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October 31, 2008

What would a penguin do?

Filed under: Just life,Make the world better,Observations — sbj @ 10:48 pm

As I was driving around today I noticed several people who were noticeably upset about their fellow auto enthusiasts. I’m not sure if I am in a more grounded place because I have been dealing with my grandfathers turn for the worse, the funeral I attended this afternoon, or something else… but I found myself waxing about the phenomenon of frustration, mockery and even rage on the road.

In doing so I was reminded of a story one of my best friends from high school told me shortly after graduating from college. He and his college sweetheart had flown back (separately) to Boston so that he could meet her family. He was staying in a hotel a few miles from their home, had just checked in and was walking to the corner store for a snack and a magazine with which to pass the couple of hours he had until dinner.

As he began to cross the street, a car turning the corner far to fast nearly clipped him. Caught off guard and nearly scared out of his wits he reacted instantly and hit the back fender of the car with his hand, simultaneously, he encouraged the drive to slow down and look before turning corners in the future. Apparently offended by the young whipper snapper ‘s language and probably a bit emotionally charged up himself over thinking he had hit the youth, the driver indicated that my friend was number one with him as well.

A couple of hours later, as I’m sure you have pieced together by now, the two were formally introduced. Fortunately for everyone concerned, cooler heads prevailed (the father said the young man looked familiar, to which my friend replied “you do too, would you mind holding up your middle finger so I can be sure”) and it became an funny anecdote rather than the death knell of the young relationship.

I was also reminded of another story, this one from a larger context for which we all have some understanding. The date was September 11th, and the event… well today it bears the name of the date on which it occurred. As we watched the news coverage, there was a clip of a man hanging on to the outside of the building, needing a miracle to survive.

My friend and business partner (at the time) turned to me and said something to the effect of “the sad thing is, I keep thinking, those are real people, just like you and me. They have families, they have dreams, they have lives… just like us. The only real difference is that they happen to be working in the World Trade Center today.”

I do not mean to reduce the tragedy of 9/11 to the level of road rage, however the confluence of these two events is where my mind went. Because, the guy taking the corner a little too fast… is just an excited father, racing to get home to make sure everything is perfect for a dinner at which he is going to meet the man his one and only daughter might spend the rest of her life with. The woman who cuts you off in traffic might just be running late to pick up her 5 year old from a day care center that is closing in ten minutes. She’s not trying to beat you to that yellow light, she is trying to avoid putting someone at the day care in a compromised position.

The point, of course, is that other motorists are people too, just like you. They have lives, priorities, and distractions. None of them set out to upset you, head you off, of act like a complete idiot by missing that stop sign. Sometimes, life just happens to people.

Instead of being mad at them for it, how about giving them a smile and a wave to let them know you understand? Instead of saying “no way buddy, you’re not passing me on the right and getting in front of me” why not just ease back a little and let them in” As you ease off the gas and open up space, you will feel your tension level drop too, I promise. Random acts of kindness have been proven to be good for your health… and one or two fewer angry motorists are better for everyone’s health.

So next time you find yourself dealing with a irate or irresponsible driver, consider taking the advice of the penguins from children’s movie Madagascar… “Smile and wave boys, smile and wave”

If I had a hammer…

Filed under: Farfar,Just life,Observations — sbj @ 5:45 am

I can drive most any nail into most any board in three swings (a tap and two swings to be technical). With practice and technique, so can you. The key, I learned as a teen building the floor of the second storey addition we were putting in our house, is as much in how you hold the hammer as how hard you swing it. You see, you have to hold it at the very end. Then, of course, you have to take a full swing (two of them, actually). This is how, for countless years, craftsmen and carpenters have done it. Learning this particular skill came at the cost of many a nail (of both the metal and finger variety), but learn it I did, and retain it I have.

My teacher was my grandfather (heretofore know as Farfar), and he was meticulous, persistent, and at times, downright stubborn. But he did things right, and insisted that if you were part of his crew (even if you were there by conscription, and not by choice), by God, you were going to do things right as well. Every member of my family has, at one point or another, lived, comfortably protected, under a roof that Farfar designed and helped build.

That’s what he does, he builds things.

Farfar has come to visit my family, both in Reno and subsequently in Boise many times over the years; every time raising the household decibel level to a previously unimagined level. I’m not sure of the direct Danish to English translation of “ooooh for pucker!!!” but I don’t think it’s appropriate in church (even in the first pew on the right, where the gentlemen and scholars meet).

Those of us who played sports endured (and I’m being nice when I chose that word) the cries of “HEY HEY HEY HEY!!!” whenever we did anything at all on the field. It was the same HEY (just a few more of them) that I remember him yelling every time we walked into a sushi restaurant.

You see, Soren Bech Jacobsen was as loud as he was proud, and a prouder man I have never met. Not arrogant, not pompous, simply proud. The type of pride that comes from something you have done, not from something you imagine yourself capable of doing. The type of pride that is as quiet, understated and unassuming as Farfar was outspoken, loud and obnoxious. He was, justifiably proud, because he has created and cultured a family of caring, devoted and conscientious individuals.

