6. There’s no real way to write a review. I ended up buying it because I trusted all the other ads I’d seen in the newsletter and the CNN etc. reviews on their site, though I’ll be even more careful now.
  7. It’s expensive. I got the executive version on sale for around $110 or something. But notice in the screen, it says clearly on the order page that purchases are one time purchases, good for a lifetime and include all updates. So if I never have to pay again, it’s probably worth it.

WhiteSmoke Sale

Overall I kind of regretted the purchase, but enjoyed having it, especially when writing Amazon reviews or other things online where the built in spell checker just doesn’t do it.

Then I got an email from them about WhiteSmoke Writer 2010, the new version. I popped online to get it since my “lifetime updates” covered the new features that were so great, though so far I haven’t seen anything to tell me the difference. I couldn’t get the download to come. I finally started a live “chat” which really just sent an email to support yesterday, and today got the call back just before a meeting. I couldn’t talk long, but the short answer was that “updates” is not the same as “upgrades.” So I get the grammar updates automatically, but if I want the next version I need to pay another $70 to upgrade… so there will likely be a new upgrade every year. Sorry, $70 a year plus the ~$120 up front is just ridiculous (and those were the sale prices, and this was within two months), and I have to think the reviewers were checking out a free version not knowing the cost. Also, that’s for one computer, the support person was happy to try and sell me, for $10, a license for a second computer, even before making clear the upgrade issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the somewhat quick call back, and the grammar checking is excellent. Functionally I only have a few minor gripes. But after the phone call with support I was more that a little ticked, and let him know quickly that I’m not paying for the upgrade and will be uninstalling what I have based on our conversation.

So I came off that call feeling entirely duped and a bit scammed.

Then I finally went to unsubscribe from a Six Flags mailing list, and got this “success” message:

SixFlagsUnsubscribe[1]

You’ll notice I will “no longer knowingly receive future emails” which makes me wonder how they send the ones that I don’t know about, and why they might want to do that. Made me laugh, I was still a little irritated such a huge company let that slip.

Then I have this conversation:

Rachel: Daddy, could you stop typing so fast? Just push the letter that you need one at a time, one at a time, so you don’t do it so fast.

Me: That’s how I do it.

Rachel: Today try something different. Then you can do it slower. Here, I’ll show you.

At which point she typed the words “Me: That’s” over the period of about a minute, and it makes the day all better.

Peace,
+Tom

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rounding to quarter hours with a solution in SQL Server

Quarter before nine by ~rodneymarin A co-worker asked me the other day about an application where they want to sum values and round them to a quarter of a while number. In this case we had a time entry tool where users entered time in any format, not specifically quarter of hours, but it needed to be summed and rounded to the quarter hour.

For example, I have a number 6.6143 and it needs to be rounded to 6.5. Looking around I just couldn’t find an example where pure math was used, the best were some general rounding to different values using a case statement.

In the end I took this approach, throwing together a quick SQL Server function to get the results. the solution essentially takes the number, removes the whole digits, rounds to two decimals, then checks if those two decimals all in a range.

   1: -- =============================================



   2: -- Author:        Tom Leary



   3: -- Create date:   8/13/2009



   4: -- Description:   Rounds the given number to a quarter of an hour.



   5: -- =============================================



   6: CREATE FUNCTION dbo.GetRoundedTimePeriod



   7: (



   8:       @WholeValue decimal(20,4) -- TODO: Set this to your field type.



   9: )



  10: RETURNS decimal(20,2)



  11: AS



  12: BEGIN



  13:       -- Declare the return variable here



  14:       DECLARE @RoundedValue decimal(20,2)



  15:  



  16:       -- Add the T-SQL statements to compute the return value here



  17:       SET @RoundedValue = CASE 



  18:                               WHEN (Round(@WholeValue, 2) - Floor(@WholeValue)) BETWEEN 0 AND .12 THEN Floor(@WholeValue)



  19:                               WHEN (Round(@WholeValue, 2) - Floor(@WholeValue)) BETWEEN .13 AND .37 THEN Floor(@WholeValue) + 0.25



  20:                               WHEN (Round(@WholeValue, 2) - Floor(@WholeValue)) BETWEEN .38 AND .62 THEN Floor(@WholeValue) + 0.50



  21:                               WHEN (Round(@WholeValue, 2) - Floor(@WholeValue)) BETWEEN .63 AND .87 THEN Floor(@WholeValue) + 0.75



  22:                               ELSE Floor(@WholeValue) + 1



  23:                         END



  24:  



  25:       -- Return the result of the function



  26:       RETURN @RoundedValue



  27:  



  28: END




Once the function is implemented it can be used in any view or select statement with the following:





   1: SELECT



   2:       dbo.GetRoundedTimePeriod(SUM(EmployeeTime)) AS EmployeeTime



   3: FROM



   4:       EmployeeTimeSheet




Obviously this function could be implemented in .NET in some common utilities class as well, or really any language.



Any thoughts? If you know how to do this mathematically I’d love to hear it.



Peace,

+Tom

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zoho for SharePoint

Zoho, the online document collaboration tool, now has an add-on to SharePoint that will allow users to edit documents online, behind the network firewall without having to install separate software. It also allows users to edit documents collaboratively in real-time, though we have a lighter version of that using LiveMeeting.

It’s worth noting that while you edit documents behind the firewall, when they are opened, they are copied to the Zoho server during editing, then discarded. So it is clearly not for secret information, but that information shouldn’t be on an unsecured SharePoint in any case. The main benefit is that, when allowed by the agency, users can edit Office documents, and do that collaboratively, without installing the latest version of Office, though they will still need a Zoho license.

Check out some more details here: http://blogs.zoho.com/general/introducing-zoho-office-for-microsoft-sharepoint

Peace,
+Tom

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dropbox Limerick

It’s funny, but I never really get to rhyme much in my daily life. I remember a year or so ago having dinner with our extended family, aunts and uncles at Red Robin, and somehow deciding the rhyme everything I said during the entire meal. It’s pretty amazing how quickly you can come up with rhymes, though they sure aren’t immensely clever.

I’ve been using Dropbox for a while now and fallen in love with it. Essentially you have a folder on your desktop and anything you put in it gets uploaded to a shared directory. You can share individual files, or make a public folder. While it’s a little less intuitive than YouSendIt for e-maling files, I’ve found I really prefer using Dropbox for simply copying a file to a folder and copying the public link, as well as having the file sit up there as long as I want. Plus I find YouSendIt to be pretty expensive for just e-mailing files.

