The Internet, Silly Putty & Patience

On the first Thankful Thursday I talked about how my parents have a VHS tape of the 2011 MTV Music Awards.  After writing that, a couple of questions entered my mind.  To answer the first one, yes, Lady Gaga does look the same in VHS quality.  But the question I couldn’t help but ask is why do adults seem have a more difficult time with electronics than kids?

My family first got the internet in the late 90’s.  My brother Chris was less than 10 years old and my dad was in his 40s, but basically from day one, Chris has been better at the internet than my dad.  If the internet was the Olympics, Chris would be the United States and my father would be Uzbekistan.

Why is that? Shouldn’t my dad’s fully developed brain have picked up on the complexity of the internet faster than my brother’s mush of a brain? Chris was still learning letters from an unusually large bird on TV and he had yet to grasp the fact of why he can’t eat ice cream for every meal.  Actually he still questions that one.

I could understand Chris figuring out the Internet quicker than my dad if Chris had access to the internet before dad did.  Like, if Chris saved up his Phoenix Suns piggy bank money, bought a computer and then used all the free AOL hours he had been collecting in his Lucky Charms.  But I don’t thinking that was the case.

I’m pretty sure my dad first logged onto the World Wide Web the same night Chris did.  I don’t remember it exactly but I am picturing my mom thinking the AOL screeching was some type of alarm and immediately trying to turn off the computer.

And I’m not just picking on my parents as a payback for the genes they gave me the caused my lack of NBA player height or my uncomfortably hairy arms (thanks mom).  I have found that struggling with technology is very common in adults, much like frequent urination and night blindness.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty of adults out there that could run circles around me when it comes to the internet (not literally run though, their arthritis won’t allow it).  And there are plenty of dumb kids out there that don’t know a gigabyte from a bagel bite.  I am not trying to say older folks drool and kids rule.  I am just saying that it has been my experience that the older people often have a hard time with new technology.

I took a class in college that was essentially called computers for dummies.  I took it because I thought it would be an easy A and that maybe I could find a girl who would be dumb enough to go out with me (I ended up getting one of the two.  I will leave it up to your imagination to decide which one you think it was).

The class was comprised of me and about a dozen people somewhere between the ages of 40 and 60.  On the first day of class our teacher taught us how to do a right click with the mouse.  When the teacher said this, I smirked and looked around the class to make eye contact with someone else as if to say, “did he really just teach us that?  What’s coming next, a double click?”

But to my surprise, the rest of the class was staring intently at the teacher and focused on practicing the right click.  An easy explanation to why I was the only one smirking is that the other folks had not had much experience with a mouse that wasn’t named Mickey or Mighty.

But as I started to think about this more, I realized that when my parents were younger, their greatest form of technology was Silly Putty and a Pez Dispenser.  Most of their high tech gadgets required patience.

If they messed up while using a typewriter, they had to completely start over what they were typing.  When taking a photograph, they had to be very precise and make sure everyone was smiling and exactly where they wanted them.  They weren’t going to get the picture back for days or weeks.  They didn’t have the luxury of immediately looking at a digital screen to see how it turned out.

Their initial encounter with technology taught them patience.  I guess all this explains why my mom spends 10 minutes determining whether or not it is in her best interest to update her iTunes.

Technology has caused just the opposite with my generation.  We want access to everything immediately.  If a webpage is slow to load, we close out of it and try another one.  Recent technology has many great advantages, but teaching patience is not one of them.

I am sure that when I am 50 I will be confused by the latest technology and my kids will be giving me a hard time.  I can’t wait to find out what their right click moment will be.

Blog Reader Rhyme

A blog reader is someone who knows exactly what they want.

They want fun and exciting content, as well as a readable font.

A blog reader wants substance and something with some style.

Give them a clever story to read and they might choose to stay for awhile.

A blog reader doesn’t want big words like expialidocious.

They enjoy pictures about food as long as it is nothing atrocious.

A blog reader is very smart and doesn’t fall for silly quirks.

They have great comments and feedback, always letting you know what works.

This knowledge of blog readers is available for all other bloggers to take.

But know that the best blog readers are ones who follow Blog By Bake.

Think About & Thank About

While reading the book The Secret, I came across the following quote by author/educator John Demartini, “Whatever we think about and thank about we bring about.”

Since I typically express my thanks on Thursdays I thought this quote was appropriate to share today.

Many of us believe that we must spend time thinking about our goals and dreams if we want to make them a reality. As we talked about in another post, nothing will come true unless we can think about it or dream about it first.

But Demartini highlights a subtle, yet vital, step to this process.

