Sunday, May 31, 2009

I miss pets

I love my life and I am pleased with the decisions I have made which have lead me to where I am. But my life isn't perfect, as I strongly suspect no one's ever will be, and ever so occasionally I am reminded of the negative consequences I must accept as a result of my grand life desires. I love traveling, I must be free to take spontaneous trips, and in two years I'll be moving to Japan. Being free to travel and explore gives me much joy, but it also has plenty of negative side effects.
Owning a dog or a cat is a wonderful experience. But along with the great fun a pet can bring also comes responsibility. It's much more difficult to decide on a Friday that you're leaving town for the weekend if you have a living creature that relies on you for survival. Even if our apartment complex allowed us to own pets, I think it would be irresponsible to get a cat or dog knowing we'll have to place that responsibility on someone else in two years when we leave the country. I know I can't have a pet, but that doesn't make my desire any less powerful. What do you do when you want something you can't have? My wife seems to live vicariously through pet owners who post videos on Youtube and by petting every dog she ever sees. I've been trying to let go of my desire, but letting go is often a very difficult task indeed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

In Search of Waterfalls

I went in search of waterfalls today. In celebration of ourselves, Tuesday was our two year anniversary, my wife and I decided to hike to a waterfall and have a picnic. My wife was responsible for the food and I was in charge of finding the waterfalls.We ended up exploring a place called Bushkill Falls in Pennsylvania. I was extremely impressed with their offering of waterfalls. After a brief hike down a small canyon wall on narrow wooden stairs, faintly reminiscent of an Ewok Village, we arrived at the bottom of "Pennsylvania's Niagara", a 300 ft. waterfall. Certainly a beautiful sight, but what seemed most impressive to me was the thundering noise that a small river could produce just by falling off a cliff. Water is usually so very quiet.
We trekked through long periods of quiet interrupted occasionally by the seven other waterfalls at various spots along the river. Before today, I thought that nature could be either quiet & peaceful or loud & destructive. But today I realized that peaceful doesn't have to mean quiet. Today was a day filled with beauty, nature, good food and great waterfalls.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Remembering my childhood

Do you remember how much fun it was to stomp in the mud? I caught a glimpse of young boy playing in a mud puddle today, and memories of joy from my childhood came rushing back. For a brief moment I remembered what life was like when everything was simple and mud was fun. And then I remembered how, minutes earlier, I had taken extra special care to avoid stepping in a mud puddle as I exited my car, how funny.
I'm a strong advocate of staying in touch with your inner child, but it's also appropriate to approach some situations differently than you would have as a kid. It's ok to avoid getting your nice shoes muddy, but I do think we should all play in the mud occasionally. Not as an attempt to recreate the fun we had as kids, but as a chance to remember our old selves. Playing in the mud doesn't feel the same as an adult. As a child dancing in the mud felt like I was exploring the world and having fun. But as an adult I felt like I was exploring my past and reaching out for a sentimental connection with my childhood. Playing in the mud hasn't lost meaning, it has merely changed meaning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Helping friends move

Yesterday I helped a friend move most of her worldly possessions into storage for the summer. Perhaps it was the company, but I actually enjoyed the experience. This has not been the case when I've had to pack up and move my own stuff.Why is moving such a different experience when it is other people's stuff? I guess it's partly because I wasn't there for the entire experience of dismantling ever single knick knack in the house and sealing them away. But it was more than that. Yesterday when I was lifting heavy boxes and televisions up long flights of stairs, I was helping a friend, something I could feel good about. When I move my own stuff, I have to say goodbye to my former lifestyle and pack the things I love in boxes where I can't use them. There's nothing worse than physical labor with the aim of sealing up your prized possessions so they can't be enjoyed.But now I know that moving can be fun. I think next time I move, I'll try to approach it from an outside perspective. I think focusing on the end destination instead of the journey may be best in this instance. While helping my friend I was excited to imagine the new places and possibilities in her future, and it was fun to be a part of that process.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Life's simple pleasures

