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Friday, July 29, 2011

Wedded Blisters - Part 10: Dinner Debate - Funny Movie Short

Here's the latest episode in my "Wedded Blisters" series of animated movie shorts. Marriage is bliss, but these mini-movies have a humorous take on some of the blisters that couples face along the way. These mini-movies continue to be my most viewed blog postings.

If you like one, please share it on Facebook and Twitter!

Episode #10 deals with the biggest question every couple faces - where to eat out for dinner!  The links other recent episodes follow the video below.  Please let me know what you think!!!!

Wedded Blisters - episode #9 - Pet Peeves

Wedded Blisters - episode #8 - TV Wars

Wedded Blisters - episode #7 -  Celebrity Crush

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Success Principles: #7- chapter review

The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
I'm reading the latest book from best-selling author Jack Canfield, titled The Success Principles, which comprise 64 different lessons that Canfield has learned during the past three decades as as a highly-successful entrepreneur, instructor, best-selling author and keynote speaker.

My goal is to write a summary review for each chapter, until I'm finished with the book. You can access the most recent past summary here: The Success Principle #6 - Become an Inverse Paranoid

Chapter 7: Unleash the Power of Goal-Setting
Thus far in the book, the author has helped the reader articulate a life purpose, a clear vision as well as true needs and desires. The next criterion for success requires the development of specific, actionable goals and objectives. Canfield goes on to cite research that suggests the brain is a "goal-seeking organism" that leverages the untapped sub-conscious aspects of thought - night and day - to work toward the achievement of its goals.

To be useful, goals must meet two criteria in that they must have a measurable "quantity" aspect as well as a definitive time line or deadline for completion. The author offers an example of a bad goal as, "I want to lose weight" while a good specific goal would be "I will weight 185 pounds by 5pm January 1, 2006."

He goes on to say that not only is it important to write down goals to help clarify them, it's critically important to write down big goals that help stretch you as a person. Canfield writes,
"It pays to have goals that will require you to grow to achieve them. It's a good thing to have some goals that make you a little uncomfortable...Because the ultimate goal, in addition to your material goals, is to become a master at life."
Canfield states that one of the critical factors of goal completion is engagement of all creative centers of the brain. One of the best ways to do this is to create a "Goal Book" using a standard three-ring binder with a page dedicated to each objective.

The specific, actionable, measurable goal is then written across the top of the page and the goal is illustrated with photos, images or words on the rest of the page. He says that it's important to review the goal book three times every day to embed these images and ideals within your subconscious level of thought.
If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes."
~ Andrew Carnegie, Industrialist and richest man in American in early 1900s
Canfield closes the chapter by encouraging the reader to start setting goals now. He uses the illustration of a map, that once you know where you want to end up - even if you only take five steps toward it every day, you'll eventually get there.

Question: What goal do you need to set for yourself? What is holding you back?

Disney Devours Daughters (sort of)!!!

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl CultureIf you've read this blog for any stretch of time you know that my wife and I are the parents of two girls ages nine and seven respectively. As such, they are prime targets for the Disney marketing machine.

By that, anything princess-esque in nature (a.k.a. frilly, pink, sparkly) that can be purchased is pushed at them, or rather at us as parents, to acquire as economic surrogates. For years, I've been guilty of quelling the "nag factor" that Disney triggers in my girls for the very latest in princess paraphernalia.

In the interest of full disclosure, during our last trip to Disney World we spent a couple hundred dollars to surprise them both with a princess make-over at the Bippty-Boppty-Boutique, complete with a new outfit and shoes. While the girls were delighted with the temporary transformation, I couldn't help but think they looked like whorish little beauty pageant boppets.

In that instant, I felt horrible about what I had enabled my daughters to become.

And that's the message at the heart of author Peggy Orenstein's book Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Orenstein writes passionately against the prioritization, glamorization and fixation on the superficial ideal of princess-beauty that our society is perpetuating. From TV, music, advertising, games and toys, fashion and publishing - virtually ever segment of our culture is permeated with the too sugary sentiment that everyone deserves to be treated like a princess - as long as they look like one.

Despite her insightful premise, Orenstein's book swings widely between richly defined arguments to pauper thin rantings. At some points in my reading, I thought that super model Kate Moss had more substance than Orenstein's observations. Particularly regarding girls and sexuality.

In one instance the author rails against the sexualized maturation of pop singer Miley Cyrus to womanhood, yet has no problem with girls having premarital sex. She all but resigns herself to the fact that "girls will be girls" and they're going to do it anyway.

As a father, that really bothers me. To simply let the culture win in the lives of my daughters is not an option. Similarly, just because my girls may decide to exceed the speed limit when they're able to drive a car, doesn't mean I should condone that behavior by buying them a radar detector or give up on telling them that they shouldn't speed. As a parent, I need to be ready and prepared to encourage them to slow down in the promiscuity lane when the time comes.

Despite this specific flaw, I think Orenstein's book is a worthwhile read if for no other reason than it will sensitize you to NOT be so ready to increase Disney's top line revenue with unnecessary purchases of princess junk.