To kick off them having a million users, and a new 50GB storage option, they opened a forum for people to win a 50GB storage, with bonus points to a limerick. I know you were wondering what rhyming had to do with Dropbox. So, here’s what I threw together.

One million users
is an amazing spree
while I'm but a lone soul
with no space left free.

While two gigs is far more
than my Apple IIGS could store,
I find it's not enough
since sharing huge files is tough.

Sharing my data and saving to the cloud
would make my family incredibly proud,
but how could I, with just one try,
ever hope I'd be a five in a million guy.

If you are looking for a simple online backup or sharing of your files, Dropbox is great. And they plan to release a iPhone/iPod touch app soon, even better. Oh, but let me know so I can refer you and get a little more free space.

Peace,
+Tom

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

RealWarriors

I got to work on a Web site recently called RealWarriors.net. This is probably one of the more interesting projects I’ve supported, where we built the site in about four days, and it really provides some value to people. It’s all about raising awareness and helping people connect who have mental wounds from serving in the military.

At this point its been featured on CNN and the Today Show (though we got a little shafted on the Today Show). While it serves a pretty specific audience, it was great to be able to manage this thing into reality.

Peace,
+Tom

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fanatics

I saw this comic today by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Bus Stop

If you’re a writer, or just like books and reading, she is definitely one to follow, her comics are hilarious.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend yesterday. We were talking about the things that we’re good at. She mentioned that I’ve always been really good ad keeping people in mind, considering their feelings and needs, even if I don’t have much reason to. For me it simply boils down to loving people, even if I don’t like them very much, and doing whatever I can to help them to have the best life possible.

I was also thinking about how my friend is incredibly good at pursuing excellence in whatever she does. She’s one of those people who, if they agree to do something, you know will be done better than you’d have ever done it yourself. You also know that once you give her the task you don’t need to look over her shoulder or check up on how it’s going. It’ll just get done, and she’ll even be pro-active and let you know how it’s going along the way. She simply wants to be the best.

But then, who of us doesn’t want to be the best? Sure, I know people who’ve decided to coast along in life, either in their career, family or friendships. They just roll along deciding, either openly or subconsciously, to make one of those three less of a priority than the others. We can’t be everything to everyone.

I know that the people I work with who really strive for excellence are also the ones I enjoy working with the most. They’re the people I’ll actively seek out first for any new, interesting project that I think they’ll enjoy.

The people who strive for excellence in parenting show’s pretty clearly through an innate brightness that comes from them and joy you feel from being around them. I may not be the best, but boy I strive to be seen as the best “dad” by the mom’s at Rachel’s daycare. It was great to get one kid (not mine) to finally eat his dinner, or all five kids sitting quietly outside while we waited for the other mom’s to get out of the restaurant to get their kids. I’m by no means perfect, you should see how frustrated I get with my own kids sometimes, especially when sleeps involved, but I do strive to make Erin proud of her husband for being a great dad.

While my friend really is excellent at everything, not all of us can quite get there. At the same time, we do all strive for excellence in some art of our world. So, I’m really curious, what things do you do where you really strive for excellence?

Mine are probably

  • Knowing the most useful information about current and upcoming technologies, especially around programming and Microsoft stuff. I strive to be recognized as an expert in whatever technology I use, or have used.
  • Delivering excellent products
  • Being the manager that people want to come to when they have a problem or need advice without focus on the corporate bottom line
  • Being the most envied dad by mom’s around me, or said another way, being someone Erin is proud to say she’s married too
  • Looking at everything from a different perspective, and never becoming complacent in the normal
  • Being an example of how others can live

Obviously, I fail miserably at ALL of these. But that never stops me from focusing everything I have on them. It’s really about prioritizing. But by making that list it’s also somewhat easy to see what I value. As my friend said earlier, it’s all about people and making people get what they expect, and more. Making their lives better.

How about you?

Peace,
+Tom

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Creation of Man

Sir Percy Character Study by ~BriarRose86 Erin and I had an odd conversation where we tried to track down exactly when she taught me that if you close your eye, and put eye drops in the corner, then open your eye, the drops don’t bother you. Good stuff to remember for both kids and adults, since I didn’t know until I was 26 or something. The final decision was that I learned this pearl of wisdom before watching The Scarlet Pimpernel at National (or Ford’s) Theater. If you ever get a chance, this is the musical to see, you’ll laugh your tukus off.

Erin always rolls her eyes at this, but one of the best songs ever made is the Creation of Man. Here the Pimpernel describes how great it is to be a man, and how we should live up all the flourishes and dressing styles afforded to us men. Not just plumes in our hats, but “lights in our pants.” The suits they come out wearing are just so outrageous that I could only ever dream of being able to wear something like it to work. If only I’d thought of it for my wedding… This song is hilarious to listen to, and when you’re watching it you’ll laugh so hard you’ll start crying. You should check out the lyrics, and even a video of it on All Musicals. The use of rhyme is also awesome.

Needless to say, this could be my theme song. Living life so outrageously and off the norm that we’re noticed is great. Once you’re noticed, what do you do with that recognition?

I’ll assume you all know where I’m going with “what do you do when you’re recognized” and I wont’ even really go down that road anymore. The real question is, what outrageous things can you do that simply make life more fun?

I love wearing my pink shirt so that I can both express how secure I am in my masculinity, and get people to laugh and smile at it. Rachel loves to match me when I wear pink, and I’d love it if we could get the whole family to do it some time.

Another way to look at is, in what ways do you look at the world and think it is normal? Chances are, that means something needs to change. I love looking at things and trying to see them trough a different lens. The person who’s recently unemployed now has a ton of opportunities to live their dreams for a while, either training for a marathon or developing some Xbox game. The miserably rainy day is a chance to skip mowing or enjoy the anticipation of blooming flowers and budding leaves that the rain brings. The work suit that can be accentuated with a flower in the lapel…  or bright white jacket with dark blue designs, a matching hat and, of course, a cane (or am I thinking of a pimp from the 70’s).

So, how are you planning to look at the norm differently?

Peace,
+Tom

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dr. Horrible

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog I’ve been listening to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog soundtrack on the way in, and it’s just awesome. If you ever think that the jerk who beat you up in school doesn’t want to be loved, this will set you straight… and remind you the jerk is trying to destroy the world at the same time. Truly, it’s just hilarious, and I’m beginning to sing along to some of the songs.