Every so often I find a new reason to fall in love with my wife. Recently she has been filling the house with sounds of pure joy. Her new found source of laughter and joy? Videos of other people's cats. Yes, apparently thousands of people record their cats doing crazy, silly, cute activities for millions of people to marvel, laugh, and thrill to on Youtube.
She seems to have been captivated in particular by the adventures of a Japanese cat named Maru. My wife's love of life's most simple pleasures, like the silliness of cats, assures me that our life will never be boring. I adore my wife's childlike joy as she watches other people's cats. The world is FULL of beauty if we just look around us, especially at cats. I've attached a link to a video of Maru in case you want to join my wife in her fun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2 Year Wedding Anniversary

It seems that one of my personality quirks is a deep, unexplainable love for traditions. I love watching Christmas Vacation every Christmas, eating a bowl of chili on the first snow day of the year, and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. Today happens to be the two year anniversary of my wedding. I've officially survived two years of marriage and here in the house of Howicks we have an anniversary tradition. Each year on May 26th my wife and I take a series of photo booth pictures in front of our door. Have a look.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pick Me Up

There are good days and there are bad days, such is life. What I find interesting is how people deal with life's setbacks and difficulties. Personally, I view most of my life as a sitcom. So most of the awkward, painful situations I run into seem humorous and enjoyable. I'm sure this doesn't work for everyone, but it makes my life quite fun.
The Enterprise and Uhura in waffle form

But there are some situations that even American sitcoms have to treat seriously. For these moments I try to find small moments of beauty to help lift me up as time works its magic and eventually heals all pain. Today, in need of such beauty, I turned to something I've been stockpiling for such an occasion, Star Trek waffles! They're a bit like the evil witch in Snow White, beautifully stunning on the outside, but completely inferior inside. But just this once, it only mattered that they were beautiful on the outside. The fun of eating Star Trek waffles greatly outweighed the waffles' below par taste. This is one of the greatest benefits of having a deep passion for something. When things get bad, you can turn to your passions for a dose of joy and distraction.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kindness of Strangers

Life can be surprising. Today I was surprised to see the town square filled with a massive "free market". What I initially thought was a flea market, had one very important difference. Rather than offering used items for sale, everything at the market was free. Free TVs, free rollerblades, free jumps in an inflatable castle.Even the pizza and snow cones were free. I love when people serve their community in fun, creative ways. Too many people lack creativity when it comes to community outreach. They just show up to a soup kitchen or habitat for humanity and follow orders. This world does need volunteers to feed the poor and build houses for the needy. But it also needs more people to get creative in their service.Creative acts, like acts of love, create a ripple effect as each act inspires others. Walking around the park watching others find much needed items for free and children play was a life affirming experience. Most acts of service help those in need as well as filling those who give with joy. But because this was a public activity even those not involved could be inspired. It was a great day for everyone.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fleet Week in New York City

This week a few thousand brave Navy men and women took a brief respite from defending our nation and descended upon the busy streets of New York City. Every year, Fleet Week not only allows sailors to explore the landmarks and people of New York, but in exchange the military gives the general public a chance to tour their boats and get a brief view of life as a navy sailor.
aboard the USS Iwo Jima

While aboard a Navy aircraft carrier which was much larger than I had expected, my wife felt like she was in a different world. The life of a Navy sailor is very different than the life we lead. Touring the navy ship felt like that brief moment when you forget yourself while reading a book or watching a movie and feel as if you're an elf or superhero in a strange world. St. Augustine believed that, "the world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page."
I agree with him, but I also believe there are many ways to travel. There is more to travel than physically exploring new places and seeing new sights. We can briefly travel to a new culture by eating its food. Or we can travel to space with a good sci-fi movie like Star Trek. Especially in this economy, we might not all be able to travel to foreign lands, but there are still ways to explore new places and people without leaving your city. This week I was lucky and the Navy came to me, giving me an opportunity to live just a moment as a sailor and explore the seven seas.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Two Cultures Unite

