Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beating a Dead Horse

Rachel has previously suggested that she is beating a dead horse and I have only one thing to say. "I know, I know!" My kid has this brown booger / letter "g" hanging out of his nose. I'm going to fix it. I promise. I've been a little preoccupied. Be patient and I'll get it changed by Friday.

Betsy has been so kind as to correct my html and all I have to do is find the time to fix it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Ultimate Question

What's the ultimate question that has become so cliche that you no longer look intelligent for asking it, but rather you look like someone who wants to be intelligent and cover up their mental and philosophical shortcomings?

Simple, "What is the meaning of life?"

This website explores the question on a serious level, and even gives out a $10,000 prize for a "truly inspiring" answer. A cliche question brings so many cliche answers. Some of the most cliche are, "To give your all to others / the world", "To recognize a higher power in life", or "To be the best you can". Personally, while these answers seem full of insight and wisdom, to me they seem a little flat. There aren't any teeth in them. Which brings me back to the question, "What is the meaning of life?"

I used to think the meaning of life was balance. You had to appropriately balance every aspect of your life and in the balance was the meaning of life. Between family, friends, work and play was the meaning. Between spiritual growth, mental acuity and physical fitness was the meaning. Now, I'm not so sure. What does life mean? What is the intention of life?

I thought we had this whole discussion wrapped up when Curly from City Slickers stuck up his index finger, and especially when Mr. Warren published Purpose Driven Life, and now this guy is giving ten grand away to revisit the whole conversation.

Any words of insight here? What does it all mean???

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Taste of the Onion

It's been a while since I've reported on anything from the Onion, so I went in search of a relevant news story. A few clicks later and I found this. It's a radio broadcast of a retired marathon runner who has traded in his running high for the high of eating food.

After running a marathon myself over 10 years ago, I can totally relate. Now, nothing gets me higher than cream filled donuts or cake with really thick frosting accompanied by an ice cold glass of milk.

But, I climbed back in the saddle of another horse this morning at 6:30 as I got up to go run. No runner's high, but I was awake... technically, and a nice moist piece of cake sure sounds good about now.

In the wise, emperical, words of Homer Simpson.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Two Years and Still Grinning

As of August 26th, it will be exactly 2 years since my inaugural post. As I was reviewing the last two years of my life, I began to think how it has changed, what I have written about, how my life has improved and my writing has improved, yet the look of my blog has remained the same.

Remembering a particular comment from one year ago, I decided it’s time to update things a little, so I sat in bed with a laptop for the last week and a half recoding all the html I could figure out to change the template into what I call “Tuscan”. The comment section hasn't been changed yet, but give me another year and I'll get around to it.

Inspired by images from several Google searches my two boys' smiles and reflections on what I hope to accomplish with my writing, I landed on this color scheme and a new tag line “smile – it’s just life”.

As the journey continues here at Grin and Barrett, I hope you feel more relaxed to read by the soothing colors of Tuscany, more encouraged to take life with a smile and quit taking it so serious, and more free to leave comments expressing your thoughts.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

State of Mind

As I'm trying to get myself back into the mindframe of an 18 year old during their first week at college for class tomorrow, I came across this, the Beloit College's Mindset List for the Class of 2010. The list "is used by educators and clergy and by the military and business in their efforts to connect with the new generation."

Since I know some of you are not clickers of my links, I'll highlight a few of the things for you.

Members of the class of 2010, entering college this fall, were mostly born in 1988. For them: Billy Carter, Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Billy Martin, Andy Gibb, and Secretariat have always been dead.

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
7. They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.
22. Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America
24. Madden has always been a game, not a Superbowl-winning coach.
27. There has never been a "skyhook" in the NBA
43. They are not aware that "flock of seagulls hair" has nothing to do with birds flying into it.
52.They never played the game of state license plates in the car.
63. Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.
75. Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics.