I haven’t had time to actually watch the Blog, which you can get on iTunes or Hulu, but the soundtrack is pretty darned good.

So, if you’re feeling in the mood to relate to some bad guys, since they are people with feelings too, then check it out!

This could all just be a humorous review of Dr. Horrible. Every time I listen to it though I end up thinking about those people I don’t like, or do some pretty idiotic (or hurtful) things. Remember the kid in 3rd grade who ran over and hit the girl… because he liked her? Oh, wait… that was me doing the hitting.

Maybe it comes from working with kids so much, but I see some pretty idiotic things. I know of kids who’ve cut because they feel lonely (not cutting school, that was SO 80’s), or retreated completely from the world because they didn’t think they would fit in. I’ve seen the flip side too, people who are up close to the point of obnoxious because they’re scared that if people don’t see them every day, they’ll be forgotten about or less loved. I can’t necessarily say I do this (though I am pretty “in your face” and obnoxious), but I do know that in my past relationships I’d get VERY self-conscious if I didn’t talk to the girl every day or two, thinking she was off creating a life and happy I wasn’t a part of it.

I’ve also known people who seem to be overly critical, or downright abusive, without even realizing what they were doing. In the name of “professionalism” or “leadership” they would tell someone what to do, instead of entering into a real conversation of give and take.

Everyone, even idiots, really have some deep emotions going on. It’s always worth remembering that the person you can’t stand might just be a Dr. Horrible, building his freeze ray in the basement of his house to find any way he knows to get you to like him.

Who have you loved recently that you really didn’t think deserved it?

No, your own kids don’t count.

Peace,
+Tom

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Polyphonic Spreeing

Follow the Day... by ~Nicc593 My friend Alex recently got me into the band Polyphonic Spree. If I’d have to call it anything it’s kind of a mix between the Beatles and symphonic rock (though I stole the symphonic rock part from Wikipedia). They have traits so similar to the Beatles that Pandora ends up suggesting a bunch of Beatles songs on the Polyphonic Spree station. Seeing as how I don’t like the Beatles, I thumbs down and skip those songs.

I really got into them because Alex said they had some really upbeat music that just makes you happy. I’d definitely have to agree. I’ve loved driving down the road to Light & Day blaring at top notch. Truly, I’ve read the lyrics and still don’t really understand the song, but it talks about focusing on the day and reaching toward the sun.

There are so many times that we look at the day wondering what can possibly befall us. We can just as easily think about the day and wonder what great thing we will make happen.

So, how did you bring light to the world today?

Peace,
+Tom

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tom’s Friend

Tom's Friend Promotional Mug Holy cow, I was going to write on leading people, management, or some other such unimportant thing. Thank goodness I checked my email first! My friend Cindy let me know about Tom’s Friend mugs which this group is giving away free (even S&H is free) as a promotion. So, if you’re my friend, acquaintance, or stumbling upon this blog from Google, you HAVE to get a mug that makes very clear that I’m your friend! If you’re across the pond and want to make clear who loves you most, let me know and I’ll try and get one for you. Request one now!

An overview of the whole thing is on the Tom’s Film site with a quick synopsis in Free Tom’s Friend Coffee Mug post. I’ll definitely be there to see the movie!

I’ve ordered my own so that I can give it to my wife for her birthday.

Thanks Cin!
+Tom

Monday, April 27, 2009

Self Affirmation

hello spring by *meppol Following right on my Inside Out post about spending a little time each morning in front of the mirror talking about how great a person you are, I heard the 60 Second Science podcast Affirmations Improve Minority Student Grades. This talks almost specifically about how simply talking ourselves up can improve our grades, the study looked like this

Half of the students wrote about any neutral topic over the course of a year. The other half were asked to write about why they cherished certain values. The grades of African-American affirmation kids improved about a quarter of a point on a four-point scale, compared with the control group. And the lowest initial African-American performers upped their scores more than four-tenths of a point. Two years later, the scores continued to track higher among the group that practiced affirmations.

Interestingly, for White students who took part they didn't see a difference, which could be attributed to ethnic minorities feeling "particularly anxious that doing poorly could confirm other people’s negative expectations about them." While this may apply to grades or appealing to other people, I still believe that, regardless of your ethnicity, you can build yourself up simply from talking (or writing) yourself up.

Affirmation "New" by *KingBarbarossa

Peace,
+Tom

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Inside Out

Self-Reflection. by ~PolygraphPhotography I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and made an incredibly arrogant comment (because you can do that with some close friends). I said that it looks like I have the perfect life, and everything is great, right? We agreed, I have a wonderful wife, two great kids, a gorgeous house, great job. I am living the American dream and I’ve just got it all together.

My friend Melissa made a comment in a previous post about how she didn’t think my wife and I fought, and was glad to see we did, based on the blog post. Truthfully, in this case, Erin and I very rarely fight. I actually almost fought with anyone I dated. This is really simply because I like to talk a lot, and I want to make sure whoever I’m with is talking too. I talk about what I’m going to do before I do it, as do they, so we talk things out before they even could turn into a fight. I can’t recall a time that we’ve raised our voices to each-other, though we have had a few low grumbles of disagreements when it comes to handling the kids.

Truthfully though, to look at us, I have the perfect marriage and the perfect life.

Except that I don’t.

There are times when it feels like my life is one screw up after another, and I’m just doing what I can to muddle through and cover it up as necessary.

I also often recognize just how much of our lives are lived on a very thin wire, and just a small thing can cut (or just move) that wire so that we fall off making our world entirely different and impossible to go back. I sometimes wonder what it will be that tips be over the side, and am fearful of whether I could really handle it.

I have a million different little problems going on behind the scenes… just like every single one of you.

Around freshman year in high school things were probably at their most turbulent. I had a few acquaintances, but came off of a crappy couple years in middle school (did anyone have a good time in 6-8 grade) and wondered how life could get better. some new friends and reading changed that all around.

Something clicked where I began simply looking in the mirror each morning and telling myself it was going to be a great day, people like me, and I have a great life.

See, when we see someone make a statement, we subconsciously internalize it. When our favorite actor in a TV show is having a down time, we feel it ourselves. When the ending comes and everything is all right, we feel better about ourselves.

The same is true when someone tells you what they think about you, even in general terms. For example:

I’ll tell you that while you have the potential to be a great friend, we just don’t talk often enough or about anything serious. When we do talk it’s all trivial and I wish it could be more, but you’ve just let me down…

Feel just a tinge crappier about yourself? Funny isn’t it, since I didn’t have anyone in mind when I wrote that, but most people would feel like they’re just not a good friend, to me or most people.