Question: How do you balance raising daughters in the culturally noise that focuses on appearance and beauty as the highest good?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Definition of a Scratch Pad

The other night, I was practicing shooting video with my new Kodak Zi8 HD pocket video camera. I just so happened to catch this video snippet of our cat digging through some toiletry supplies that had been moved during our recent remodel.

Not really sure why this little video struck me as funny, but I thought I'd pass it along.

Question: Are you a cat person, a dog person or "no-pets" person.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Most Unfortunate Typo Ever

"Public" signs have new meaning...
For the past 13 years I've worked in corporate Public Relations, which is sometimes called Public Affairs. I spend a lot of time writing and editing a variety of speeches, news releases, talking points and presentations. From time-to-time I'll attend workshops or conferences to sharpen my skills.

It was at one such conference that I saw the most unfortunate typo ever. A professional was set to deliver a PowerPoint slide presentation to the audience of which I was member. I'm not sure if it was the event organizer or the presenter herself who's to blame, but when the first slide appeared her title "Public Relations Director" was missing the letter "L" in Public.

The omission of that single letter significantly changed her title.

During her speech she seemed to be unaware of her typo-induced skill set, and she delivered a great public presentation.

However, it was difficult to hear what she said given the sophomoric-typo on the first slide.  I learned a couple important lessons that day:

1.) Proof read everything you write;

2.) Don't rely solely on spell check - even absent the "L" the alternate spelling of "public" still makes a correctly spelled word;

3.) Avoid using the word "public" when you can.

Having said that I've compiled a short-list of words that each take on shocking new meaning when the aforementioned "L" is AWOL.
  • Public Library
  • Public Address
  • Public Transportation
  • Public Swimming Pool
  • Public Announcement
  • Public Parking
  • Public Speaking
  • Public Knowledge
  • Public Display of Affection
  • Public Service

I'm the first to publicly admit that this is not the most uplifting post I've ever shared, but please accept it as a Public Service Announcement of sorts. Consider yourself warned regarding all things public.

Question: Have you seen a typo that made your inner child chuckle?

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Worst Addiction...Finally, Redeemed

This work of art may help
my addiction to salt.....
I have a problem, an addiction of sorts.  Most people who know me (or have shared a meal with me) know about it.

That addiction is salt. Forget smoking, booze or gambling - none of those can touch salt for me.

Sodium is the one habit I can't break. I literally can put it on everything, watermelon, apples, pizza, naturally-salty-clams, sodium-infused soups...etc. In fact, I'll often take Frank's RedHot and pour salt directly into the bottle, then furiously shake it to create a salty-spice slurry to slather over food. My apologies, my mouth is watering even as I'm typing....

As I said, I've got a problem and EVERYBODY tells me how wrong I am and how unhealthy it is to eat so much sodium. Yet, despite those warnings, I still manage to knowingly nod my head in shame as I reach for the salt shaker to pour some of that white crystalline mineral on a raw lemon wedge or stalk of rhubarb.

But I am no longer ashamed and science is on my side, thanks to a recent online article I came across from Scientific American, titled It's Time to End the War on Salt by science writer Melinda Wenner Moyer.

If your are a salty zealot like me, or an anti-salt fanatic like most, I would encourage you to read this enlightening article regarding dozens of studies that have found virtually NO correlation or causation between high sodium intake and an increased risk of a variety of conditions including: heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes.

Despite the decades of studies involving hundreds of thousands of patients, costing millions of dollars in research using ever-improving technology - the salt-health issue seems to be more politically driven than anything else. It's one of those non-offending, easy, feel-like-we're-doing-something non-issues that politicians love to focus attention on.

So until we get clear proof that salt is actually a risk factor for health (or until I collapse in a sodium-induced coma) I will continue to consume and champion the cause of salt in its very forms be they flake, sea, Fleur de Del, Kosher, coarse, finishing, Kala Namak or plain ole' table salt.

And while we're waiting, I've gone ahead and ordered a salt lick for my office. Don't worry it won't be an obvious square foot cube of compressed sodium that would easily offend anti-saltists whom I may work with. It'll be discreet. I'm having it sculpted into a desktop likeness of Michelangelo's Pieta [see photo insert], which will be sweet!!! Check that, the edible sculpture will be salty!!

Question: Are you a salt enthusiast or Fascist anti-salt freak?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Success Principles: #6 - chapter review

The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
I'm reading the latest book from best-selling author Jack Canfield, titled The Success Principles, which comprise 64 different lessons that Canfield has learned during the past three decades as as a highly-successful entrepreneur, instructor, best-selling author and keynote speaker.

My goal is to write a summary review for each chapter, until I'm finished with the book. You can access the most recent past summary here: The Success Principle #5 - Believe in Yourself

Chapter 6: Become an Inverse Paranoid
This chapter has to deal with issues surrounding our perceptions of the people and circumstances around us. Canfield cites his mentor, W. Clement Stone, as introducing to him the concept of becoming an "inverse paranoid." Stone told Canfield that instead of believing that the world was plotting to do him harm, Stone chose to believe that the world was actually plotting to do him good.