It's 1 A.M. and I just got back from a wedding in New York City with a Chinese bride and a Texan groom. If you had told me my life would be this exciting a few years ago, I might have thought you were crazy. The marriage was a true union of cultures and lovers. Their hybrid wedding consisted of a mostly western ceremony with a mostly Chinese reception.
I ate over eight courses (I lost count after the duck) of authentic, non-westernized Chinese cuisine. It seems that cashew chicken, chop suey and fortune cookies are all American inventions rather than dishes imported from China. The experience was entirely enjoyable, although not completely delicious to my untrained palate.
I consumed steak, ham, duck, squid, sea cucumber, jellyfish, lobster, fried mayonnaise shrimp, and a few things I couldn't make out. Some of them were genuinely delicious and all of them were certainly interesting. I had an amazing evening exploring new dishes, dancing and most importantly watching two very diverse cultures unite in a glorious festival of love and commitment. I love weddings and this was definitely a great one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What this world needs is more trophies

Why don't people give out more trophies?? I think the world would be a much better place if trophies or at least blue ribbons were more common. I'm certainly not advocating more competition or contests. I'm talking about surprise trophies.
Surprise trophies given out by a secret government organization, now that's a brilliant idea. Life is fun and fun should be rewarded. We waste so much government money, why can't some of it be spent to establish a "talent recognition czar"? Everybody's talented and passionate about something, and the "ATR" or Agency for Talent Recognition could help encourage others to follow their dreams. Nothing says, "You can do what you want and be happy" like a trophy on the wall. I urge you to write your congressman in support of the ATR today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Democracy in Action

While visiting the largest state capitol in the country recently, I got a chance to see a session of the Louisiana senate. It was a powerful moment, an opportunity to see the gears that drive this great nation forward.
Democracy in Action

But as I sat there watching the senators listen half-heartedly while checking their facebook pages, I began to wonder. Will democracy continue to evolve? I think that this generation's technological advances should change how our country is run. Everything else has been transformed by our ability to communicate around the world faster than we can think, so why not the foundations of Democracy? I'm not just talking about changing the outdated rules that allow a presidential candidate who received the majority of votes to be declared the loser, like some sort of bizzaro election.
Bribery in Action?

I wonder, will there ever be a day when there are no congressmen, and each bill is voted on by every American from their living room? That would require us all to be well informed and educated, so that day may be far away. But perhaps the day when Senators are seen as interpreters isn't too far away. Imagine a world where our senators break down each bill into basic language and post them online with a list of pros and cons, or thinking points. And then his or her constituents advise their senator how to vote through an online poll. It seems to me like this would distribute the government's power even further among the people and fight corruption. It's a lot harder to bribe millions of people, asking them to listen to special interests. Who knows how technology will continue to change our world, but hopefully it will shed more light on how our government is run.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why is the Old World more Romantic?

I saw a beautiful forest the other day and I thought, if this were in Ireland I'd be struck dumb with beauty, but I wasn't. Because I was in New Jersey it was merely a beautiful surprise. What perceived mystique do foreign places hold?? Why does foreign beauty seem more potent than local beauty?After some thought, I realized that this land is not the land of my ancestors, mostly. I'm 1/16th native American, but the other 15/16ths of my great ancestors spent their lives and energies caring for far away places. There are no hills in America where my ancestors built a castle before the birth of christ. The ancient history of this land is not my history. It is the history of another people who were destroyed a few hundred years ago and replaced by immigrants. We have no Roman Colosseum or Egyptian pyramids, or Great Wall of China. We just have a trail of tears and Plymouth Rock.
I think that is what draws me to places like Europe and Asia. They have a strong, uninterrupted connection with the past. Citizens of the old world stand on the same dirt their ancestors plowed 8,000 years ago. They encounter ancient relics of great civilizations that used the same land and gave birth to their grandfathers. There, history runs deep. I can't wait to explore those places for myself.

