Sunday, May 31, 2009

DON'T be a Susan Boyle!

I'm not writing this blog because Susan lost Brittan's Got Talent (though she will likely make $13 million dollars this year - not a bad consolation prize), nor am I writing this because she "had a break down" the week before the final. And I am NOT writing this because she has used 30 mins of her 15 mins of fame.

See Susan's Original audition

Nope. I am saying DON'T be a Susan Boyle so you don't lose 48 years before doing what you were meant to do in your life. Even though I'm not a big Susan Boyle fan it is clear she has some talent for singing. Perhaps if she had some support or a little more self-confidence she could have had a long career singing for people. As much as shows like this are a celebration of the amazing talent gems hidden among us - I think they are equally as sad about lives lived below their potential.

So how do you figure out what to do?
You could listen to a great speech...
You could read someone's blog about it...
Or you could read a great book about it...
Or read an Online Magazine Article...

I don't think this is easy question to answer. In fact - in addition to doing all of the above I have asked successful people how they knew they wanted to do what made them successful. One recent example sticks in my mind when I asked a successful business owner and he said, "Tom, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up..." which I found fascinating because by many measures or standards this person would be viewed to be very successful. BUT - perhaps in the US we are led to believe that success & money = life's purpose. And the closer you get to having both, you realize your true life's purpose probably doesn't care about either.

I recall the quote "Nobody really wants to be rich, everyone just wants to do what wealth buys..." which could include freedom, dream vacations, awesome cars... but the funny thing is even that can be empty. Reminds me of a story I have used here before...

Quick Story:
Thanks to: "Living the 80/20 Way"

     Thinking about lunch, the vacationing businessman stared at the calm, blue sea. A small boat, laden with large yellow-fin tuna, docked near the pretty Mexican village. A lone fisherman jumped ashore.
     "That's a great catch," said the tourist. "How long did it take you?"
     "Not so long," replied the Mexican.
     "Why didn't you stay out there longer and catch more fish? It's only noon!"
     "That's enough fish to keep the family provided for," replied the fisherman.
     "What do you do with the rest of your time?"
     "Sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have lunch, take a siesta with my wife, Maria. Stroll into the village each evening, sip wine, play guitar and cards with my amigos - a full and rich life, señor."
     "I think I could help you," the visitor said, wrinkling his nose. "I'm a Harvard MBA and this is the advice you'd get in business school. Spend more time fishing each day, buy a bigger boat, make more money, then buy several boats until you have a fleet. Don't sell your catch to the middleman, sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You'd control the product, production and distribution. You could then leave this small town behind, move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, perhaps eventually New York City to run your expanding firm."
     "But señor, how long would this take?"
     "Fifteen, twenty years."
     "But what then, señor?"
     "That's the best part," the businessman laughed. "When the time is right, you could float on the stock market and make millions of dollars."
     "Hmmm, millions you say. What then, señor?"
     "Then you could retire. Move to a pretty village by the sea, sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, Maria, stroll to the village in the evenings, sip wine, and play guitar and cards with your friends!"

In closing - I am sorry I don't have all of the answer's for you - but the point is likely neither does anyone else but yourself. It seems unlikely that the next promotion was tailored to fulfill your dreams or the next assignment at work. You will need to 1) decide what you want and then 2) make it happen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cats! Beware the robot!

Ok - so iRobot (the people who make roomba, scooba and the pool cleaning robot) now make a robot with a web cam that you can drive around your home from anywhere over the internet and see what's going on at home while you are away.

Check it out here

I would LOVE to be at work and chase my cats around the house with a robot web cam!

The bad thing about cats are you never know where they are and they are usually in hard to reach places (like the top of my closet or on a table). Now when Shelby lived with us you could leave the camera stationary on her spot on the couch and she'd be there - even though she wasn't allowed on the couch.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fun (or Weird) Facts about Me

I had this as a draft blog for a while and have been adding to it here and there - but since Karen wrote about how she does weird things, I figured it's time to publish even though I will remember something as soon as I put this up.