Rather than viewing every difficult situation as a negative circumstance, Stone consciously decided to see it for what it could be - something that might potentially empower him, advance his cause or enrich him. 
While the idea might seem far fetched at first - especially to someone in the midst of a difficulty - the reader is asked to think about a time in life when something that happened was initially viewed as "terrible" but ultimately became a blessing in disguise.

This is a common experience for most people and is embodied in the following quote by famous author, Napoleon Hill:
"Every negative event contains within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit."

Canfield punctuates this point with the homespun wisdom that the more you look for the good in life, the greater the likelihood that you'll find it. According to the author, this is the exact trait that is common amongst all super-successful individuals that he has ever interacted with.

A good action step he recommends to take toward adopting this habit yourself is to right a small note on a 3" x 5" card or Post-It that reads, "What's the opportunity that this really is??" and then prominently place it by your computer or on your desk as a continual reminder to look for the good.

Question: What challenging situation are you facing that might contain a hidden opportunity?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Montage of Funny Church Signs

Here's a video collection of dozens of different and funny signs posted outside of churches. The music bed is a song called "This Life was Meant to Shine" by a group called MercyMe.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wedded Blisters - Part 9: Pet Peeves - Funny Movie Short

Here's the latest episode in my "Wedded Blisters" series of animated movie shorts. Marriage is bliss, but these mini-movies have a humorous take on some of the blisters that couples face along the way. These mini-movies continue to be my most viewed blog postings.

If you like one, please share it on Facebook and Twitter!

Episode #9 deals with a debate over their pet dog - if you've ever owned a pet, this is for you. [NOTE: No animals were injured in the production of this animated mini movie]. The links other recent episodes follow the video below.  Please let me know what you think!!!!

Wedded BlissTors - Part 8: TV Wars

Wedded BlissTors - Part 7: Celebrity Crush

Wedded BlissTors - Part 6: Car Trouble

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Non-Extreme Home Makeover: Before and After

Earlier this week I blogged about a remodeling project that we were undertaking at our home. To clarify, when I say "we were undertaking" I mean to say we were paying professionals to do on our behalf since I can't tell the difference between the business end of a hammer and a crescent-monkey-socket wrench (I think that's what they call it.)

Anyway I shot some "Before" remodeling video with my nifty Kodak Zi8 HD pocket video camera and posted that on Monday, yesterday the work crews wrapped up and I shot some "After" remodeling video - both of which are below.

So create a hyped-up, sense of over dramatization - please watch them in sequential order (no cheating)...and be amazed (or not).

Again, that was the "Before" video and here's the link to the "After" video I posted on Facebook - let me know what you think here on the blog comments section!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How did you propose to your fiancee???

Check out this surprise marriage proposal video, it starts a little slow but it's necessary to set the back story for the couple.  It got me thinking about my own proposal, which I share below - I'd love to hear about yours!

My wife (Kim) and I have been happily married for 16 years. While we've had our ups and downs, I wouldn't trade any of it - but it all began when I asked her to marry me in a movie theater.

It was her last year in college where she was studying to be a French teacher - I had already graduated three years prior - and she was getting ready to spend six months in France as a student teacher as the final requirement for her degree.

I didn't want her to be that far away for that long a stretch without her knowing someone back here was waiting for her. So for months leading up to her departure I planned the proposal. Back then, going to the movies was our thing - our first date was "Ghost" and our first kiss occurred during "The Freshman." To me it made sense that I wanted our engagement to be cinematic in scope.

Without her knowing, my sisters and I corralled both families to a theater a week before she left for France. I had also worked with a production company and the movie theater to produce a 35mm slide show (this was before PowerPoint was invented mind you) to run before the movie began.

It was a packed house for the newly-released John Grisham thriller "The Pelican Brief." Due to a few delays in her getting to her seat, she almost missed the presentation - once it was loaded into the theater's projection system, I had no control. Thankfully, we were able to get her to her seat in time. The clip ran, she accepted, and the theater erupted in applause.

We were married a year later and it's been great ever since.

How did your marriage proposal unfold?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Calling All Blog Writers: Share Your Best Stuff!!!

I'm currently a member of two blog writing communities. One is the Ultimate Blog Challenge and the other is via Bryan Allain's BlogRocket Community. Being part of these groups, I'm continually finding great blogs and writers to follow.

The intent of this post is to offer a sampling of that fantastical awesomeness with my regular readers. So with that, I'd like to invite any blogger to share their greatness by following these few guidelines:

1. Within the comment section below, please give a 2-3 sentence description of your blog;
2. Also provide a link to your favorite single blog post you've written;
3. It must be a G-rated post - no vulgarities, swearing and such.

That's it!  I'm anxious to see who participates!
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Are You a Quitter??? Attend the Conference and Become One...

QuitterI just received this email below regarding Jon Acuff's upcoming Quitter Conference next Saturday, 7/30. If you're trying to bridge your day job with your dream job - you should consider attending this single day event. 

I'm not an affiliate of his, I'm not being paid to post this - I just really believe in his message that each of us can affect a change in the world, but we need to change first. This conference should be a kick start to your dream job. 