Monday, May 18, 2009

washrag update

About a month ago, I received a washrag with special instructions. I was told to use this everyday object in the service of others at a church service. A seemingly simple task, but it turned out to be harder than I thought. How was I going to use a single washrag in the service of someone else? Who could possible have their needs met by a washrag?
I had no idea how to use my washrag properly, so I decided to carry it with me in my pocket searching for inspiration. I've found that if you start looking for something, you will usually find it, although it might not be in the way you expected. I never did find a way to use the washrag directly, but keeping it in my pocket made me much more aware of those seeking help. Constantly searching for ways to help others using a washrag quickly became just searching for ways to help others. Ultimately the washrag helped me become a more thoughtful person, constantly reminding me of my search. I've joined two different charity groups since receiving that washrag, and I feel more productive and happier. But this doesn't mean I'll stop looking. The search for others in need is a great adventure and has opened me up to many possibilities and much growth.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Liberty Enlightening the World

She is beautiful in more ways that I can describe. In fact, it would be folly to spend more than a few words trying to describe her beauty. Even pictures cannot capture the inspirational joy she gives all who visit her island.When I visited America's greatest symbol, I got a glimpse of how America must look to foreign eyes. I often forget that America is a far away land to most of the planet. But when I was surrounded by people from all over the world who came to behold the most powerful symbol of freedom ever made, I glimpsed America from their eyes. She is beautiful and full of hope, America. We owe it to Lady Liberty to keep her that way.
I think the Statue, a modern take on the Roman Goddess Libertas, is so moving because it connects us to the past in the same moment that it implores future action. It's not often that our past, present, and future converge in a single moment, but when they do it's a moment you'll never forget.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why New York City is Great

What's so special about New York City? Sure it's big, really big. The biggest city in America. But there's a uniqueness about the city that has nothing to do with its scale. New York City isn't just a typical city done bigger and taller. Unlike other mega-cities like Tokyo, Mumbai, or Mexico City, New York City is incredibly diverse.New York City is a city of extremely successful diversity on a scale not seen anywhere else in the world. For this reason, it really is the heart of America. It proves to the world that diversity and freedom can exist on a grand scale. And isn't that what this country is really all about??New York City is giant, successful, and full of people from incredibly diverse cultures who speak dozens of different languages, hold many different beliefs, and live peacefully together. It's one of the greatest experiments in the history of mankind. I love New York City.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Definition of Success Part II

I've already discussed that I believe all success is achieved by reaching two goals, happiness and changing the world for the better. It seems obvious that when making career decisions, these two goals must always be met. I also believe that almost every decision we make should be made with these goals in mind.

But what do you do when these goals conflict? If creating change in the world means sacrificing your happiness or pursuing happiness means maintaining a, questionable at best, status-quo? Spock would say that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or one. So we should sacrifice our own personal happiness for the greater good. And he is right, but we're not all Vulcans, and we can't ALWAYS put the good of the many ahead of our own personal needs and comfort. I can't put the world ahead of me all the time without going crazy or burning out. I admire Mother Teresa but I can't be her, at least not yet. Yet I still try to analyze every action and decision I make to see if i'm meeting both goals. And if I have to decide between personal happiness and world betterment, then I try to make sure the overall balance swings toward the greater good of the world. If I can do that, in the end it makes me happy and so ultimately successful.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Traveling makes me sick.