The flip side is true of course:

You are amazingly wonderful, and really make a difference in my life. You’re more beautiful than you give yourself credit for, but more than that, you take an effort to make life better for other people. When I think of you I smile, I smile a lot. Thanks for letting me be a part of your life.

Again, complete generalities, but I’d bet you connected with something there and it lifted your spirits a bit. It could have applied to anyone, even people I don’t know personally. As a side, this is how both horoscopes and marketing work.

Knowing all this I found that looking in the mirror and simply hearing a voice say good things about me, and seeing my own face say those good things, changed everything. The inside stuff is still there, and I still have problems, but outwardly I began to change. Over time, and repetition, even the inside changed a bit as well, and my life trended toward the positive.

When I don’t talk myself up, which I haven’t done in a while, I tend to keep on that perfect facade for the world to see. Inside though all the little things going on just come tumbling back and life just gets a little bit harder.

Therapists are great at getting the insides straightened out, by the way, and I really think everyone should see some sort of psychologist regularly. It’s just a great way to find your center when you feel like you’ve fallen off that thin wire.

So, are your insides a bit of a mess? Is your outside? It’s definitely worth looking in the mirror and reminding yourself how incredibly special you are.  God has made you into the perfect shape and personality for this moment in time, go let the world relish in it.

Peace,
Tom

Friday, April 24, 2009

Difficult Questions

Why by =sa-cool While questions come in all different shapes and sizes, we all learn in elementary school that they all are about one of these:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • Why
  • When
  • How

All of these are straightforward, but some are definitely more difficult than others.

Why seems to carry the most weight out of all of these. It can either be the simplest question in the world…

Why did the dog lick my face when it had jam all over it?

While they may get a little tough when we’re younger, looking back they’re still relatively simple…

Why is the sky blue?

Of course, as we get older, the questions become increasingly more difficult to answer…

Why did she break up with me?

And tougher…

Why do I feel so alone?

The beauty though is that while the questions may have difficult answers, they don’t necessarily have to be difficult. Like some of the best questions worth asking ourselves every day…

Why am I so lucky to have this life?

Even questions about other people can really lift us up…

Why are we able to reconnect after years as though almost no time has passed?

Most of my blog posts tend to end with How or What questions. Things like…

What questions are you asking yourself that build you up?

or…

How are you wording your questions so that they lift your heart instead of confuse your mind?

But that’s mainly because the Why questions are so much harder to ask, and they force a lot more thinking on all of our parts. They’re more concrete and require us to really evaluate our life in specific ways, instead of thinking in generalities…

Why don’t you ask questions that build you up more often?

Peace,
Tom

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Friends and Trends

Trends by ~freede Meeting new people, and reconnecting with old friends, gives us the great opportunity to evaluate our own lives through someone else’s lens.

I talked with an old high school friend about her life going all over the world, and finally settling in beautiful Maine teaching deaf and blind kids (I don’t think the same kids have both problems, man, would that stink). It helped me look at the traveling I do, and the people I help. I’m recognizing how much I do love to go new places, just so I can become a part of the real culture, and not just the tourist traps. I like to explore, though I haven’t done it too much lately.

Then there are a couple of friends who have been laid off, and help me realize just how great it is that I have a job, and one that I really enjoy going to each day. No, it’s not everything I want, but since I don’t know what I want yet, how could I ever fault the job. It’s time for me to stop complaining about work, and instead enjoy what I have each day.

I talked to another friend about some of the ways where my life may appear idyllic, but can also be messed up behind the scenes. She told me some of the same stuff she’d said years before, helping me remember that life is what I make it. She also helped me remember that the dreams I have are all easily attainable, I just have to commit and decide to make them happen, even if it’s as simple as going away on a trip for a week.

Old friends helps us change our new trends. It’s wonderful!

Peace,
Tom

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stressing the Mind

DeviantArt deviantwear Stress Balls I’ve been listening to the Dune audiobook and have fallen in love. Don’t ask why a Sci-Fi junkie like myself hasn’t read it yet, but I’m about 2/3 of the way through and love it. I especially like the audiobook from Audible with different voices and a little background music at times, I almost wonder if I would enjoy the book as much.

While listening the following line came up.

The mind can go in either direction under stress - toward positive or toward negative.

This is an entirely true statement that I forget all too often.

There are many times when I think the balance of everything is held together by a string, and it would be so easily to change just once thing and turn the world upside down.

When there is a ton of work for my job, plus volunteer pressures and family life, I sometimes trend toward shutting down or retreating instead of recognizing all the gifts that I have, a job, a great community and a wonderful family. I have more opportunities to help others in ways I can’t even imagine, but sometimes I think about what can go wrong instead of what will go right.

Removing stress isn’t the answer, at least not for me. I have considered that a few times, getting a lazy job where I work and get paid for an 8 hours day without really making an impact. I’ve stopped doing anything with church for a while, and found myself missing the community and the heart that is St. Matthew’s. In all cases our gift is to improve this world for those around us. That’s not possible without a little stretching of ourselves and, of course, a bit of stress.

In stressful times the mind can trend toward the positive or the negative…

What are you repeating to yourself so that you’re trending to the positive?

Peace,
Tom

Monday, April 20, 2009

Decaversary

Anniversary by ~gruneEITELKEIT In all the talk about old friends I had a conversation with one of my teens where a friend of his said “I called that” and I was reminded of my friend Geoff. When I told him I’d been molested for a bunch of years his response was “I thought so.” While he was supportive after that, the response was pretty much the beginning of the end of our friendship. If he’d simply asked about it I would have told him the truth.

In any case, that made me realize that all that happened twenty years ago.

So, this year is the second decaversary of the last time I was ever molested. How cool is that?!?!

I could wax poetic about how I’d never wish it on anyone, but I did grow and learn from it all, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today. But, in reality, I’m glad I have moved on completely.

So, Happy decaversary to whatever you can think of from twenty years ago, or even ten since it’s deca.

Peace,
Tom

P.S. Is Decaversary even a word? I assume so since deca is ten, but what do I really know?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Challenging Friends

Friendship.. by =Evil1302 An interesting thing about reconnecting with old friends is finding something you’ve been missing.

As adults our friendships change from what they were in high school and college. As we grow up we get used to being polite with others to the point that we hold everyone at arms length. People don’t want to be around others who are emotional, so we keep those emotions close to our hearts to be shared in journals and with therapists.