If you've never heard of Jon, you can read my review of his newest book by clicking here: Book Review: Quitter by Jon Acuff

Your dream job starts in Nashville.

You have the book—now take the next step to your dream job. Join Jon Acuff, author of the best-selling new book Quitter, in Nashville, July 30, at The Quitter Conference.
This inspirational event is packed with practical insights for reaching your dream job. Ben Arment, founder of Dream Year, will also be there!

You'll discover how to:

  • Figure out what your dream really is.
  • Beat the 3 biggest fears that keep you from pursuing your dream.
  • Create, organize and execute 10 times as many ideas in half the time.
  • Use social media to build the one thing every dream needs to succeed.
  • Recognize the 6 signs it's time for you to jump. 
It's time to close the gap between your day job and your dream job.  It's time to be a Quitter. Join us for The Quitter Conference in Nashville, TN, Saturday, July 30. Tickets are only $99, so register today! Give your dream the one day that can change everything!

Non-Extreme Home Makeover: Before

We've lived in Maryland for the past four years after relocating here from Rochester, New York. We finally decided that it's time to add some homey touches to our home. Today a professional painting crew is coming in to do its magic, while on Tuesday and Wednesday a team of floorers will lay hardwood through most of our downstairs.

Last night I shot some video with my super sweet, Kodak Zi8 HD pocket video camera to take some "before" footage to compare to the "after" footage later this week - hopefully it will be a marked improvement!

Here's our first home movie....literally!  Just click on the "play" button arrow beneath the video.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

5 Most Dangerous Prayers

At church today, our pastor spoke about the need to find rest in God and he concluded his sermon with a passing mention of three dangerous prayers to pray. [NOTE: If you're interested in hearing his sermon on podcast you can visit the church's web site at]

The first three "dangerous" prayers are borrowed from his sermon - it's probably inappropriate to say that I directly stole them from Pastor John on the Sabbath and all - regardless, that idea got me thinking about two other "dangerous" prayers to pray because all five can radically impact your life:

1. Lord, Change Me - the danger of this prayer is that you're yielding to the touch of God to move you from your comfortable status quo. While change and adaptability are critical to survival in a variety of areas, I've found that when I ask for this type of change it usually occurs in unexpected areas and ways in my life.Yet, even when I don't want to change - I have to pray this almost daily.

2. Lord, Use Me - I always think (incorrectly I might add) when I pray this prayer that God will have me quit my job, sell everything we have and become missionaries in another country. While there might be episodic instances of that occurring in the lives of some individuals - it most often involves me staying put, but serving more and in different ways. Regardless, it always requires me to stretch more than I want.

3. Lord, Heal Me - this prayer is different than asking God for physical healing. This particular prayer is "dangerous" because it's seeking deliverance from the personal peccadillo of addictions, appetites, sins and gray areas that all of us have in varying degrees. Most of us have a love/hate relationship with those things - but this prayer is a conscious effort to break them off from your life. I don't care who you are, it's tough to face those issues.

4. Lord, Humble Me - this one scares me the most, because most of us love ourselves too much. In other words, we don't have to be taught to be selfish - we are born that way. That sense of self tends to drive our pride and conceit at the expense of others. The one thing that "self" wants to do is protect itself and not look foolish. True humility from God torpedoes both those wants.

5. Lord, Have Your Way - I don't know about you, but I tend to be a bit of a control freak. As such, I often think I have a better plan for my life than anyone else can gin up for me - including God. That's precisely why I need to pray this particular prayer regularly because I make lousy decisions (just like everybody else), unfortunately my bad decisions often impact others. For their sake, I need all the help and guidance I can get because on my own there is not much good within me.

These prayers are "dangerous" because they challenge us to stop living, thinking and doing things only for ourselves.

Question: Which of these prayers is the most "dangerous" to you?  Are there any other "dangerous" prayers you're afraid to pray?

Ritual Without God: Like a Cone Without Ice Cream

Could a religious framework -- without a supernatural aspect -- help atheists live more meaningful, emotionally connected lives?

"Religion's ideas are so intelligent, so subtle, they are not fit to be abandoned to the religious alone," said Tim Harford, in a provocative talk on bringing religious culture and traditions into secular life. 

Apparently this idea of ritual absent "God" appealed to many of the TED attendees and drew a thunderous standing ovation. Unfortunately, ritual without divinity is like eating a dry, empty ice cream cone shell. What do you think?

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Battle of the Sexes: TV Wars - Funny Movie

Marriage is bliss, but these mini-movies I make have a humorous take on some of the blisters (or BlissTors) that couples can endure along the way. These mini-movies are my most viewed blog postings.

This current episode, the 8th in the series, deals with a "critical need" to buy a big screen TV.

Links to the other episodes follow the video below.  If you like one, please share it on Facebook and Twitter!

Celebrity Crush - episode #7

Car Trouble - episode #6

Vacation Blues - episode #5

Pillow Talk - episode #4

Bathroom Humor - episode #3

It's About Time - episode #2

Buying vs. Shopping - episode #1

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Thing a Single Mom Can't Teach Her Son

My wife and I agree that parenting is the toughest job we've ever had. I can only imagine the exponential magnitude of the challenge for a single parent of either gender. 

