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2008: 100 Things I am thankful for

photo.jpg by you.

So after a year since the last Thanksgiving post I have anxiously awaited the 2008 version of my things I am thankful for post. This post is perhaps the most grueling, enjoyable and fun to write.  The list clearly will include similar and exact things from the last one, but that makes sense since gratitude and appreciation should be fairly consistent.  So while it’s been a very busy year, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a bunch of new folks, to try and work on who I am and to try better understand what is actually important.  I hope you have a bunch of things to be thankful for and another full year of opportunity to find new things to appreciate.

  1. My family (all 3 generations)
  2. The Community coffee mug I got this year,  It’s got a great heft.
  3. Spring Time Panic – didn’t get the chance to see Panic at all during the spring of 2008.
  4. Seeing “Greatest” Hits Live Music Shows (I got AC/DC in about 2 weeks!)
  5. Being home
  6. When the batteries die in noisy toys and they mysteriously disappear
  7. On time departures
  8. Sunny Days
  9. A brisk morning walk (the 3 or 4 i get to do a year)
  10. The fact that I almost know how to get around Phoenix now.
  11. Catching up with Ron Kevren at least 1 time a year
  12. Dijouri’s ability to experience pure joy from anything in life
  13. Prescott’s ability to watch something other than “Thoas da trein” on tivo, like “srak”
  14. I still like kids with afros, but have come to not like dreadlocks, I’m so glad that love is hair independant.
  15. That sometimes your wife does just deserves a day at the spa.
  16. My dogs still are cool
  17. Cool maps, like my 1932 relief map of Europe which I can’t seem to get back after 8 years.
  18. A show at the Tabernacle
  19. Sancho’s broken arrow in Denver IS the best bar on the planet with a great ambiance, if you can call it that.
  20. Waiting for the train at Hartsfield to take me to baggage claim
  21. Naps
  22. Watching my kids grow up, learn and change.
  23. A good bowl of soup
  24. My mentors (Ron, Ken, John and Jim)
  25. Golfing when I can
  26. Farmer’s Market Saturdays
  27. The pre-school Prescott goes to, it’s kinda cool being sorta a Methodist, since it is a GREAT school, I guess we should go to a mass.
  28. Mountain weekends thanks to Joan
  29. Being able to have actually gone on a sales call in the US with my friends from the UK – they brought their usual cheer and weather – see below.
  30. That I had the opportunity to speak in Calgary this year and now some kid is getting a scholarship in my name.
  31. The fact I actually made platinum last year, so this was a little premature.  I like being platinum, if you have to fly, upgrades on nearly every flight are cool.
  32. Playing Guitar hero and Wii Fit with my kids
  33. That my facebook network has really become about friends, not just randoms
  34. The connectedness that social media provides with my extended network of friends
  35. Looking at my setlists on my iPhone
  36. That I have friends that do good things
  37. That I don’t mind a juice box every now and again
  38. That Emily is usually right and I now just accept it
  39. When Kevren explains to me just right he is, but typically is just trying to get me to say yes to something, but ultimately understands when I don’t go along
  40. Emily’s cooking, specifically her pork paprikash – this hasn’t changed year over year
  41. When Hadrian pukes and mainly misses me
  42. The day I realized that I have no idea what I did before Google desktop
  43. The Chicago Institute of Art
  44. The whole SOB group, those that that are still among us and those that aren’t.
  45. That Jen is a great mother of Kevren and Dijouri
  46. Days I don’t have to shave
  47. That I’m able on most days to wake up excited and go to bed fulfilled.
  48. Everyday I have the opportunity to learn something new
  49. That I was able to sit in a couple of songs and play Conga’s last week for bunch of folks and didn’t suck @ Fat Catz in NOLA on Bourbon St.
  50. That a headline in a newspaper can change your day.
  51. Random phone calls from folks I haven’t talked to for a long while
  52. Understanding that today can be just as good as any day and it is MY choice.
  53. iTunes Genius functionality
  54. Eating with friends on Lake Austin is about as good as it gets.
  55. That a visually appealing dessert actually tastes better, not sure why.
  56. When I don’t forget my mom’s birthday, 2008 was a non-miss – I was the first of the kids to call.  Bonus points for me.
  57. Not having to travel for Thanksgiving this year – two years in a ROW!
  58. That I still have my atlas from my 18th birthday, it has a few less pages now thanks to my kids
  59. That I finally said yes to Burning Man this year.
  60. The moment I realized I should never drive in the UK.
  61. Tailgating at a show with my friends
  62. When Emily calls bullshit on me – I guess that’s why I married her.  It becoming less frequent, I guess l’m full o’ shit.  NAH.
  63. My first Bulldog game and it was a slaughter of Central Michigan University, which was cool.
  64. A Sunday afternoon drive with the family
  65. Watching Dijouri think
  66. Watching Kevren with his little brothers
  67. Watching Prescott dance
  68. Watching Hadrian walk
  69. That most people are thoughtful, kind and mean well.
  70. Jack’s Five-Cheese Macaroni & Achiote Chicken from Z tejas –  Made with bleu, Jack, cheddar, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, finished with toasted bacon gratin.  The Diablo chicken is good too.
  71. That I’m lucky to still have a bunch of friends with the dreamers disease
  72. That I realized that math is an important thing.
  73. My readers and influencers.
  74. The day I realized that creativity and logic are actually peer concepts.
  75. That I can read not only on a plane now.
  76. Real life conversations
  77. The day I complained about SMC and got to develop a relationship with Chris and Kristie
  78. The new professional traveler line at Hartsfield, I should still get a clear pass, but I’m too cheap.
  79. Moments when I have the clarity of thought to acknowledge that I can’t control what happens – only how I react
  80. That I’m clearly not a handy person and should hire most things out.
  81. Watching folks who worked for me in the past doing well.
  82. That going to Lake Tahoe was good idea and the luck to be able to have KISS playing there.
  83. That a day on the Hooch is as good as anything, just bring sunblock.
  84. That I have time to read to my kids
  85. Direct flights
  86. Ideas that work
  87. Ideas that don’t work and learning from them
  88. Sleeping in past 5am
  89. That I am currently buying into the market at a discount (it’s the only way I can deal with it)
  90. That it all works out in the end
  91. The perfectly mixed Sicilian Kiss (1/2 Jim Beam, 1/2 Amaretto, SPLASH of OJ – Shaken over ice, served in a shot glass)
  92. The day you find a really good $35 bottles of wine which is a repeatable purchase
  93. The day you first try a wegyu steak and the second, third, fourth….
  94. The bacon at the Camelback is just as good, well almost as good, as the bacon at the Four Seasons in Maui
  95. When I get to hear all summer long by Kid Rock and thing to myself – since it is pretty much an accurate portrayal of being young in Michigan with a good beat.
  96. That Chris, Sheryl and other folks were kind enough to help with the eBook on social brand management, The Social Marketing Construct.  Never would have gotten done without them.
  97. When I am actually able to see a movie in the theatre.
  98. A funny text message or Tweet which pops up when I’m in a meeting.
  99. When I happen to actually pack the right clothes for the right climate
  100. Any opportunity to share, listen and be with people I care about

