Your Loudest Ovation

Do you receive a bigger ovation from a perfect performance or one that you struggle just to get through?

That may seem like an easy question to answer but let me first tell you a story.

This past weekend I attended a Christmas event that featured a performance from a high school glee club.

(Despite what you may see on tv’s Glee, the rest of this story is not filled with the drama of a teen pregnancy, fights or a love triangle).

This glee club very merrily sang all your favorite classics from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer to Frosty the Snowman to Silent Night.

They were very good, but nothing to write home about (or write in a blog about).

That is, until they sang The 12 Days of Christmas.

The song was going fine until they got to the 10th day. They forgot the words not once, but twice. They didn’t remember what the true love got on the 10th or 11th day.

I am sure they were embarrassed. After all, they were now struggling to do the one and only thing they were brought on stage to do. Sing

But to their credit they didn’t panic. They didn’t stop or run off stage.  They kept right on going and recovered enough to finish the song.

After they finished the very last verse something remarkable happened.

They received their loudest applause of the entire night.

After each of the many songs they performed perfectly they received little more than a golf clap from the few hundred people in the audience.

But when they messed up and struggled to complete a very common song, they earned an ovation that you might find at an NFL game.

We appreciate others struggles because we can relate to them.

We all remember a time where we forgot the words to a song, colored outside the lines, or struck out with the bases loaded.

You aren’t going to be perfect on every song (or painting, or sales call, or test). It’s okay to struggle. Just keep going and once you get through it you may just receive your loudest ovation ever.

Ingredients For My Perfect Life

Last week I shared with you an exercise that I felt might help you figure out what makes up your ideal life.

I don’t know how many of you actually did that, but I thought it might be interesting to share with you the results of when I performed the exercise.

Here is what I wrote down:

  • Plenty of Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Ping Pong
  • Time for prayer
  • Time to read
  • Meaningful work
  • Spending time with family
  • Volunteering

After looking at my list, my first thought was that I found it pretty funny that in my analogy of life as a chef with ingredients, I didn’t include anything about food in my perfect life. Apparently ping pong is more important to me than eating. I guess I will be very happy but also very hungry in my perfect life.

I found it very interesting some of the things that I put on my list. And I found it even more interesting some of the things I didn’t think to include. Oddly enough, I didn’t put anything down about this blog.

How many of you looked at your list and were surprised by what you left off?

I don’t think that necessarily means that those things are not important. After all, you only had 30 seconds to write things down. You were bound to leave something off.

But maybe it shows that your idea of the most important ingredients isn’t what your thought. Or maybe it just needs to be reworked.

Hopefully no matter what it tells you, it gives you a unique list to you.

Like I said last week, each of our lists will be very different. Just as each of our ideas of perfect are very different.

Top 10 List of Why I’m Thankful For Lists

For today’s Thankful Thursday I am thankful for lists. Whether is it is a top 10 list, a top 25 list or a grocery list, there are many things to like about lists.

And what a better way to show why I am thankful than by creating a top 10 list.

Here’s my top 10 list of why I am thankful for lists…

10. They Don’t Always Have To Make Sense

When I knew I wanted to write about lists, I wondered if anyone would want to read it. Then it came to me, what if I put it in a list? A list about lists doesn’t make sense, but I bet a heck of a lot more people will care about it this way as opposed to if I just wrote a bunch of paragraphs about why I like lists.

9. They Allow For Versatility

If you are like me, you are never quite sure how long paragraphs should be. Is one sentence too short, is six sentences too long? The great thing about lists is that you can make them as long or as short as you’d like and no one seems to care.

8. They Are Easy To Read

People like to scan through articles before they decide if they are going to read it. That is hard to do with a bunch of random paragraphs and it leads to people checking out and not reading what you wrote. With lists, readers are able to easily scan through with their eyes and stop when they see a item that they find interesting.

7. They Test Your Creativity

I wasn’t sure if I could come up with 10 actual reasons why I like lists. It would have been easier to make this a top 5 list or a top 3 list. But I wanted to test myself and my creativity and see what I could come up with. It is probably not a bad thing to test your creativity every now and then.