I was feeling old until I began to sing the unforgetable words of the juicy fruit commercials. "Being cool you'll find is a state of mind. A refreshing attitude. When things get hot, cool is all you want. Doing it Juicy Fruit" Or something like that, but it probably doesn't matter anyway since what 18 year old is going to remember that song anyway.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Just Want Your Extra Time and Your...

Kissing. I probably don't give enough to my wife. She is beautiful inside and out, and deserves every kiss I give her and all of those I haven't.

Perhaps I'm tired and becoming emotional as I sit in my hotel room while my kissable wife lies in our bed asleep, but I really do miss her and can't wait to get home and smooch a little.

Not enough time - Get too busy - Forgetful - other things take priority - It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I was trying to figure out how this whole thing works. I'm not talking about kissing my wife any more. Now I'm talking about every thing that you and I both should be doing but have some lame excuse not to do it.

To help you get past the excuse you're trying to figure out how it works, click here. What ever it is you have to do, do it. Especially if it is kissing the one you love. And men, when you're wife comes home and gives you a big kiss today for apparently no reason... you're welcome!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

3 Years in 3 Minutes

I'm in Denver Tuesday and Wednesday for training to become certified to teach the class I've been teaching for almost 3 months now. Don't ask... it's the government.

Point being, I'll be out of the blogosphere until Thursday. Hang in there though, because I've got some big changes happening here at Grin and Barrett. More to come on that later.

In the mean time, check out the changes that have happened to Ahree Lee over 3 years. Click here, then click "watch film"to see 3 years go by in less than 3 minutes (after you watch the commercial).

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why Courage Matters

I just finished reading "Why Courage Matters: The way to a braver life" by John McCain. Regardless of your political views or what you think of him as a person, I think this is a great read for everyone. It's quick and full of stories that are interesting and inspiring. McCain admits that while he doesn't really consider himself to be a person of extraordinary courage, he has known many who are. So, he doesn't share why he is a great man, he shares why other men and women are.

McCain writes:
"We're all afraid of something. Some have more fears than
others. The one we must all guard against is the fear of ourselves. Don't
let the sensation of fear convince you that you're too weak to have
courage. Fear is the opportunity for courage, not proof of
cowardice. No one is born a coward. We were meant to love. And
we were meant to have courage for it. So be brave. The rest is

We discussed this quote in the Freshman Seminar class I'm teaching and had
some good discussion about fear. We're all afraid of something on the surface - snakes, spiders, the dark - but it's the fear of what's inside, fear of ourselves that has the tightest grip on our lives.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Man's Greatest Fear

The following is a modified, PG version of the R rated one I found yesterday morning. It's a bit of a break from the usual small business / leadership / stuff that usually doesn't get any comments.

Here are the 5 questions most feared by men are:

1. What are you thinking about?
2. Do you love me?
3. Do I look fat in this?
4. Do you think she is prettier than me?
5. What would you do if I died?

What makes these questions so difficult is that every one is guaranteed to explode into a major argument if the man answers incorrectly (i.e., tells the truth). Therefore, as a public service, each question is analysed below, along with possible responses. (link provided to answer any critics of my spelling - you know who you are)

Question 1: What are you thinking about?
The proper answer to this, of course, is: "I'm sorry if I've been pensive, dear. I was just reflecting on what a warm, wonderful, thoughtful, caring, intelligent woman you are, and how lucky I am to have met you." This response obviously bears no resemblance to the true answer, which most likely is one of the following:

a. Football.
b. Golf.
c. How fat you are.
d. How much prettier she is than you
e. How I would spend the insurance money if you died.

Perhaps the best response to this question was offered by Al Bundy, who once told Peg, "If I wanted you to know what I was thinking, I would be talking to you!"

Question 2: Do you love me?
The proper response is: "YES!" or, if you feel a more detailed answer is in order, "Yes, dear."

Inappropriate responses include:
a. Yeah, I guess.
b. Would it make you feel better if I said yes?
c. That depends on what you mean by love.
d. Does it matter?
e. Who, me?

Question 3: Do I look fat?
The correct answer is an emphatic: "Of course not!"

