A Reason To Smile

The other day I was riding my bike and I came across the following message painted on the ground.

smile 2

This is a simple, but great message.  I don’t know about you, but I always feel better when I smile. Imagine how great the world would be if we all smiled more.

This makes me think of the quote from the movie Elf where Will Ferrell says that “smiling is his favorite.”

I hope that everyone who reads this is having an awesome day. But if you are not, maybe you can use this photo as a way to think about something that makes you smile.

All of you who read and follow my blog are my reason to smile today.  Thank you for being great and for putting up with my ramblings.

What is your reason to smile?

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My To-Do-List

Today I am thankful for to-do-lists.

I have a terrible memory.  I can’t remember names, stories from my past or historical events.  There are only two things that I am good at remembering:

1)Where NBA players went to college

2)The theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

I have yet to run into many situations where knowing either of those things has come in handy.

My brother Matt once implied that if, heaven forbid, I ever lose my memory completely and he has to take care of me, it won’t be that big of an adjustment for him.  He constantly has to remind me of things from our past, so he will be prepared for when all my memory goes away.

In order to remember to accomplish everyday tasks, I need to keep a to-do-list.  Until recently, I kept my to-do-list on sticky notes around my room.  Once I would complete a task, I would have to immediately cross it out in red pen.  I did this not because I was proud of accomplishing something, rather, I did this because if I didn’t cross it out right away, I was afraid that I would forget that I already finished that to-do-list item.

I now keep a to-do-list on my phone.  Not because I am tech savvy, but because I ran out of sticky notes and kept forgetting to buy them every time I went to the store (just kidding).

My to-do-list really comes in handy with this blog.  It helps me keep track of future posts and make sure I do not forget to post stories that I have already written.  The only thing I struggle with now is remembering to write items in my to-do-list.  I need a to-do-list for my to-do-list.

 

 

Thanks to digitalart & FreeDigitalPhotos.net for the photo used on the homepage.

For All The Marbles

Following game six of the NBA Finals, Miami Heat star LeBron James said that game seven was “for all the marbles.” He meant that the next game would be the deciding game of the series and the winner would take home the NBA Championship.

I’ve always thought that was an odd phrase.  I mean, how many marbles are we talking about here? I want to win just as much as the next guy, but I also want to be prepared for just how many marbles I am going to have to lug around if I win.

For today’s Wonder Why Wednesday, even I am smart enough to guess that the phrase dates back to an old game of marbles. But why do we still use that phrase today?  Why not something more recent, like “for all the pogs” or “for all the Pokémon cards.”

Take a look at this fun history of marbles from MentalFloss.com.

Apparently marbles began being mass produced in 1884 by Sam Dyke of Akron, Ohio.  Oddly enough, that is the same city LeBron James is from. Maybe that is why he likes to use the phrase so much.

I found the Mental Floss story interesting because, not only did the game of marbles give us the phrase “for all the marbles” but it also gave us other phrases and terms such as “knuckle down,” “fudging” & “playing for keeps.”  Oddly enough, the game of marbles appears to have nothing to do with the phrase “lose your marbles” which refers to going crazy.

Who knew that marbles have had such an affect on the slang terms we use today?  I guess the same can’t be said for pogs or Pokémon.

Here’s video of the LeBron James quote I referred to at the beginning of this post.

Thanks to Maggie Smith & FreeDigitalPhotos.net for the photo used on the homepage.

How Do You Treat Triumph and Disaster?

With the start of Wimbledon yesterday, I wanted to share the poem, If, by Rudyard Kipling. I found out about this poem a few years ago while watching tennis.  The commentator mentioned that a portion of the poem is written on the wall of the players’ entrance to the Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, where the Wimbledon Championships are held.

Thinking that maybe the poem would make me a better tennis player, I immediately looked up the full text.  What I read did much more than help my serve.  I found that this poem written over 100 years ago can still very much apply to our lives today.  I think this poem is very inspirational and a great way to look at life.  I hope you enjoy it.

If . . .

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!

by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

I would like to point out the portion that is featured at Wimbledon, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / and treat those two impostors just the same.”  These lines help keep the match in perspective and remind the players that in the end, it is just a game.

Trying to keep a level head when times are great as well as when times are tough is a wonderful motto but it is not easy in real life.  I don’t know about you, but I have a very difficult time treating triumph and disaster the same. The joy that I feel in succeeding couldn’t be further from the pain I feel when failing.

Despite the difficulty to stay humble in victory and positive in adversity, it is something we should all strive for.  Keeping in mind Rudyard Kipling’s If may not make us better tennis players, but it can help make us better people.

For all you tennis fans, I have included a video below of Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal reading If.  Pretty good for two guys whose first language is not English!