We’ve become more and more distant with each-other to the point that we’re missing the connections and the opportunities for growth that come from those connections.

Friendship by *WickedNox I was thinking about one friend form college who always made me want to be more than I was. She always seemed to have her life together, and was very sure of herself and committed to what she wanted to do. Sure, she had some insecurities, but she was also very open about who she was and what she was focused on. It was always refreshing and made me more sure of myself and my own decisions. She always seemed so in control, and drove me to keep that control in myself.

I had another friend from high school who was always incredibly open and relaxed. She was sure about who she was, and didn’t worry about what others thought of her. She would rely on us completely when she needed us, and we could rely on her no matter what was going on. I was constantly challenged to let go, relax, rely on others and always be available to help.

Friendship by ~ImperialBlue Today I’d have to say the main person who challenges me is Rob. We’ve created a friendship which has a lot of accountability, well, I’m accountable to him, and I often wonder what Rob would think about what I do. But we don’t see each-other all the time, or even talk regularly, so it’s an odd friendship.

I have another friend I’ve worked through a couple things together, but it’s more about being open to talk with each-other, without much challenging of each-other, though I think we’ve both grown a lot since we were talking regularly.

Who pushes your limits? Who do you have in your life who really makes you want to be more than you already are?

What are you challenging to be better simply through your own actions and beliefs?

Peace,
+Tom

Imperfect Freedom

Oops by *CanisLoopus I got to my car yesterday to find a note on the window. You know what window notes mean, someone ran into my car while it was parked. Sure enough, there was a red mark on the bumper. Of course, the note ends with (Not the red mark). So, of course, I had two accidents during the day while my car was parked… how prefect is that?

What was great though, was that I really didn’t care. I’ll call the woman back, only to let her know not to worry about it.

I saw that mark and just thought, no big deal. The car still runs, and now it doesn’t matter if I bump the wall while pulling into the garage. That mark also means that I really don’t have to worry about the odd ding or scratch I get. I plan to keep the car until it dies, or until Rachel kills it while she learns to drive… 12 years from now, whichever comes last. So, who cares about a mark here or there?

On the way home I really realized how freeing it is to have an imperfection or two.

I spent middle school trying to be perfect. Trying to fit in, be liked, and make no mistakes. Needless to say, I failed miserably and had very few friends.

It wasn’t until the middle of high school that I finally decided that I didn’t care about my flaws. If someone was going to be my friend, it would be because of the normal, weird person that I am.

Tonight I was at Potbelly I had the following conversation:

Allison: You’re dressed like a dork.

Me: Huh? I’m wearing a loose collared shirt, how am I dressed like a dork?

Allison: Maybe just a little tonight, but with the sweaters you usually wear you look like a dork… Why are you looking at me like that? Since when has your being weird ever bothered you before?

She was right of course, my being weird is almost a trade mark at this point. If someone doesn’t think I’m a bit of a clown, willing to do almost anything wacked out and weird, I’m a bit hurt and I try to make sure I am weird to that person sometime soon.

At the time though, I was a bit hurt. I really do sometimes try to dress casually but nicely. I hadn’t realized just how flawed I still am at my own clothing.

Allison’s words reminded me, yet again, that I’m flawed… just like my car. So what if I get a scratch on my car, it’ll just be one of many. What do I care who gives me an odd look because of the way I look or something I’ve said, it’s simply my reality.

I’m flawed and I love the freedom I get from not having to try and be perfect… How about you?

Peace,
+Tom

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We’re All the Same

different: dislike and like by ~deWhin Recently I’ve been listening to the Scientific American 60 Second Science podcast. their podcast Peers know you better Than You Do followed an interesting study about speed dating, where a person who described themselves did a worse job being accurate than people who had previously dated the person and then described them.

While the whole thing was interesting, the line that stuck out for me was this:

The researchers say such “surrogate” information may be strong because we’re more alike than we think. Even people of different cultures share similar likes and dislikes. Plus we tend to hang out with people who share our interests. So while we may be marching to our own beat, we’re always part of a bigger band.

All my life I’ve been convinced that we are more similar than dissimilar. We all have very similar wants and dreams. It’s part of why religion has such a string influence in our life.

We all want to belong to something. We want to feel loved, and, in most cases, we want to help others feel loved.

Of course there’s a whole lot more to it than just that. It’s worth remembering that the woman who cut you off on the road the couple that’s taking forever to get through the checkout line and even the person whose broken your heart in a million pieces share your likes and dislikes. We’re all part or a bigger band, connected together.

How will you live your role?

Peace,
Tom

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Ifs

CreationFest 2003 with Tom and Laura I expect everyone imagines to some extent. I certainly hope so, otherwise life really would be boring. I’ve found that I can imagine almost anything, quite vividly. It comes in very handy when I’m making up stories for the kids, and probably was more handy when bending the truth to the breaking point as a teen. Recently I’m finding it is also really useful in understanding people. The bloodshot eyes on the kid in Orlando letting me know she’d been to the beach, or the slow movements of the teen whose been hurt.

The problem with that imagination is that it’s easy to wonder “what if”. While it doesn’t happen all the time, I spend a bit of time wondering about what could have been, or what would have happened.

Every now and then I wonder how my life would have been different if I’d married the girl I dated for almost two years in college instead of Erin, really the only other person I seriously considered spending the rest of my life with. There’s the obvious stuff, like I wouldn’t have two wonderful kids who mean more to me than anything. But, to be honest, that might just mean I’d have two wonderful kids who mean more to me than anything with someone else really.

There were some big differences in our own interests, and I have no question Erin and I click incredibly well because of our work, technology, organization and all sorts of other interests. It may not make sense but I’m not thinking about this as being about Erin , it’s about what my life outside the family would be.

I really am a firm believer that God brings two people together for a purpose, and that he brings the right person for you to spend your life with. That does not mean that there’s only one person for any other one person. There are many, many people that God can use, and many people we could marry which would still work to further God’s plan. So, back to what if I’d ended up without Erin in my life.

Last night I was looking through a bunch of church photos I’d taken for a friend. I went back to when I started taking pictures of church events, in 2002. I had over 11,000 pictures, yeah, around eleven thousand six hundred, and I skimmed through them all. Here’s the conclusion I came to.

What if I hadn’t married Erin? God would still have worked his plan through me in some way. But, I wouldn’t be anything close to the person I am.

