How to Win a 5k without Even Trying

While I was running on Saturday, I noticed a group of people gathered in a parking lot, but I didn't think much of it. Then a few minutes later I passed a guy sitting at a table with water, and a sign identifying the turnaround point for a 5k. So I ran on, figuring the race would happen while I was further down the trail.

A few miles later I turned around and headed back toward the table. When I passed it again, the guy was still sitting there, and it didn't look like any of the water was gone. A couple minutes later I finally started to see the racers coming the other direction, which meant that I was technically in the lead of their race. As I approached the finish line, a teenager quickly whipped out a big timer, showing me that I was finishing the 5k in about 15 minutes. Not too shabby. Unfortunately, there was no tape for me to break.

Measuring Stick

I like assigning objective numbers to things, even when they’re not literally quantifiable. So I think we should create metrics to measure characteristics that are actually subjective. For example, in the show Futurama, someone uses a “funnkometer” to determine how cool someone is, and the coolness units are called “megafonzies.”

I was talking with my buddy Rob (go buy his book) and we came up with a couple. Insanity will be measured in “Kims,” after Kim Jong Il, and stupidity will be measured in “Palins.”

What else can we measure, and what are the units?

Yahtzee!

The other night I rolled a Yahtzee using only my toes. Now, why does it never happen when I roll the dice by hand?

Six

Sam's birthday is today, but we decided to let him open his presents on Saturday so we could all be there to enjoy it. And this year we decided to get him more than we have in the past, for some reason. Or, rather, we got him more expensive presents, including a set of two remote-controlled cars, a child-sized (but real) guitar, and of course this:


In the end we learned what many parents undoubtedly have throughout history: that kids really do care more about numbers of gifts than how nice they are. So for Christmas maybe we'll load up at the dollar store, so he can sit and unwrap all day.

Just a Thought

If we converted every golf course in the United States into something useful, say wheat farms, it would produce enough wheat to feed 34 million people for a year, based on average global wheat consumption per capita. Just something to think about, what with rampant world hunger and all.

October Moon

Last night the moon looked fantastic, either full or very nearly full, with that veil of clouds common in the fall. In short, it was an October moon, slightly eerie and perfect for the Halloween season. So I thought it would be fun to write a poem about it. And then I thought maybe it would be more fun to write a collaborative poem about it.

So here's the deal. If you're reading this, you have been drafted to draft it. This will be a free verse, poem, so everyone leave a couple words, or a line or two in the comments. I will arrange them and add some more content to finish the poem. If everything works out, I'll post it in a separate post.

Aaaaaand... Create!

Ninja Wish

Okay, we need something a little lighter after that last post. Tonight I asked Sam what he would wish for if he found a genie in a lamp.

Wish 1: to be a ninja

Wish 2: to have a group of 100,000 good ninjas to fight the bad ninjas

Wish 3: One of his ninjas would have two swords and a shield, to fight the hardest guys.

I defy you to come up with three more awesome wishes.

Seven

Sometimes when I’m on a run I actually think about something beyond “How many more miles do I have to go?” Saturday was one such day, and for some reason I started thinking about the “seven deadly sins” and how differently we might view them today. So, let’s look at each of the sins, and what we find culturally acceptable today.

Greed

Then: The love of money is evil and leads to all kinds of unpleasant effects. We should moderate our desires for worldly wealth, and use money to help others.

Now: Do whatever you can to make money. If you slip and fall, sue whoever own the property where you did it. Game the system to get whatever government assistance you can. Buy lottery tickets!

Sloth

Then: Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Keep yourself busy. Be productive and help others, through the talents you have been given. Improve your time.

Now: Get your work done as quickly as possible, so you can get more TV and video game time in. The more vulgar, crass, and mind-numbing the entertainment, the better. Absorb, rather than create.

Envy

Then: Be content with what you have, rather than wishing for someone else’s lot. Envy leads to contention. You’re not in competition with other people. Don’t be bitter because of another’s good fortune.

Now: This can be summed up nicely through the text of a billboard I saw. “Tired of keeping up with the Joneses? Just move into their foreclosure!” Get yourself into whatever debt you need to in order to get that huge house and shiny new car. If anything goes wrong, the government will bail you out! Do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie!

Pride

Then: We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, seeking to be more important, attractive, or wealthy than they are. Dante defined it as "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbour." Ezra Taft Benson defined the central feature of pride as enmity between man and God.

Now: You are worth it. You deserve whatever it takes to make you happy, whatever the cost to others. If you can’t build yourself up, just knock others down. Watch reality TV to feel better about yourself.

Lust

Then: Keep yourself pure prior to marriage, and then be entirely faithful to your spouse. “Whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart.”

Now: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Sex is a beautiful, natural thing, and it’s never wrong. Don’t worry about restraining your appetites. Do what feels good.

Wrath

Then: Rage is bad. Be patient with others, and God will be patient with you. Anger is destructive toward ourselves and others.

Now: Temporary insanity justifies murder. When you get angry, it’s totally the other person’s fault. Revenge is sweet. Do whatever you can get away with.

Gluttony

Then: Eat what you need, and give your excess to the poor. Gluttony shows a lack of self-control and contempt for those who have less than you.

Now: Let’s try to figure out how to lose weight without exercising or eating right, so we can indulge all we want and never face the consequences! Let’s all collectively stuff our faces as much as possible, and not worry about mastering our appetites.

I realize this post comes off a little cynical (Is that really surprising at this point?) and judgmental, but I’m in no way saying I’m not guilty of these things. What I’m decrying is that behaviors that were once considered fundamentally wrong are now pretty universally accepted by mainstream society.

This all hearkens back to a larger theme I’ve been thinking about lately. We all want someone else to fix our problems. We want the government to magically instigate social and economic equality. But in the end it has to start with the individual. We need to teach our children basic moral values, and seek to improve ourselves. We should lift each other up willingly, rather than be taxed into supporting the poor. And we should take upon ourselves the responsibility to, as Ghandi put it, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

*steps off soapbox

One of These Days...

... I'm going to get myself some spats, just to try them out.

Tis the Season

Tonight we decorated the house for Halloween.

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Sew What

I've always known that Sam was an exceptional child, in the way that all parents somehow know that, despite the logical impossibility that poses. And his interests can seem somewhat esoteric compared to other buys his age. But try to imagine my reaction when, out of the blue last night, he asks Katie to get out her sewing kit so he can practice with a needle and thread.

Remember, he's not yet six years old. I think the first time I touched any sewing-related materials was when I was in seventh grade and had that TLC class (no, it stands for Technology, Life, Career) in which we did sewing during the home economics portion.

So Katie got out the kit and gave him a button and a piece of cloth to sew it onto. He pretty much figured it all out himself. This kid is pretty amazing sometimes.