Saturday, December 30, 2006

six things i learned in '06

Plato once said that you should never discourage someone who is making progress, no matter how slow. With that in mind, here is my 2006 progress report. It was a pretty eventful year here at the Musing Carnival. I started a blog, we had a few laughs, and learned a lot along the way. So in musing fashion, I submit to you six things I learned in 2006.

Enjoy. Disagree. Tip your Waitress.

ONE: It’s Easy Being Green

During a conversation with a co-worker a month ago, it came to my attention that leaving a television on for your cat while you are at work is an appropriate course of action. I had never heard of such a thing and was quite irate. First of all, I do not believe that a cat deserves to watch TV all day long. I tend to believe that unless an animal is able to verbalize (in English) that they desire to watch TV you should go ahead and turn it off before you leave. My dislike for cats caused the majority of the grief in this case.

However, it frustrated me to think about the amount of energy that is wasted everyday so that a cat can watch the View. This action is defended because the electric bill is manageable at the end of the month. I commend the low bill and am thankful for thriftiness, but apples are being compared to oranges here. Money is not the issue. The issue is energy being wasted.

I am not perfect and often a lot of things go to waste under my watch. I also realize that turning a TV off will not save the planet, though it is a start. I keep trying and as you look toward the New Year, add one more resolution to you list. Promise yourself that you will conserve. It is not a political issue as much as it is a spiritual one (you can read some of my previous posts to learn more). And to get you off on the right foot, here are some practical steps:

1. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving. Running the water continuously for two minutes can waste three gallons of water.
2. Unplug appliances when they are not being used. Small appliances drain energy even when they are turned off.
3. Don’t place lamps with incandescent bulbs near your AC thermostat. The heat from he lamp will register on the thermostat, and the air conditioner will run longer than necessary.
4. Reuse scrap paper, such as a used envelope, for scrap paper and notes. Then recycle it.
5. Buy a cat toy and turn off the TV. She’ll be fine.

TWO: The Oregon Call Mattered

Before you dismiss this point all together, allow me to lay a context for my argument: (1) Michigan got robbed. (2) The BSC got the match up wrong again. (3) OU looked bad against a three-loss Texas team. Now that we all agree on those things, it is clear that the blown call in Oregon cost Oklahoma a (possible) shot at the National Championship game. I still doubt that they would have gotten in, but they would be in the conversation. Let’s pretend for a minute that the Pac-10 officials got it right, and OU is sitting at the end of the year with a 12-1 record and a Big 12 championship. How would they compare to Florida? How about Michigan, a team that didn’t win their own conference? Besides, the issue that everyone if forgetting about that “epic” game between Michigan and Ohio State is that is wasn’t close. Michigan was down 10 points with a minute left. They scored a mercy touchdown in the final seconds. That is not worthy of a rematch.

Of course that is all speculation at this point. We can’t go back in time and fix the Pac-10’s mistakes. But I learned another thing this year. Bob Stoops is the best coach in America. Few teams could dismiss their starting quarterback the day before fall practice, lose the greatest running back in school history to injury, go on the road to A&M, Mizzou, and Oklahoma State (one of the toughest places to play in the Big 12) and still win the conference championship. You can’t argue with that.

THREE: Running is Somewhat Enjoyable

I am not a runner but I am trying to fake it. Most people are on to me, but I can occasionally pretend to know what I am doing at a shoe store. I also have a subscription to Runner’s World magazine that I flash at appropriate times. This is due to somewhat of a personal transformation. Until recently, running didn’t seem like much fun. In fact, it seemed pointless. I love sports and consider myself pretty athletic. It is just that I always believed you needed a reason to run. I’ll run all day to catch a ball, or a guy with a ball, but running for the sake of running didn’t make sense.

You see the thing is, I missed the competitive aspect in running. I am not talking about racing the guy next door, but rather myself. As the old saying goes, it is more mental than physical. There have been countless Sunday afternoons that I have laced up my shoes instead of catching a nap on the couch with my wife. There have been stretches that I have literally ordered myself, “Left, right, left, right, don’t quit Eric”. It sucks but it has been one of the best things I have done this year. And no, I am not yet a runner, but I might be soon.

FOUR: Don’t Believe the Statistics

There was a powerful worship experience at Conference last summer that has haunted me since. During a worship set, the audience was instructed to make their way to boxes placed around the auditorium. Students were encouraged to go alone and grab a card out of a box. Each card had a picture of a tombstone on the front. The instructions were simple: take the card, write on it, and stick it in the sandbox. Then go sit down. Profound moments come with simple instructions and the cards were small but heavy at the same time. As the music swirled above us, I watched students painfully jot down sins that they had committed.

The scene was the same week after week. The students all looked the same, wearing Hollister t-shirts and flip-flops. But each time I watched a 16 year-old kid weep over something he had done, my heart broke. Several of them would cram their cards down in the sand so deep that it looked as if they were trying to put the cards through the concrete floor below.

Each night the music would fade and the lights would come on. Masses of students would file out of the auditorium and I would be left alone, or so it seemed, to clean up the cards. I never intended to read them; I figured it was none of my business. But occasionally one would catch my eye and I would attempt to interpret the scribble. One turned into two and two turned into two hundred, or so it seemed. Call it curiosity, but I sat and read those cards, praying over each one. I will never tell you the things that I saw on those cards. It is pointless anyway. Those sins are gone. But three things I can tell you: (1) grace is better than we realize, (2) kids need adults in their lives, and (3) you shouldn’t believe the statistics. The numbers are too low.

FIVE: Hollywood is Making Decent Movies

For a few years, there wasn’t much reason to go out to the picture show. We didn’t seem to mind, as TV had captured our collective attention with shows like LOST and 24. The best actors in the business were, for the first time, choosing television projects over the big screen. You could get a sense of this if you caught the Oscars last spring. I watched montage after montage of these great Hollywood moments, as presenters made speeches about the glory of the motion picture. “Whatever”, we all thought, as 3-6 Mafia received their golden statue. But then something happened this past summer and in an instant, movies were worth seeing again.

This trend continued through the fall, and last week my wife and I saw four movies. Yes, it was a lot of coin, but it was time well spent. And my parents paid for it and that always helps. I will make this bold statement. The best movies of 2006 were The Prestige , Babel, and Little Miss Sunshine… in that order.

SIX: Take Your Pick...

People should laugh more.
My wife is really good at Guitar Hero.
The Wii is ten times better than the Playstation 3.
Johnny Scott is a digerati.

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