That’s what he does, he builds things.

From the best fort a set of grand kids ever had to banks scattered across the pacific, he builds things. From additions on the houses of his children to a new start in a new country in the middle of a world war, he builds things. From a supportive and nurturing family to confident and successful progeny, he builds things.

In fact, If ever you are asked about Soren Bech Jacobsen, you can simply reply that he is a craftsman, because he builds things, that’s what he does.

October 29, 2008

I am the decisive element…

Filed under: A life worth living,Just life — sbj @ 5:01 am

I have come to the frightening conclusion
that I am the decisive element

It is my personal approach that creates the climate
it is my daily mood that makes the weather
I possess tremendous power
to make life miserable or joyous
I can be a tool of torture or
and instrument of inspiration,
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides
whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated
and a person humanized or de-humanized

If we treat people as they are, we make them worse
if we treat people as they ought to be
we help them become what they
are capable of becoming
-Goethe

October 28, 2008

A simple story… and a challenge…

Filed under: A life worth living,Observations — sbj @ 8:43 pm

In 1989, at the age of 44, my mother passed away on the island of Samui in Thailand. My grandmother (her mother) had passed roughly a year earlier. Obviously, this was a very emotional time in the lives of my entire family.

There is a theory, that has been around for a long time, that states that one of the truest measures of a person’s character is how the conduct themselves during times of intense trial and tribulation. We all learned quite a bit about each other over that tumultuous year. Some discoveries were better than others, but all in all I think we are grew as people.

I was recently asked to share a story from my life that illustrates, in some way, my value system; a story that I would be happy if not proud to have repeated. This challenge led me back to 1989.
After my mothers death, a tribute to her was printed in the local paper. I was dispatched to the newspaper stand to acquire a copy of the newspaper for everyone at the house (I cannot remember the number at this point, but it would have been in the neighborhood of 10 newspapers). When I arrived at the newspaper vending machine, of course, I was offered a choice. I could simply put my quarter in the machine and grab 10 papers and be on my way. Instead, I put my first quarter in the machine, grabbed 10 papers and shut the door… and then put in another quarter and opened and shut the door… and repeated this process 8 more times until all of the papers had been paid for.

This is a very simple story, and I’m sure most of the people I know would do the same thing. That’s part of the reason I like it. It is simple, it is straightforward, and it is to whatever degree common. I do not want to paint myself as exceptional, what I want to illustrate is the simple choices we make on a day to day basis that form the fabric of our character. It is the simple, fundamental, choices that we make, when no one is looking, that make the difference.

Now… I would like to extend that challenge to you, my readers. Please share a story about yourself; a story that, in one way or another, represents your value system, a story that you would be happy, if not proud, to have repeated.

I think that you, as I did, will find it to be a reaffirming exercise, in addition to the benefit your example can set for others.

October 27, 2008

Brad v. Brad Second semi-final match

Filed under: Uncategorized — sbj @ 7:52 pm

It is time for the second semi-final show down.  This one pits:

#2 seed Fight Club Brad Pitt:

 

against #6 seed Oceans 11 Brad Pitt:

Once again, I see this as a total mismatch, however I have been wrong more than I have been right, so I’ll let you be the judge. The winner takes on the upstart #5 seed Mr Adn Mrs Smith for the undesputed (except by me ;) ) Brad v. Brad championship of the world, later in the week!!

Cast your votes now to make sure that yoru Brad of choice makes it to the final!

5 tips for staying healthy…

Filed under: Uncategorized — sbj @ 5:24 pm

Last night, lying in bed, I gave a little thought to one of the most important objectives in my life. Specifically, my desire to be an active part in not only my children’s lives, but in my grand children’s lives as well.

My father, over the age of 60, still throws hour after hour of batting practice to the high school baseball team he coaches. He is in better shape than most mid-30′s guys I know (and quite a few mid-20′s fellows as well). From a family medical history standpoint, this give me some hope. However, one thing I know is that I cannot count on family medical history alone, I have to take care of myself.

So, I thought I share a few of the things I do to stay in shape with you. With any luck, you will add some of your ideas to the comments :) So, without further ado… 5 tips you can implement today (or at least tomorrow) for staying fit and healthy: 

Drink lots of water!I cannot emphasize this enough. I actually purchased the domain WaterBigot.com and have the intention of (some day) establishing a site dedicated to how important this aspect of health is. I drink about 8-10 liters a day. This is more than most people need, and more significantly, are willing to drink. However setting an objective to drink 3-4 liters a day, to start, will make a significant difference in your life. Some people ask me what kind of water to drink, for most people just drinking enough water (and, if possible eliminating things like soda) is the most important step. However, if you want to read an interesting piece on the best water for you (not just for drinking, but even for showering an more) check this out: http://ensocenter.blogspot.com/2008/03/drinking-water.html

Stay rested and get enough sleep. This is my biggest health vice, so I shouldn’t be preaching. However, my failure should not stop the message from getting out. What you want, nay need, is 8 hours a night. There are vital mental repair processes that take place in the 7th and 8th hours of sleep and if you are cutting your sleep short you are selling your health short. Further, being tired reduces productivity. On a typical day, you can lose 90 minutes or more of productivity because of reduced attention, alertness, mistakes, reaction time, etc. if you have not had a full nights sleep. So, you can actually lose time by not staying in bed an extra hour or two.