I wouldn’t have been an integral part in the heart of St. Matthew’s, and the youth group. I wouldn’t have gotten back in touch with the joy that comes from being a kid. I also wouldn’t have been able to really help people through their own problems because of the hard times in my own life. I also wouldn’t have discovered my love for public speaking, writing, and being funny (well, I think I’m funny anyway, I think Erin disagrees :) ).

More than anything I realize God brought me to Erin to give me relationships. I was almost in teams, and outright laughter going through them and thinking about each individual and each situation.

  • About the my first (and second, and third and…) 30 Hour Famine and the teens there
  • About my first CreationFest, and getting to be exhausted and weird
  • Creating three 40 foot banana splits
  • Being thrown into a huge pit of mud and pummeled on by kids
  • Learning what Zombie Tag is, and getting bruised and burnt from it
  • Learning to talk openly about God
  • Getting to take part in the life outside of church of teens, including friendships and relationships
  • Getting to hear “you’re amazing” and getting to unashamedly tell that to others
  • Getting to publicly talk at a high school event, and see the kids minds click in understanding

There are hundreds of reasons, both with teens and adults, whole lives have touched me. In looking at the pictures and talking to others I’m finding that I’ve gotten to be an example for God as well.

Sure, God would have made some of that happen in my “what if” scenario, but this life is more than I could ever hope for.

I have no idea what is coming in the future, but no matter the decisions I make, so long as I’m keeping God in mind I will have some exciting and moving times ahead.

For now, I’ll continue to try not to ask “what if”. The only What If worth asking is:

What if I focused on what God has in store for me, instead of wondering what I messed up (or could have done better) in the past?

What if all of us let go of the mistakes of our past and focused on each and every moment we have right now?

Peace,
+Tom

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunrise

fire flower by ~Vasilisa Since I’ve been attending St. Matthew’s we’ve had a sunrise service on Easter. We gather in the church and tromp out at 6 AM to our chapel in the woods to stand by benches (er, pews) and light this huge fire, which we then light the Paschal candle (a big candle signifying Christ’s light and presence among us… among other things). We then head on back to the church singing in all our off-key glory to continue the service through readings, in a dark church. About halfway through we say some prayer, turn up the lights, and the whole room becomes festive.

In the dark everyone is silent, and it’s an amazingly peaceful and calming experience. In the light our breath explodes and the colors, light and sounds bring out the joy we feel at this miracle God has performed.

The funny thing is that Easter was really late in the year for 2009. So late that the time change had already occurred, which led to there being some light being out as we were in the woods.

Somehow that little bit of light made all the difference. Suddenly we were a group of people just getting together for a regular service. There was chatting between people as they walked, instead of being silent to watch where we were going. The light didn’t feel quite as bright (though it was huge, Rob burnt his vestments a little), and as we processed back to church we didn’t go quite as slowly, and we didn’t pause quite as often. Overall the whole thing felt a little less peaceful, and the excitement from the lights coming on was just a little bit less moving.

Little details are so important to our perception.

Watching the sunrise… but arriving a little too late.

Changing the sheets for your bed… at 2 a.m. because your kid had an accident.

Hiking through the woods… At night because you’ve lost your way.

Fishing with your dad… in the rain and snow that seeps through your clothes.

Sharing an interesting story… about how you got frostbite on your toes in the freezing water during a fishing trip (not the same one as earlier, and it was only frost nip).

Cleaning the dishes… because you want to get away from your spouse after having a disagreement.

Enjoying a walk through the park… because you got laid off and have more free time than you know what to do with.

What things are going on in your environment that changes how you perceive the situation?

How do you set your own environment before you do something?

Some people have a home office, but it’s pretty important to clean that up before actually doing any work.

When you go to a sunrise, are you going without a cell phone and iPod, or do you bring your own distractions? On the flip side there, are you using the iPod to listen to music that helps create the best environment for you to watch a sunrise and reflect?

How do you let environment change your perceptions?

Peace,
Tom

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What are you spending your money on?

Recently I've begin thinking about what I've been spending my money on.

For example, I love my new iPod touch. No matter what people say about their mp3 player (and I've seen a bunch) Apple has figured out the music stuff. Automatically remembering where I was in each audiobook/podcast. Letting me slide to position or fast forward. Plus the App store. I just love doing it. Plus I'm writing this post on the iPod since my laptop is in the shop, and I love that I can e-mail it when I'm done.

Or my Chrysler Pacifica which I bought used. It, along with my Dash navigation system and iPod or Pandora radio on the cell make driving relaxing and fun.

Then there were the tons of other things I've bought and have since forgotten about. I do love having new things.

Heck, did I mention the TiVo? If you have only used a regular DVR you don't know what you're missing. I even love our house, which was still a good investment even in this
crappy economy.

I've spent probably hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, even if you don't count the house.

Then I think about the three times that I spent my money on someone.

No, I don't mean something gross like hookers, I've only seen them on the side of the street in DC.

There were these three times that I really gave money to someone who needs it, without any expectation of even seeing the person again. the only perople who knew were the person I gave to and myself (well, Erin in most cases) and without ever mentioning it to anyone, including Erin in some cases, though that'll probably change after this post).

I remember each person, even years later. I got to see two people really thankful for what I hope is recognized as a gift from God since we are all just the vessel.

Now I'm thinking about every cent I spend. Do I buy the $4 iPod app (even a 0.99 cent app), or do I spend of on someone who needs it?

How can I spend even a cent on anything that only makes my life easier or more fun when close friends could be going hungry?

Is the Wii game that important? Do I need that DVD? Do I even need my Netflix subscription (hmm I may not be ready for that step yet). Does Rachel need to be in both swimming and dance at the same time?

I used to have a password that was a variant of let go. Meaning, alway being reminded to let go of the purchase, of the stress, of the problem, whatever.

Maybe it's time to change that to give away. I's time to remember the people I care about, and even those I don't know, and give what I have away?

What if we all did that? Heck, what if just you did that?

Peace,
Tom

Friday, April 10, 2009

Gotta Lotta Latte

Thirsty Work by ~Deere About six months ago Erin and I got an espresso machine, and our house has never been the same. I keep joking that I’ve become a decent barista. If you look at my counter you might agree, I have syrups in the following flavors:

  • White Chocolate
  • Chocolate
  • Cinnamon Dolce (delicious with white chocolate)
  • Orange (delicious with chocolate, like a chocolate orange)
  • Peppermint
  • Almond (also called Oregot, did you know that)
  • Hazelnut
  • Vanilla
  • Egg Nog
  • Amaretto
  • Cookie Dough
  • Gingerbread (almost out of that, and it’s Rachel’s favorite)
  • Caramel

I have pumps for them and everything. Quick tip, one pump from a spout is 1/4 of a shot (or 1/2 an ounce). So when you’re at Starbucks and they say 5 shots, you’re getting 2 1/2 ounces of sugar there.

