Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Secret Life



I enjoy most international foods, but I love Indian food. Whenever we visit an Indian restaurant or get take-out, I get a little euphoric inhaling the curry and cumin  seasonings. Anticipating the delicious flavors turns my eyes into swirly spirals like a animated character. Bet you didn’t know Indian food brought that kind of joy.  

Look closely and you’ll find joyful moments in unexpected places. We look for it in major events, but it’s often found in life’s small spaces. Try to appreciate little moments, like this one:

                                         https://youtu.be/2oZhH4ifqDo

We think we need a lot of money and resources to be happy. Not true. We just have to appreciate the special moments that come our way every day. What’s the one joy-filled moment that cost you nothing?     




Sunday, June 4, 2017

One Day at a Time



Once we think we understand a situation is the moment the surprising, true facts emerge.  As the school year draws to a quick close, one of our kids commented how time flew and that school should continue for at least another month. What? By June, most students, parents, and teachers yearn for the end of the long routine. Throughout the year, our child complains about studying and school-related inconveniences that interrupt web-surfing and other important activities, so it was bewildering to hear a call for more school days. Time is a peculiar thing, and our perspective of it changes depending on who (or what) we are and where we stand. Have a listen:       



                                         https://youtu.be/Bc-YpWBxsHU

No wonder flies escape us so easily and so often. Imagine how life would change if we perceived time differently. Even now, dangerous close calls demonstrate how our reaction times can make the difference between life and death. What situation is moving too fast for you right now, and what would you do now if you knew you would run out of time this week?     

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Say You'll Let Go


One of the most annoying things while driving on a rainy day is encountering a wall of water from the opposite lane that temporarily obstructs your view. The number of down pours we’re getting makes it feel like we’re moving backwards, a redo. Here we come, April! Scientist haven’t succeeded in traveling to the past, but consider this idea:

                                         https://youtu.be/CFWmqMvr3bc

 These experiments require careful thought. It’s an intriguing concept, but have we learned nothing from Jurassic Park? Besides, our global warming situation doesn’t support their living conditions. Some people celebrate the past, hearkening back to the good ole days, and missing things from long ago. What do you miss about the past, but more importantly, why?  


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Something Almost Like This


On Mother’s Day, I spotted an interesting sight on a busy road. A superhero, decked out in a yellow and red costume and mask, high-tailed it uphill on a bicycle. I’m sure he was hurrying off to visit his mother because superheroes always do the right thing. Everybody loves heroes. In these unconventional times, we need more superheroes to watch over folks and rescue them from their troubles. Watch what this designer does:

                                     https://youtu.be/Cl8ijPGEKO8

 Given the right opportunity, regular people can be amazing. Heroes are the humble souls who do what’s necessary at the perfect, critical moment. Superheroes are uniquely equipped with special powers, who wait for the chance to step into our chaotic situations. If you needed saving, what power would you want your superhero to possess?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

That's What You Want?




The other day someone said to me, “in my time zone…,” which sounded puzzling since we live in the same neighborhood. Basically, they meant to say, “according to my clock” because they set it fifteen minutes fast. Lots of people do that. If those people joined together, they might try to establish a new time zone, a subcategory within the Eastern Standard zone. It feels like we’re moving in that direction. Believe and do whatever you want. The current climate says if it’s okay with me, it should be fine with you. See how you feel about this:



                                     https://youtu.be/WtewmJ78hzw



We’re faced with tons of issues and just as many solutions. Some ideas will work, but other ones will waste our time, generating pointless arguments and dead-end alleys. How do you avoid conflict when someone else's opinion differs from your viewpoint?   

Saturday, May 6, 2017

What Are You Listening To?   




Some sounds make us pause and reflect. Growing up, I often heard a train’s whistle in the wee hours of the night. It always had a melancholy, Midnight-Train-to-Georgia feeling, echoing a traveler’s reluctant good-bye. Earlier this week, I heard the train whistle from the neighborhood station and got that melancholy feeling again. As if there aren’t enough sounds here, there’s this:

                   
                                     https://youtu.be/k3eNVD_h5b0



We spend tons of time and money trying to understand what’s happening in other places, especially in space. Most alien movies feature space creatures bent on destroying us and taking over Earth. While Hollywood urges us locate and crush hostile outer space creatures, scientists continue looking skyward, wondering if we’re all alone. Do you think we’re alone in the universe?  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Not Going There




Earlier this week, while driving my normal route, I found the main ramp to the highway closed for repairs. Trusting GPS to get back on track, I followed the directions and found myself in the shady side of town. But, after a few turns, I was back to familiar territory.  Getting sidetracked can be annoying or worse since there’s always the opportunity for adventure or dangers. Take a look at this:


                                     https://youtu.be/jXil9P1xqKI

Have you wondered what could happen in this kind of situation? The agency puts layers of precautions in place for protection, but if anyone fails to follow directions, a “floater’s” fate isn’t pretty.  