Enjoy, and reduce stress in, your life! Study after study has proven that the less stress and the more enjoyment you have in your life, the healthier you will be. Sometime’s reducing stress can be a difficult thing to do. Fortunately, some stress relievers (and enjoyment providers) are fun and come naturally. Sex, going to church, playing a game or a sport, all relieve stress and provide enjoyment and none of them cost a cent. Volunteering some of your time has the same effect, in fact consider this (from Women’s Health magazine):

Volunteering has been linked to lower rates of heart disease, stress, and depression–in fact, one study shows that just thinking about doing something altruistic releases the glee-inducing chemicals serotonin and dopamine.

 

Educate yourself about your health. You should know, and monitor, key statistics like your resting heart rate (in the morning when you are most relaxed take your pulse for 10 seconds, multiply the number of beats by 6, your looking for a number between 60 and 80, lower is better), cholesterol level’s, blood pressure, etc. The CDC has a great resource called Five Minutes (or Less) for Health http://www.cdc.gov/family/minutes/ which has 1 minute, five minute and five minute plus resources for improving your health. These are your tax dollars at work, you might as well benefit from them, read up!

Mind what you eat. You have heard it before, you’ll hear it again, breakfast is the most important mean you can eat. Eat breakfast!! Now, what you may not have heard are some options to the old standards. For example, often, I eat a salad for breakfast. One of the most important things a good breakfast does for you is re-hydrate you after 8 hours of sleep (see above if you are not getting 8 hours of sleep). One of the things a salad does best, is re-hydrate. I’m lazy, so I pick up a bad of “spring mix” salad and a bag of spinach salad and mix them together. I then add some fresh fruit (and often craisins, a personal weakness), pine nuts, and if I’m feeling particularly healthy some garbanzo or kidney beans. This is a breakfast that is light, delicious, and nutritious!

There you have it, my five quick and implementable tips for maintaining your health.  If you have any further suggestions, I’d love to see them in the form of comments! :)

October 24, 2008

What Satisfies You?

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 11:33 pm

I received an email today, which, at first glance was inspiring. In included quips like “I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends” and I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.” It goes on to list others like “I am thankful for the wife who says it’s bacon and eggs tonight, because she is home with me, and not out with someone else” and “I am thankful for the husband who is on the sofa being a couch potato, because he is home with me and not out at the bars” and “for the teenager who is complaining about dong dishes because it means she is at home, not on the streets.”

With the first group, I don’t have any particular problem. I have actually thought, while cleaning up a mess, how nice it is to be in the position to be able to generate a mess in the first place. There are those far less fortunate (in more ways than simply to be lacking in friends) that will never have the chance to do anything so decadent.

However, after thinking for a moment about the second group, I found myself closer to appalled than appreciative. Is the measure of a good man or woman really that they are not out carousing with others and ignoring/neglecting their family? If so, I think I’ll pass. Is the benchmark for a good child one who is not running around on the streets? I really thought these things were sort of the minimum qualifications for being average, not the hallmarks of achievement. Or, perhaps I misunderstand on a different more fundamental level. Are we supposed to be thankful for mediocrity? That’s not how I was raised, but, perhaps I have my head in the clouds.

I know my parents never rewarded or showered appreciation upon me for bringing home C’s (in fact, this was really not a good thing at all). I was not show the door for it, of course, but a C was average, just getting by, it was not the stuff of celebrations and thankfulness.

I worry about a society that sets its bars so low. That not only would express thankfulness for being average, but would encourage this by passing around a tome dedicated to singing its praises. Are we, as a society, settling? And if we are, what does this mean for our future?

The United States was built on a pioneering (and oppressive and manipulative, but I’m not talking about those now) spirit. Drive, excellence, ingenuity and achievement are what created the most powerful nation in the world. What will be created if we continue on our current path?

I’m certainly not suggesting we stop being appreciative; however, I would suggest, in some cases, that we should weigh more carefully of what we are thankful for…

Brad v. Brad first Semi-final match

Filed under: celeb tournaments — sbj @ 7:27 pm

Ladies and gentleman (so far there has only been one) its time for the semi-finals… this time with video!!!

The first semi-final will pit #1 Snatch Brad Pitt (a winner in the first round by sudden death playoff) against #5 seed Mr and Mrs. Smith.

Here is the video, first for Mr and Mrs. Smith:

And now of Snatch:

Please, be sure to watch the videos and consider your choices carefully! The question you are answering is which Brad Pitt, in a dark ally, with no rules, is going to kick the most @$$. If these two met, and only one was going to come out… who would it be.

Let the voting begin!!!!