Y2K

Remember how we were all supposed to die in 2012?  The Mayan calendar said the world was supposed to end last year, didn’t it?

I was talking about that with a friend of mine and I made a joke about how all that was like Y2K.  This friend of mine is only 17 years old and his response to my joke was “What? Y2K?”

“Yeah, you know, Y2K, when computers were supposed to take over the world or something like that,” I replied.

“I don’t remember that,” he said.

Quickly doing the math, I determined that he was born in 1996, making him less than 4 years old at the turn of the century.  I guess he was too young to remember Y2K.  Apparently in 2000, 4 year olds had more important things to worry about than millions of computers crashing.

“What was Y2K?” he asked.

“It was this big scare that everyone’s computer was going to stop working on January 1, 2000.  It had something to do with computers switching over from 1999 to 2000 and people were afraid that somehow the year ending in 00 would cause us to go back in time 100 years or something.”

“Really? People actually thought that?” said my friend.

“Yeah it was a big deal,” I said. “I guess you don’t hear much about it these days.”

Now, I may not have all my facts straight, but when describing Y2K I almost felt silly.  Why did we all think the turn of the century was going to be such a disaster?

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there really was a problem with computers at the time.  I don’t doubt that it took hundreds of hours and millions of dollars to fix, but I remember people panicking and saying to take all your money out of the bank or it would be lost forever.

As the nation watched a pre-Ryan Seacrest Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve, we all held our breath and waited to see what would happen when the ball dropped in Time Square.

Did anything actually happen?

The way I remember it, my world was unaffected.  I probably slept until noon the next day and then spent the next 12 hours playing video games.  Life seemed pretty normal to me.

For such a worldwide news story, you don’t hear much about Y2K these days.  In fact, I think people stopped talking about Y2K on January 2, 2000.  People were so overworked and a little embarrassed about the whole thing that they just stopped talking about it altogether.

So it makes sense that someone born in 1996 wouldn’t know about Y2K.  This week’s Memory Monday is apparently one memory that everyone has tried to forget.

Is Everyone In Here Crazy, Or Is It Just Me?

The old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.”  I know this blog will never be perfect, but I hope to continue to make it better and better as I become a better writer (a great writer probably wouldn’t have used the word better 3 times in that last sentence).  And the best way to improve my writing is to just sit down and write.  But what do you do when you can’t think of what to write about?

I often have a difficult time figuring out what to write. In order to find content, I subscribe to an email newsletter from WritersDigest.com.  Along with helpful writing tips, Writer’s Digest sends out a weekly writing prompt.  This provides me a subject to write about when I can’t think of one.

Here is one of their writing prompts from a few weeks ago:

One morning you awake to find yourself in a straight jacket, being taken off to an asylum.  How do you prove your sanity? What do the guards and psychiatrists say you did?

Nothing beats waking up in a warm bed, snuggly tucked underneath the covers.  However, this morning the covers were just a little too snuggly.  So snuggly in fact, that I couldn’t move my arms!  What kind of body builder mom tucked me in last night??

Wait a second.  I am not in a bed. And my arms aren’t wrapped in covers, they are wrapped in a straight jacket.  What’s going on here!?!

Just then two oversized, bearded men stomped into the room.

Great, I’ll just talk to these nice lumberjacks and figure out what is going on.

“Hello gentlemen.  I think there has been some kind of mistake,” I said.  “You see, I am a sleepwalker and it seems as if I sleepwalked right into this darn straight jacket.”

“Zip it creep!” said the bigger lumberjack.  “We don’t want to hear anymore of your ramblings.”

“Anymore of my ramblings?” I asked. “But I just got here. At least I think I just got here. Wherever here is.  Where is here? Since we are on the subject.”

“You’re at the Maximum Security Prison, sponsored by State Farm,” said the big fella.  “But you aren’t here for long, come with us.”

“Good.  Finally things are starting to make sense.  Let’s get me out of here and back home.”

“Home? You won’t be going home for a long time,” said my new friend Paul Bunyon. Apparently the smaller lumberjack wasn’t much of a talker.  “We are taking you to the Applebee’s Insane Asylum.”

At that news, an overflow of questions bubbled into my head. ‘Why am I being taken to an insane asylum? Why would Applebee’s sponsor an insane asylum? Do they actually serve Applebee’s there? Is that the place with the bloomin’ onion?’

The talkative guard must have seen the confusion on my face because before I could ask, he answered my first question of ‘why was I there?’

“Anyone who threatens to steal the Declaration of Independence, cut off someone’s face and then ride a flaming motorcycle needs to be locked up immediately!”

