10 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

  1. Politics should not be a war or game. It’s a process – and we’re in it together.
  2. Appreciate everyone. Even if you strongly dislike someone, thank him or her anyway. As genuinely as possible. Gratitude is the social currency of life.
  3. Experiences are more important than possessions. Food and travel make the spirit of life go ‘round.
  4. Marry smart. Find a brilliant woman and do your due diligence. Love is more than lust.
  5. Build something much bigger than yourself – and finish it. My Dad built a city and spent over half of his life doing it. I have a very long way to go.
  6. It’s okay to listen to the same song a million times. If you love something, why stop doing it?
  7. Fictional worlds are healthy. They help you spark imagination, engage with art and escape for a few minutes per day.
  8. Modesty keeps things simple. I can think of no human being more humble than my father. No fuss, no drama, no ego. If any of those things exist in his life, he never brings them home.
  9. Stay Organized. My father keeps more lists, records, photo journals and data on his life than any man I’ve ever met. He forgets very little, tends to important tasks quickly and keeps life together like no other.
  10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It won’t matter this time next year.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.


Worry About Your Own Choices

Don’t waste time concerning yourself with the choices of others unless they affect the outcome of your own decisions. If you have no stake in the issue beyond your own opinion, opponents are far less likely to hear you. It’s not your problem, it’s theirs. By interfering, you make it your problem and cause undue stress for you and others. If you feel you do have stake in the issue, make sure your opponents understand what’s on the line for you so that you can increase your relevance in the matter. Don’t go to bat without something to swing or a game to lose. Otherwise, you’re just noise.

You Always Have An Enemy

The human spirit does not lend itself well to complacency. Never assume everyone is on your side. Even with widely accepted “fact,” rebels always stand up. To many, the world is only a few thousand years old. To others, genocide has merit as a method for population control. You can never completely convince everyone to join your team. Even when you do, someone will wake up in denial and challenge you out of an intuitive aversion to conformity. To keep the species alive, it is our nature to challenge each other. To keep the universe in balance, the coin must have a flip side. There is no peace without war. No light without dark. No opinion without opponent. Accept the conflict. Embrace symbiotic relationships.

Admit You’re Wrong

The strongest and wisest people I know are not afraid to call themselves out on mistakes. Not only is it honest to admit when you’re wrong, it’s the key to learning from your mistakes. Until you acknowledge that there’s a lesson to be learned, you can’t learn it. It’s human nature to defend yourself when accused or disarmed – your first reaction is to put up a fight. But don’t. If you’re in the wrong, you’re wrong. You’ll be the better man or woman to admit it. And while your failure may be noted, your honesty and lessons learned will go a very long way. Don’t let failure go to waste.

Collaboration, Not Compromise

To repatriate, rebuild, and rekindle our nation, we need to set aside partisanship and find common ground. To do that, I urge a small tweak to our political lexicon: replace “compromise” with “collaboration.” Compromise implies two sides with disparate interests; collaboration suggests multiple specialized parties on the same team. No one should ever surrender beliefs, but it is important to first discover a platform of common agreement to move forward together under the same banner. At the heart of every issue lies at least a sliver of mutual consent and values everyone can share. Identify that first, and we can move forward together. Easier said than done, but it’s worth a morning shout.

Don’t Waste Gatherings

Time together is a valuable commodity. Our Constitution honors the freedom to assemble in the very First Amendment. Time together should not be wasted on passive consumption. Active minds together exchange ideas and experiences that, when combined, can overrule the sum of their parts. The classroom, conference room, or venue should be reserved for collaboration, discussion, or audience involvement. Dialogue should be a two-way street, a symmetrical relationship. With the Internet more ubiquitous than ever, we have the freedom to access, share, and consume information whenever and wherever we want. We can connect with lectures, sermons, and updates asymmetrically on our private time. We should never waste the opportunity to commingle when sharing a room together. Spend private time well; spend time together better.