Among the incorrect answers are:
a. Compared to what?
b. I wouldn't call you fat, but you're not exactly thin.
c. A little extra weight looks good on you.
d. I've seen fatter.
e. Sorry what did you say ? I was just thinking about how I would spend the insurance money if you died.

Question 4: Do you think she's prettier than me?
Once again, the proper response is an emphatic: "Of course not!"

Incorrect responses include:
a. Yes, but you have a better personality.
b. Not prettier, but definitely thinner.
c. Not as pretty as you when you were her age.
d. Define pretty.
e. Sorry what did you say ? I was just thinking about how I would spend the insurance money if you died.

Question 5: What would you do if I died?
A definite no-win question.(The real answer, of course, is "Buy a Jeep and a Boat"). No matter how you answer this, be prepared for at least an hour of follow-up questions, usually along the these lines:

WOMAN: Would you get married again?
MAN: Definitely not!
WOMAN: Why not - don't you like being married?
MAN: Of course I do.
WOMAN: Then why wouldn't you remarry?
MAN: Okay, I'd get married again.
WOMAN: You would? (with a hurtful look on her face)
MAN: (makes audible groan)
WOMAN: Would you sleep with her in our bed?
MAN: Where else would we sleep?
WOMAN: Would you put away my pictures, and replace them with pictures of her?
MAN: That would seem like the proper thing to do.
WOMAN: And would you let her use my golf clubs?
MAN: She can't use them; she's left-handed.
WOMAN: - - - silence - - -
MAN: Crap.

*** disclaimer***
Let me make it known that my wife is perfect in every way. I hold no ill feelings toward her and find complete satisfaction in our loving relationship which fulfills every emotional desire I have. This in no way reflects any conversations we've ever had or ever will have. I share this only from the humorous 3rd person spectator point of view.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Microsoft Gives Away Xbox Design Tools

Ask almost any kid what a really cool job would be when they grow up and you're certain to hear the words "video game developer". I even think for some adults / kids who never grew up, if the opportunity came, I'd.... uh, I mean they'd quit their job in the press of a rapid fire button to go develop video games.

Now, Microsoft is making it possible by offering a public version of it's XNA Game Studio Express for free on August 30th, which is what Microsoft developers use to develop games for the Xbox 360. A full version will be out by the holidays. (article here)

Guess what's on my Christmas list???

small TALK

As I meet numerous people in any given week, I often find myself bored with the small talk portion of the introduction. A normal introduction usually happens like this. We exchange names, titles and company information. Often times business cards change hands and a quick moment is spent studying the card to make sure you heard their name, company and title correctly.

Next comes the list of questions that is becoming boring to me and I want to freshen it up a little. The list usually consists of:

How long have you been at XYZ company? If it's a short time you ask what they did before.
Then you ask if they are from wherever they are from. In Colorado Springs, chances are they aren't native so you get a lot of "No I'm from _____" answers.

At this point I begin praying I'm familiar with their state or city so I can talk about that next.

If not I begin to scramble for talking points like weather or upcoming holidays. On Fridays the "Are you ready for the weekend?" question is always a winner or on Monday the "so did you have a good weekend?" works well too.

Mostly I'm hating the fact that it would be rude to cut the conversation off. However, I often perceive the other person hates small talking too, but now we are both stuck in this conundrum of nothing to say, but nowhere better to go say something else.

I found this article a little helpful and am poised to use some of the tips it gives, but would like something better yet. Any one have any good ideas on how to make better small talk? What's worked for you? What hasn't worked? How do you go from surface level conversation to just beneath the surface level conversation without prying or interrogating?

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Wrote the Vision

We all know the "Write the vision" message right? Well, I'm here to give proof that it works.

Tuesday I wrote about free lunch. I wrote the vision and had a great lunch with Terry.
Wednesday, I got free lunch and got to hang out with all the people who make decisions on who the military bases buy from.
Thursday, I went to a meeting about forming a marketing alliance for the city of Fountain and low and behold, I got free breakfast.