Traveling is fun. What I mean to say is that seeing new places, exploring different cultures, and visiting far away family and friends is fun. Flying on an airplane and traversing freeways in a car, however, sometimes makes me sick. Ground transportation isn't so bad, usually it just makes me tired and prevents me from reading vomit free. Air transportation is the worst. Dozens of strangers, if you're particularly unlucky some of them children, are stuffed in a tiny tube of metal with two port-a-potties and a vomit bag for every seat and then hurled through the air just one mistake away from plunging to the earth in a fiery ball of death.But, man, there is nothing like coming home. Home is the best feeling there is, especially when you've just survived a plane ride and brush with death. And for the delicious chocolate icing on the cake that is today, I just discovered that my check for a Star Trek uniform from a cheese-it box was cashed! Which means a glorious Starfleet uniform is on its way to my doorstep as I type. Today was a GREAT day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Definition of Success Part I

How do you measure success? I'm not sure if you can accurately "measure" it, but you can use numerous indicators and tests if you want to try. The most common yardsticks of success seem to be career accomplishments and economic security. Although the only one that really matters is one's own personal measurement.
My Sister's Graduation

What gives your life meaning and fulfillment? My measurements of success aren't strongly tied to my career. Not to say I haven't loved my jobs, with one exception, I've LOVED every one of them. It does feel good to work hard at something I enjoy and accomplish goals. But my job is not a goal in itself, it is a means to an end. My most important concerns are, am I happy and have I made a difference? If I can answer yes to these two questions before bed at night, then I count my day as a successful one. If my job can help me with those goals, then it is a good job, if it cannot then it's time to find a new career.How do you see your job? Is it your one true passion, a way to pay the bills, or a means with which you accomplish happiness? And what do you do to feel successful?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's the difference between work and leisure?

Work and leisure were clearly defined and easy to distinguish not so long ago. But with cell phones, wireless internet and mobile computing keeping us always tethered to the world, our work duties and personae are increasingly merging with our our private, leisure lives. Not only do more people work at home, but it also seems that more people are becoming "amateur entrepreneurs", people who create content or services sometimes for profit, sometimes for fun. Technology has made it easier for everyone to Create.
Is writing a blog work or leisure? Is it possible to create art, whether it's movies or pictures or novels, for leisure? Or is all creation an act of work? I think leisure becomes less necessary as work becomes more fulfilling and fun. So maybe it's alright that the line between work and play is blurring. Has the scourge of cell phones and erosion of private moments left us with some benefits after all? Has the age of information made it easier to follow the advice of Harvey Mackay and "find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life"? Or is this just my own peculiar perception?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rites of Passage

My sister is graduating from High School in a few days. As I sat in a gymnasium with 300 other proud, bored relatives for an awards ceremony tonight, I began to remember my days in High School. I think my high school experience was not a stereotypical one. Or at least my memories of that time don't seem to ignite the same strong emotions in me as they do in my close friends and family. Most people I know look upon their high school days as either a period of great trauma and pain or as the "glory days" when they were at their peak. Why do those four years of high school inspire so many more memories and emotions than any other four years of life?It must be because high school is a period of much transition. Transition seems to inspire so much conflict and trouble. High school is our first great transition, and apparently it does not go smoothly for many people. Perhaps I don't remember high school as potently because I feel like my life is constantly in transition. In many ways I'm still in high school. I still learn something new almost every day, my future is still wide open and undetermined, and I'll soon be leaving home for new adventures. In that way I hope I never graduate.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Perspective is a funny thing. Most of the time our world perspective just sits quietly unnoticed, subtlety influencing most of our thoughts and actions. And then one day, something happens and the way we feel and view the world changes. It's happened to all of us. Sometimes it's fast, like a revelation. Sometimes it's slow, like college. However it comes, perspective change is a great thing, it often breeds creativity, empathy, and gratitude.I find the easiest way to experience a change of perspective is to experience a change of location. When I see a new part of the world, I also see the world in a new way. I'm sure this is why so many people love vacation. It's not just a chance to have fun and take a break from work. It's a chance to see the world from a completely foreign perspective. Don't let your perspective, and your life, grow stale. Go somewhere new, even if its just the next town over, and see the world from their eyes. If you can't travel, then try a new food or listen to a new radio station. Do whatever you can to remind yourself that your view of the world isn't the only view.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Learning from others