6. You’re Allowed To Have Space Fillers

Sometimes you can’t come up with 10 perfect list items and you just need to fill space. The end.

5. They Make You Feel Like David Letterman

I will never be a comedian or a late night talk show host, but thanks to his popular top 10 lists, I feel a little like David Letterman when I make my lists.

4. Readers Have An Opinion Of Them

People read a list and think, ‘I would have put number 4 at number 8 and I would have added blank for number 3.’ I’m pretty sure they don’t think ‘I would move paragraph 7 up above paragraph 3’ when they are reading a narrative with a ton of long paragraphs.

3. They Are Fun to Write

I enjoy writing all of my blog posts. If I didn’t, I would not write them. But for some reason, lists are just a little more fun to write. I guess it probably has to do with the versatility and creativity I mentioned earlier. Whatever it is, they are just plain fun to write.

2. You Can Make A List Of Anything

I’ve made a list of things like books, movies and Kickstarter but I haven’t even scratched the surface of lists. If you just Google top 10 list you will see every topic imaginable from top 10 list of antioxidant rich foods to top 10 list of zombie movies.

1. People Love Them

Nearly every top 10 list I post becomes among the most popular things that I’ve done on the blog. If I were to create a top 10 list of the posts with the most website traffic, I bet the majority would be top 10 lists.

12 Days of Christmas

One of the best things about the Holiday season are the Christmas songs.

There are dozens of great Christmas songs in nearly every genre you can think you. You have the Christmas classics like White Christmas & Silent Night. Entertaining toe-tappers like Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. And you even have ones that plain just don’t make much sense like I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas.

Listening to Christmas songs the other day, I came across another favorite Holiday tune, The 12 Days of Christmas.

Hearing those lyrics made me question a few things.

First, what was this guy thinking giving his true love so many birds?

By my count, this poor lady received 23 birds. And I am sure the birds were going crazy with all the noise the drummers and pipers were making.

The next question I have is, how much did all this cost?

I am pretty cheap, so I have a hard time buying a $25 book off of Amazon as a Christmas present. I can’t imagine how much this crazy guy spent buying all that stuff for his true love. Sounds like he was trying a little too hard to make up for something. Maybe he forgot her birthday.

That’s what I am wondering today…How much money do the items in The 12 Days of Christmas cost?

According to, a guy would have to shell out $27,393.17 in order to buy all 78 items mentioned in the song.

And that is if he took the time to buy everything the traditional way, by going to jewelry and pet stores (although I am not sure where you buy a lord).

It would cost $39,762.61 to buy everything online. That amounts to about 45% more than buying in person.

Why the higher cost for online shopping, you ask? Forbes says it is because of premium shipping costs for birds. Who knew that birds cost so much to ship??

So while we may not all agree on what the best Christmas song is, I think we can agree on one thing…the dude from The 12 Days of Christmas must either be crazy, or crazy rich.

And with that, I will leave you with The 12 Days of Christmas sung by your favorite Disney characters.

Wiffle Ball World Series Part II

Yesterday’s Memory Monday post left off when Baker Boys Plus had just defeated Plastic Devils in an epic slug fest.

But the game took its toll on the team and it’s star player was left with a stomach ache greater than one you would find after Thanksgiving dinner.

Will Baker Boys Plus be able to recover? Will it be another family disaster? Will we ever get to the end of this dumb story??

Here’s the exciting conclusion of the 2005 Wiffle Ball World Series.

“Sorry, but I feel terrible,” Matt says as he starts to pack up his stuff and leave.  “You can’t leave now,” I say trying to get him to reconsider.  “If I stay I will just keep throwing up,” Matt says.  “Maybe you can use that as intimidation,” Eric jokes.  “Kids won’t want to play us if you are puking all over the place.”  “Funny but I’ve got to go take a nap,” Matt says as he leaves the field.

So now we are without probably our best player.  Once again, I am starting to feel that nervousness again as we walk over to the next field where our second game will be played.

“Is that the other team?” Chris asks as we approach and see three little kids on the field where our next game is supposed to be played.  “They are like six years old,” laughs Eric.