I'm on a roll here, and I'm not done rolling. Today, I got to present at the Better Business Bureau's monthly meeting and guess what? Yep - Free breakfast again!

Now the decisions become harder. Next week do I post about free football tickets, free golf or free motorcycles???

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Creative Leadership from Queen Elizabeth I

Thanks to the Pikes Peak Library District, I started listening to a great book on tape titled “Elizabeth I CEO: Strategic lessons from the leader who built an empire” by Alan Axelrod.

The book discusses the life and leadership of Queen Elizabeth and it is interesting from both an historical and leadership perspective.

I’m not through the book yet, but one of the points I found interesting was this quote:
Your Sources: The closer the better…first hand. Queen Elizabeth I was notorious for being impatient with long winded sermons. She said she would rather talk with God devoutly by prayer than hear others speak eloquently of God. Creative leaders want to get as close to the source of knowledge, inspiration and power as possible.

I think this rings true on so many levels. Here are 4 of them.

  1. I hate long winded speakers (pastors or otherwise)
  2. Hearing information second hand is never as valuable as getting it first hand. So much is lost in translation.
  3. Those who relay the message have the opportunity to insert their personal opinions
  4. Creative Leaders aren’t just satisfied with email or voice mail, they want to get as close as possible. Face to face, sit down, and especially free lunches are indicative of how creative leaders interface with sources.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Free Lunch

Who ever said there is no such thing as a free lunch was totally wrong. My new purpose in life is to eat all the free lunches I can. I'll even eat free breakfast as well.

Today, I'm on my way down town to meet with Terry. Terry and I will walk from his office to some local restaurant and eat lunch together. Regardless of who pays for lunch, in essence the lunch is free to me because either my work or his work will pay for it, and to me that's free.

We'll talk business and talk about how he can get involved with what I'm doing. We'll exploit the synergy of our efforts and perhaps great things will be accomplished, but in reality we will be building a stronger relationship, which is what free lunch is all about. Well, okay so it's about eating lunch for free, but it's also about getting to know someone better and developing them as a resource while offering yourself as a resource to them.

My advice for the day - You can never afford to pass up a free lunch.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dark Side Leadership

I was doing some recent reflection and review on leadership in my life over the last 7 years. This reflection took me on a number of tangents which led me to a book titled Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership. Not wanting to read a whole book and realizing it won't be made into a movie any time soon, I found the Cliff's Notes version here.

Written from a biblical standpoint, it relates more to Bible characters and their leadership. It's premise is that:

  • Every leader suffers from some degree of personal dysfunction.
  • Personal dysfunction can be the motivating force to achieve success as a leader.
  • Many leaders are not aware of the dysfunctions that drive them.
  • Characteristics that drive people to lead and succeed often have a dark side capable of crippling them.
  • Learning about the dark side can enable leaders to address and prevent, or at least mitigate the potential negative effects.

Compulsive, narcissistic, paranoid, co-dependent, and passive aggressive are the five tendencies toward the dark side of leadership that are discussed. Think of a leader you don't like, or have had disagreements with and read the article and see if you can identify where they fit in.

I believe at the root of all people is some amount of good. Some people's good is perhaps more refined than others, but it is still there. Therefore, people who do something that offends me either do it unknowingly, or do it because their perception on reality has been altered. (i.e. they are a paranoid leader and therefore deeply insecure and view me as a threat to their leadership, which causes them to do something that offends me to keep me safely away from them) With either reason, if I am able to identify what has motivated them to offend me, I can more easily move past the offense.

This article spells out what some of those reality altering reasons might be, and it has helped me gain a better understanding of why people are motivated to hurt others, especially for people in a leadership role.

Whether you have already or perhaps are in the middle of dealing with a leader turned to the dark side, I hope this helps you move on.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Come One - Come All

For years I've always wanted to visit Las Vegas, but being the good church going / working boy that I am I never went to Sin City. All that is about to change.