October 23, 2008

What should I write about v1.2

Filed under: What should I write about — sbj @ 11:46 pm

During my conversation earlier in the week about what I should write about, one of the suggestions was how it felt to be a parent for the first time. I thought this was a great topic because there are so many ways to look at it. Obviously in this space I can only visit a few of them, so perhaps I will revisit this topic again later.

The first point I need to make about this, however, is that, for a couple of reasons, I do not really have a perspective on the question as it was asked. I consider both of my children unique to the point that I would not say my youngest is my second child, but rather that he is my second first child. I know it sounds cliche, but that is how I feel.

Further, in many ways, I consider my sister Marni to be my first child. I helped raise her when she was a baby (I was in middle school when she was born and spent a lot of time baby sitting), and I feel a relationship with her that, in many ways, transcends that of brother and sister. While I would be protective of her as my sister, that protective instinct is re-doubled with her, and it really feels more like the emotions of a parent than those of a sibling.

In a similar way, I feel a “bigger” relationship with my brothers (they are twins, born when I was in high school) than simply brothers. We play football on Thanksgiving, hang out and watch football games together etc. but, I also changed their (cloth!!!!!) diapers and fed them and took care of them when they were infants.

None of these experiences were quite the same. With Marni, I experienced many of the “basic” parts of parenting. Changing diapers (including the time my sister teamed up to use an entire box of wipes to change one “steamer”), feeding and just the reality of chasing a baby around were all things I experienced with her. It was crazy and it was harried, however I had the benefit of not actually being the real parent. I didn’t have to get up at 4:00 to feed her, or find ways to afford to feed a new mouth in a family of five, so it was a nice measured indoctrination.

The twins were a different level of intensity. What you don’t know, until you have dealt with twins is that they are hard wired to act with a synchronized independence that makes them more difficult to watch than three babies of the same age that are not twins. From babysitting them, I learned how to better, and more precisely manage my time and attention, while building on the lessons learned from my experiences with Marni.

And, again, I was able to learn and mature certain parenting skills without the hardships of full blown parenting. In addition to making the responsibilities I did have more manageable, I was able to learn some of the teamwork components of parenting that most people have to discover under fire. Things like being able to lean on and count on others to handle some of the load, and realizing that you do not have to do everything yourself were easy to pick up on because I was able to watch my parents do it, not only amongst themselves, but with my sister and I as well.

When I graduated from college, I moved up to Idaho, and jumped right back into my relationships with my younger siblings. Hanging out, helping my dad coach their sports teams, even powdering my hair and going to Marni’s grandparents day at school. In doing so I learned even more lessons. Things like interacting with teachers as an adult (I used to go on some of Marni’s field drips with her), interacting with children at school (visiting school and having lunch with them), and interacting with other parents.

All of Those lessons were invaluable when my first son was born…

When Preston came home, I was supposed to be nervous… I wasn’t. I was supposed to worry about how to manage everything… I wasn’t. Most of the aspects of parenting, I had already experienced in one way or another. So what I was able to do, was simply enjoy the wonders of having my very own child… largely free of the worry ans stress that usually accompanies a first child. When he had convulsions, I knew exactly what to do… Marni had them as a baby as well (so did my sister Cody, but we were too close in age for me to be anything but scared for her). When he couldn’t sleep at night, I knew exactly what to do.

Almost everything that came up, I had already experienced… even using an entire box of wipes for oen diaper!!

October 22, 2008

Vote early, all the cool kids are doin it!

Filed under: Election 08 — sbj @ 5:29 pm

Vote early, remind your friends to vote, often. I have already voted and I cannot say enough about early voting. It is fast, easy, and best of all its on your schedule. You can find out the basics of voter registration, early and absentee, and pretty much anything you need to know about voting via this great service created by google. This is important and everyone can do it. Needs some inspiration?

Voting Picnic: the other day a co-worker reported taht when she went to vote, there was a group of about 12 women that had gotten together to have a picnic lunch book club meeting at the polling site. They all met there with their pot luck contribution and their books. Had their discussion and filtered through the voting booth. It was reported as a fun afternoon by all those that she talked to.

Voting Lunch: I went to vote on my lunch break. My best friend and myself headed off together to get our vote in and, of course, pleasant conversation the way and way back. Instead of trying to fit November 4th into my schedule, voting just became a great excuse to spend more time with a good friend.

Sticker Drive: A socnet friend of mine from another state has started a sticker drive. He is accepting the stickers of anyone who votes before November 4th. Friday night he is going to go out downtown, replacing as much clothing as possible with stickers. In other words, if enough people vote and provide him their stickers, he will be wearing nothing but “I voted” stickers while partying the night away. (This may or may not be a good thing… you be the judge… all I know is that I want pictures either way!!!)

The point, of course, is that unlike most important things, this one can actually be fun. So please, get out here and vote… and while your at it… have a little fun.

Speaking of which, if you get out and do have some fun while voting, please share here, I’d love to hear it, and I’m sure my other readers would as well!!! :)

October 21, 2008

You have to throw the grenade after you pull the pin, senator…

Filed under: Election 08,Observations — sbj @ 1:53 pm

Yesterday Senator Joe Biden, to whatever degree you may think, stuck his foot in his mouth. At a campaign stop in Seattle, he more or less said that Senator Obama was going to “invite” an international incident very early in his Presidency, He went on to say something to the effect of when this happens, we are going to need your support, not financially, but to stand us when it may look like we are making the wrong choice.