Adding gratitude into this mix allows us to truly appreciate the things that we expect to happen to us and said appreciation will lead to an increase in what we receive.

You may be focusing your thoughts on getting a raise at work. By visualizing the increased income you are likely to work harder and negotiate salary more efficiently to make it happen.

But what happens once you get the raise? Do you stop working as hard?

Showing gratitude for the raise reinforces the positivity of achieving your goal and focuses your thoughts on wanting to make it happen again and again.

Having appreciation for everything that is happening in and around you can have a huge effect on what you bring about.

If there is something in your life that you really want to happen, I encourage you to not only think about it, but thank about it.

Speed Sneezing

If you can read this, I can safely assume two things:

First, you passed second grade (congratulations) and second, you have never tried to sneeze with your eyes open.

If you had tried to sneeze with your eyes open, then obviously your eyeballs would have popped out of your head and you wouldn’t have been able to read this blog post. At least, that is what people say about sneezing with your eyes open, isn’t it?

Is that really true? Is it even possible to sneeze with my eyes open?

According to Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters, your eyes will not fly off of your face from a forceful achoo. In fact, our eyes aren’t even connected to our nose at all.

Discovery Channel says that our eyelids snap shut during a sneeze because it is a reflex. The nose and eyes are linked by cranial nerves, so the stimulation from the sneeze travels up one nerve to the brain, then down another nerve to the eyelids, triggering a blink for most people.

I find that pretty interesting, but there is one specific part of this article that really caught my eye (pun definitely intended).

The article says that a “sneeze can erupt from your nose at an explosive 200 miles per hour.”

That is frightening. I don’t want my body doing anything 200 miles per hour. It is amazing that our noses don’t fly off our face when going that fast.

How do they measure the speed of a sneeze? What technology could possibly tell us how fast a sneeze is?

It can’t be those electronic speed limit signs you drive by on the road. Those things don’t go into triple digits.

I would like to find out how fast I sneeze. Mainly just to make it a competition with my brother.

Speaking of competition, I think there should be a new Olympic sport called speed sneezing. Wouldn’t you like to know who the Usain Bolt of sneezing is?

In speed sneezing you would have to outlaw performance enhancing drugs and test everyone for increased levels of pepper.

Find Your Why

In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, Victor E. Frankl is fond of using the Nietzsche quote, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

This is a great quote made even more powerful when you understand everything Frankl had to endure during his life. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist but, more importantly, he was also a Holocaust survivor.

Man’s Search For Meaning is the story of Frankl’s time as a concentration camp inmate. It was during this horrific time in his life when Frankl discovered the importance of finding meaning, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

By finding meaning in existence, Frankl found a reason to continue living. He lost nearly everything during the Holocaust. He lost his wife, his mother, his brother and many friends. But he did not lose his why.

If someone who survived the Holocaust and experienced the worst nightmares possible can keep his why, you better believe we are able to.

I’ll admit that I get frustrated by some road block hows. How will I get my first book published? How will I get up early to write when I could use another hour or two of sleep?

In these situations I need to focus less on the how and more on the why.

Why do I want to publish a book? To encourage a love of reading for people young and old. Why should I get up at 5am to write? Because I enjoy writing and getting up early will help me become a better writer.

Remember that the Nietzsche quote doesn’t say that he who has a why has an automatic answer to any how. It simply says that by finding our why, we can deal with every how. We will still need to work hard to answer the how, but we can use the why as fuel and motivation to deal with the difficulties.

Whether his why was his wife, his approach to psychotherapy, or his work to help others find meaning, Frankl always had a firmly established why to deal with every how.

So next time you run into a how roadblock, write it down. Writing it down makes it feel less intimidating. Once it is on paper, immediately write down the first why that comes to your mind. Cross out the how and focus all of your energy on that why.

Good Game

If you played youth sports growing up, there is a good chance you participated in a post game high five line.

You remember the drill, each team lined up and they walked toward one another with their hands up, high fiving and saying good game to every player on the opposing team. It was a great way to promote sportsmanship.

Seeing a high five line the other day, I couldn’t help but think of one thing…germs.

Those kids just spent an hour basically rolling around in the dirt trying to catch a football. They were sweaty, filthy, and full of germs. And then we asked them to touch hands with every other dirty, germy kid.

I am all for sportsmanship, but is the high five line really the best idea? If one kid is sick, now every kid is sick. And chances are the parents will give their kid a hug after the game, so now the parents are sick.

Here are a couple of suggestions for replacing the high five line:

Facebook Five

The first thing the kids are going to do when they get home after the game is go on Facebook. I think both teams should exchange Facebook information and the kids can send every member of the other team a Facebook message that says good game with an emoticon of a hand.