photo by you.

Just like the last time, I probably have another 100 things I should be thankful for…. What are you thankful for?  Have a great holiday and be safe!  Cheers!


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Peace, Love, Justice and Activism: An Interview

I had an opportunity to recently connect with one of the most cool folks in my life, Chris Matthias.  Chris is one of those folks who still battles windmills, instills confidence in whomever he meets and ultimately he is out there trying to make a difference.  After hanging out and again seeing his passion to make the world a better place, I thought it was important to share with y’all what he does and hopefully provide you access to a new channel for making a difference you might not have been aware of.

Chris was kind enough to spend the time to work with me and get an interview in place so you can hear in his own voice why it is important to contribute and generally do good things when and where you can.

Q: What is the organization you work for?

I work for the Adrian Dominican Sisters, a congregation of Roman Catholic Sisters who abide in my home town of Adrian, Michigan.

Q: What are the key themes y’all are working for?

Key themes? The office that I work for is called Global Mission, Justice and Peace. Everything that we do is rooted in the vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, which is a crossroads of Catholic Social Teaching, the Dominican Charism, and the issues that the sisters are most actively engaged in. We have what we call corporate stances. These are positions that we have taken on certain issues, which become a mandate for my day to day work. Things like the Death Penalty, Nuclear Weapons, and the War in Iraq. We’re against all three by the way.

Q: Peace and Justice, really – how does one get a career in that?