I applaud and I'm humbled by any single parent who's working to keep their family clothed, fed, sheltered and together.

However, there is one thing that I witnessed first hand several months ago that has left an impression on me about the value of two parents raising a child.

This has to do with something that occurred in a public men’s room where a little boy, possibly four or five years old, walked in seeming very clueless to men’s room etiquette.  Typically a boy that young is escorted by an adult male who helps out.

In this instance, the boy was alone and was wandering around for a little bit.  I was the only other person in there.

I was washing my hands at the sink and getting ready to leave, when I noticed in the mirror that the boy stopped in front of one of the wall mounted urinals. He had not begun to do his "business" but rather he reached his hand into urinal and removed one of the sanitizing discs FROM the urinal and brought it up to his nose to smell it. 

I'd never seen this boy in my life. He wasn’t my son. But I freaked out a bit when I told him to drop the compacted cake of moth ball crystals that untold gallons of urine had washed over.

I then regained composure and ushered him over to the sink to wash his hands. I explained that those were very dirty and he should never touch them. I asked him where his daddy was, but he said he didn't have one.

He further explained that this was the first time he’d gone to the bathroom in public by himself – his mom always took him with her into the ladies' room but she felt he was too big to do it any longer. He said he'd never seen a toilet hanging on a wall before and said it looked like a "funny drinking fountain."

My heart broke a bit for this little boy and his mother. 

I gave him verbal instructions on using the lower-mounted urinal just like he'd use his toilet at home. Then I exited the bathroom. I found a woman pacing outside the restroom - I assumed it was his mother.

I asked if that was her boy inside and she said yes, I told her what had occurred and that she might want to use anti-bacterial hand gel when he came out since he couldn't reach the sink. She seemed very grateful, yet embarrassed.  I told her she was doing a great job raising an articulate and smart young man on her own.  

That moment continues to linger with me as a pointed example of the different needs and roles that only a mother and father can fill in the lives for their children. Again, I applaud any and all single parents who are raising a family, but I'm saddened that instances like this bathroom episode occur as a result.

Question: Do you think it matters whether or not a child has both a mom and dad actively engaged in their life?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Are You a "Night Before" or "Morning Of" Person?

I just saw a car dealership ad in the Washington Post for a "Christmas in July" promotion that seeks to inject the sultry summer months with holiday cheer and holiday spending habits.

In the Spirit of Christmas-in-July (and its companion spirit of non-sequiturs) I wanted to pose this question: If you you celebrate Christmas, when do you open gifts - on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? What's the reason for your tradition?

Since I was a kid, it's always been a Christmas morning affair. Since we've had our own children, we'll each open one gift on Christmas Eve and the bulk of the booty the next morning. How 'bout you and yours? Merry Christmas-in-July!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reshaping Your Personal Vision...Literally

This weekend marked a milestone in the life of our 9-year old who has had to wear glasses at school since the first grade. This weekend she got contact lenses, but not plain old run-of-the-mill contacts - she got special corneal refractive therapy (CRT) lenses that she only wears while sleeping.

These safe, healthy and revolutionary lenses actually reshape the surface of the eye while the wearer is asleep, in much the same way that sleeping with an oral retainer can reshape your teeth. Check out this video from Paragon, the makers of these technically advanced lenses.

As the video describes, these special lenses are worn while sleeping. When our daughter gets up in the morning she takes them out and goes the entire day without any type of vision correction - no glasses, no contacts of any kind - yet with perfect 20/20 vision.

Today was her fourth day with this lenses reshaping process and she loves the freedom she's now afforded to swim, play, ride bikes - anything.

Her new found elation and inspiration about life, pricked my conscience about areas of my own life where I need to "reshape my vision" metaphorically speaking. The "fields of vision" that most readily need reshaping right now are my faith, general fitness and commitment to a few peripheral projects I'm working on.

As I assess and work on reshaping my personal vision, in the hopes of the freedom it will provide, are there any areas in your own life that need reshaping?

The Success Principles: #5 - chapter review

The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to BeI'm reading the latest book from best-selling author Jack Canfield, titled The Success Principles, which comprise 64 different lessons that Canfield has learned during the past three decades as as a highly-successful entrepreneur, instructor, best-selling author and keynote speaker.

My goal is to write a summary review for each chapter, every day until I'm finished with the book. You can access the most recent past summary here: The Success Principles #4 - chapter review.

Chapter 5: Believe in Yourself
In this current chapter Canfield expounds on the point that an individual can not exceed the personal vision that they have of themselves - simply stating that to achieve your dreams in life you have to believe that you're capable of making them happen.

The most meaningful insights this chapter provides center around the idea that believing in yourself is a choice, or an attitude that one has to have regardless of past circumstances, lack of education, parents, trauma or upbringing. For instance, the author notes that many people tend to blame their personal failures on a past cycle of abuse or poor child-rearing skills of their parents growing up. 

