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Commitment Costs

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I’d like to talk a bit about relationships, love, and commitment. But first, I wanna be a bit geeky…

Several years back, I got a phone call from an older relative. He knew that I was good with computers and he hoped that I could help him resolve a problem with his computer over the phone. Apparently, someone else allegedly had downloaded something naughty and/or malicious and it was causing problems. I couldn’t see what he was looking at, and, due to his technical ignorance, he wasn’t able to articulate to me what he was seeing, let alone the actual problem. After several minutes of frustration on both ends of the phone, I was able to walk him through shutting down the computer and then starting it back up. He had no clue what he was doing but I could hear the computer making the shutdown and startup sounds so I know he was pressing the right buttons even if he didn’t. Once the computer was started up again, I knew that there were no other programs running so I had a better idea of what he was looking at. I paused, took a deep breath, and asked again “What do you need me to help you do, exactly?” To this he said – clearly for the first time – “I just need help turning the computer off.” I laughed out loud and then walked him through the first half of the procedure we had just walked through. He informed me that the screen was blank and that the box wasn’t making any more noises, but he wasn’t sure if it was actually off or not. I assured him that it was. He was very grateful for my help.

I share this story just to say that we all have different levels of aptitude and experience when it comes to computers. Some people use computers only when absolutely necessary. Others have developed a sort of relationship with their computers. Countless nerds, myself included, actually name our computers.
Read more…

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Going to Church [*]

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

I grew up in a family of five: three boys, a mom, and a dad. I don’t know what’s typical in other homes, but getting dressed, fed, and out the door each morning was a bit of chore for us. We had two cars and two drivers. During the week we usually had three or four destinations and arrival times. There was a lot of running around the house to get ready. Amazingly, during these week days, we were almost never late. On Saturdays, we often stayed at home but still had things to get done. Similar to our weekday schedule, we seldom were late to whatever tasks or destinations we had those days.

Sunday mornings were a whole other story. Every Sunday we all had one place to be at 11 AM. We needed one car and one driver and we had plenty of time to get ready. Yet, somehow, at least one person was always lagging. Most of the time, it was my mom. I have countless memories of us three boys and my dad sitting in a car with the engine running in the driveway impatiently waiting for my mom. We’d all shout stuff like “Come on, mom!! Hurry up!!” with a nasty impatient tone, even though there was no way she could hear us. My dad would honk the horn a few times and us boys would eventually resort to punching each other to pass the time and to vent our frustrations. Eventually, my mom would rush out the door, still trying to apply that last bit of make-up or attaching that critical piece of jewelry. My dad would pop the clutch into gear just as she shut the car door and she’d have to buckle her seat belt while also fighting the inertia of the accelerating car. Needless to say, by the time we were all in the car and on our way to church, we were in anything but a good mood. Read more…

Don’t Bother Me, I’m Dying

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

My 11-year-old son, Josh, is in Little League and his baseball season just started. In his two games so far he has been eager to hit a home run, too eager. In fact, he has three strike outs in four at-bats and his coach had to pull me aside to tell me “Your son won’t be hitting any home runs this year and the sooner he gets that in his head, the sooner he’ll start getting hits.” So, yesterday I took Josh and his little sister to a nearby field to do some hitting. My goal was to get Josh to swing for base hits, not home runs. So I made it a contest. I showed him two $5 bills and told him that he could have both if he could hit two home runs. I then threw him ~50 pitches, most of which he hit. But only one of his hits came within even thirty feet of being a home run. Then I changed the rules. I pointed out where he had been hitting the balls and I gave him a new challenge: Get five consecutive good hits and you’ll earn one of the $5 bills. Twenty pitches later, he had earned the money. Read more…

A Day in Court [**]

June 24, 2009 Leave a comment
A few years back, I was involved in a drawn out court case. I routinely had to visit the courthouse to get paperwork, submit paper work, appear before the judge, etc. The case involved lawyers, dockets, calendars, bailiffs and all the other stuff you might know about court cases. What you may or may not know is that, unlike what you see on television and movies, court trials and hearings and all that, more often than not, are boring at best and frustrating at worst. My case was extremely frustrating for both sides. There was lots of hurry up and wait and a plethora of disappointment. 

One day I headed to the courthouse with a stack of about 30 or so papers that I needed to file with the clerk. Having been through the experience a few times before, I braced myself for a 30 to 90 minute wait in a slow moving line surrounded by other equally frustrated people. This is not my ideal way to spend the afternoon. So, even though I was just dropping off papers, I was already very tense and stressed. Read more…

Categories: Lessons I've Learned Tags: ,

The Warmest Day [**]

April 27, 2009 Leave a comment
Ever kept a secret you shouldn’t have? Perhaps it was a secret about something you did or wanted to do that you didn’t want others to know about. Perhaps it was something someone else did that you knew was wrong. Often times we are tempted to keep these things hidden deep inside, especially after we have lied about them! Once we lie about something, the truth is locked away like an encrypted launch code for a nuclear rocket. A lot of internal red tape is required to decrypt it. Even when you want to tell the truth, your pride may forbid you from doing so, causing an inner battle. Read more…

Playing with Fire [***]

October 12, 2008 Leave a comment

When I was younger, between the ages of 7 and 10, I was fascinated by fire. I think I encountered fire for the first time when my grandmother allowed me to play with her large magnifying glass in the backyard. I am not sure if someone else showed me how to focus the sunlight in such a way as to cause intense heat or if I discovered it by accident, but I was quickly hooked. There was a steady supply of large ants and dry grass in her yard so I had a lot of fun burning things but also managed to avoid causing any significant damage. Over time, I discovered matches, the stove, and fireworks. Read more…

“You Can’t Handle the Truth” [*]

February 10, 2006 Leave a comment

The title of this blog has been made cliché by the memorable scene from “A Few Good Men” in which Jack Nicholson’s character berates Tom Cruise’s character in an effort to avoid telling the truth that he knows will ultimately get him into trouble. The outcome of the scene is that the truth is told and Jack Nicholson’s character is hauled off to jail. If he knew he’d get into trouble, why did he confess to it? How did Cruise’s character persuade the truth to come out? The short answer is pride. Nicholson’s character was in fact proud of what he had done. It’s doubtful that he was proud that his actions had resulted in an accidental death, but he was proud for following an unwritten code. A code that he stuck to even when others had doubts about its validity. He believed in this code of conduct and instilled his knowledge about it to the men under him, the men that he ordered to perform a “code red”. Even as Nicholson’s character was being hauled out of the courtroom, he continued to stick to his convictions, knowing that what he did was right. We may all have differing opinions about what is appropriate behavior in the military. I have never been in combat. I have never watched a man die. Who am I to determine the best way to prepare soldiers for battle? War is something that I cannot begin to understand and I hope that I never have to.

Many of us face the same dilemma that Nicholson’s character faced, daily. We have beliefs that we firmly hold to but know that some people just won’t understand. For many of us, myself included, our instinct is to keep these beliefs and opinions to ourselves except for when we occasionally share them with those closest to us.

For years I have kept many things to myself because of fear. During my adolescence, I was afraid of being judged by my peers who may have thought that I was not cool. Sadly, as a young adult, I was afraid of sharing too much with my closest friend for fear of being ridiculed. Even sadder than that is that I am not even sure if that old friend is even aware of this since I was too afraid to tell him. After losing touch with that friend, I decided that I was no longer going to keep my opinions and beliefs to myself. If someone was going to like “me”, they were going to have to accept me for me and not some image that I wished to project, or worse, an image that they tried to force onto me. Read more…