One of my fictional characters has found his way into math class

A tweet from a student:

I wrote Budo in my math project. <3

As an author, a teacher, and a lover of the subversive, this made my day. 

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How much would you pay for one more hour in your day. Hint: There is a correct answer, and most Americans got it wrong.

A new survey says that more than half (58%) of Americans are willing to pay cash in exchange for one more hour in their day, and that the average amount that these people are willing to pay for that extra hour is $2,725.

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From the TIME piece:

The fact that people are willing to shell out that kind of cash is, well, sad, but also indicative of a larger problem that is unfortunately hard to buy your way out of: An out-of-whack work-life balance.

Am I the only sane person left in this world?

Only 58% of people would pay money to add an hour to their day? What the hell are the other 42% thinking? Do they have any idea how valuable an extra hour a day could be?

Sorry. Stupid question. Clearly they do not.

Time is the most precious commodity on the planet. More valuable than oil or diamonds or fame or even cold, hard cash. Time is a tragically finite resource for which there will never be any replacement.

Time is the great equalizer. We all have 24 hours in a day. No more. No less. If you can get an extra hour on everyone else, you would be an idiot not to pay for it.

If given the opportunity to purchase anything in this world, you should always  purchase time first, and then time again and again and again.

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Yet 42% of Americans would apparently not spend even a single dollar for an extra hour a day.

Clearly traumatic brain injury is a more serious problem than I ever imagined. 

Next, let’s look at the amount that the average American would be willing to spend for an extra hour a day: $2725.

Have these people also been hit in the head by large objects?

An extra hour a day for the rest of you life isn’t worth the price of a motorcycle? Season tickets to your favorite baseball team? One-fifth of the average kitchen remodel in America?

I would pay as much as I possibly could for an extra hour a day. I would take out a second mortgage on my home for an extra hour in my day. I would forfeit a year’s salary for an extra hour every day. I would have another child with my wife just so I could trade my third-born child for an extra hour in my day.

An extra hour a day amounts to an extra 15 days a year. That’s an additional year of life every 25 years.

An additional year of life is worth less than $2,700?

People are insane. Stupid and insane. 

Lastly, let’s look at the rant of TIME writer Melissa Locker again:

The fact that people are willing to shell out that kind of cash is, well, sad, but also indicative of a larger problem that is unfortunately hard to buy your way out of: An out-of-whack work-life balance.

Sad? Has Locker been struck in the head by a ballpein hammer, too? Does she not understand the value of an extra hour a day for the rest of your life?

Sorry. Stupid question again. Clearly she does not.

The desire for an extra hour in the day is not sad. It’s not indicative of an out-of-whack work-life balance. Desiring an extra hour every day (and being willing to pay for it) is common sense. It’s logic. It’s an understanding of time on an economic level. A clear-eyed view on how short and precious life is and how valuable one hour a day, seven hours a week, and 365 additional hours every year would be.

Sad to be willing to pay for an extra hour every day? I don’t think so. 

What’s truly sad it how people don’t realize how fragile and tenuous our lives really are. How fleeting our days on this planet will prove to be. How much they will they will have wished for those extra hours when facing the specter of death.

An extra hour every day would be the greatest opportunity imaginable. And the greatest bargain of all time at $2,7o0.

Posted in Critic, Quandry | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

BJ Novak’s new children’s book is annoyingly brilliant, just like everything else he does annoyingly well.

Television writer, actor, director, producer, and the author of a book of short stores BJ Novak has written a children’s book entitled The Book With No Pictures, and damn it, it’s good.

It’s clever and poignant and hilarious and ingenious. It’s entertaining and it says something.

I hate that guy.

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Not only can the jerk write a great children’s book, but he can read to children just as well.

BJ Novak. Star of screen and page. Love his work. Hate him for being so damn creative and productive.

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Adult sized Underoos might be even better than a sexy Princess Leia costume.

A few years ago, I bought a sexy Princess Leia costume for my wife, Elysha. She hasn’t gotten around to wearing it, but I’m sure that she’s just waiting for the right moment.

Timing is everything. 

While I’m waiting for her to find that right moment, it’s come to my attention that Hot Topic is now selling adult-sized Underoos.

It’s about tome. Seems like it should’ve been a no brainer.

The best thing about these adult-sized Underoos is that underwear is something that people wear every day. No need to wait for that “just right” moment to don a pair of Wonder Woman panties.

If I buy her a large enough supply and really fill her underwear drawer, Elysha could probably be wearing Underoos every day.