I’ve had a long relationship with the Adrian Dominicans. I attended one of their sponsored institutions for college,  Siena Heights University. As a student, I took a great interest in any action that was happening in the peace and justice arena. In my senior year, I did an internship in the office in which I now work and the sisters and I developed a great rapport.

After that I moved to Boston, once I graduated and continued to work for organizations in the non-profit sector, or human services.  I returned home for a short time, and just before I was going to leave again their was a want add for the office where I’d interned!   Needless to say, I didn’t get on the train.

Q: Where has peace and justice taken you?

Hmmm. Well, I suppose there are several ways to answer that one. First the concrete….

My work in peace and justice has taken me to a lot of demonstrations. Of course in Adrian, but also to demonstrations in Washington DC as well as Fort Benning Georgia to work on closing the School of the Americas/WHINSEC. But it isn’t all demonstrating. There is a lot of coalition building and colaborating with different groups. For example this summer I went to Philidelphia for the Convention for the Common Good, where progressive Catholics gathered to create discuss which issues they were most dedicated to raising during and beyond the election season.

I’ve also gone and did some modest travel – I went to the UN in New York to learn about what the Dominican Family does as an NGO which was a great opportunity.  I also did some international work in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

In the more abstract, my work in peace and justice has taken me deeper into community with the people in my life, both familiar and unfamiliar. I know that sounds a little strange, but this is what I mean: when one’s work is focusing on injustice and inequity, we are forced to take a pretty serious dose of self examination, to make sure that we are challenging ourselves to be more just and more equitable in how we interact with our families, significant others, neighbors, our food supply, the people who produce the goods that we buy, how we spend money, what we consume, what we speak.

Q: Dude, are you a trustafarian or something?  How can you make it all work?

Far from it.  That would certainly make things much easier. The way that I approach it is to live within my means. Which I get right about 85 percent of the time.  I think that there is a big trade off when it comes to money.  Some of my friends make a lot more money than I do, but what they do to get it is nothing that they believe in.   But they get a sizable paycheck and that’s the reward. They eat at nicer restaurants than I do, they wear more expensive shoes, and can take more elaborate vacations.

Don’t get me wrong, I envy that sometimes. But most of the time it’s very easy to just be happy. The poor have their own wealth–each other.  When I lay down at night I fall right to sleep. Living in right relationships = a good life.

Q: How can folks help?

Every issue is a justice issue, and no one can handle them all. One of the things that is continuously referenced in my work circles is an interconnectedness of the issues. Human Trafficking might seem worlds away from making a choice not to but a Hummer (If that’s an option for you) but they both have to do with exercising privilege at the expense of others. So I say that the first step is start where you are.

What are problems facing your community? Go to a meeting, set up an action. You don’t have to have a Live Earth concert to do some good…Do a park clean up. Buy your food at the farmers’ market, turn off the TV and go outside. Play card games instead of video games. The way I see things, peace and justice are about healthy connecting. Injustice is a result of isolation, and selfishness. By starting small, there is a much better chance that you can stick to it, and then get into the bigger issues.

Q: I hear all that, but if there was just 1 thing everyone should do if they can’t actively travel or don’t have the cash to donate, what would that be?

Compost. I know that doesn’t seem like it’s going to save the world from AIDS, nuclear war, or global warming, however, it does mean that we actively recognize that this is a closed system we’re living in here. Recognize your part in it, and do well by it.  Life will sprout up from it.

Q:How can they follow up with you and your organization?

Visit our website @ or check out my blog, The Happy Activist. I don’t have that many readers right now, so if I get a few, maybe I’ll be held more accountable to write more.

I clearly couldn’t have put it as well as he did, thanks for doing this Chris! I’m definitely thankful for the effort he puts in day in and day out, so give him a read or check out what local organizations you may be able to participate in.

Parentalism: Sharing the wealth

Had a great couple of conversations at an event I went to about a week ago and thought I might use it as blog fodder.   As one would expect the presidential election continues a point of interest in most public discussions, but not always appropriate for many settings.   To that end, Em and I were able to quickly divert the conversation to parenting, which is always a good thing since Em is as blue as can be, I’m definitely purple and we live in a red state.   Parenting is something most everyone can get who is over 30.  It also is something I know about which makes it easy to speak to without much of a stretch.  Plus parenting is a topic which we can all synchronize on, like the first time your kid got dreadlocks,

100_0635 by you.

the time when you broke your arm dropping into a bowl with your 7 year olds or the first protest you took your kids to.

photo by you.

