I love the holidays for the chance to do a lot of nothing. This year’s nothing seemed like it came and went faster than normal. And I don’t feel like I did enough nothing.
Christmas always feels like a month-long blur, and this year was no different. Our Thanksgiving in Kansas plans changed at the last minute and we spent Thanksgiving in Green Bay and then Christmas in Kansas. And our Christmas in Kansas plans were moved up at the last minute and we ended up taking the dogs with us, which is always one extra thing to worry about. But it’s probably good we left a day earlier and avoided becoming one of the many cars I saw in the ditch (and especially glad I didn’t become one of the three rollovers I saw in the ditch). And our lack of New Year’s plans turned into a last minute pizza party in the backage claim with our good friends during their three hour layover.
I’m sensing a last minute theme to the 2009 holiday-palooza. I guess that’s how we roll.
Milo has very quickly become mobile. Nothing in the house is safe. Not even the Christmas tree, which has very nearly come down.
Lately he’s been counter cruising and extending his reach even higher as he comes closer and closer to walking. The other day we redirected those energies toward something less destructive with some walkers and riding toys.
So today Milo was pushing Lexi on the riding trike. Pushing her right into the kitchen table. And yes, the camera was rolling:
For those who don’t know, I have a long history with yo-yo’s, going back to a high school yo-yo ministry. I also spent a summer as a yo-yoing street performer, which paid the bills (sort of) while I worked the unpaid internship that really started my career (a story explained on the little cards I included with the yo-yo’s). We even gave away yo-yo’s at our wedding. Needless to say, I’ve wanted to get Monkey Outta Nowhere yo-yo’s since I started the company. It’s a testament to my frugality that I waited this long.
Barney Stinson would be proud. An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton is, well, awesome. It’s beautifully illustrated, clever and fun. If you don’t believe me, go read it for yourself. Seriously. You can read the entire book, cover to cover, online. From rocket-powered unicorns to musical baboons.
It’s a book about dreaming. About big ideas. It has pictures and is short, so we call it a children’s book, but it’s really for anybody. I think it might be better suited for adults.
Not only that, but for every copy of the book they sell, they give one away. That’s a pretty sweet set up. The video below gives the full story.
What is perhaps most awesome about this book is that it’s not just a good book, but it has an incredible story. The author has traveled the country giving away copies. He’s set up a nonprofit foundation to enable this vision of giving away one copy for every copy sold. It’s also an example of a successful self-publishing venture. I love that you can read the entire book online—another example of how we win by giving it away.
It’s always fun reminiscing about the years I’ve put into this blog. It’s kind of crazy to think about how long it’s been going. It’s changed quite a bit throughout the years, from incoherent to self-involved to whatever it is now. Though from the very beginning I started doing this for me. So if you don’t like it, too bad.
That’s probably the best part about blogging. If you have the right motivation, it can last 11 years. And counting.
And clearly this isn’t going to be one of those top 5 posts, so go ahead and check out Mike, The Cat. It at least has pictures.
Last year I explored my top 5 Christmas songs. Those recommendations still stand this year, though I keep coming across a number of free Christmas songs and they’re worth sharing.
Christmas for Kenya – University Baptist Church (David Crowder’s church) has put together their second Christmas album raising money for a water well in Kenya. You can download the album for free and then donate whatever you like (but please donate something).
Holiday Sampler – Vanguard Records has a free holiday sampler. All it will cost you is your e-mail address. It’s more country/folk oriented then I’d prefer, but I did like the tracks by Joshua Radin, Dar Williams and the Watson Twins.
Christmas Songs Vol. 2 – Folk rocker Justin McRoberts has made his EP of Christmas songs available through Noise Trade, which means you can have it if you spam five of your friends. I’m not a big fan of that method, but the price is right.
25 Days of Free – Like they did last year, Amazon is offering 25 days of free Christmas song downloads. It’s not all quality stuff, but you might find a few gems.
Just what you always needed—a web site to show you which retailers will wish you a hearty “Merry Christmas” while taking your money and which ones are heathen bastards and say something sinful like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”. It’s the lastest effort from Focus on the Family: Stand for Christmas. The site guages how “Christmas-friendly” retailers are with a user-generated rating and comment system.
For example, you know those heathens at Best Buy are hell-bound with their 9% friendly rating and devilish 77% offensive rating. That’s what they get for wishing Muslims a happy Eid al-Adha. And you can take comfort in WalMart’s 63% friendly rating and low 13% offensive rating (nevermind the continual questions about WalMart’s human rights abuses—another issue for another day).
I’m not even sure where to start. I think what disappoints me the most is that this is perhaps the least Christ-like way to celebrate Christmas. I don’t think brow-beating and threatening retailers with my dollars unless they pay lip service to my religion is a very Christ-like approach. It seems like Jesus would have intentionally shopped with the heathens.
Assuming Jesus would have shopped. The consumer-centric approach is even more baffling. One of their news reports even notes that promoting Christmas by name is good for business (PDF). Seems like we need an Advent Conspiracy. Instead of letting retailers feel our righteous wrath by spending our dollars elsewhere, maybe we should stop the spending entirely. Maybe we should focus on spreading the message that Christmas isn’t about shopping. Maybe we should find more productive ways to focus our energy at Christmas. After all, 76% of adults who rather receive a Christmas gift that helps someone else instead of another sweater or DVD player. Our culture doesn’t care so much about the lip service of saying “Merry Christmas”—instead they’re yearning for some actual meaning in Christmas.
