Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

Caucuses! Aren't they awesome? I get all fired up every time an election comes around. I think I'd be one of those over zealous types that lives for politics if I didn't value my non-school/non-work time so much. Anyway, the entire process amazes me.

The power that the individual has in this process is pretty cool. You can recommend changes to the party platform, elect delegates, and pitch your candidate of choice to the group. Where else can you throw your thoughts out there and have as much weight put on them as in the caucus? And since hardly anyone shows up for them compared to a general election your vote counts several times as much!

Funny caucus story - Everyone seemed to bring their kids to this thing. I guess whoever invented daycare forgot to also invent nightcare. Anyway, one of the kids was sick and puked in the garbage at the start of our precinct meeting. One of the first things we did was to take the vote everyone had come for, for the presidential nominee. The votes were tallied by counters nominated from our group, and the two came back with the final numbers. One of them asked if the original ballots were needed as the other casually threw them into the trash. Everyone looked on in horror as the ballets fell into the puke filled trash can. They pulled them out, puke and all, and put them in the envelope with a warning about the contents. Yuck!

Now where else can you get a great story like that, have influence on the direction of the nation, and feel like you're making a difference? Long live the caucus!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hernias Suck

I’m not usually one to rant but let’s be honest, hernias suck. There are few indisputable truths in this universe, but that is most certainly one of them and I’d like to have a word with anyone who says otherwise. I had surgery to have mine repaired, and I must say, hernia repair surgery sucks too. Yet even worse than surgery is having the doc reopen and clean out part of the incision of infection a week later using long toothpick like sticks, without painkillers. I knew I was in for a treat when he said, "I need to see how deep it goes." I now know pain beyond anything I have ever experienced in my life up to this point.

Every once in a while you need a reminder of how good life is. To put things in perspective. That certainly did it for me. I now know what “put a bullet in my head now or I will” pain feels like, and will never be able to accidentally slice open my leg or hand again with a kitchen knife and be able to complain about it as much.

Anyone out there with good pain stories? What is the worst you’ve had? I know by most standards my experience today was probably pretty weak. Show me what you got!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

So Why The DeLorean?

*Update: There has been some confusion about this post - I have NOT purchased a DeLorean yet. Don't worry, the plan is to do so by age 30, that is a little over 1.5 years away at the time of this writing.

When I was 6 years old I saw a movie unlike any other I had ever seen. It was a movie about second chances. A movie about making the right choice when it isn’t the easy thing to do. That movie was “Back to the Future.” I found myself liking George McFly, the dorky Dad who was shy but held hidden potential that was waiting to explode if given the opportunity. As you recall, as a result of Marty’s intervention George steps out of character and takes a stand against the school bully in a situation he would have normally backed down on. That one event changed the course of his life in drastic ways that he could have never expected.

That got me thinking, I want to recognize those moments in my life. Those moments when looking back I would say “if only I had…” I wanted to be able to live my life such that I would not have regrets in those moments. As George illustrated in the movie, it was the moments of inaction he regretted, those were the moments that destroyed his life. As a result, I try my best to take action when I know I should though I am tempted not too. That has served me well.

So why the DeLorean? The single most representative object from the movie is unquestionably the car. As a huge fan of the movie, I found myself reading up on all things about it. I came to the point where I could tell you hundreds of factoids about the cast, crew, locations, and situations around the film. Through this I also began to better understand the DeLorean, and the person behind it, John Z. DeLorean.

The story of the DeLorean car is one very similar to the movie, it is a story of chasing dreams, taking a big leap of faith, and not looking back. Here was a man who was an executive at General Motors, the largest auto company in the world at the time, who left it all to follow a lifetime dream of building his ideal car. In the same vein as the movie, he recognized that moment in time where he needed grab his dream, and he did. Say what you will about the fate of the DeLorean Motor Company, their business practices, and the circumstances around its demise, but the guts it took John Z. to make his dreams a reality is something to be admired and emulated.

This dream became my own in part many years ago. The car is the objectification of the impressions a nutty 80’s movie made on me and has served as my own motivation for bettering myself early in my life. A couple decades ago it became a goal to eventually purchase a DeLorean when the time was right. This has helped me to focus my life on establishing myself such that it will be the right time. It is amazing what a goal does for a person. It has motivated me to achieve things I previously had never thought possible.

…oh, and the sweet stainless steel gull wing doors don’t hurt ;-)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nebraska And Football

Have you ever been talking to someone for 10 minutes, only to find that the conversation has drifted to Huskers football? If so, you are talking to a Nebraskan.

For Thanksgiving my wife and I went to her Mom's place in Omaha. It just so happened that it was also the weekend that their college football coach was getting fired. I could not believe how big of news it was. It was on the front page of the newspaper, it was on the radio as I was flipping through the stations, it was on the 10 o'clock news as the lead story, then another 5 min during the sports segment. My mother in law was getting phone calls about it.

I admit I'm not much of a football fan so I'm not completely surprised by how out of the loop I was on this, but I realized this trip that Husker football is the Nebraska culture. Heck, they even elected a former Husker coach as a US Congressman! I knew it was big there, but I had no idea it was that big.