An Irreverent Guide to Judgement Day 2011

Through an aggressive marketing campaign, Harold Camping has forewarned via Christian broadcasting network Family Radio that today is “Judgement Day.” Even though the Bible has been published for centuries, God is only just now “opening up His Word because we have arrived at the time of the end.” With the “Biblical Timeline of History” and the “correct method of Bible interpretation” at hand, Camping determined today’s significance through a string of compounded assumptions:

  • The earth was created in 11,013 BC (13,000 years ago, when mankind first practiced agriculture).
  • Noah’s Flood began on May 21, 4990 B.C., per the Hebrew calendar (Genesis 7:11).
  • Christ was crucified on April 1, 33 A.D (April fools, sucka!).
  • Biblical reference to a single day is actually reference to a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8).
  • Therefore, Judgement Day would occur 7,000 years after the flood (Genesis 7:4). [Note that the same passage alludes to the floods lasting 40 days and 40 nights. So what’s going to happen in 40,000 years? God will retire?]
  • There are 365.2422 days in a complete year, according to astronomers (who also determined that the earth is 4.54 billion years old, but who’s counting).

Beyond those anchor assumptions, the variables in his calculations to reach May 21, 2011, are based entirely on biblical number symbolism. For a mind-numbing breakdown of Camping’s math, read his “infallible proof” (I suggest you trip acid first, you might actually be able to follow his genius).

According to Camping’s prophecy, true believers will be beamed up to Heaven today. Apparently, reading the Bible is your ticket to salvation: “God has always saved people through the hearing of His Word” (a crafty publisher sales pitch, wouldn’t you say?). As a “fuck you” gift to the rest of us left behind, a massive doomsday earthquake was supposed to start at 6 p.m. on the International Date Line, move west, and unearth corpses everywhere. Just in case you missed it, nothing happened. But if you are still here tomorrow, that does not mean the prophecy was wrong; prepare yourself for five months of hell until October 23, 2011, when the atmosphere will pop and solar radiation will toast us all (2 Peter 3:10).

Judgement Day street teams in Hollywood, who quit their jobs and families to preach the word, were taking salvation so seriously this week that they spent a lot of time discussing the quality of meat in their tacos and smoking pot. Harold Camping already predicted that September 6, 1994, would be the big day and convinced a lot of people to go along with it. But alas, his calculations were wrong. Oh well, Round 2. I give Camping credit for a strong 2011 marketing campaign, but nothing more. Family Radio has reached 66 stations across the United States and 61 languages globally; I can only imagine how much publicity traffic he has generated through his latest movement. I am very tolerant of most people and their philosophies, but I do not tolerate fear mongering in any form. Dear God, please rapture Camping and his believers (in their favor, mind you) so that we can return to reason and actually get some bills passed in Congress. Amen.

Family Radio aside, there has been a lot of apocalyptic talk lately. Sure, times are tough. But do not overanalyze, dear reader. Economic collapse, climate change, crime, wars, disease, famine, and natural disasters are not uncommon in history. Without question, we need to be better shepherds of our planet. But rampant paranoia will do us no good. I suppose the Mayan calendar, global warming, nuclear holocaust, alien invasion, dark matter, and zombies may all be plausible, but there’s no way to know for sure. All we can do is live and love life as if every day were our last. Take radicals with a grain of salt.

How America Can Reclaim First Place

American FlagsCan you imagine traveling six days by horse in a blizzard to hang out with peers and talk politics? Can you imagine waking up to a trumpet, grabbing your gun and running outside to join other armed neighbors to defend your cul-de-sac? Can you imagine hiding in your basement with friends for fear of your life and plotting a bloody revolution? These activities were commonplace 250 years ago at the birth of our nation. Early Americans went to great lengths to come together, stand as one, and protect our freedoms. The value of togetherness networked local communities, rallied the majority against common enemies, and united the colonies.

Somewhere between the Cold War and postdevelopment, Americans lost site of that camaraderie. We lost site of togetherness. Back then, the freedom to assemble was a huge deal – so important that it topped the list of our constitutional amendments. Today, I see a lot of ambition and very little group collaboration. Few people stand collectively behind anything except brands and religion (and even those groups are fading).

We need to come together again. We need to debate again. We need to start a cultural revolution again. And like all great movements in history, the era of neo-togetherness starts small: spend more time with friends. Spend time discussing how you think the world should look. Spend time making suggestions and outlining solutions. And if you are brave enough, spend time tackling those solutions together.

Our great country evolved through community. Only a strong community can keep it alive.

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