Turns out they weren’t six.  They were 13, 10, and 8 and were playing with their dad.  Thinking a win was a sure thing, we made plans to try and keep it close.  We didn’t want to rub it in.  We planned on being nicer than all those other teams had been to us when we were younger.

As the game starts, I laugh and joke with Eric that this game with be no problem.  My laughter turns to shock as the first two kids hit homeruns.  ‘What just happened’ I thought to myself.  It was almost as if when the game started the six year olds took off their kid costumes to reveal three major league baseball players.

“Did we really just lose?” Chris asks as we sit down in the grass after losing the game 13-2.  “Is there steroid testing in wiffle ball?” asks Eric.  “Cuz those kids had to be on something.”

Still in complete shock from what just happened, I call Matt to repeat the score.  “We just got crushed by an old man and three six year olds,” I tell Matt as he answers the phone.  “Are you serious?” Matt says thinking that I am joking.  “No, actually they were 13, 10, and 8,” I say as if their real ages made any difference.

So now we have to win our next game.  If we lose our next game we don’t make it to the playoffs and our championship hopes are gone and this year will be like every other disappointing year.    Luckily for us the next team never shows up and we win by forfeit.  Now we are in the playoffs.

Our first opponent in the playoffs is the type of team that is the most fun to play against.  This type of team is made up of guys who don’t really care about wiffle ball and just use the tournament as an excuse to get away from their wives and get drunk at the park.  They crack a bunch of terrible jokes and are easy to beat.  We were playing them at the perfect time because it was now early afternoon and they had been drinking since 8:00 a.m.  We beat them easily because whatever little wiffle ball skill they once had was, just like most of their beer, long gone.

After beating Team Beer we were in the semifinals.  The team we would be playing consisted of three athletic looking high schoolers and two older guys who looked like they belonged on Team Beer.  The game was going back and forth when finally it happened.  My dad got hurt.  He was running (if you can really call it running) to first base and he pulled his hamstring.  “It wouldn’t be a wiffle ball tournament without dad getting hurt,” I say to Chris as we go to help him off the field.

Now we are without Matt and my dad.  I didn’t like our chances.  The game continued to go back and forth.  They would score four runs, we would score five.  They would take the lead and we would have to come back again.  The game went into extra innings.  Each team scored two runs so we went into another extra inning.  This time each team scored one run.  Was this game ever going to end?  Finally after one more inning we held them scoreless and won 26-25.

We had made it to the championship.  And who were we facing?  None other than the six year olds. And this time it was only the kids because, like our dad, their dad got hurt attempting to run (I guess pulled hamstrings were contagious for old men that day).  So now it was on.  Us vs. the six year olds for the Wiffle Ball World Series Championship.

“This time I don’t care about being nice,” Eric says as we take the field.  “If we lose to these kids again, I am quitting wiffle ball forever,” I reply.

During the first inning we hold them to three runs.  Something didn’t seem the same about them.  Maybe they couldn’t handle the pressure.  Or maybe the major leaguers from earlier went home early and all that was left was three little kids.

We didn’t take it easy and we ended up winning 23-7.  And it wasn’t even that close. We destroyed them. We hit homerun after homerun and they didn’t stand a chance.

As I went to shake their hand and say the obligatory good game I thought about what had just happened.  I had just done to them what so many guys did to me when I was little.  I beat up on a bunch of little kids and got enjoyment out of it.  I had become everything I hated when I was their age.  But it was worth it and I’ll do it again if I get the chance.

Wiffle Ball World Series

When I started this blog, I introduced a segment called Memory Monday. The segment was influenced by author Jon Acuff who says that looking into our past is a good way to reveal what we find important in the present.

I really liked this idea of looking at my past and I thought that the Memory Monday posts would be a great way to learn from the many exciting and heroic things I have done throughout my life.

Turns out that one thing I learned was that my past is often too boring, even for this silly blog (more on that to come).

Due to that realization, I have gotten away from the Memory Monday posts the past few weeks. Memory Monday probably won’t be a weekly segment, but I will be sharing memories from time to time.

