My Life – Above Ground


Cherishing and Pursuing Life
September 30, 2008, 4:45 pm
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I ran across the following Alfred Lord Tennyson poem – one which I remember having to memorize in high school – and it rekindled a spark in me to both see the beauty of what has been, and pursue the opportunities that exist for tomorrow… I would encourage you to read this and ponder on it…

Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.



State of the Union
September 24, 2008, 11:38 pm
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I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I don’t like to participate in political discourse – especially not in this setting where I can’t talk with someone face-to-face.  However, I picked up something in today’s news that made me think about our country’s well-being.

At a United Nations meeting yesterday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, was quoted as saying, “America is on a definitive road of collapse… .”  Now, much of this can be perceived as global political rhetoric from a guy who likes to play the role of the bully on the block.   But it also gives us insight into what might be running through the minds of those who consider themselves enemies of the United States.

While we, as a country, are feverishly attempting to resolve a very significant economic issue, isn’t this the most opportune time for our enemies to take advantage of our hyper-focus and apparent weakness?  And by ‘weakness’ I’m not simply referring to our current economic woes; in some respects, this is the least of our weaknesses.  We, as a country, are divided in ways that are beginning to resemble the cultural divide of the 1800s – pre-civil war.  The intense hatred and anomosity for fellow American citizens is extraordinary – and quite unfortunate.  

It’s this division that makes us the weakest. 

So – that’s what got me thinking today.  We have two major things going against us right now:  our economic woes and the incredible cultural division that has enveloped the majority of our citizenry. 

I only hope that we heed the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln when he said, “Let us not pray that God is on our side, in a war, or any other time.  But let us pray that we are on God’s side.”   

With utter humility, I pray that we are on God’s side…



What Did You Say?
September 19, 2008, 7:47 pm
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I’ve always been a big fan of words.  And over the past few years, I’ve learned how important it is to employ emotional intelligence along with the proper words in relating to others.  I’ve primarily learned this lesson two ways – the first and primary lesson learned through making mistakes myself, followed by the distant lesson of watching others interact.  And I’ve learned a number of things that are continuing to shape the way in which I interact with folks.

I just finished reading the book, “Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear” and enjoyed it a great deal.  It followed much of what I’ve personally learned (the hard way, of course), as well as communication mistakes I’ve seen others make.   The author makes the common sense point that it doesn’t matter if you’re a Senator, CEO, friend, wife, husband or employee – this issue affects everyone at every stage in life.  He also makes the point that as we continue our journey deeper into The Information Age, having others hear what we are trying to say will consistently become more challenging.  Think about it… we are bombarded with sensory overload everyday:  advertising; entertainment; song lyrics; commercial jingles; clipped conversations; TV; radio; iPods; RSS Feeds; Facebook; MySpaceBlogs; Stock Tickers; News Feeds; Twitter… and the list can go on and on.   

Here’s my question:  how does this consistent, unrelenting influx of information affect us?  Really?  How does it affect our ability (and desire, for that matter) to get others to hear what it is we want them to hear?  Are we – as a society – growing more or less patient in our communications with each other?  Are we becoming more comfortable with digital communication, and less so with face-to-face interactions?  What are the long-term ramifications of these shifts in cultural norms and values?

I can only go off what I have personally experienced and observed… and have had to force myself to become more focused on not just what I’m saying, but more importantly – how my words are perceived.  As the author so aptly wrote, “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.”  In this age of mass information flow, no truer words have been spoken.



42 Things
September 16, 2008, 1:23 am
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Ok – my friend Chris tagged me with this list… so, here goes:

  1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
    Well, my mom tells me that she named me after Michael – the Arch-Angel of God.  
  2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
    This past weekend… upon seeing photos of a number of old friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.  It was a cry of gratitude.
  3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
    Not really.  I used to have fairly decent handwriting… but because I spend so much time typing, my handwriting is crap now.
  4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?
    I’ll have to agree with my friend, Chris – Pastrami all the way, baby!  Preferrably on rye with spicey mustard.
  5. DO YOU HAVE ANY KIDS?
    Yes. Cody – 8 and Luke 6.  Both are sports fantatics and keep me very busy.
  6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
    Yeah, I think so.  I think I’m pretty easy to get along with… and I love alternative music and Coen Brother flicks – can’t beat that now, can you?
  7. DO YOU USE SARCASM?
    Only when I’m the butt of the sarcasm.  I don’t like it at all when it is used to intentionally hurt someone. I think it’s cowardly and cruel.
  8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
    Yep.  They are still serving whatever purpose they serve (which is what, btw?)
  9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
    In a heart beat. 
  10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?
    I haven’t had it in a while, but Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  The left-over milk is AWESOME!
  11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
    No – because I’d rather be barefoot 100% of the time.
  12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
    Physically – yeah, I’ve been working out pretty regularly this year.  Emotionally – most of the time, but I have my moments.
  13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
    Coffee.
  14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
    Their attitude.  I think it’s the most important aspect of any person, including myself.
  15. RED OR PINK?
    If I had to choose between red and pink – definitely red.  My fav color is green though.
  16. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
    My forgetfulness.  I wish I could remember more – both short & long term.
  17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
    I can’t limit it to a person – but I can say that I miss all of my friends & family in Los Angeles.  I haven’t seen most of them in over 5 years.  I’d love an opportunity to get together with all of them.
  18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
    Black pants and black shoes. 
  19. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
    Teriyaki Salmon and rice.
  20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
    REM – Nightswimming… it’s one of my all-time favorites.
  21. IF YOU WHERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
    Chartreuse – because it’s not normal. 
  22. FAVORITE SMELLS?
    The air just before and after it rains.
  23. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
    My dad.
  24. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
    Either football or soccer.
  25. HAIR COLOR?
    Brownish-blonde – but more blonde, because I got a lot of sun this Summer.
  26. EYE COLOR?
    Brown
  27. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
    Sometimes.  If not, glasses.
  28. FAVORITE FOOD?
    Thai or Mexican.
  29. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
    Happy Endings.  Ok, I’ll admit it – I like chick flicks… there, I said it!
  30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
    Charlie Wilson’s War – last night.
  31. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
    Blue.
  32. FAVORITE SEASON?
    The mix between Fall and Winter.
  33. HUGS OR KISSES?
    Kisses – that was easy.
  34. FAVORITE DESSERT?
    Tiramisu.
  35. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
    Think Big, Act Small.
  36. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
    I don’t have a mouse pad.
  37. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT?
    Feasting on Waves – a Food Network show.
  38. FAVORITE SOUNDS?
    The sound of doves.  There’s a family of doves in our chimney, so I get to hear it almost everyday..
  39. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?
    Beatles – that was easy.  I actually don’t like the Rolling Stones at all.
  40. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
    Curacao, Venezuela.
  41. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
    I think I have the gift of empathy.  I feel for people a great deal.
  42. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
    Fort Worth, Texas… and I live less than 15 miles from the hospital where I was born now.