Sanitizer Sportsmanship

We can still have the high five line, but all kids must be required to dunk their hands into a tub of hand sanitizer before they can enter the line. I’m not sure that youth leagues can afford tubs of Purell, but I say it’s worth it.

Cursive Camaraderie

Following the game, every player has to write good game in cursive on a thank you note and give it to each opposing player. This will encourage players to write thank you cards and it would also help them practice their cursive.

Final Thoughts

So those are my suggestions for how we can replace the post game high five. Do you have any ideas? Let me know in the comments section below. I’m going to go dunk my hands into a tub of Purell.

Life is Tough & So Are You

When was the last time you really wanted something to happen and then poof, without any effort, that exact thing happened?

Say you needed some extra cash and next thing you know you open your front door to find a bag with a large dollar sign and it is filled with hundred dollar bills.

I don’t know about you, but this has never happened to me. Maybe this stuff happens in movies, but in real life things take work.

In the Bible, Hebrews 12:11-13 says, “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.”

This is one of those things in the Bible that I read and think, ‘why did it have to say that?’ Come on Hebrews, wouldn’t it have been easier to just say ‘everything can come easy, just say this super secret prayer.’

But alas, there is no super secret prayer that helps us find a giant bag of money. Adding to your bank account takes work.

A big part of that work mean setting ourselves up to succeed. We must “strengthen our drooping hands and knees” and “make straight paths for our feet.”

In the case of money, we can do this by creating a budget with the money we already have or by improving the skills that we have in order to become more valuable to a current or future employer.

I know this probably doesn’t sound like fun, but like Hebrews says, no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but later it will lead to a harvest.

Just remember, life it tough, and so are you.

That being said, I still wish there was some super secret prayer that could help us find a giant bag of cash!

Flying V

I know very little about the sport of hockey. And the little that I do know, I learned from watching The Mighty Ducks movie franchise. Those movies taught me that Iceland was a 1990’s youth hockey power, stopping on ice can be difficult and stopping a kncklepuck is even harder.

Those movies also taught me everything I know about actual ducks. All I know is that ducks fly together and when they do they fly in a V formation.

Until now, I never thought much about the effectiveness of the V formation. It always worked for Charlie Conway and crew, so why shouldn’t it work for real ducks?

But being the wonderer that I am, I thought to myself, “why do ducks fly in the shape of a V?”

Why not fly in an I or a X, or even a D for ducks? Is the letter V a duck’s favorite letter?

My guess is that ducks probably don’t even know letters and that their V formation has more to do with hierarchy than it does alphabet favoritism. Ducks probably have leaders (aka Adam Banks) at the top of the V and the less important ducks (like that cowboy kid) follow in the back.

According to the Library of Congress, the V formation has nothing to do with letter or leader preference. The formation has to do with energy conservation and visual assurance. With the V formation, each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of him which reduces wind resistance.

The birds take turns being in front and falling to the back when they get tired. Using the V formation, ducks can fly a great distance before they get tired.

The V also makes it possible to keep track of every bird in the group. Communication and coordination are both made easier this way.

Learning this makes me want to go back and watch The Mighty Ducks movies to see if the V formation helped them with energy conservation and visual assurance. Part of me thinks that their V had little to do with scientific research and more to do with looking cool for an audience. But who am I to question the coaching of Gordon Bombay.

Yes and…

If you ever take an improv class, one of the first things you will learn is the “yes and” rule. This rule means that you are required to agree with the situation you are presented with and you also must add something to that scenario.

If you are improvising and your partner says, “Quick, let’s get into my spaceship” you can’t say, “That is not a spaceship, that is a chair.” By doing that, you have killed the scene.

Instead, if you reply, “Great, I went to space camp so I know how to operate a spaceship” then you have continued the scene and opened it up to numerous possibilities.

The “yes and” rule should be applied to our everyday lives. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been approached with a new situation and my response was “no thanks” or “I’ll have to think about it.” It may have been something I was interested in or at least intrigued by, but I stopped it in its tracks because I was unwilling to say “yes and”.

Had I agreed to the situation and added something, who knows the possibilities that it would have opened up for me.

The movie Yes Man takes this idea to an extreme. In the move, Jim Carey is required to say yes to every opportunity he is presented with. Throughout the movie, he joins a running photography club, learns a foreign language, and takes flying lessons. With the magic of Hollywood, each new thing he learns comes back to benefit him and the people around him.

If we use “yes and” in our everyday lives, chances are that we may create some awkward situations. Not everything we do will come back to make a major difference in our lives and relationships like it did for Carey. But maybe one out of five will benefit us in a way we can’t imagine. Isn’t that a risk worth taking?