God forbid a business seeks to acknowledge the many faiths and beliefs represented among its customers, whether we’re talking a specific “Happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Eid/what-have-you,” or a generic “Happy Holidays.” Is that really worth getting worked up about? Should I really be holding it against my Muslim/Jewish/atheist friends for not saying “Merry Christmas”? That seems kind of petty. Especially when they pitch it as being “more inclusive and respectful” (read the comments on Best Buy and tell me that’s an inclusive and respectful tone).
It’s a pretty great feature and hopefully a boost to Mark’s efforts to help the homeless. As the article notes, “He isn’t making money from this, but he’s doing this to make a difference,” says Heather Meeker. “You can’t say that about many people.”
Mark has been living on the ragged edge just shy of homelessness himself (again) for more than a year now. He barely pays his bills. He doesn’t have health insurance. His ghetto apartment sounds kind of scary. And yet he treated my wife and I to dinner when he was in town. That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s an inspiration.
And he’s not just a jolly do-gooder. He’s fiercely passionate about his cause and will get worked up at injustice, the way we all should. I think he actually allows the things he sees to wreck him, to bowl over his walls and break his heart. Most of us (myself included) can only take so much and we turn away. I’ll admit I’ve only watched a fraction of the videos on InvisiblePeople.tv. They’re just too brutal. But any time I need that shot of reality, I know where to find it. Mark is a constant challenge to my own life of comfort and ease.
It’s cool to see him featured on CNN (getting higher billing than Obama’s announcement that 30,000 troops are going to Afghanistan) and I hope it translates to more support. Right now he runs the site on donations and pays rent with a temp job at a homeless shelter. I’ve actually been shocked that some homeless organization hasn’t just started paying him to run InvisiblePeople.tv and keep it going. It’d be an incredible investment and a no-brainer marketing move, even if the organization was an invisible partner—I think Mark does that much good for telling the real story of homelessness.
Today is the last day of November, which means it’s the end of the Movember charity drive, an event where men agreed to go clean-shaven and then grow mustaches for the month of November in order to raise money for men’s health. Movember specifically fights prostate and testicular cancer and donations go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Since its inception in 2003, Movember has raised more than $47 million for men’s health. That’s a lot of money for mustaches.
I first heard about this event when I saw my old friend Kyle and my brother Rick participating this year. I really wanted to join them, but my wife said I wouldn’t get kissed for a month if I grew a mustache. That’s a long time to go without getting kissed by your wife, so instead of participating I’ll have to make do with supporting them. Cancer is one of those things that inevitably impacts everyone. My grandpa is a prostate cancer survivor—and it’s through efforts like these that hopefully there can be more survivors.
Despite my wife’s distaste for the mustache fashion statement, I have to say that I love these kinds of charity events. As a culture I think we place entirely too much importance on personal appearance, and anything we can do to thumb our nose at the status quo while supporting a charity is just awesome. (This coming from the guy whose only haircut in the past two years has been shaving his head for a cause.) Maybe next year I’ll forsake getting kissed for a good cause (but don’t bet on it).
So even though I couldn’t join my mustachioed brethren, I salute your Movember efforts and the mighty hair spreading across your upper lip. Every mustache makes a difference. You can support Kyle or Rick by making a donation on their respective pages.
And what’s a post about mustaches without an homage to them in song from none other than the Tick? We could all use a little mustache feelin’:
Or maybe this entire week has conspired against me. Let’s count the ways…
(In case you can’t tell, this is one of those whiny, poor me posts, so feel free to move on now)
I’ve been sick since Wednesday night with a sore throat and persistent cough. Last night I was coughing so hard my chest hurt.
Because of all that I couldn’t go to the Social Media Breakfast on Friday morning.
I also couldn’t go to a planning meeting for a group of local church communicators I’m helping to organize.
That sickness also meant the date night my wife and I have been trying to have for two months that almost happened this weekend didn’t happen.
It also means I forgot about the U2 tickets that sold out in two hours on Saturday morning.
It also means I never had a chance to enjoy one last taco at Dora’s (OK, it would have been more like six last tacos).
This morning I left the kids with a babysitter and took the bus to the doctor. I missed the bus.
Which meant I missed my appointment by 20 minutes and the doctor wouldn’t see me.
Then I spent three hours at the dealership while they investigated my car’s uneven tread wear problem, only to tell me they have no answers.
Then I got a call from the babysitter that Lexi has been throwing up.
I dropped $50 at Best Buy tonight to replace items that have been lost or stolen in the last six months.
One of those items was a power cord for the portable DVD player Lexi watches in the car. Thanks to disposable electronics, that portable DVD player will now be the main DVD player powering our living room TV. (Our house has two VCRs and four DVD players, and only two of the DVD players work. And one is portable.)
We have two couches in our house. Lexi managed to throw up on both of them.
While preparing all the puke-stained items for the wash, I realized the dog peed on the carpet.
At this point it was supper time and I realized I never had lunch.
Being gone all day meant I got next to nothing done for work.
We were planning to go to Kansas for Thanksgiving and I was excited about introducing Milo to lots of extended family that hasn’t had the chance to meet him yet. Tonight we decided we can’t go to Kansas with all the sickness and our complete lack of preparation.
Did I forget anything?
However, this week is Thanksgiving. So let’s find some bright spots, shall we?