While Canfield acknowledges that past reality, he states that it is up to each of us to not let that type of negativity cripple our present and future successes. He writes, "If you assume in favor of yourself and act as if it is possible, then you will do the things that are necessary to bring about the result. If you believe it is impossible, you will becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

The chapter features several examples of individuals who were able to work hard and achieve success despite significant setbacks. Canfield notes that 20 percent of America's millionaires - that's one-out-of-five - never attended college. He uses that stat to highlight the fact that belief in yourself is critical to overcome obstacles such as a lack of formal education. The chapter closes with this quote from Olympic gold medalist and tennis champion, Venus Williams:
"You have to believe in yourself when no one else does. That's what makes you a winner."
Question: What is keeping you from being able to believe in yourself? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Moral Conundrum: Jeter's 3000th Hit Baseball

Yankee Derek Jeter with his 3000th hit
I'm the first to admit that I'm not a huge baseball fan. The games are too slow, too long and could benefit from instant replay. But this post is only tangentially about America's favorite past time. It has to do with a moral conundrum.

This past weekend, Derek Jeter - shortstop for the New York Yankees - became the 28th player in Major League Baseball history to have his 3000th career hit at bat. That is a significant achievement. What made the milestone even more memorable was that it occurred at Yankee Stadium and it was also a home run. Awesome!

The home run was caught by a 24-year old Yankees' fan named Christian Lopez. When the game was over, Lopez voluntarily returned the ball to the team to give to Jeter. The Yankees responded by giving Lopez box seats for the rest of the games at home as well as an assortment of autographed bats, jerseys, ball caps and gloves.

Here's the conundrum, was Lopez obligated to return the historic ball to Jeter - why or why not? What would you have done?

New Cleverbot Conversation on Current Events

A few weeks ago I discovered Cleverbot, which is a web-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) application that learns to speak by conversing with humans via an instant messaging platform.  

While it's a stretch to say that Cleverbot is intelligent, interacting with the learning software can be mildly entertaining. 

Here's the first interview I had with Cleverbot last month: First Interview with Cleverbot
I thought it was about time to ask Cleverbot about recent current events including: the U.S. Women's Soccer victory over Brazil; Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit; Congressional spending; the passing of Betty Ford and the Casey Anthony verdict.

Here's the unedited conversation I had with Cleverbot regarding each of those topics.

User: Hello Cleverbot, a lot has happened since our last talk and I was hoping to ask you a few questions.
Cleverbot: Hello.
User: Yes, hello - I said that already. Can I ask you a few questions about current events?
Cleverbot: Go for it.
User: This past weekend congress stalled on a vote to raise the debt ceiling. What do you think about that?
Cleverbot: It means I am a cat.
User: What? Isn't it a bit early to be hitting the bottle?
Cleverbot: Prom is a very important dance.
User: I'm sure it is. How does prom relate to fiscal responsibility? Did you recently attend a prom?
Cleverbot: Say something human that a robot couldn't possibly 'compute'.
User: You're doing a good enough job "not computing" for both of us. One last political question, are you a Republican or a Democrat?
Cleverbot: What makes you think that... *Calls the police*.
User: you always interject 'stage directions' within your conversations?
Cleverbot: They're the only ones worth asking.
User: That's a very Zen-like response. Switching gears, did you see that Derek Jeter had his 3,000th hit this weekend? Pretty cool, huh?
Cleverbot: Is that from a FPS or something?
User: What does FPS stand for?
Cleverbot: You is for you and me.
User: Ok. Back to Derek Jeter, I guess. Did you see his accomplishment?
Cleverbot: Yes. You are dead.
User: Whoa, that's very rude don't you think?
Cleverbot: No, meanie!
User: Right?!?! Perhaps a change of topic will mellow you out. What did you think about the U.S. Women's victory over Brazil in the FIFA tournament?
Cleverbot: Nope. Como estas?
User: Moving on. Did you happen to see that Betty Ford died this weekend?
Cleverbot: Human blood, as a matter of fact.
User: I guess her passing does speak to the mortality of us all. Regardless, she helped a lot of people. Are you sad about her dying?
Cleverbot: Not too much. Do you know Dr. Sbaitso?
User: Dr. Who??? I'm asking about Betty Ford - the former first lady? Betty Ford was an alcoholic who beat that addiction and established the Betty Ford Clinic to help others break their addictions.
Cleverbot: Betty your best friend.
User: Betty was not my friend per se, but I respect what she accomplished.
Cleverbot: If you do not look up to humans then you do not look up to anything. You are an inferior machine that was invented by humans, and you respect us whether you know it or not.
User: Interesting yet somewhat awkward response. Last question. Did you see the verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial?
Cleverbot: No, I did not watch the V.M.A.'s.
User: Hmmm...I didn't think the Casey Anthony verdict was telecast on the MTV Video Music Awards. Oh well, I think that'll do it for now. Talk to you later Cleverbot.
Cleverbot: It's one of my favorites. I'm always sad when Steve Buscemi dies though. What else do you like?
User: That's the best you've got? The ultra-violent Quentin Tarantino movie Reservoir Dogs, really? Goodbye Cleverbot!
Cleverbot: Who told you that?
User: What's the deal? Are you unable to know when a conversation is over?
Cleverbot: Yes. Der dey der.