We all need safety measures in place for when we feel off track. Rescue missions come in all forms. If you began floating from your normal routines, heading in a dangerous direction, what type of rescue mission would put you back on course?


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sign of the Times


When it’s time to wake up, some people drink coffee, others might drink coke. While driving behind a garbage truck early one morning, the vehicle’s rear lights flashed brightly enough to trigger seizures. That woke me up. It seemed like overkill because it wasn’t nighttime, the truck wasn’t pausing, and given their enormous size, no one’s going to overlook them on the road. A jolt to the system will usually revive you. See if this wakes you up:

                                         https://youtu.be/P1cVjsSyCso 


We’re in the midst of many new technologies and advances. They’re popping up so fast it’s difficult to keep up or even debate their long-term implications before they’re put into practice. Anything created for good has the potential to do harm. What issue have you been sleeping on, but realize it’s time to wake up and take action?                       

Friday, April 14, 2017

Breaking the Box


You know it’s spring when your lowered car window allows you to enjoy music from  cars in the next lane. This week, while driving through the city, I heard what sounded like Rap music drifting from the vehicle. What was the driver’s ethnicity? Right. An Asian man. How old was the driver? Right. About thirty years old. What kind of car did he drive? Right. A Lexus. Maybe you missed most of those answers. I usually picture middle-aged people owning luxury cars. We can easily stick people in boxes if we  guess who they are or assume we know their preferences based on our predispositions. See if this surprises you:   

                                     https://youtu.be/ZvNwCRujeFc

 It surprised and entertained me. If we assume a Catholic person is going to behave in a particular way, then we’re limiting our thoughts, and maybe our treatment, of them. Have you ever been prejudged? Try to fill in this sentence: Just because I _________, doesn’t mean I _______________. Have you ever prejudged someone else? What mischaracterization have you made, but will avoid in the future?     

Saturday, April 8, 2017

It's Water Under the Bridge


We enjoyed incredible weather earlier this week. Although forecasters predicted terrible rain and thunderstorms, we saw morning clouds, followed by beautiful sunshine. What if every day could end that way? Last week, an invisible, unexplained bubble of protection kept my friend dry as the sound of pelting rain echoed throughout a parking lot. It’s always wonderful experience to feel protected in the middle of a storm. Imagine living here:


                                     https://youtu.be/jxsSBHTFk3w   
These days we never know when an unprecedented storm will blow though, flooding, toppling, and disrupting the important pieces of our lives. It pays to find the best possible protection for housing, insurance, health, and every aspect of life. What’s your best advice for weathering life’s storms?          




Friday, March 31, 2017

Savor This Moment




Driving through the city, I spotted a peculiar sight as I waited at a stop light. An elderly, well-dressed man carrying a bag and a walking cane ambled down the street. Nothing about his appearance drew attention, except that he was walking backward. Fortunately, the light stayed red long enough for me to watch the gentleman walk a few yards, pause, face forward, and resume his journey. Why would someone do this on a major street? Maybe his knees felt better when he walked that way, or he was making a statement, like this guy:
                                         https://youtu.be/pWe7NbITHnQ  

Sometimes reexperiencing the past helps us reclaim the present. The father in the video may want to ignore GPS, but getting lost is only amusing once or twice. Given the typical Google search requests and the fact that our family owned a set of 1960 encyclopedias, I can tell you those books won’t answer many of today’s questions, unless you’re a fan of history. Bravo for the father’s attempts to savor family time, but at some point, he’s going to want to face facts: addictive technology is here to stay. Progress means appreciating the good parts and managing the bad ones. What good part of life will you savor today?      

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Giving up the Blame Game


A flashback favorite...
Several years ago, a wealthy man promised a class of impoverished students free college tuition once they graduated from high school.  You probably think this deal was “money in the bank” for those students—problems solved.   Not really.  A majority of the scholarships went unused.  I was shocked by that, but I think it shows that money doesn’t solve every problem.  Apparently, certain obstacles in the students’ lives were just too large to overcome. 

This situation reminded me of the book I just finished.  It’s a riveting memoir about a dysfunctional family whose children still grew up to live relatively normal lives.  Check out the book video that features the author and her story:
                                         https://youtu.be/lW0XVno-0gM
 I often wonder why some kids make it through difficult circumstances and others flounder.  Despite her shocking childhood poverty, Ms. Walls (from the book video) had one crucial thing going for her—encouragement.  Although her father made her manage through edgy situations, she often heard him say, “I knew you could do it!”  They shared a connection and the various family members seemed to love one another. 