Although those three things sounded familiar, they didn’t sound like me.  I’m usually the kind of guy who doesn’t get out much.  I tend to stay at home and watch movies.  Heck, I don’t even know which restaurant serves the bloomin’ onion.  I’m not the criminal mastermind type.  I have a hard enough time working my VHS/DVD player.  I really doubt that I could find the Declaration of Independence, let alone steal it.

Wait that’s it!

“I know how to explain this!” I said.  “Last night there was a Nic Cage movie marathon on TV.  National Treasure, Face Off, the flaming motorcycle one.  They were all on!  I must have fallen asleep with the TV on then sleepwalked and acted out some of those movies.”

The guard stopped walking me toward the door and looked at me.  “While I believe everything you just said, anyone who purposely watches more than one Nic Cage movie in a night deserves to be locked up in an insane asylum.”

I guess I couldn’t argue with him there.  Well, I hope this place has bottomless fries!

What Would We Do Without Spell Check?

For today’s Thankful Thursday I would like to talk about something that has become a great invention we can’t live without, but at the same time it is making me dumber.  And no, I am not talking about Honey Boo Boo.

Today I am thankful for spell check.

You see, I initially write each of my blog posts by pen into a notebook.  And as you may know, they have yet to come up with a notebook that corrects your spelling for you.  Come on Five Star (more like one star).  While writing these posts, I am constantly misspelling words.  Often, when I reread the posts, I can’t even guess at what I was trying to spell.  The other day I wrote “eggotasticul.”  When I wrote that, I was either really hungry for some waffles or I was trying to spell egotistical (or maybe both).

But I am not bothered by my bad spelling because I know that before I post it to the blog, spell check will have a look at it and catch all my mistakes.  Instead of trying to become a better speller, I am taking the easy way out and shifting more work onto spell check.  Sure, I could learn to spell words correctly, but why do that when I can let the computer fix it for me?

So thank you spell check.  Thanks for fixing my spelling and making me dumber.

Why Is It Called A Nest Egg?

When kids start to learn about money, they are told that they need to build up a nest egg.  This refers to a person’s savings and how he or she should put aside some of the money that they have now, so it will grown and they can use that money later in life.  Building a nest egg is a great concept, but hearing that term made me wonder why it is called that.

Here’s my guess at why it is called a nest egg:

It was the 1700’s and Mr. and Mrs. Bank wanted to teach their kids the importance of saving money.  Some day the kids would have to buy a horse of their own and the Bank parents wanted to make sure their kids could afford said horse.

Initially the Bank parents encouraged their kids to store money away for later by calling it their “hay pile.”  Mr. and Mrs. Bank liked the term “hay pile” because the hay reminded the kids that they were saving up to buy a horse.  The kids were such great listeners that they actually started putting their money in the hay inside the family barn.

Unfortunately, this created a major problem.  The family horses weren’t aware of the team “hay pile” and did not realize that the kids’ savings had been put in their hay.  Yes, you guessed it, the horses then ate all the kids’ savings.  This caused the horses to become sick and die, which cased the Bank parents to have to dip into their own “hay pile” to buy new horses.  Luckily, the Bank parents’ “hay pile” was stored in a bucket, (along with a list of things they had to do before their died) so their savings did not get eaten.

Realizing that they needed a better term to teach their kids about saving, Mr. and Mrs. Bank thought about other wildlife examples.  They needed a new term that would help their kids learn, but wouldn’t cause all their money to be eaten.

Eventually the parents settled on the term “nest egg” because their kids were terrible at climbing trees.  Mr. and Mrs. Bank knew that their kids would not be able to put their money in an actual nest if they took the term literally again.

Here’s the real answer to why it is called a nest egg:

According to phrases.org, farmers in the 14th century used to put eggs in their hen’s nest to encourage her to have more eggs.  They thought that having the hen see eggs would cause her to have eggs of her own.

Nest Egg Ruling:

Did 14th century farmers really think that putting eggs into a hen’s nest would actually help her lay eggs? I think it would do just the opposite.  If I were a hen and an egg magically appeared in my nest, I would be less likely to lay an egg ever again.  I wouldn’t want to go through all the hard work of laying an egg if eggs were just going to show up in my nest on their own.  Instead, I would just do whatever I wanted and hope that the magic egg fairy would stop by again.

Overall, I guess the real story makes a little more sense in terms of saving than mine does. But I think mine is more fun than dopey farmers trying to trick their hens into having more eggs.  What do you think?

Adam Goes To Camp

This summer, I have applied to be a counselor at a children’s camp in Prescott.  I signed up because I thought it would be a fun thing to do.  But after signing up, I realized that I had never been to a summer camp.

And not just that, I possess very few skills that would come in handy at camp.  I only know how to tie one type of knot.  I don’t know how to start a fire with elements found in nature.  Heck, I can hardly start a fire with a lighter.  I am not good at fishing and the only type of fort I know how to make involves pillows and blankets.