Happily, the holiday season approaches.

As I said, timing is everything.

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A simple declaration and a smidgen of self confidence can launch a business and change your life. Just look at my mother-in-law.

Yesterday I barged into a friend’s office and told her to launch a new business. I’ll refrain (for now) from telling you what this business is and what she will be doing, but it’s a no-brainer in terms of profitability. She’s perfectly (and almost uniquely) qualified for the job, will earn a lot of money doing it, and will help many people in the process.

It’s also a business that doesn’t really exist in the world at this moment, and it solves an enormous problem.

She’s going to be an great success with hard work and a little luck.

To my surprise, she seemed agreeable. Excited, even. She asked some questions about taking a class at a local college or becoming licensed, but I pushed back on those ideas and every other question that might delay her launch.

“No,,” I said. “You’re just going to start. Buy some business cards, declare yourself open for business, and find your first client.”

Too many people spend far too much time talking and planning and strategizing about doing something instead of just doing it.

Eighteen years ago my best friend called me and asked me if I wanted to become a wedding DJ and launch a company with him. I had no experience in the DJ industry. No equipment. No music. No knowledge of music outside of a few, not exactly wedding-friendly genres. I’d only been to a handful of weddings in my entire life and didn’t know how a wedding was supposed to be run. I had no training. No mentor. No experience.

My friend was in an identical position, but we didn’t worry about these obstacles. Didn’t look for training or seek out a mentor. We declared ourselves wedding DJs, and six months later, we were working at our first wedding. Since then, we have performed at almost 400 weddings and about 100 other events in five five different states.

One moment I wasn’t a DJ, and the next moment I was. It didn’t happen via a complex process or specialized training. It was a simple declaration.

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I followed a similar path in becoming a minister, a life coach, and a teacher of storytelling. One day I simply declared myself to be these things, and just like that, I was.

My mother-in-law has done something very similar. Years ago, she began selling merchandise on eBay. She started by raiding her own closet, looking to convert handbags into cash (so she could buy new handbags), but as women began purchasing the unused item in her closet, they began asking if she would be willing to sell the handbags and clothing in their closets as well.

A business was born.

She soon found herself selling thousands of dollars of merchandise on consignment for other women. Before she knew it, she had a growing stable of clients. 

For years now, she has been selling high-end clothing, accessories, and jewelry online. It has grown into a successful, profitable business and her primary source of income, despite the fact that she was forced to work on a dial-up modem for years.

Her husband eventually came onboard as well, constructing a photography studio in their basement where he shoots images of the merchandise. He has since transformed himself into a professional photographer whose images are so good that customers have accused them of using stock photos rather than actual photos of the merchandise.

Their home has become a warehouse of merchandise from clients from around the world, and my mother-in-law is now a top seller on eBay.

Just this week, she opened her own online store called Babsy’s Closet.

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Barbara knew nothing about online sales when she launched this business. She wasn’t an expert on the Internet or even technology. One day she wasn’t an online retailer and the next moment she was. She didn’t take a college class or go to work for another online retailer to learn the ropes. She simply declared herself to be in business, and she was.

My hope is that I will be telling you about my friend’s exciting new business soon, and that you will be recommending her to your friends and family as the need arises.

I suspect I will. She seems excited. I think she sees the possibilities. I know that she is passionate about the subject.

I just hope that she moves quickly. Doesn’t delay. Declares herself in business soon, if she hasn’t done so in her mind already.

There is so much delay in this world. So much calculation and uncertainty.  

While there is certainly a time for strategizing and consideration, many times rapid action and on-the-job training is just as good, if not better.

Brave and bold often defeats cautious and calculating.

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3 most important rules of the thank you note

TIME assets that the thank you notecard is not dead.

No duh.

That said, quite a few people are small minded and idiotic when it comes to thank you notes. Here are three simple rules that should be remembered at all times. 

  1. The heartfelt thank you note is a beautiful thing.
  2. The expectation of a thank you note is a petty and stupid thing.
  3. Gossiping about the absence of an expected thank you note is a vile and thoroughly disgusting thing.

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This is not the first time I have written about the tyranny of the thank you note.

I have proposed the Matthew Dicks Law of Thank You Notes before.

I’ve supported the thank you note send via email.

I’ve proposed solutions to dealing with thank you note Nazis.

I’ve even written about rules 2 and 3 before in the context of my birthday.

They are all valid arguments, but when in doubt, stick to the 3 rules and you can’t go wrong.