Recently I’ve been listening to the Scientific American 60 Second Science podcast. They recently had one titled Caffeine Cuts Workout Plan which has completely reinforced my latte habit.

It turns out that people who drink coffee right before a workout actually have less pain during a workout, this study mentioned bicycling, and are able to exercise longer. In this study a pill equaling 3 cups of caffeine was given to a group of people, and that group had a much better workout. This worked even for people who were heavy coffee drinkers.

So, my venti (20 oz) lattes each day are actually good for me! If only I worked out after drinking one, though I consider wrangling kids and getting them to school counts.

Want to come over for an Iced Mocha or a White Chocolate Cinnamon Dolce Latte? We can walk to Starbucks afterward.

Peace,
Tom

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Friends

friends by ~nn88 Thanks to Facebook, and to a lesser extent Myspace (which I openly hate but keep since others still use it) I’ve recently reconnected with a lot of old friends. Not old friends from a few years ago, but people from almost different lifetimes. While I’m talking a little more with some friends from college, almost 11 years ago now, I’m talking to more from high school. And a few days ago I even reconnected with a friend from middle school. All this leads to an interesting reality.

I’m starting “new” friendships with people who know more about my past than almost anyone I’ve met in the past few years.

Tons of different emotions come up when we talk. At times I think about how great all of our lives have turned out, and how people have gone beyond my wildest dreams.

My college friend Kat is a PhD in England researching cures to incurable disease. then my friend Coretta traveled all over the world to end up in Maine to teach blind and deaf kids. My friends are making huge impacts on the world, even those who have created a great family that is growing into some amazing kids.

In the past the only time you’d really talk to someone who knew about you when you grew up were family or your best friend since preschool. All of a sudden I’m meeting with people who saw me at my worst, and at my best. These are people who I have given everything to and treated as badly as I’ve treated anyone. It brings up some great smiles and some unexpected tears.

More than anything though all these connections remind me of how I was touched by each of these lives, and how I was able to touch each life. It also reminds me just how many people I could still reach out to for help, with very little lead time.

There are a ton of ways where technology over-stimulates us, and pushes far more information than we could ever handle. Technology is also the great connector. Just as a billions of computers are all connected together, so are billions of people.

Our world is smaller than ever, and our group of friends continues to grow larger because of it.

There’s something amazing to be said for meeting up with old friends and finding that a part of your heart is still committed to them. what a great opportunity that the people who shaped our lives can easily come back and shape them again.

What are we doing to really sustain those relationships?

Peace,
Tom

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Paint Loaves

The artistic block. by =MintyFreak Yesterday Rachel tells me about this dream she had.

I had a dream that a bad man came to our school and tried to kill Lydia, but she was a paint loaf.

When the angel started to bring her up to heaven Lydia said “no, I’m not dead, I’m a paint loaf.”

After asking what a paint bock was, she didn’t really explain, it was just a paint block. All I know is that I really can’t wait for her to begin writing stories… I thought mine were weird.

Update: I ended up fixing this after talking to Rachel and she informed me that it is not a paint block but a paint loaf. Of course, this cleared up nothing for me… but the image from DeviantArt still fits.

Peace,
+Tom

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lent Devotion Version 2

subURBAN by ~sid3kick I mentioned earlier about a Lenten devotion I needed to write for this Lent. This goes into a book where a bunch of us write devotions to be printed and shared with friends, family or whomever.

When I wrote the first draft it was because I couldn’t find a final thought or cohesive item to help grow. When I sent it to my friend Alex fro review, he said it was good, but it wasn’t specifically “Tom”. He said it looked like something that would be in a published devotion book, which was good, but could be better.

So I ended up going back to the topic that had been rattling in my mind for two months. The problem is that it’s incredibly challenging, and I didn’t really have an answer. But, here’s what I finally came up with.

---

How do I live as a Christian in a suburban world?

I have a house with four bedrooms, an office, family room, dining room and living room (can someone tell me why I need both a family room and a living room). If I get kicked out of the bedroom I’ll never sleep on a sofa, instead I’ll get the guest room with its own bathroom.

How is it okay that I live in such a large house with so much unused space when I also truly love God?

Jeremiah doesn’t say that it’s bad to have the palace, so long as you don’t take advantage of others to get it. But, aren’t I taking advantage of others to live this life?

A few years ago a teen in youth group wrote a paper on the atrocities in China’s sweatshops and she wondered how anything like that could happen today. I’ve been walking around stores to see what I can buy that isn’t made in China. The answer? Almost nothing.

Now, I have no idea what the working conditions were for my shirt, but it is so cheap the workers can’t be getting paid very much.

Maybe we’re not all called to give up everything to follow him, though the psalmist makes pretty clear that even if we look like idiots, if it’s for Him it will further God’s work. Maybe I’m not ready to give up this life and home that I’ve made for myself. Though Jeremiah points out that our fathers got along just fine with less.

Every day I struggle to balance this consumerist mentality with my Christianity. Is it okay for me to take another Christian to lunch at $15 per person and talk about God’s will for us? Is it okay to have conversations over $4 cups of coffee?

I wish I had an answer, but maybe I already know it.

Peace,
+Tom

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lent Devotion Version 1

Over Lent some people in our church write a devotion for each day to be put into a printed booklet that we try to share with everyone, both people in and out of the church. There’s the hope that the people will read the devotion each day, since it aligns with the reading of the day. We are kept to 300 words or less, so about half a page.

Every year I offer to write a devotion since I really enjoy it, and every year I keep it foremost on my mind and have a hard time finding a final focus until I get the writing in late. This year was no different. I’d originally read the readings and subsequently thought daily about what it means to be a capitalist, and a consumer, and a Christian.

Then the deadline came and passed, and I still didn’t think I had a good insight. I finally wrote this first draft, which had almost nothing to do with my original thought, but did apply to the reading, and it could have applies to almost any readings.

This is a prayer that was one of the few times I know God spoke through me while I prayed with someone else. The visuals are vivid and specific for me, very focused in my interest in Science Fiction. But it speaks well to me whenever I’m feeling directionless, overwhelmed, or happy. No matter what I’m feeling.