- I don't like shots or needles (unless they are in the mouth in which case it doesn't bother me. I would rather that than to have blood drawn)
- Related to the last one... I don't like bees
- I also don't like sharp things like large knives or razors (I use an electric shaver)
- I don't like open flame or warm ovens
- I love to read - almost exclusively non-fiction
- I don't like drawers or closets, I need to see everything (plus I hate hangers)
- I don't like jeans or tight clothing - I love Hawaiian shirts
- I take luke-warm showers because I have sensitive skin to heat
- I wash my hands with soap in cold water almost exclusively
- I still occasionally wake up at night thinking I am shaking like the earthquake a few months back
- I am super light-sensitive and constantly wear sunglasses when outdoors regardless of season or overcast conditions. If I don't wear sunglasss my eyes actually feel pain from light.
- I don't like char on my food - it makes me sick within an hour
- I don't like spicy foods, including pepper
- I don't like to have anything hang on the wall above my head when I sleep
- I have used the same deodorant for 10+ years but still smell it everytime before putting it on (not sure what I am checking for... it hasn't changed)

Mind over matter section:
- Ever since running into the fence in softball and getting a concussion - I look over my shoulder after positioning myself between batters and tell myself "plenty of room to run" at Ross park. When a ball is hit over my head I initially think I am about to hit a fence but I have mentally overcome letting it affect my ability to go get a ball (but it took a season to do it)
- I expect to catch every ball hit in the air to me in the outfield
- I expect to get on base every at bat in softball and only count how many times I get out per game

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Controversy: Why I am for Gay Marriage

WARNING: This blog is not only controversial but politically charged. If you can not read this and engage in an intellectual and open minded dialogue - please stop reading now.

I support gay marriage.

Now for a little bit of background - I was raised Catholic, but I am certainly very open to other religious ideas and fascinated that we study so much in school before choosing a profession but never study religions of the world before "choosing" one but that is a topic for another blog. Not that it should matter but I feel I should disclose that I am heterosexual and married. So I probably have nothing to gain by seeing gay marriage pass - but I can still point out where I see injustices or at a minimum narrow minded policy making.

I think on it's face if marriage carries legal privileges - then by default it should be open to any two consenting individuals. And I am saying this from an objective position as a legal matter. If you are going to give people rights and privileges if they get married - then in my opinion you can't discriminate against people who want these privileges.

Now let me debunk a few of the arguments against Gay Marriage from how I see it.

The bible says it's a sin
I'm sorry but I don't care. And I am saying this as someone who thinks the bible is obviously one of the most powerful books and thinks as a whole religion helps society deal with the unknown and gives us a reason to act as a civilized society rather than like animals killing each other for our own gains. First - I can't claim to have studied the Bible enough to know whether or not it really says being gay is a sin- I am guessing many can interpret the bible to meet their own needs - but let me talk about a bigger point. I don't think we should be creating laws for a country based on any specific religion or religious document.

I guess I still believe America was founded by the Pilgrims who were trying to escape religion persecution. Whether you believe that or not - I at least believe if you are the governing for ALL the people in America - then you need to take into account that not everyone's religions beliefs are based on this interpretation of the bible or the bible at all for that matter!

It also bothers me that when people say gay marriage is wrong because the bible says so - I am bothered by the clear lack of consistency in this thought. I'm not sure the bible says it's a sin to be gay - but I do know it says it's a sin to commit adultery and I don't think we have any laws in place against that. If we were being consistent shouldn't we say that anyone who has committed adultery should not be allowed to marry again because the bible says it's a no-no? Or if adultery was committed in a couple who decides to stay together - should we as a society strip them of all the legal benefits of marriage because of the sin?