I learned how to solve a Rubik's Cube today. I've always had a desire to learn how they work and I recently discovered that my Dad could teach me.
Rubik's Cubes are strange cultural icons. Many see them as tests of IQ or measuring sticks of genius. Like most puzzles they do require logic and a willingness to concentrate. But I see them less as a test of IQ and more as personality test. Do you get frustrated and give up? Do you turn to the internet for help? It seems my wife cares little for solving the cube but she does enjoy the attempt. She seems uninterested in help, I'm not sure if this is because she is stubborn or because she is only interested in a journey of self discovery. My dad and sister on the other hand have turned it into a competition, battling to solve it the fastest. As for me, solving a Rubik's cube was something I wanted to experience and explore. I often try to learn as much as I can from others, rather than re-invent the wheel, so I learned from my father. It's fun and relaxing and leaves me with a sense of accomplishment, and I'll probably continue to practice because every time is a little different. I think puzzles are good for the mind and they might just help you learn a new approach to life.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Sounds of New Orleans

The distinctive flavor of New Orleans floods the senses as soon as you step onto its streets. N'awlens, as the locals say, certainly has distinctive architecture and unique sights.
But the true soul of New Orleans is in its music and food. In a world where every town in every country has a McDonald's and a Starbucks, and grandma's secret recipes can be downloaded over the internet, it is increasingly rare to discover delicious dishes that haven't been mass produced and exported to the entire world. But the Cajuns of Louisiana have held on to two culinary masterpieces available to locals only: beignets and crawfish. I love them both passionately.Everywhere you go in New Orleans, there are musicians playing on the streets. Musicans of all sorts flood the air with the distintive soul of New Orleans. But musicians are not the only locals on almost every street corner. New Orleans is also home to an aggressive service sector. Tourists flood its streets and many of its locals have also taken to the streets looking to provide services and help, whether they're wanted or not. Never before have I walked into so many fake tourist info booths and rejected so many city tours.New Orleans offers a chance to interact with locals unlike anywhere else. It is not for those who have a weak fortitude or are easily persuaded, as the food, the music and the service sector is strong, constant, and loud. But it is a beautiful and unique city and in my opinion worth the exhaustion and heat.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Star Trek Movie Review.

GO! Go Now! Go tomorrow and go the next day. Go see Star Trek as fast and a frequently as you can. It is the single greatest movie I have seen in my entire life. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention I'm a lifelong "Trekkie", former Starfleet costume contest winner, and perhaps a little biased. But if you love action, comedy, drama, romance, green women, or life then you will enjoy this movie.

Mr. Abrams has given hardcore fans everything they could ask for in a Star Trek movie, yet done so in such an accessible manner that even someone who's never heard of Klingons can enjoy this movie. If I were a polygamist, this movie would be my second wife. An example of perfect pacing, the action is non-stop, the laughs are non-stop, and the sense of adventure and joy is so concentrated that it explodes from the screen to fill the audience with wonder. You will fall in love with Captain Kirk and his unfailing belief that all problems can be solved by man. Spock will help remind you how lucky we are to feel life's kaleidoscope of emotions, and Scotty will make you laugh till the movie ends. I walked away from the theater with the sincere knowledge that our future is just as bright and exciting as the universe of Star Trek. And I must do my part to make that reality happen, lest I disappoint the great James Tiberius Kirk. This movie will inspire you to approach life more Boldly, please go see it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I'll admit it, I used to LOVE stuff. Well not all stuff, I loved a very specific set of stuff. Comic Books, superhero action figures, and anything stamped with the words "Star Trek". Owning cool things was an ego boosting reassurance I counted on from time to time. This was a great consternation to my wife who greatly dislikes stuff. She especially dislikes the spending of money which is closely associated with getting stuff.Lately, however, I've become less materialistic. It began as a necessity, the American east coast is a much more expensive place to live than the middle of an Arizonan desert. But on a recent trip to Target I passed a sweet new Star Trek toy and walked away empty handed. I was sad at first, because I want to own cool stuff, who doesn't? But as I returned home, about the time buyers remorse would have set in, I realized that "owner of cool things" is an attribute no longer consistent with the kind of lifestyle I want to live. The life of international adventurer or photographic nomad does not allow one to carry many permanent possessions. When we leave the country, we won't be taking much more than a suitcase or two. I haven't yet decided if giving up most of my possessions is a positive or negative side effect of the lifestyle I want to live. On the plus side, giving up my attachment to cool things has forced me to venture outside of my apartment more often and find beauty and fulfillment in the outside world. But on the negative side, I have LESS cool stuff! And some of that stuff is definitely great for creating lasting friendships and social interactions, like games and movies. I guess I'll have to wait and see what life is really like without a room full of cool stuff. On thing is certain, it will be an adventure.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