As a Minnesota boy, I was trying to think of something similar that all of us Minnesotans have that we rally around and defines the state. Probably nothing to that extent. Fishing? Hunting? Hotdish? I don't know. What defines Minnesotans?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ask And You Shall Receive

Every once in a while I have a class that changes my perspective. This week was one of those classes. I’m taking a class in negotiations and we did a negotiation exercise in which we had to negotiate a job offer with another classmate that acted as the recruiter. We were given a paper with point values assigned to different things to negotiate. In the process of this negotiation, we found we had many competing interests, so many that when we started negotiating about location, we didn’t ask for what we really wanted, we each gave in a little from what we really wanted. As a result, the one location that would have helped us both best we never asked for.

It made me wonder how many chances I’ve passed up just because I don’t ask for exactly what I want. This served as a wake up call that there is never any harm in asking for what you really want, the worst that you can get is a “no”, so go for it!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Perfect Day

I owe you all a big thanks for still checking in, I apologize for my lack of posting, I’m not living up to my own standards. But here it is at last, the wedding post.

Everyone says that their wedding day is the greatest day of their lives. I always thought that was one of those things people say because they have to say it. Kind of like those parents who say their baby is the most beautiful thing in the world, when it is obvious the kid shouldn’t have that strange appendage growing out of his forehead. Well, I’ve now become one of those people in regards to my wedding; it was the best day ever.

I’m sure you are familiar with the concept of “The Perfect Storm,” several rare and key pieces falling into place at exactly the right moment in time at exactly the right place to create something much greater than the individual pieces. That is the only way I can really describe my wedding day. It was really four huge things coming together where they needed to: the girl I love, family and friends, an awesome celebration, and yes, the car of my wildest dreams.

Let me begin with the most important part, the girl. Those of you who are married may or may not remember a time in your life when you spent years, the better part of 2 decades, believing you would never find that perfect person to spend the rest of your life with. If you’re single and my age (28+), you no doubt have thought this at some point. The hopelessness of that place was a difficult thing to shake, and something I had to shake before dating my now wife. Finally seeing her in her dress, ready to give the rest of her life to me, was no small thing, and something I pray I never take for granted. It was the perfect moment with the perfect person.

If that weren’t enough, nearly everyone I know was there to be there to celebrate it with me. It didn’t really sink in how many people cared and were there to support us until we turned around half way through the service and looked out at a sea of smiling faces, and recognized every one. There are few moments in your life when so many people come out to support you. I expect the next will be my funeral.

The third part of this perfect day, was the reception. The perfect reception. Now I have no delusions that my reception was any better than other billions of wedding receptions on Earth, but it was with people that were there to support me, and that wanted to be there with us. I’ll never forget the cheers, applause, and the general excitement as we went through our first dance, a dance we spent months working on and just over 2 minutes performing. It made all the time put in so worthwhile.

A side note on the reception. I may be the only one that remembers this, but during dinner the DJ played the song “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows, one of the top 5 most influential songs in my teenage years. One line of the song says “We all want something beautiful, man I wish I was beautiful.” As we at dinner that evening, I realized I had found my something beautiful, and I was that something beautiful to someone else.

Finally, the object I identify most with was there that day…the DeLorean. The DeLorean for me represents achieving and living out my dreams, accomplishing the impossible, and most importantly living today in such a way that prepares you for a future greater than ever expected. I can’t think of a better way to describe my wedding day. I’m long overdue for a post describing the meaning of this car throughout my life, but it has been a part of my life for 22 of my 28 years and it still blows my mind that I drove it away from my wedding in it.

There it is. I’d love to post some pictures, but per my policy, I don’t post people’s pictures, and that is all that wedding pictures are. Ask me some time and I’ll go through them with you if you would like.

No post could ever capture the emotion, the excitement, and the joy of having so many things come together in one day for me, but I hope this gives you a glimpse into the why it was such a perfect day for me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sweat, Paint, and Tunes

Few things make you feel as good about yourself as the occasional weekend of manual labor. Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather lounge around playing the latest FPS game or hanging out on the beach, but that feeling right after completing a large project is pretty rewarding. I was able to savor that feeling recently. My fiancée and my parents came over to paint my place in preparation for her moving in next month. 16 hours on Saturday and another 10 Sunday of nothing but painting. It took me a week to recover!
I patched up the many holes in my walls, removed the ceiling stars the previous owners had in place for the kid's room, and through out a bunch of my old stuff in preparation for the weekend. All that prep made the painting go much quicker, though it was still no small task.
I had never painted before, at least not in a setting where I cared about the result, so there were a lot of learnings that took place. Here are a few of them in case you haven't done much either.
  • Use plenty of that blue painters tape. It takes a lot of time to tape stuff down, but saves a lot of time when cleaning up. There is a school of thought that careful painters don't need tape, that may be true, but until you've done a lot of painting, that isn't you.
  • Flat paint seems to cover better than many primers or other finishes. I went with flat for the first coat in the room that had the most obnoxious color, and it worked like a charm. A second coat of eggshell took care of the color in a hurry.
  • Don't do it alone. It makes a huge difference to have someone one step ahead of you on laying plastic on the floor or helping tape, the more you can keep moving the better.
  • Play the latest Linkin Park album LOUD. Good tunes will make you more productive.
The end result of the weekend is a house that looks fantastic. The walls are clean, look brand new, and the entire house reeks of paint. What more could you ask for out of a successful project?