Let me now also say that I don't believe that being gay is a sin. And I've spent a lot of time thinking about this because it's such a political hot topic. I guess it comes down to the fact that there are a lot of things I think are wacky about Catholicism including treating women as second class citizens if they wish to pursue a life serving god. I hope to see female priests in the Catholic mass in my life - it wasn't until I was in high school that they started to allow female alter servers. But I'm getting off topic.

The reason I don't think being gay is a sin is because on a broader non-organized religion view I just believe that if there is one great creator called God then God created some people to be gay (and I am sure there is a spectrum so that is how I rationalize bi-sexuality). I also believe that scientific evidence is pointing to this direction - but for now that's irrelevant because there are many gay people in the world - and that is how the world of today was made.

At the end of the day I can't see anything that comes from a place of love and respect as a sin. I think it may be easy for some to call it a sin if they are not familiar with a loving and caring gay couple - but if they got to know more and more people who I believe may just be born with a different sexual orientation then they can see that there is nothing to fear from gay marriage destabilizing a society - in fact it would only improve things because the more committed couples we have the better.

Children need a Mom and a Dad
I am not going to doubt that this is true. I think it would probably be best for the kids to have a mom and a dad - nuclear family - and a pet. But the problem I have with this argument is that it is fantasy - not everyone is going to have that chance. Either by divorce or death of a parent many children are raised without a mom and a dad. Also there are probably some really bad moms and really bad dads out there anyways (like the ones who video tape their toddlers smoking pot - but let's not go there). Now to take this further - using the fact that ideally children would have a good mom and a good dad as a justification to oppose gay marriage is similarly detached from reality - just because some people say kids are better off with a mom and a dad isn't going to stop gay couples from living their lives together and raise children. In this scenario I believe we as a society are better off recognizing the commitment to their families of gay couples. Just because America tries to punish gay couples by withholding legal privileges of marriage from them doesn't mean gay couples are going to disappear.

If there is no possibility for children then it shouldn't be called marriage

I'm getting long winded so I'll debunk this one quickly - if this were the case then there should be laws that if due to medical reasons a heterosexual couple couldn't naturally conceive a child - then they should not be allowed to marry to be consistent with this philosophy.

It devalues marriage
Really? Because I think there are a lot of disgraceful and repugnant things going on in heterosexual marriages. Abuse, infidelity, etc. We can't really think that this argument could hold up as a reason to oppose gay marriage.

The majority are opposed to gay marriage
News flash - the majority opposed interracial marriage decades ago. Where I think the court decisions of overturning a ban on gay marriage are right is because the majority should not be allowed to just vote to keep rights away from a minority, otherwise we could today pass a law that says Republicans can no longer vote based on majorities. Another news flash - the majority of Americans are uninformed or ignorant. Would you really trust the intelligence of the masses to decide what is fair and just? I think I could get a majority to agree to put an end to Woman's suffrage. Women have been sufffraging for too long! But then Americans would figure out that they just passed a law to end a women's right to vote. Besides it was ill-advised power majority who previously prevented women from voting.

In summary - I actually don't have any issues with people having strong religious beliefs about whether homosexuality is right or wrong. Everyone is free to have their own opinion. However your right to swing your fist stops at another's face - so to speak - and when it comes to legal matters and laws for an entire country - I'm sorry - no matter how big a majority a specific religion may have - it should not be the defacto law in my opinion. That is such a narrow view that because it's some groups strong religious belief that it should become public policy - well our public may not all agree with the same religions ideas and we all have to live together. By default for me laws should be fair to all - not the majority.

I also am encouraged to see that younger generations are more tolerant and open minded - and while recent polling puts the issue currently close to a 50-50 split - I believe it will only be a matter of time before gay marriage will be granted the same legal rights and no longer will we have second class citizens (at least not for gay Americans and at least not legally anyway). Hopefully in 50 years we'll look back at this issue the way we do at preventing women to vote and we'll think "what the heck was America thinking back then".

I hope this blog helps start a useful dialogue and shed some light as to why we can't just point to the bible or any religion for answers to national policy - at least in my opinion.