The actual words were not as bad as they appear here, I have given this a generous spin (for the Republican side) in order to make a bigger point.

Senator McCain did not waste a moment in starting to beat the “he’s not ready, and his own running mate agrees” drum. Honestly, I can’t blame him, when someone serves up a gopher ball, your sort of obligated to swing at it, if you want to stay in the game.

However, one again, McCain has proven how reckless and lacking in forethought he really is. Instead of leaving it there, he decided to push it out to the edge of the envelope, saying “we don’t want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars.”

Perhaps a little history is in order for Senator McCain. The reason (yes there is a reason, these are not mindless savages striking out for the sake of striking out) that there is tension between the West and the Middle East is the West’s interference in Middle Eastern affairs. Wars, like the one in Afghanistan and to a far greater degree Iraq are a big part of this equation.

Senator McCain supports and encourages these wars. Don’t take my word for it, here’s McCain:

Senator, they are upset because we are there in the first place, sticking around for 100 years is, in fact, going to INVITE retribution.

Another major reason for attacks against the West, especially the United States is American arrogance, once again, Senator McCain:

The final significant piece fo the puzzle is Israel’s presence in th Middle East. While neither candidate offers much hope to the cause of the Islamic agenda with regard to Israel, at least Obama offers the hope of open reasoned discourse with any leader willing to sit across the table with him. McCain, more American arrogance…. he will not sit down without pre-conditions being established for the meeting.

There is no way to reasonably and objectively look at this and not see that, if a candidate represents a greater security risk to the United States, it is Senator John McCain. However, I would go so far as to say that even McCain will represent a reduction in the threat level to or incumbent. Noone, in the history of our nation, has done as much to tarnish our international image as President Bush.

Senator McCain, if you are going to stick with your negative campaigning, you might want to consider sticking to arguments that will not blow up in your face. But, then again, pragmatic decisions are not exactly your strong suit are they?

October 19, 2008

Anyone know a good plumber?

Filed under: Election 08,Observations — sbj @ 2:39 am

Since noone else has done it, I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss Joe the Plumber and his impact on this election and, more importantly, future ones.  You see, unlike others that think he had his 15 minutes and are gone now… I have longer lasting concerns.

What bothers me is the potential detrimental effect on the willingness of other citizens to speak up when given the opportunity to do so.  If it becomes reasonable to expect that when you question a candidate on the campaign trail you may wind up part of a nationally televised debate.  If, subsequently, you are having every aspect of your life exposed and commented upon, as if you were the one running for office, how many people are going to be willing to participate?

You don’t have to have tax debt or employment inequities to not want the media delving into your life and camping out on your front lawn.  You simply have to have a normal healthy desire to have your own life, be your own.

I’m disappointed in Senator McCain for dragging an innocent civilian “under the bus.”  This was not his intention, I’m quite sure, however I feel he should have investigated the possible outcomes before bringing a private citizen into the spotlight of a presidential election.  I have written before about his “seat of the pants” leadership style and this is the latest of many examples.

By an order of magnitude, I am even more disappointed in the media for launching the feeding frenzy  that was their investigation of Joe.  It appeared to be more important to discredit Joe, and therefore his points (many of which were very valid concerns, and remain so, despite the fact that he has personally been discredited) than it was to take into consideration for a moment that this was a person that never asked to be included in this circus.  He was just a man, standing in a line in his home town asking questions of the candidate he might, or might not, vote for in the upcoming presidential election.

So what happens when Obama or McCain come to your town and solicit questions in a line.  Are you going to unabashedly ask your question?  Or, somewhere in the recesses of you mind, are you going to be wondering if you are one step away from having a film crew at your front door?

It seems to me that there is a very real danger of quieting the electorate going forward.  And this is what I am afraid could become the real legacy of our friend, Joe the plumber.  A legacy that will not last 15 minutes, or 15 months, but could several election cycles to overcome… and that assumes that the media witchhunts stop, and stop now.  Something that I, for one, and not holding my breath about.

October 18, 2008

Brad v. Brad – Final Quarterfinal match

Filed under: celeb tournaments — sbj @ 11:03 pm

Welcome to the first ever (well first ever from me) Brad Pitt-ament (All Brad Pitt tournament).

In this tournament we (you and I) will decide the “toughest, most likely to kick some serious ass in a dark ally” Brad Bitt. Remember, you are not voting for the most attractive, hunky or adorable, but the roughest toughest hombre. The movies were selected from a survey of one of my social networks and the seedings were generated from the results of an email poll I sent out last week to a select group of (25) friends. The bracket was set up based on those seeds.

Votes can be cast in the form of blog comments (each comment with an explanation for your vote will be worth 1.5 votes), social network reply (worth 1 vote) and email (worth .75 of a vote, because you are not making it public). You get one vote per round (or blog) so don’t hold out for your favorite movie, each round counts!!!