The only camp essential skill that I possess is that I like to eat s’mores.

In fact, my only real experience with camp is that I have watched Ernest Goes to Camp more than once.  Looking back on that movie, I started to wonder why a summer camp would hire Ernest, a clumsy, awkward, single male as a counselor.

As I thought about that I realized that I am going to be the Ernest of this camp.  Clumsy? Check. Awkward? Check. Excessive arm hair?  Oh wait, that one is just me.

Being the Ernest of the group can’t be that bad, can it?  After all, he does save the day at the end, doesn’t he?  Maybe I should re-watch that movie before I go to camp.

Hunger Games

In his book Quitter, author Jon Acuff writes that whenever we start trying to really figure out what we want to do with our life, we image that we are going to have a miraculous revelation.  We expect to stumble upon some activity we’ve never done before and immediately fall in love.

Acuff argues that this is just not likely.  Instead of an act of discovery, finding our passion is more likely an act of recovery.  According to Acuff, “more often than not, finding out what you love doing most is about recovering an old love…When you come to your dream job, your thing, it is rarely a first encounter.  It’s usually a reunion.”

I had never thought about it that way.  Like many people, I’ve expects a bolt of lightning or some dramatic experience to reveal my calling.  Deep down I knew that it probably wouldn’t happen that way, but I didn’t know where else to look.

I like Acuff’s philosophy that looking into our past is a good way to reveal what we really want to do in the present.  So with that in mind, I would like to introduce you to a new weekly post I am starting called, Memory Mondays.  For this segment I will be revising things that happened in my past.  It will be a good way to revisit some good times and reflect on some more difficult ones.  I thought about calling it Throwback Thursday, but we already have Thankful Thursdays and plus Throwback Thursday is too mainstream for this blog.  So Memory Monday it is.  Isn’t alliteration great??

I know by now you are probably saying, “Adam! Act accordingly and avoid alliteration.”

Today’s Memory Monday comes to us from 2005.  It was a simpler time when the San Antonio Spurs were in the NBA Finals and the nation was awaiting a new superhero movie with Christopher Nolan . As I mentioned before, I briefly had a blog back in 2005. Very few posts were memorable, but here’s one that was…for all the wrong reasons.

August 1, 2005

I have always thought of myself as a competitive person. I enjoy a good contest just as much as the next guy. I have participated in many competitions throughout my life, but none as intense as the one I endured yesterday. Let’s just say it was a mouthful (haha, you will get it in a minute).

The competition I was a part of yesterday was a competitive eating contest. The day before, I had watched the US Open of competitive eating and became intrigued. Before I get to my contest I will first give a quick summary of the Open. There were a couple of different races (I guess that’s what you call it) with a skinny Asian guy and a skinny Asian lady competing for the title (I guess that’s what you call it) in every category.

The Open was great, not only could I watch people eat unhealthy amounts of food, I could also hear a wonderful breakdown of what was going on. They had grade A commentators. They not only pointed out what the people were eating, they helped explained the true strategy behind it all. One memorable quote used to describe the eating was something like “look at the power.” Power indeed. Not just anyone can shovel salad into their mouth, it takes a very powerful individual.

After watching the Open, I knew that I had been raised playing the wrong sports. If I had only known about competitive eating at an earlier age, I could have focused on that instead of wasting my time on other sports that would get me nowhere in life.

Although I had yet to eat anything competitively, I had been eating for over 19 years and I figured that was better than nothing. Was it too late to start training to become the best?? There was only one was to find out.

So I decided to have a contest against another promising amateur to see if I had a future in the sport. My opponent…none other than Christopher Baker. He’s quite the little eater, but I had the experience edge. He has only been eating for a little over 15 years. I thought it would be tough, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

So the table was set (haha). The plates consisted of 2 hamburgers, 10 chicken nuggets, and 2 soft pretzels. The first to finish wins. So we were off…my strategy was to go from pretzels to nuggets to hamburgers. I don’t know what Christopher’s plan was because I was too focused on winning.

About halfway through the plate, I began to feel it. Was it the feeling of victory??? No, not at all. It was the feeling of stomach ache. I wanted to stop. The pain was just too much, but I fought it. I had always been taught to “Go Hard or Go Home” and since I was already at home I knew that I only had one other option.

After about 10 minutes, the dust had settled and I had won. By a whole hamburger. Was I that good, or was Chris just way smarter than me and had given up? We may never know. But what I do know, is that my competitive eating days are over. I will retire on top. Undefeated. I want to retire 1 and 0. Mostly because I am afraid I might die if I try it again. From now on, I will stick to eating for survival only. But the contest taught me many things that I would forget. Most importantly…I’m an Idiot.