In order to share a blast from my past this week, I dug up a story I wrote in 2006 about an event my family participated in called the Wiffle Ball World Series. Since it is a little long, I have decided to break it up into two parts. The second part will come tomorrow, which means we will have our first ever cliffhanger on Blog by Bake. How exciting.

Without further delay, here is my story about the 2005 Wiffle Ball World Series…

Every fall my dad, my two brothers and I play in a wiffle ball tournament.  It’s called the Wiffle Ball World Series.  It isn’t really the World Series, it isn’t even that big of a tournament, but for my family and I, its one of the best weekends of the year.  We have been playing in this same tournament every year since I was nine years old.  And every year was the same thing; a lot of fun, but also a lot of losing.  We were always the youngest team in the tournament and being the youngest meant also being the easiest to beat.  We would play teams with guys two or three times older than us and except for my dad, they were also two or three times better than us.  Most of the teams wouldn’t even take it easy on us.  They seemed to like destroying our confidence by building up their own.  They would hit home run after home run and each time celebrate as if to say “look how great we are, these dorky kids don’t even stand a chance.”

Even though we always lost, the tournament was still fun.  As we got older, we also got better and a little more competitive.  We might actually win a game every now and then.  It was fun to come back every year a little better and to see some of the same teams who once destroyed us now a little fatter and with a little less hair.  So when this year’s World Series rolled around I felt confident.  We were no longer young and easy to beat.  This year was going to be different…hopefully.

This year’s team consisted of my dad, my older brother Matt, my younger brother Chris, my friend Eric and me.  The perfect team.  Each person brought a little to the table.  My dad, although past his prime, can still hang with anyone (as long as it doesn’t require too much running).  He has always been the best player on the team; that is until about game four when he hurts his back or strains a calf muscle.  Matt is a great athlete who is good at hitting homeruns.  He may even have passed up my dad for best player on the team (even though dad will never admit it).  Chris is the youngest on the team, but he is a very strong kid who has been playing since he was five, so he’s no beginner.  Eric had been playing with us for the past two years.  He played well last year, so we decided to keep him on the team.  And then there’s me.  I’m not the greatest, but I would like to think I am on the team because I am good enough and not just because I’m part of the family.  So there it is, the 2005 version of Baker Boys Plus (Eric being the plus).

When we arrived at the park the day of the tournament, the weather was great.  It was a warm sunny day with no sign of rain.  Rain is kryptonite to wiffle ball, so with none in sight I felt like it was going to be a good day.

Our first game was against a team called the Plastic Devils.  They were a team of five seniors in high school who looked like they would be no pushovers.  “Can’t give him anything to hit,” Matt says to me as we watch one of them hit home run after home run as they warmed up.  “This next guy doesn’t look as good,” I reply as a new batter takes his turn.  “Wrong,” Eric says as the new batter hits one over the fence, past the bushes and into the parking lot.

The game begins and the Plastic Devils jump out to a 12-0 lead after their half of the first inning.  I don’t know about the rest of the team, but I am starting to get a little nervous.  We answer right back with 10 runs of our own.  The nervousness goes away as I realize that we can keep up with these guys.  The game goes back and forth and we end up winning 32-31 in what is by far the highest scoring wiffle ball game I have ever played in.

We may have won the game, but it didn’t come without a price.  Matt had woken up that morning not feeling very well and now he was feeling worse.  After the game, he threw up and was now lying in the fetal position.


Ingredients For Your Perfect Life

How often do you think about having the perfect life?

Actually, the better question is, do you even know what that life would look like?

After all, each one of us have different views of perfect. Your idea of a perfect life is probably very different from mine.

So how do you know what you mean by your perfect life?

Here’s an interesting exercise that might help you answer that question.

Take a piece of paper and spend 30 seconds writing down everything you can think of that would go into making your perfect life. Anything that comes to mind, write it down, no matter how silly it may seem. Don’t spend time over thinking this, just write down whatever pops into your brain.

The list you come up with, we can call the basic ingredients for your perfect life.

I hope that your list will be very telling of what you find important in life. Not necessarily what your husband, wife, brother or sister finds important.

Once you have your list, then think about how much time you spend collecting and preparing those ingredients.