Todays quarterfinal bout pitts (oh yeah… I’m funny):

#8 seed Legends of the Fall Brad Pitt

v. #1 Seed Snatch Brad Pitt

Here is another example where I think the seeding is perfect.  Well, at least for the number 1 seed.  In my mind Piker Pitt kicks everyone’s ass… but that’s just me, and this vote is not mine, it is yours.  You may prefer Legends, I know many who do.  It has been suggested defeating a bear trumps boxing a bunch o brutes… perhaps it does, what do you think.

This is the last of the first round matches, vote early and let your voice be heard!!!  Ready, Go!!!

October 17, 2008

An open letter to Republican members of the Electoral College

Filed under: Election 08 — sbj @ 10:31 pm

Hello My Republican Friends,

I am writing you today, primarily, to express my condolences, in advance, for a race that seems to be pretty close to being over. I was especially appreciative of your candidate when he went out of his way in early October to attempt to curb the negativity at one of his events. Highly commendable!

I think John McCain was clearly the best of the Republican candidates and I was glad to see him wrap up his primary early. He, within the Republican party, most closely mirrors my views and gave me great hope that no matter who won the election, the overall direction of the country was going to improve.

However, for me, the wheels started to fall off when he selected Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate. I’m guessing that, by now, you are probably starting to regret that choice as well. Back then, Senator McCain was running neck and neck with Senator Obama. Now, a few short weeks, and countless talk show features recounting her many foibles, from that fateful day, your party finds itself almost hopelessly removed from contention.  It is never good to have a running-joke as a running-mate.

It’s that “almost”, however, that I’d like to talk to you about. You see, there is still hope. Anything can happen, and, Senator McCain could be right back in the ball game. That, in and of itself, is not the end of the world. However, electing Sarah Palin Vice President could be (I mean literally, it could be… what’s going to happen when she cannot “see” Russia anymore… how can she be expected to blindly trust them!!).

Many people don’t realize this, but, you, as electors, do not have to vote for her if Republicans win your state. That’s right, you can vote for McCain (you could vote for Obama too, but I realize that is a bit of a stretch) with your presidential vote, and then vote for someone completely different for vice-president*. Anyone you want!!! You could vote for yourself, your favorite elementary school teacher, even your pet rabbit (provided he, or she, was born in the United States and is 35 years of age, of course).

So, if McCain should win your state, remember, vote for anyone (and I mean anyone) but Palin for vice-President. Your candidate, your party, and your country will thank you. In fact, if you came out early and stated you were going to do so… it might just boost Senator McCains chances of winning. You should think about that… seriously… you should!

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sbj

* The 12th Amendment of the constitution provides that each elector shall cast two votes one for the President and one for the Vice-President of their choice.

Brad v. Brad – Third quarterfinal match

Filed under: celeb tournaments — sbj @ 2:43 pm

Welcome to the first ever (well first ever from me) Brad Pitt-ament (All Brad Pitt tournament).

In this tournament we (you and I) will decide the “toughest, most likely to kick some serious ass in a dark ally” Brad Bitt. Remember, you are not voting for the most attractive, hunky or adorable, but the roughest toughest hombre. The movies were selected from a survey of one of my social networks and the seedings were generated from the results of an email poll I sent out last week to a select group of (25) friends. The bracket was set up based on those seeds.

Votes can be cast in the form of blog comments (each comment with an explanation for your vote will be worth 1.5 votes), social network reply (worth 1 vote) and email (worth .75 of a vote, because you are not making it public). You get one vote per round (or blog) so don’t hold out for your favorite movie, each round counts!!!

Todays first quarterfinal bout pitts (oh yeah… I’m funny):

#7 seed Troy Brad Pitt

v. #2 Seed Fight Club Brad Pitt

Now this is a battle! Personally I can’t believe that Troy Brad Pitt fell to a #7 seed, but I guess he does have that troublesome heel. They are both “cut up”, and wear blood pretty well. Troy BP is a bit more puffed up but Tyler Durden is a machine. I could see this one going either way.

The winner of this match up faces Oceans 11 Brad Pitt on Sunday, who will it be?… voting will be open until 10:00am October 18th… Ready go!

October 16, 2008

i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t, do you know what that means?

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 8:36 pm

I am attracted, fiercely attracted, to Independent women. By that, I mean, women who are Independent. I have great respect for Independent men. By that I mean, men that are Independent. I make that distinction because, too often people confuse Independence, which is something that one is, with things like being decisive which is an example of something that one does. You cannot become Independent by watching and emulating. Independence is something you simply are (or are not).

This does not mean that you cannot become Independent if you are not fortunate enough for it to come naturally. However, the path to Independence does not lie in modifying your actions, but rather in modifying yourself.

An Independent person is supremely confident in themselves. They don’t tell themselves that they are good enough, they already know that they are. It’s not that they know how to handle a situation, it’s that they are secure in the knowledge that they can handle any situation.