And Packing is Half the Battle

Packing a suitcase is a unique experience. A true ritual of adventure, it's like a rain dance that summons trips to far away places. I love the feeling of excitement and untapped potential that rushes through my veins as I hear the familiar rip of a suitcase zipper. Sometimes I think about packing a suitcase just to see where it will take me.Packing is also an art form. The ability to masterfully pack every square inch of a suitcase with perfect precision seems to be mostly genetic. My wife is certainly a master packer. Sometimes I think she could even out pack Mary Poppins and that magical bag of hers. As you can probably guess, I'll be taking a trip soon and I am filled with anticipation. It's one of my favorite emotions, and a huge part of why i love adventures and travel. Anticipation is almost as much fun as the actual adventure, and nothing builds anticipation like packing a suitcase. I can feel adventure on the horizon and as I pack I must precisely anticipate what I'll need for my journey. Will I need my ninja headband? Which games should I bring? Is there room to bring my Japanese flash cards? These questions cannot be taken lightly as they will most certainly have a huge impact on the quest I am about to take. Packing is an exercise that requires excellent skills of anticipation and analyzation, superhuman spacial planning, and a little bit of luck. There's no better way to begin an adventure than with a good bit of packing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Learning Japanese

Japanese is a ridiculously difficult language to learn. According to a survey of its diplomats, the British government reports Japanese as the second hardest language to learn, behind Hungarian. Although I read this on Wikipedia and didn't fact check it, so take it with a grain of salt. One thing is sure, learning Japanese is no cake walk.Why do I love learning Japanese so much? Is it because I love a challenge? Maybe. Perhaps I like encountering something foreign and exotic. It's certainly not because I've seen any immediate usefulness from being able to speak Japanese. I'll probably never fully understand why I love Japanese. So much of what we love is fundamentally unexplainable. Why is a sunset beautiful?
Beauty, love, and fascination are ultimately beyond logic and understanding. That doesn't mean we shouldn't examine our loves and fascinations. But more important than examining your loves, is pursuing your loves. Despite causing me many headaches and being virtually useless, I have pursued Japanese for several years and I'm now sharing that passion with my wife. That is why most of our house is now labeled in Japanese. There is nothing greater than pursuing your love, and it will pay off. In my case, I'll be living in Japan in a few years and speaking the language will make many things much easier. But even if I were never to go to Japan, the pursuit alone has brought me enough joy.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Random Ideas

Today I did nothing. Mostly nothing anyway. I did get one brilliant money making idea and start the process for obtaining a patent. Get ready, 'cause I'm gonna lay it on ya: Fortune cookies stuffed with Britney Spears' Twitter updates. I'll give you a second to process and recover. I guess it doesn't have to be Britney Spears, any lame celebrity will do.
I'm no twitter user, but if I ever become one I think I'll have all my twitter updates delivered via fortune cookie. Fortune cookies are gonna be the new text messages. Everybody gets a decent crazy idea on occasion and I think most of us should act on them more often. It would make the world a more interesting and less frightening place. The more people that put their wacky ideas out there, the less silly our own ideas seem. It's good to be silly. I've got a tax return coming and I'm considering becoming a venture capitalist. So if you've got a good silly idea that needs funding, leave me a comment and let me know.

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