So not sure how, but somehow parenting came back to politics, arrghhh.   So Em does a conversation flip from “sharing the wealth” being a political thing to being equally a parental thing.   Premise: All parental wealth is ultimately shared with the kids.

Under that premise, the transition from “democrats suck” to parenting was pretty easy –  the only really enjoyable sharing of the wealth is being a parent.   So I thought I would take it a little further – is it possible that parenting can fuel an economic rebound?  Can free spending entitlement based parenting be a new socio/political/economic model?

Heck yeah! If trickle down economics works as a model, then improving the discretionary income of minors has some validity and who is most able to make this happen?  Yup, parents. Parentalism.

Propping Up the Cell Phone Industry: A Parentalism Use Case

So I started thinking about how being a parent could drive improvements to the economy.  We could do all kinds of things like change curfew hours, enable them to take up a hobby or make a decision of some sort which requires more cash or changes how the kids can spend cash.   The first thing that came to my mind which could have an impact was my decision on a new cell phone.   My continuous denial to buy my two oldest kids a new 3G iPhone is having a negative impact on economy.  Yes, I know – horrible dad, since all the cool kids have them and AT&T could use a little increased share of wallet from me.   My take is that one should be happy at 12 to have a phone, even if it’s not an iPhone since every good parent gets their kids a mobile phone by 12, right?   Well maybe not every 12 year old has a cell phone and that just might be how parentalism could help the telcos, the economy and my dad coolness vibe.  Let’s do a little math:

  • 75M kids in the US under 18
  • Fuzzy math: kids over 12 years old is let’s say 20M
  • Let’s say that 20% have cell phones, so there is a bunch of opportunity here.
  • Let’s say that another 10% could have phones if their parents were just cool enough

So quick math indicates that by just practicing parentalistic spending you could pump $120M/yr into the economy and no one even needs to get an iPhone, but surely the cool kids would.  No really it is not that hard to back into the number: 2M kids @ $10/mo for the extra line, $40 in minutes/overage and $10 in unlimited texting and the $120M doesn’t include ringtones, games or a device purchase.  This could be exciting economic stuff this parentalism.   Think about it — what is more joyful than seeing your kid text message their way through dinner.   Like father/mother, like son/daughter –  a proud day definitely lies ahead with parentalism.  What other parental decisions could be made which would provide stimulus to the economy?

  • Buy a new Minivan?
  • Start a new college or trust fund to fuel transaction fees?
  • Participate in a bake sale?
  • Refuse to do a carpool
  • Invite people you hardly know to your kids birthday party? (no that would be weddingism)
  • Just say yes to that candy in the checkout lane (it also makes life easier for other around you)

Ultimately there is always a spreading of the wealth which occurs by choice, design or accident which we all participate in everyday. The big questions is when, where and how is acceptable spreading of the wealth determined?  Is it determined by the fact that the wage earner makes the decision?  Isn’t a vote a decision? Isn’t where you live a decision? I guess you could move to Canada…errr wait, healthcare is socialized, maybe France then might work.

I liken a tax credit or stimulus check approach  to having the same positive impact as giving your kid a raise in their allowance within a parentalism model.  Think about it, what did you do with your stimulus check, providing you got one?  What impact did it have on the economy?   Not much….  At the end of the day, I’m not sure I would trust my 12 year old twins to more responsibly stimulate the economy than the government.  I’m not sure I would trust the average adult either.

Well there may be some upside to giving the twins more money, it may improve the skateboard, apparel and video game industry, I guess you have to start somewhere.  On second thought, it might be cool to take a high speed train ride across the country on summer vacation while stopping at several national parks and breathing clean air.  This should be my last political post, probably.

QUESTION TO SELF: I wonder if this is what mommy bloggers feel like after they write a post?

Common Thought, a brilliant day and giving back!

I clearly meant to write this earlier, but been busy trying to figure out what the status of the day is with Heuer. I still kinda don’t know what’s up, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t honor the good work Creative Commons is doing. So while it is Blog Action Day and the kick off of the fund raising campaign for CC, I’m going to focus Fabiana Zonca’s photo below which I found via a “Thought” tag on Flickr.

Thinking of you by Fabiana Zonca.

Thinking of you

Also you can create a video on WHY it is important/you like it, you could also put up a widget up like I have or just donate via the widget on the right to Creative Commons.