I believe, that a (if not “the”) key to becoming Independent is having a sufficient level of self confidence. The question is how does one instill that in someone who does not have it within them already. Many try tie ill-fated approach of emulating those with confidence. This rings false and comes off as something else entirely. So, what to do…

I think one important aspect is understanding that Independence is something you exercise upon yourself, not upon those around you. In fact those around you have no bearing on your Independence whatsoever. One of my favorite phrases is “what you think of me is none of my business” it could go on to say, “and is of no consequence at all” and it really would not lose any meaning for me.

This does not mean that I do not care what other people think, nor does it mean that I do not care if I conduct myself properly or not. However, it does mean that when I evaluate my self worth… I do the evaluating against my own standards, not against an external code of conduct. There is a two step process. First, I form and reconcile my code of conduct against external sources (life experiences, good examples set by others, etc.). Then, when it comes to reconciling my actions I use my own internally code as a benchmark against them.

I continually evaluate my actions, on a case by case basis, against my internal standards. Periodically, I re-evaluate those personal standards against external input. However, I never attempt to evaluate individual actions against external benchmarks. You need to have faith in your internal code.

An analogy, if you will. You might see a dietician or doctor to assess your overall health and formulate a diet or exercise program. However, you would not go back to them on each meal, snack, or weight lifting session. You trust what you learned from the doctor/dietician to get you through your daily decisions. After a period of time, it makes sense to meet with them again, evaluate what worked and what didn’t and reformulate the plan, after which, you are on your own again for a while.

Recognizing, accepting, and having faith in that internal decision making system, also know as “exercising self confidence,” is, in my mind, the key step to being Independent.

Brad v. Brad – second quarterfinal matchup

Filed under: celeb tournaments — sbj @ 4:07 pm

Welcome to the first ever (well first ever from me) Brad Pitt-ament (All Brad Pitt tournament).
In this tournament we (you and I) will decide the “toughest, most likely to kick some serious ass in a dark ally” Brad Bitt. Remember, you are not voting for the most attractive, hunky or adorable, but the roughest toughest hombre. The movies were selected from a survey of one of my social networks and the seedings were generated from the results of an email poll I sent out last week to a select group of (25) friends. The bracket was set up based on those seeds.
Votes can be cast in the form of blog comments (each comment with an explanation for your vote will be worth 1.5 votes), social network reply (worth 1 vote) and email (worth .75 of a vote, because you are not making it public). You get one vote per round (or blog) so don’t hold out for your favorite movie, each round counts!!!
Todays first quarterfinal bout pitts (oh yeah… I’m funny) features:

#5 seed Mr. and Mrs. Smith Brad Pitt

v. #4 Seed 12 Monkeys Brad Pitt

This is another one that seemed like a total mismatch to me. Professional assassin Brad Pitt against the monkey guy, come on??? But even the seeding group liked the unexpected and unpredictable “crazy” aspect of the 12 Monkeys better, giving him the slightly higher seed in this opening round match up of the most closely rated seeds.

So who moves on to face the winner of the #1 v. #8 show down… voting will be open until 10:00am October 17th… Ready go!

Blog Action Day 08: a tribute…

Filed under: A life worth living,Make the world better — sbj @ 9:07 am

I’d like to take a minute to recognize some people I know (or know of) that took part in what I view as a meaningful activity yesterday.  Each of these people took the time to dedicate their personal space, their blog to a common cause yesterday.  The cause was Blog Action Day 08 and the focus was poverty.

All of these blogs are on that topic.  Each providing an individual and varried view on the subject.  Please carve a couple of minutes out of your day and read through these blogs.  I’m certain it will be worth your time.  If you get really motivated to read more, each has a link to the “mother ship”, the Blog Action Day web site which contains entries from over 12,000 blogs… enough reading for the heartiest of appitites.

So, without further ado… my short list :)

http://givecheerfully.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/blog-action-day/#comment-23

http://dresramblings.com/2008/10/15/how-close-are-we-to-poverty/

http://devylgyrl.com/2008/10/15/blog-action-day-08-poverty/

http://www.on-a-limb.com/2008/10/15/turning-on-the-poor/

http://www.northsandiegobusiness.com/ethics/boosting-the-bottom-line-ethically/

http://www.wikyblog.com/CynthiaWunsch/Wednesday,_October_15,_2008

http://www.aimlessdirection.com/2008/hotel-poverty/

http://limetouch.com/archives/blog-action-day-2008-poverty/

After further review, the ruling on the field stands…

Filed under: Election 08,Observations,obama — sbj @ 8:50 am

Watching last nights Presidential debate the first time, I judged the debate “too close to call.”   In discussing the debate with friends online, many had the same reaction, despite the polls indicating that Obama had won by a large margin.

Watching the debate the second time, I was struck by something I missed the first time through.  Something that justified or at least supported the views of those polled by every major network, that Obama had, indeed, won the debate, handily.

What I saw, the second time around, was that, by and large, McCains responses were of the “knee jerk” or “fix it now” variety, with little or no sustainability.  In fact, in some cases, lack of sustainability was not an issue… because lack of feasibility (i.e. the number of Nuclear plants he intended to have in place in his first term, which is an impossible number by the most optimistic standards of the nuclear industry itself) pre-empted the evaluation of sustainability.