Thanks for tagging me, Chris.  This was a neat exercise, and made me think about the very cool life that I’ve got to lead…



Cycling Therapy
September 11, 2008, 1:44 am
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I’m getting excited again… it’s almost time for another ride… and I’m stoked!  I’m actually just excited that I can ride again – without it causing massive pain to my left ankle.  I’ve had to sit out the last month because I jacked up said left ankle while playing soccer with the boys.  Couldn’t peddle a bike to save my life…

Because of this, among a few other calendar-related things, I didn’t get to ride in the Hotter ‘N Hell 100 this year – something that I was looking forward to with great enthusiasm.  However, I lived vicariously through my cousins – Kevin, Kyle and Tim, who did great on their ride!  They averaged 23mph for the entire 100 miles, and finished in less than 5 hours.  Great job, guys!  Wish I could have been there with you.


Kevin, Kyle, Tim & Friend – Hotter ‘N Hell 100. 
Wichita Falls, Texas

Anyhow, like I said, I’m excited about my next ride – the Tour de Possum in Texarkana in a few weeks.  It’s been getting a little cooler, which should make for a great ride. 

For me, cycling is therapeutic and enjoyable… and cycling in North Texas is exceptionally enjoyable given the wonderful pastures of undeveloped land – really nice place to reflect and recapture energy.  It’s therapeutic for me in that I always come back from a ride with more gratitude than before I left… it almost always provides that real opportunity to re-center my thoughts around what I have in life.  Away from the constant ring of the phone, unending emails, business needs and honey-do lists. 

I think everyone should find something like this for themselves.  A time where it’s just you… to think about life.  What are you doing?  Where are you going?  Who are you?  What do you have in life? 

If you haven’t done this, try it… I’ll bet a dinner at Catina Laredo  that it will turn out well.  (Caveat:  If you don’t live in North Texas, you’ll have to cover the travel expense though…)



The Danger of Projection
September 7, 2008, 9:59 pm
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I’m not referring to visual projection here.  No, I’m referring to something that we ALL do – project our own thoughts, beliefs, bias, leanings, assumptions and the like onto others… and blame others for our own errors and faults.  Here’s a quick, demonstrative example:

– Jim is holding an expensive camera. Jane is fumbling with the keys to the door. In the meantime, Jim drops and breaks the camera. Jim screams at Jane, “See what you made me do! I broke it because you didn’t open the door!” Jim blamed Jane for dropping the camera.

After reading this example, I bet you – like me – quickly assert critical blame to Jim.  “Come on, Jim – what are you thinking?  This is your fault!” 

May I suggest – don’t be quick to judge Jim.  Reason?  You (and me) do this too – all the time.

Whether it’s a specific action or emotional reaction, we project our failures and faults onto others ALL THE TIME.  It wrecks relationships – sometimes temporarily… sometimes permanently.  And when you think about it, isn’t this the essence of evil?  Scary, huh?

Here’s the good news:  there is a cure.  In theory it’s exceptionally simple:  take personal responsibility for your own actions – good and bad. 

The not-so-good news:  taking personal responsibility 100% of the time in every instance is a smidge challenging. 

It takes consistency.  Strong character.  Resilience.  Thick skin.  Patience.  Selflessness.  Having tried and failed. 

For the sake of your own happiness & well-being and that of others around you I implore you – take personal responsibility and stop blaming others.  We all fail enough on our own… the last thing we need is to have others pile theirs on us.  Along with imploring you – I wish you great strength in taking on this all-to-important challenge. 

You can do it! Truly you can.



… Caring For Your Brother… Priceless.
September 4, 2008, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I saw something last night at the Republican National Convention that was absolutely priceless.  This YouTube clip I think optimizes the type of graceful, unabashed, compassionate love that we all need to show each other – regardless of race, sex, religion and yes, political orientation. 

And no, I’m not suggesting that we need to ‘spit-shine’ each other’s hair.  We do, however, need to care for each other more than ourselves and our own self-interests… not caring about if/how our actions will be viewed and perceived by others.  That’s the point.  That’s the whole point.

It’s incredibly encouraging to see this brief, seemingly unimportant show of love from a sister to a brother in the overly-pretentious, self-centered, hyper-sensitive society that we live in today. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  This 15-second video clip is worth at least a few hundred thousand, I guess.   I hope you find this scene as endearing as I do…