Last night, my wife and I booked our tickets to go. Because of some great deals, we get airfare and hotel for about $400 for both of us. Our birthday's are 8 days apart and we figured this would make a great present to give to each other.
This immediately brought up the question, "Who do we invite to come with us on our trip?" While we both actually enjoy spending time together (weird isn't it?) we also love traveling with other people. It has a multiplication effect on the fun to be had. We kicked around a few names and finally decided that I would send out a "blogvitation" to all of our friends and we'd make a huge party weekend out of it.

So here are the details. We fly in to Vegas on November 8th in the evening and leave on my birthday, November 11th, late afternoon. We're staying at the Sahara hotel. Not exactly the Belliagio, but not exactly the price either. I figure you go to your room, lay down and close your eyes and they all look the same anyway.

If you're available and want to come for all or part of the weekend, we'd love to have you join us. You can take your own trip and just meet us for dinner some night, or plan on spending the whole weekend with us. Those details we can work out later.

So come one, come all! You're all invited to join us in Las Vegas as we party and live life like a 19 year old and not like the 33 year old I'll become on the 11th and the 32 year old my wife will become on the 19th of November.

Just to clarify, we aren't inviting you all so you'll bring presents for us. You being present will be present enough. I'm so excited - I can hardly wait. So - Will you come join us? Pretty Please!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

MTV Turns 25

Today is the day that MTV gets a break on its car insurance. The last big excitement in birthdays until you go over the hill. 25 years ago today, our world was forever influenced by music television. Andrew Wineke, writer for the Gazette, couldn't have written anything that I agree with more. Kind of like the first time I read Call Me a Child of the Eighties. So I'll defer my comments to his article, which normally I'd link to, but for some rediculous reason his article isn't available by linking, so I'll just paste his text below.

MTV too hip for nostalgia
MTV is celebrating its 25th anniversary today. On VH1 Classic. Yeah, that’s right: MTV is so gun-shy about commemorating its first quartercentury that it’s shunted the celebration to not just VH1, but VH1 Classic. At 10 p.m. last night, VH1 Classic began replaying MTV’s first 24 hours — everything the channel aired on Aug. 1, 1981 (the 24-hour tribute also will be repeated beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday on VH1 Classic, which is available on digital cable and satellite systems). If you don’t have digital cable, you’ll just have to mark the occasion by dusting off your record player and spinning The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The milestone is bound to make Gen Xers like myself feel as creaky as our parents do when another Woodstock anniversary rolls around. I get a headache every time I look at MTV’s Web site these days and, when my channel-flipping happens to land on “The Real World” (now 14 years old), I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s so popular. Clearly, I’m well on my way to geezerhood. To stave off that depressing eventuality, perhaps I should take some lessons from MTV itself, which has mastered the art of perpetual youthfulness better than anything since Dick Clark. MTV’s reaction, or rather nonreaction, to its silver anniversary speaks volumes about how the network clawed its way from obscurity to become a prime mover in youth culture — and how it’s kept that role for so long: by utterly rejecting anything not definitively of-themoment and up-to-the-minute. Take “The Real World.” The pioneering show basically invented the modern reality show, coming up with techniques that “Survivor,” “The Bachelor” and “Big Brother” stole note for note. Trendsetting is nice, but for MTV, the show’s appeal is that it’s perpetually renewing. Every season has a fresh cast, ready to pull the same stupid stunts that last year’s crew did. The closest “The Real World” gets to nostalgia is when favorites from past seasons pop up on “Road Rules Challenge” for a victory lap before scurrying into obscurity. The band Bowling for Soup had a monster hit two years ago with “1985,” featuring the chorus “Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, way before Nirvana. There was U2 and Blondie and music still on MTV.” Which goes to show that the bands, if not the network itself, have an ironic appreciation for MTV’s roots . . . even if Bowling for Soup’s teenage fans probably had to Google who the heck Blondie is. Meanwhile, what MTV is talking about on the air today is the nomination list for the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards. One of the top nominees this year? Madonna, who shook up the very first Video Music Awards in 1984 with “Like a Virgin.” Mmm . . . the irony is especially savory today.