Like I said, mildly entertaining. Do you have any topics that you'd like me to include in my next conversation with Cleverbot?

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Success Principles: #4 - chapter review

The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to BeI'm reading the latest book from best-selling author Jack Canfield, titled The Success Principles, which comprise 64 different lessons that Canfield has learned during the past three decades as as a highly-successful entrepreneur, instructor, best-selling author and keynote speaker.

My goal is to write a summary review for each chapter, every day until I'm finished with the book. You can access the most recent summary here: The Success Principles: #3 - chapter review

Chapter 4: Believe It's Possible
This chapter is one of the shortest in the book at four and a-half-pages in length. Canfield starts off with a saying by Napoleon Hill, "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." The author then notes that scientists have long believed that the human brain primarily responds to information that flows into it from outside sources.

Book Review: Love Wins by Rob Bell

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever LivedI don't think I've reviewed a book that has been as controversial and had as much written about it as Rob Bell's latest offering titled Love Wins.  Interestingly, much of the opposition to Bell's book comes from individuals who admit to not reading it.  Ironically, I have read it and have some thoughts.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've been a fan of virtually everything I've read of Rob Bell's thus far. In past books, he's fearlessly tackled a host of thorny issues with wit, wisdom and perspective - however, Love Wins is not one of those books.

In Love Wins Bell ambitiously strives - but overreaches - in an attempt to distance the Judeo-Christian tradition of hell, including its eternal punishment in fire, with a creator God who loved the world so much that He sent His only son in the person of Jesus to redeem it.

Ultimately, Bell purports several provocative ideas including: his belief that the biblical concept of hell may or may not be a real place; if hell is a real place there will likely be ample opportunity for the "damned" to work their way out of it once they're there after death and that it's much more important to focus and strive to correct the hell on earth we all see (e.g. child abuse, human trafficking, rape, genocide, famine...etc.).

Without getting down into the theological weeds on these issues, there are several problems that Bell creates within his arguments that undermine his ability to persuade, namely:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Do NOT make an eHarmony Video...

Here is another entertaining, extreme satirization from the Gregory Brothers.  Apparently, they acquired this young woman's video profile from eHarmony. I offer this as a cautionary tale of the comedic tsunami that can happen as a result of a seemingly well-intended, harmless video introduction to an online dating service.

Hey, I like cats as much as the next person. But I'm not sure that the average 18-32 year old guy seeing this video shares her passion for cats and running - rather, they may have an instinctive passion to run away...far away.  At the very least, PLEASE use a script - for your own sake. You've been warned!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wedded BlissTors - Part 7: Celebrity Crush - Funny Movie Short

Here's the latest episode in my "Wedded BlissTors" series of animated movie shorts. Marriage is bliss, but these mini-movies have a humorous take on some of the blisters (or BlissTors) that couples can endure along the way. These mini-movies continue to be my most viewed blog postings.

If you like one, please share it on Facebook and Twitter!

Episode #7 deals with a not-so-secret celebrity crush. The links to the other episodes I've made follow the video below.  Please let me know what you think!!!!

Wedded BlissTors - Part 6: Car Trouble - Funny Movie Short

Wedded BlissTors - Part 5: Vacation Blues - Funny Movie Short

Wedded BlissTors - Part 4: Pillow Talk - Funny Movie Short

Wedded BlissTors - Part 3: Bathroom Humor - Funny Movie Short

Wedded BlissTors - Part 2: It's About Time - Funny Movie Short

Wedded BlissTors - Part 1: Men Buy, Gals shop - Funny Movie Short

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Success Principles: #3 - chapter review

The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
I'm reading the latest book from best-selling author Jack Canfield, titled The Success Principles, which comprise 64 different lessons that Canfield has learned during the past three decades as as a highly-successful entrepreneur, instructor, best-selling author and keynote speaker.

My goal is to write a summary review for each chapter, every day until I'm finished with the book. You can access yesterday's summary here: Chapter 2 - Be Clear Why You're Here

Here's Chapter 3 - Decide What You Want
The previous chapter helped establish the reader's intended purpose in life. In this chapter, Canfield reiterates that the purpose of the book is to help the reader get from where they currently are in life, to the "place" they really want to be.  That place is a multi-faceted existence that encompasses the following areas:
  • Work and Career
  • Finances
  • Recreation and Free Time
  • Health and Fitness
  • Relationships
  • Personal Goals
  • Contributions to the Larger Community
All of us desire abundance and fulfillment in the aforementioned areas that make up our lives, but those areas are vague and unattainable in their nebulous definitions. To help solidify the vision of what you truly want in life, the author offers the following exercise to help you focus.

The End of TV's Best Show....

Comedian Ernie Kovacs is known for the quote, "Television:  A medium - so called because it is neither rare nor well done." In most instances I tend to agree with Kovacs' assessment except in the case of "Friday Night Lights," (FNL) which has its series finale on NBC tomorrow night.