I know nothing about cooking, but I would guess that an expert chef spends a great deal of time preparing the ingredients that go into her signature dish. She can’t make a masterpiece just by collecting whatever is sitting around.

You are your own expert chef. So spend sometime thinking about your ingredients. What areas are you not spending enough time on? And how do you expect to perfect your dish (aka life) unless you work on your ingredients.

Wake Up Call

Today I am thankful for wake up calls.

But I’m not talking about the ones you arrange for that can ruin a great nights sleep in a hotel.

I’m talking about something that smacks you in the face with some perspective and gets you to see clearly during a time when you really need it.

Recently I given such a wake up call during a time when I was feeling sorry for myself.

Thanks to a couple of knee surgeries my athletic career didn’t play out quite like I would have drawn up. Every now and then I start to wonder what if.

What if I hadn’t gotten hurt in high school? What if I was just a little taller? What if? What if? What if?

Right when I was in the middle of my what-ifs, someone (unaware of my self pity) sent me a link to the following video about Richie Parker, a man who overcame being born without arms to become a chassis and body component designer for Hendrick Motorsports.

Watching that video made my little knee pain not seem so important anymore.

My self pity shrunk and my gratitude grew.

I know that I am very blessed and thankfully it seems like every time I start to feel bad for myself I am given a wake up call.

How Many Words Are In The English Language?

Two weeks ago I wrote about how the word selfie was named the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013.

Being named Word of the Year has got to be a big deal for a word, especially when you consider it was up against such great words like, snollygoster, flibbertigibbet and gobbledygook.

The more I thought about that, the more I started wondering about the number of words selfie must have been competing with.

Being named Word of the Year is much different from an award like NBA Coach of the Year where only 30 choices are up for the honor.

There has got to be thousands of words that exist in the English language. If not millions. Whatever the number, I know it is at least more that 30, right?

That is what I am wondering today…how many words can be found in the English language?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, that is not a simple question to answer. Here’s what they say:

“It’s impossible to count the number of words in a language, because it’s so hard to decide what actually counts as a word. Is dog one word, or two (a noun meaning ‘a kind of animal’, and a verb meaning ‘to follow persistently’)? If we count it as two, then do we count inflections separately too (e.g. dogs = plural noun, dogs = present tense of the verb). Is dog-tired a word, or just two other words joined together? Is hot dog really two words, since it might also be written as hot-dog or even hotdog?”

Oxford goes on to explain that the Second Edition of the 20-volume  Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words.

So while we might not know an exact number of words, we can clearly say that it is over 200,000. That is a lot of words.

I guess that is why word of the day calendars never go extinct.

Another interesting story I found says that a new word is created every 98 minutes, which equals about 14.7 words per day.

I find that fascinating.

Who creates these new words every 98 minutes? And who accepts that they are actual words and not just gobbledygook?

I think we all should get to create a new word.

If anyone has a fun new word they would like to create, let me know in the comment section below. Be sure to include the definition so that we can learn what it means.

(Side note, how many of you looked up snollygoster & flibbertigibbet to see if they were real words or not??)


Did you buy anything on Black Friday?

How about on Cyber Monday?

If you have any money left, I would encourage you to be a part of GivingTuesday.

GivingTuesday is a new movement to create a national day of giving on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Created by New York’s 92nd Street Y, GivingTuesday has partnered with The United Nations Foundation to help spread the word on this awesome idea.

Today marks just the second annual GivingTuesday.

According to, the launch in 2012 saw more than 2,500 recognized GivingTuesday partners from all 50 states of the United States. “The collective efforts of partners, donors and advocates helped fuel a marked increase in charitable giving on GivingTuesday. Blackbaud processed over $10 million in online donations on 11/27/12 – a 53% increase when compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year. DonorPerfect recorded a 46% increase in online donations and the average gift increased 25%. More than 50 million people worldwide spread the word about GivingTuesday – resulting in milestone trending on Twitter.- from

I think GivingTuesday is an awesome idea!

I would encourage you all to help out by giving your time, money or support (or all of the above) to someone in need today.

If you want to learn more about this idea and how you can get involved, visit

Giving Tuesday2