His “drill here, drill now” mantra resonates more as a wake up call regarding the general culture of excess, entitlement and sloth that is our “modern American society” than an actionable plan for reducing energy dependence.  By ignoring the simple fact that we lack the critical mass of reserves which would be required to provide a long term solution in favor of windfall profits and marginal short term leverage on the global market, McCain trades our future for immediate reward.  Now that’s a sub-prime mortgage… “my friends.”

His plan to toss a $5000 tax credit for people to purchase their own insurance ignores the growing number of people who cannot afford (even with the credit) to get insurance because of age or existing health concerns.  All of those people could very well be filling hospital emergency rooms shortly after his plan is adopted.  This drives up everyone else’s rates (marginalizing further the tax credit) and, in a far more tangible effect, places non-critical health issues in the direct path of medical emergencies by over crowding ER’s nationwide.

When called upon to defend his running mates qualifications to be President, his lack of judgement was again apparent.  In all honesty, if McCain had made a responsible choice for his vice-president, this election would probably still be very close.  Instead he chose a woman that his campaign is afraid to allow out of their sight and control, and who has bungled almost every one of the few interviews she has granted.  She was a running joke for weeks, during which time the race went from a relative tie to the one-sided affair it now at least appears to be.  To her credit, she gave a credible performance during the vice-presidential debate; however, at that point the damage had already been done.

The bottom line is that John McCain is not deliberate, contemplative or big picture oriented.  His judgement which has led to him being improperly labeled as a maverick, would be more properly categorized as capricious.

The change this country needs is not just in Washington, and it is not just in the failed policies of George Bush. It goes much deeper than that.  It is needed in every state, county, and city nationwide, and the changes must extend beyond policy, into our nations very character.  We need to bring our values back inline with those that made us the most powerful nation in the world.  We need to replace our society of excess with one of thrift, our notions of entitlement with those of accountability and our culture of sloth with one of responsibility.

Watching the debate a second time, it because very clear to me that Obama won the debate, by a very wide margin.  Further, if the long term stability of our country is something you hold close to your heart, this election really has only one viable candidate.  The choice on November 4th is between a pragmatic visionary looking toward the future and a impulsive profiteer not looking beyond his own limited life expectancy.

October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty

Filed under: A life worth living,Make the world better — sbj @ 10:20 pm

Today is Blog Action Day: Poverty.  Bloggers around the world (at last count over 12,000 of them, are taking a moment out of their normal blogging lives to write about Poverty.  Whether raising awarenes, offering solutoins, or just lending a voice of support to the cause, this groundswell movement has momentum and has produced some great pieces.  You can check them out here: http://blogactionday.org/

The question, of course, is what, exactly am I going to talk about that 12,000 other bloggers have not already covered.  I thought about referencing a few of my previous blogs like this one How my son made me a better person this week…(http://puntiglio.com/blog/?p=187), but that seemed a bit like cheating… so I needed a different approach.

The low hanging fruit, of course was to pick on the economy, choose political sides and use this as a platform to advance my choice for president… again… not the best path.

Another option would be talking about various things I and other I know have done in the past, on an individual basis to combat poverty.  Things as simple as picking up the leftovers from conference dinners and taking them with us to distribute to the homeless in the streets of whatever city we might be visiting.  A nice inspiring but not overly prescriptive story, this actually seemed like a decent idea.

However, what I have chosen to do is challenge you.  What I’d like you to do is expend your own knowledge of the issue as it impacts you, in your community.  I’d like you to do a little research, and find out what the homeless and poverty rates in your area are.  Then find out what resources are available to those in your community who are in that unfortunate situation.

You don’t have to give to those organizations (you can if you feel so inclined) but that is not my challenge to you today.  I just want you to be informed.  Informed so that then next time poverty comes up in dinner, water cooler or locker room conversation you will be armed with both knowledge and potential solutions.

Here are some general poverty numbers for the US in 2007 (this data and more avaiable here: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty07/pov07hi.html):

* The official poverty rate in 2007 was 12.5 percent, not statistically different from 2006.
* In 2007, 37.3 million people were in poverty, up from 36.5 million in 2006.
* Poverty rates in 2007 were statistically unchanged for non-Hispanic Whites (8.2 percent), Blacks (24.5 percent), and Asians (10.2 percent) from 2006. The poverty rate increased for Hispanics (21.5 percent in 2007, up from 20.6 percent in 2006).
* The poverty rate in 2007 was lower than in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available, while statistically higher than the most recent trough in 2000 (11.3 percent).
* The poverty rate increased for children under 18 years old (18.0 percent in 2007, up from 17.4 percent in 2006), while it remained statistically unchanged for people 18 to 64 years old (10.9 percent) and people 65 and over (9.7 percent).

This may not seem important to you, or like it will make a difference, but you will probably be amazed how often this topic comes up once you are attuned to it.

At any rate, that is my challange to you… your mission, should you choose to accept it.

This message will never self-destruct… at least as long as people like you continue to care…

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