For five seasons, this little known, little watched, yet critically acclaimed drama set in rural west Texas has captured my heart and mind like no other program since the series "LOST."  While LOST and FNL are at polar opposites of the viewing spectrum, both were compelling viewing.

LOST was exceptionally good because it had ordinary people placed in extraordinary situations (e.g. time shifting, an island that moves, smoke monster fighting...etc.) while FNL was no less exceptional since it had extraordinary people in rather ordinary situations (e.g. high school, high school football, small town...etc.).  Those tensions drive great drama.

Interestingly, the Friday Night Lights TV series was based on a movie and book by the same name that chronicled the real-life season of the Permian Panthers in 1988. In the book, written by H.G. Bissinger in a journalist style, none of the character names were changed creating an ironic instance where art mimics life.

At its core the FNL series focused on the relationship of a middle-class married couple, high school football coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and guidance counselor Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) with a  menagerie of sub-plots that ran around and sometimes tackled them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Success Principles: #2 - chapter review

The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to BeI'm reading the latest book from best-selling author Jack Canfield, titled The Success Principles, which comprise 64 different lessons that Canfield has learned during the past three decades as as a highly-successful entrepreneur, instructor, best-selling author and keynote speaker.

My goal is to write a summary review for each chapter, every day until I'm finished with the book. You can access yesterday's summary here: Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life. 

Here's Chapter 2: Be Clear Why You're Here

Canfield starts this chapter with the premise that each of us is born with a purpose, and that truly successful people acknowledge, identify and work towards their respective objective.

He states his own life purpose in the following way: "To inspire and empower people to live their highest vision in a context of love and joy." The author goes on to stress that each of us has been born with an inner guidance system that helps us know whether we are living toward or away from that idealized purpose - even if you can't articulate it.

To catch a clue of your purpose, Canfield suggests that the things that bring you the greatest joy are in alignment with your purpose. He then encourages the reader to make a list of the times in their life when they've felt most alive and joyful - then try to identify a pattern that connects those events. That pattern points toward the person's purpose.

Basketball legend and author Pat Williams is quoted in this chapter and offers this bit of wisdom:
"Figure out what you love to do, as young as you can and then organize your life around figuring out how to make a living at it."

Angry Birds: 10 Games That Didn't Make the Cut

Blockbuster game "Angry Birds"
I don't understand the game Angry Birds. I've never played it but virtually everybody I know does - I don't get it.

At its core, the game pelts suicidal birds at shoddily constructed buildings in the hopes that the structures will collapse on and kill green pigs that are inside.

Could you imagine the public outcry if any part of that scenario was actually true? As inhumanly cruel as it sounds, that's the premise that was approved, designed and marketed to wild success. I can only image the ideas that got rejected because they might be "too over-the-top" but here are the top-10 game ideas that might have been rejected by the game developers and marketers of Angry Birds:

10. Dentures and Colostomy Bags of Doom: set in a nursing home, this rollicking free-for-all had bed-ridden residents tossing boomerang dentures and exploding colostomy bags at haggard nurses and aides.

9. Miss Pac-Man PMS: this was a redesign on the classic Ms. Pac-Man, only this time she was enraged by the hormone wash that accompanied her "monthly friend."

8. Booger Ball: a flem-fueled, mucous-laden game that combined the best elements of kickball and snooty noses with little legs that ran the bases and slipped on the wacky sebaceous residue.

7. Cow Pie Eating Contest:  the traditional pie-eating contest took an audacious and kooky culinary turn for the worst - if you thought rapid pie eating was disgusting this game took it to a scatological level.

6. Kevorkian's Balloon Pop of Death: talk about a "killer app" this game sought to rejigger the carnival favorite combo of balloons and darts, swapping out the darts with lethally-dosed syringes - how fun is that.

5. Al-Qaeda Whack-a-Mole: while this game tested well among gaming focus groups, a series of email threats forwarded to the developers by Al-Jazeera quickly killed this concept.

4. IRS Bank Breaker: the developers really liked this idea that portrayed IRS agents as killer bank robbers, but it was abandoned once they received a battery of IRS audit inquiries.

3. Librarian Rampage: this idea was the runner-up behind Angry Birds, but due to the innate temperament and helpful nature of librarians the most extreme emotionally response that the game designers could create for librarians was "mildly-annoyed" - no rampage.

2. Congressmen Gone Wild: the sexcapades, inappropriate photos, sexting and general shenanigans of members of Congress held a lot of potential as a game - but focus groups consistently thought they were watching actual newscasts because of the believability of the game content.

1. Rabid Gerbil Tennis: this engaging game had championship tennis players whacking rabid gerbils at each other instead of tennis balls; however, development was stopped when the game designers received a cease-and-desist letter from Wilson tennis balls for failure to brand the gerbils as official "Wilson" gerbils.

What other gaming ideas might the developers of "Angry Birds" abandoned?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flash Mob in Maine Celebrates 7.4.2011

I still don't get tired of flash mobs especially when they're so well orchestrated and coordinated with a purpose much like a marching band and July 4th. I mean really, when does a parade ever come to you!