While I think that we live in the world’s greatest country, I believe we can do a better job of preparing our young people for the future.  What’s the most important trait, quality or skill we need to instill in the next generation?             




Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cracking the Code




Many people don’t use can openers anymore since manufactures produce mostly flip-tops cans. That doesn’t explain why I can’t keep a can opener for more than several months. During the past couple of years, I’ve tossed out at least three can openers. I’ve bought pricier ones, inexpensive ones, and name-brand ones—and they keep failing me. I just bought another new one this week. Where do you find a gadget dependable enough to open a can of tuna? Maybe the time has come to buy an electric can opener or switch to flip-top only cans. Some things will work for you and others things won’t. Take a look:  

                                     https://youtu.be/1sJlTbDTeQg

If we continue to climb stairs or cross bridges leading to dead-ends, we’re not progressing. When conventional methods fail, it’s time to try something new. How will you begin to handle someone or something differently?   


Friday, March 10, 2017

Proceed with Caution




Everyone knows what to do at a traffic light: if it’s green you go, if it’s red you stop. This week, I ran into a major traffic light malfunction that caused people to do a double-take. The traffic light was red and green, and you know it didn’t take drivers long to decide what to do. After looking both ways, people drove through, which probably seemed like a nightmare for driver at the cross-street trying to make left turns. Mixed signals can easily cause confusion, and so could this:

                                     https://youtu.be/RG-OlGA_DbQ

A driver who mistakes the flick of the wrist or the twist of the hip for a “go” could end up with traffic troubles. If we fail to analyze the various sides of an issue, we’re susceptible to making snap judgements and causing huge problems. What issue do you need more time to investigate before coming to a sensible decision?      


Friday, March 3, 2017

Sweet Nothings 



In recognition of Mardi Gras, one of our kids had an opportunity to sample the popular King cake. Our other child complained that the icing was just water and powdered sugar to which our cake-eater, who has a discerning palate declared, “I know. I love it!”  We’re often drawn to anything that tastes like sugar while ignoring the health effects. See if this raises any health concerns:  

                                         https://youtu.be/jC6AGYwoZiA

 The experts say the product is safe and the explanation sounds plausible. After all, chemistry is science, right? Still, a little voice in my head says this is unusual because I expect anything cold to behave a certain way. Our inner voices have a special way of guiding us in the right direction. What’s the last thing your inner voice conveyed to you?        


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Beware: The Truth




You never know what you’ll hear in the news or at home. That’s especially true with kids, so it shouldn’t have surprised me to hear one of ours say, “I’m pretty sure salmonella is a myth.” Tell that to anyone who has gotten sick from it. It’s easy to discount salmonella if neither you nor anyone you know has suffered from it, but that doesn’t make salmonella a myth. Many of the stories we read cause us to pause and think twice, like this one:

                                     https://youtu.be/DGYsnQyoueY

So, what’s your opinion? How do you decide if what you see and hear is true? Frankly, in this case, who cares? But lots of other issues do matter. Long ago, an important ruler asked, “What is truth?” It’s a question that still nags us today. What’s one thing you know to be true?    

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dial it Back




Rushing to get things done, regardless of whether the tasks are great or small, can cause unintended results. In a prior post, I mentioned that the manufacturers of the chocolate we buy glue the bag shut like they’re protecting pure gold. Being impatient, I’ve attacked the bag in a way that caused my family members to ask, “Why!?” This week, after ripping open the bag, I mumbled about how my family would probably blame me. Then, I laughed aloud. They ought to blame me since it was my fault. Don’t be surprised when impatience leads to outcomes like this:

                                         https://youtu.be/AsBb6IisoEs

 If impatience leads to harassment, prepare for retaliation. That’s how this guy earned himself a bill. His frustration was avoidable. The sooner we step outside of ourselves, and see others in the broader picture, the better. After considering the bigger picture, what hasty decision do you want to revisit?    


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cold Weather Wishes Unleashed




One of our kids said, “I want a blizzard.” It sounded like an odd request since this is the child who’s not a fan of cold weather. Eventually, I realized that “blizzard” referred to Blizzard, so the statement was about ice cream, not weather. Of course, the request couldn’t have triggered a weather event, but we still received several inches of snow during this week’s storm. We’re often surprised when requests are granted. Watch these responses:  

                                         https://youtu.be/mlnxajQrL8w

 What a wonderful program. We could make the world fifty shades brighter by copying this idea. Experts say we bless ourselves when we look beyond personal wants and   help others instead. Carrying that spirit forward, what’s your one wish for the country today?  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

You Wanna Know




After mentioning the story of Pocahontas, one of our kids noticed a similarity to the Romeo and Juliet tale in which a couple from different backgrounds unite despite protests from their friends and family. In response to the insight, I said, “Well, look at you, knowing things.” Our child replied, “Dang it! I don’t want to know things,” partly joking and partly in protest of finishing the evening's stack of homework.