I have that one here. Tomorrow I’ll get to the final version.

---

Dear God,

You know every single moment of my life. You’ve known them before I was even a sparkle in my great grandfather’s great grandfather’s eye.

From before you made Adam in Eden you had a plan for my life. You figured out how you wanted me to live so that you could be known to the whole world. You planned out specific ways so that I can be an example for you.

At the exact same moment you knew that I would fail miserably. You saw that I would put other people and other things before you. You saw the times where I would live so far away from you that I barely considered you’re existence. You saw the many, many times that I would hurt someone, and deviate far away from your plan.

You gave me the gift of free will to decide how to live this life you’ve given me in whatever way I wanted. You have always helped to show me the right path that I should follow, and I know how many tears you’ve shed when I left that path. But you never give up.

While I’ve deviated from your plan, you’ve guided my course. You change the details of your grand plan to accommodate my missteps. You take all of my actions and use them to bring peace to the world. You laugh in utter joy when I work for you. No matter what I do for the rest of my life, you already know about it, and you still love me.

Lord, help me to love all of your children the same way you love me. Help me to look past any failings to recognize the jewel you see in each of us.

Thank you for this gift that is my life.

Peace,
+Tom

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obsolescence

Cassette Tape by ~barkerbaggies I was looking to copy a cassette tape from my stereo to my computer, since this particular album Paranoimia by The Art of Noise is only available on tape, and I couldn’t find my old copy. 

Turns out it was actually in the radio I have… which I discovered after trying to put the copy I just bought from Amazon for $4 into the player… Chalk that up to another Tomism I guess.

The radio I had is mangling the audio from the tape for some reason. So I went to e-mail my friend Mason to see if he has another tape player and ran into a minor problem… I forgot how to spell cassette. Was it casett, casset or cassett? None of them seemed right. I actually ended up browsing the Net before Erin came in and informed me.

This got me back to thinking about just how quickly something becomes so useless we forget how to spell it correctly.

I was also thinking about this because of a recent announcement by Pioneer that they would stop making Laser Disc players, essentially writing the format off to the junk yard. Do you even know what Laser Discs are? They’re the record sized, metallic discs that look a lot like CD’s except they’re huge. These were the highest quality standard you could get for watching movies, but it never really took off.

I was thinking about how this applies to everything we buy today. The iPod I just got will be thought of as a brick in ten years. The DVD player I have, or even the Blu-Ray I think about, will be formats that are dying away in place of something far, far more convenient.

I’ve been reading a lot about the Singularity, a term coined by Vernor Vinge. This is an event that’s been written about for almost twenty years now. It’s the event when computers become more powerful than the human brain, and they are also smarter, in essence able to act human. I’ve read a few books about this, both fiction and non, and it’s just impossible to know what the world will be like when computers are able to improve themselves, but everyone agrees that our lives will be completely different from the way they are now.

Truly, when it comes down to it, all of the technology we see in Star Trek (even the Next Generation) will look like antiques when the Singularity occurs.

Now for the really interesting part. This is going to happen by 2050, and probably by 2015. At that point human beings may very well be the things which are obsolete. Do any of the things we have matter, when we ourselves have been passed by?

Why do we live so much of our lives surrounded by things that are out of date within a year? Why is it so hard to get rid of it all and spend more time recognizing the beauty that is our world, and the people in it?

Peace,
+Tom

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Contagious Happiness

Be Happy by *inObrAS I’ve been listening to the Scientific American 60 Second Science podcast. I’ve found a bunch of fascinating things, but one that struck me today was about happiness.

Apparently Happiness is Contagious. Here’s the interesting part:

Researchers looked at twenty years' worth of data on more than 5,000 individuals and found that when any one person was happy, their friends became more likely to share that joy. Benefits spread out to three degrees of separation, meaning a better chance at happiness for not only their friends' friends, but also their friends' friends' friends.

Apparently it works only when you’re physically close to the person. So my having 300 Facebook friends doesn’t seem to help.

It made me think though about just how happy I am. I like to think I am often upbeat and spreading happiness, even when people may not really want bubbly.

People do lighten up when they’re around happy people. Even when a naturally happy person is subdued and serious, knowing about the underlying happiness and optimism can lighten our day.

So, beyond surrounding yourself with happy people, what will it take for you to be the happy one? What specific steps can you take to be the person who creates other happy people even three degrees removed?

Peace,
+Tom

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why I Need to Be President

On this historic day, when our world will no longer be the same, I’m watching the inauguration and noticing a couple of reasons that I absolutely have to be president.

  • So I can ride on helicopters
  • I will leave the inauguration as outgoing president on horseback, just because I can
  • So I can forget what office I’m accepting, just like Obama almost did
  • So my kids can take my picture
  • So I can gossip with the outgoing president with billions watching, and no one will know what I said
  • So I can make millions after I leave office just for talking
  • To be able to see my face blown up on huge posters and that people carry around
  • So that I can sign presidential orders in one second or less with my super fast signature
  • To be able to say, I want carrots, sardines and ranch dressing at 9 p.m. and someone gets it for me
  • To be able to look in the mirror and call myself Mr. President for the rest of my life

So, will you vote for me at the next election?

Peace,
+Tom

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tomisms

Okay, so this is a post entirely about me. Don’t worry, I’ll have some useful content soon, I promise. But I was talking to my friend Rob last week about some friends that started doing something new “a few months ago.” Rob’s response was that it was at least last August. My reply? Yeah, that’s a few moths ago, right?

I related that story to Erin and she pointed out that you could almost list out certain things that I do which are slightly off from other people. Now, there are tons and tons of ways that I think differently from other people. Personally, I love that.

It keeps me unique. At times though it also seems pretty darned funny. I figure that if people need to laugh at someone, it may  be at my expense instead of some unsuspecting, and undeserving person.

so, here are a few Tomisms specifically regarding how I see time.

  • A few years ago: Any time between last year and thirty years ago
  • Last year: Last year
  • A few months ago: Any time between two months and a year ago
  • A couple months ago: Any time between last month and six months ago
  • Last month: Any time between two weeks ago and two months ago
  • Last week: Any time between yesterday and a few months ago
  • A few days Ago: any time between yesterday and three weeks ago
  • Yesterday: Any time between yesterday and last week
  • Now: Any time between right now and an hour from now

I’m sure I’m not the only one to do stuff like this. Who else out there has some “isms”?

Peace,
+Tom