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My father rode horses all his life. I rode horses until they were taken away. Watching my kids ride horses, even for a day, was magical.

I grew up on a horse farm until my parents got divorced around the age of seven or eight.

For a few years of my childhood, I practically lived on the back of a horse, often riding bareback through without any adult supervision. A horse once bolted with me on it, and my father didn’t bother to chase us down. He knew that the horse would eventually come back, and all I needed to do was hold one.

It did, and I did. At a young age, I was becoming quite the cowboy.

Then one day the horses disappeared. I had nothing to ride anymore. My days of hanging onto the backs of horses was over. 

I didn’t ride again for a very long time.

Two years ago, Elysha took me horseback riding on our anniversary, and it turns out that riding a horse is a lot like riding a bike. You never lose the ability. I climbed onto the horse fairly easily and instinctively understood how to raise and lower my body to match the motion of the horse.

Elysha came away with a sore butt.

I felt great. It felt almost natural. 

A couple week ago my children rode a horse as part of their friend’s birthday party. It was Clara’s second time on the back of a horse and Charlie’s first.

Horseback riding looks a little different from the days when I rode. No helmets or step stools in my time. Just bare heads and a wooden fence to scale to help me climb on.

It’s a lot safer today than in my time. Slightly less fun, perhaps.

Still, I can’t wait to show these photos to my father. Though he gave up horses a few years ago because of his body breaking down, the man spent almost his entire life on and around horses, and he still wears cowboy hat every day. 

I think he’ll be happy to see his grandchildren on the back of a horse, if even for a day.

And even if my daughter was less than enthusiastic at first.

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Perhaps I have more in common with the Matthew Dicks of Des Moines, Iowa than just our names and our mug shots

Back in May of 2011, I wrote a post lamenting the fact that a person with the same name as me has been arrested in Des Moines:

Great. Someone who shares my name has been arrested and booked at the Polk Country Jail in Des Moines, Iowa for failure to pay child support.

You’d think my name is difficult enough without guys like this further besmirching it.

Recently, my namesake’s girlfriend contacted me, asking me to remove the post. I initially balked at the request. The man’s mug shot is available online on desmoinesmugshots.com. Removing it from my blog wouldn’t remove it from the Internet entirely, and it wasn’t like that post, written more than three years ago, was garnering any traffic.

Then it occurred to me:

I have a mug shot as well. I’ve never seen it, and because it was taken in 1992, it’s unlikely to ever appear on the Internet. But in some police database, a photograph of me exists, alongside the charges of grand larceny and embezzlement.

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I was not guilty of those crimes, and I was eventually exonerated at the end of a lengthy and expensive trial, but had I been arrested two decades later, I might be in this man’s same position. My mug shot might be posted on the Internet.

Elysha might be as upset as this man’s girlfriend clearly is.

Truthfully, I don’t even know if this man was guilty of a crime. Like me, perhaps he was falsely accused. There’s no more ardent supporter of the concept of  “innocent until proven guilty” than me.

Wasn’t placing his mug shot on my blog antithetical to that position?

Had it been my image posted on the Internet, I might want my mug shot to appear in as few places as possible, too.

And having been the victim of a widespread, illegal smear campaign later in my life, I understand the pain associated with someone attempting to destroy your reputation.

So I deleted the post. Honestly, I felt bad that I ever posted it in the first place. A Google Alert on my name had probably brought it to my attention, and finding it both coincidental and amusing, I decided to post it to my blog.

But had I thought about how much more that this man and I might have in common beyond just our name, I probably would’ve never posted it to begin with.

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Sometimes I think that my daughter is already cooler than I will ever be.

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New word: Truché

New word: truché
Pronounced troo·ché

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I can’t recall if I or my friend, Shep, first coined this word, but we use it with each other often, so I’ll give us both credit.

The definition:

exclamation
1. used as an acknowledgment during a discussion of a good or clever factual correction made at one’s expense by another person. A portmanteau combining the words true and touché 

Example:

Me: That might be the longest completion that Tom Brady has thrown all season.
Shep: Actually, he threw that 60 yard bomb in the fourth quarter last week. Remember how you hugged that big, hairy stranger after he scored?
Me: Truché  
____________________
Shep: This might be the most beer I’ve drunk at a football game all season.
Me: You only think that because you drank so much beer last week that you lost count.
Shep: Truché.

If you haven’t noticed, the word was invented and is frequently used in the stands at Gillette Stadium.

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