Of course, “knowing things” has brought us this far. We learned from successes and avoided the mistakes of people, examples, and stories around us. Listen to the sorrow of not knowing:

                                     https://youtu.be/ijHMSV7XUJE

Think of all the rich traditions and experiences that disappear when old stories stay trapped inside, never passed along. Growing up, we’ve benefited from the knowledge and guidance of parents, grandparents, older family members, mentors, and teachers. At this point in life, where do you turn for advice?       

Saturday, January 28, 2017

No News is Good News


They say no news is good news, and that’s often true. I usually don’t hear from our kids while they’re at school, but one of them called home one afternoon. Imagine my surprise when a calm voice said, “Hi. My school is on fire.” After some explanation, I discovered that everyone had been safely evacuated, and in fact, the school wasn’t on fire. The smoke originated from something near the school. Crisis averted. Life returned to normal as the students marched back inside.



It’s a good I could receive that call. Accessibility for emergencies is good, but non-stop accessibility is not. We’re constantly connecting to people and digesting news feeds through our electronics. Regularly disconnecting from it all allows us to find our happy place. Maybe yours looks like this:    

                                     https://youtu.be/qr8WOtf8V4I

It’s hard to tell who enjoyed the situation more—the shoveler or the spectator. If you’ve found a different kind of happy place, how do you get there?

               

Saturday, January 21, 2017

In the Name of Change


 It feels like change is in the air. You know it’s true when you see toys upgraded. One of our kids brought home a Bop-It that comes complete with a host of new instructions like, “drink it,” “comb it,” and a little extra sass. The latest Easy Bake oven, celebrating fifty years, looks ultra-modern, comes in assorted colors like white, purple, or black and bakes WITHOUT a light bulb. When did the bulb disappear? Even Monopoly made the news when the manufacturers decided to change the player pieces and solicited ideas for new pieces from the games’ fans. How will we survive without the car, the shoe, or the thimble? Although long-time Bop-It players, bakers, and pretend real estate tycoons may question the changes, they needn’t worry. Watch how our perceptions mislead us:

                                     https://youtu.be/0NPH_udOOek

Today’s toys look different, but companies stick with the essentials, the rules remain the same. Bop-It still gets bopped, food still slides through the Easy Bake oven, and players still buy properties in Monopoly. Before reacting to things we see or hear, it pays to focus on our own fundamental essentials. Regardless of any changes surrounding you, what do you plan to continue doing?  

  

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

May We All Know


We’ve been naughty. During the past several months, I’m certain we’ve discarded  enough plastic water bottles to build an additional room on our house. Barring the instability and lack of privacy, imagine how pretty it would look with the sun reflecting through the plastic walls. I don’t know who thought of bottling and selling water, but they’re earning a fortune and creating an environmental mess. Check out the creative clean-up:    

                                     https://youtu.be/El6AU3riRI8 



This guy’s taking proverbial lemons and making lemonade, going above and beyond what you would think you could do with a water bottle. Still, despite the awesome ways  people can minimize the impact of plastic bottle on the environment, we need to reduce their usage. The end doesn’t always justify the means. What have you done that ended well, yet in hindsight, you know you shouldn’t have “gone there” in the first place?


Friday, January 6, 2017

The Big Clean-Up


Is everybody sick? Not mentally, I mean physically. I know of at least six people who are either getting, suffering, or recovering from cold symptoms. Several factors contribute to the rise in illnesses. First, the weather is iffy. One moment it’s sixty degrees, and an hour later it’s forty degrees. That’s not a fun situation when we’re caught outside without the appropriate outerwear. Second, warmer temperatures help germs to linger, giving us more time to be infected. Third, the back-to-back holiday celebrations brought guests  together, facilitating the spread of germs. Check out these unwanted guests:
       
                                         https://youtu.be/1xuEowtB7qg

Nothing like a strong visual image to encourage cleanliness. Doesn’t that video make you want to wash your hands, cough into your arm, and carry around a pint of hand sanitizer gel? We know whatever lurks on our hands can lead to illnesses, but so can worry, stress, depression, hate, and unforgiveness. So how do we cleanse our hearts and minds?