Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Believe

Lately I've been spending some time thinking about what I believe, what I want and, in general, who I am. I suppose I could attribute some of the impetus to being a father and wanting to ensure that I'm providing my daughter with all the best characteristics I have to offer, but it may just the by product of a questioning mind. Either way, I've decided to share some of my thoughts here as a simple clarification exercise.

I believe:

  1. In a higher power, a creator or something larger than any of us can comprehend.
  2. We all have a purpose in this world.
  3. Knowledge is the answer, not fear, doubt or shame.
  4. I don't have all the answers, but I'm not going to stop trying to.
  5. We each have the fundamental tools to accomplish whatever we choose, but learning how to use those tools is up to us, our families, our friends and our community.
  6. Saying "I don't know" is an acceptable answer, as long you follow it up "but I'd like to find out."
  7. Offering to help is easier than asking to help.
  8. Life begins when you're born and ends when you die.
  9. Religion should be about belief and politics should be about action, not the other way around.
  10. Idealism is not a dirty word.
I think that's enough for now, but I definitely plan on revisiting this list and revising it. I just needed to get some of the thoughts out on record and spend some time contemplating them before moving forward. In the meantime, what do you believe?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Are You Extreme?

In today's highly-contentious political world, we often make the mistake of discounting extremists and their views. I'd like to offer another perspective these groups and their individual members, a view that values their voices as a fundamental component of any democratic process.

I believe that we as a people tend toward complacency. Maybe it's just a misinterpretation of the scientific concept of entropy, but over time, given no external stimuli, most of us would just wind up going through our typical daily routine day after day after day. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Granted, this is an over-broad, stereotypical statement to which there are always exceptions.

One of the greatest purposes extremist groups and their followers serve is to offer us an external stimuli to force us into action. In a democratic society, this action is a call to arms, figuratively - not literally. We're called to not just assume others believe as we do; we're called to action, to vote, to write and to think. Every educator knows that knowledge is the by-product of challenges. Failure forces us to rethink our actions and develop resilience to try again. Success teaches us to move forward and build on the lessons we've learned. Extreme political and social ideologies are challenges to our belief structures and offer us insight into the type of world we could create, but usually not one that we want.

The tenor and content of their voices pierce our personal bubble and call us to action, not necessarily in support of one extremist view or the other, but rather a call to action forcing us to take a stand for the middle ground that we find comfortable. By definition, extremists are minorities on the edges of any continuum. The majority that resides in the middle rarely has to do much to maintain their happy equilibrium. Yet when the volume of the extremist voice raises to a level like what we hear today, I have to believe those in the middle must step in order to maintain the bubble of balance that we've come to enjoy so much.

Extreme arguments call us to question what we believe, what we value and how we fit in to the the continuum. It isn't just whether your Democrat or Republican, every issue, every topic has a continuum of agreement and dissent. A complex individuals, wearing a uniform blanket of red or blue really is a disservice to ourselves. We each have multiple, unique perspectives that sway our opinions on each and every topic commonly hashed about in political debates. Our challenge is defining where we sit on the continuum and understanding why we like it there. Extremism can push or pull, but our ideals have to always be at the core.

If there's a lesson in this post, it's this: listen to the voices, all the voices, that surround you. Listen and think. Don't limit yourself to a single issue or subject, separate the ideas, concepts and ideologies and pick and choose the ones that resonate with you, from whichever side of the aisle they come from. Evaluate them, analyze them and understand them. Once you've done that, your job, in this democratic society, is to then act to preserve the status quo that you've come to love so much, lest we all wake up one day in a world we don't recognize.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mom & Dad - Somewhere in Copenhagen

My parents embarked on a month-long cruise earlier this month, after some pretty strong urging by my brother and I. Out of sheer curiosity, I wondered if I'd be able to track their ship and know when they were within cell phone range. Guess what, you can! In fact, I know that right now their ship is docked in Copenhagen, Denmark, which means they're probably out and about.

Here's how I know...


View Larger Map

(The green arrow on the map marks the location of their ship as of 2010-Aug-01 13:33 UTC, or 7:30 am EDT (we're six hours behind, if my math is right...but no guarantees on the math part!)

If you want know how I found the location, it's easy, I just search for their ship on sailwx.info and voila! Here's a link to the ships current location, just in case you're interested! Maasdam's location right now!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 5 Things We Learned From the Norrii

Okay, so they weren't really Norrii, they were really were Norris, or Norris' to be more precise. But the marks they left on us are lasting still.... So here are the top five things we learned from them....


5. Fat pants are perfect for the weekend...or after any large meal.


4. Big business is the perfect euphemism.


3. Stupid arm is always the by-product of spooning.


2. Some people are just mean, mean, mean.


1. Ding! Ding! Ding! When you want out, that's really all there is to it.


Monday, March 22, 2010

I Couldn't Agree More

Yeah, I didn't like the recipient either, but I still wanted to send him an email.


Apparently Representatives don't have time to actually ANSWER email, just to send it out. When I tried to respond to Mike Turner's last e-mail blast, here's the response that was returned:

Hi. This is the qmail-send program at xxxxx.xxx.xxxx.xxxxxxx.net.
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

congressman.mike.turner@mail.house.gov:
143.228.150.173 does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 550 5.7.1 Unable to deliver to congressman.mike.turner@mail.house.gov 
Giving up on 143.228.150.173.

Yep, I'd like to give up on him too....