Sunday, May 29, 2011


It all started so innocently. expression of love.

It ended up giving me the best from-the-gut laughter I've had in a long time.

It was just after dinner. I had a fairly decent evening with my youngest after he spent some time with me at work. I'd been kinda hard on him this winter so I've tried to spend more time with him, reinforce my interest in him, let him know he is deeply loved.

To communicate my feelings for him, I said, "Jaxon, I love you THIS MUCH" (illustrated by Figure 1)

Love you THIS MUCHFigure 1: My sign that expresses my love

"All around the world?", he asked? with a gleam in his eye.

"Yep!", I replied...frankly amazed at how quickly he caught on. From the tip of my finger, all around the world to the tip of my thumb (as illustrated by Figure 2)

Love you THIS MUCH arrows Figure 2: Annotated sign that expresses my love

He understood. Understandably, he wanted to communicate it back.

"I love you THIS MUCH"! he responded.


With conviction...

...holding his finger and thumb just like I did...

...and then his middle finger popped up.

And in that micro moment all my cares in the world rolled off my back. I immediately covered my smiling mouth so as not to embarrass him. (Figure 3 illustrates resulting sign that Jaxon used to express his love)

Love you THIS MUCH altered - This muchFigure 3: Annotated example of how Jaxon shows his love :-)

Then the wife turns away from us. Jaxon thinks she's mad? Crying? Shocked at the offending hand gesture?

Nope.  Shaking with laughter.

Not just laughter, but tear-rendering-there-IS-a-God-in-heaven-otherwise-gut-wrenching-funny-like-this-would-just-not-exist-but-if-I-make-a-sound-my-lovely-boy-might-be-terribly-embarrassed-and-we-don’t-need-an-outburst-13-years-from-now-starting-with-“This-is-just-like-that-time-you-laughed-at me-when-I-was-seven-for-not-having-double-jointed-finger-knuckles!” kind of laughter.

Finally, she can't keep quiet. She turns, and bursts out through her teary eyes:

"Good Morning, Ms. Carlson (teacher)! I love you THIS MUCH!"

I reply…

"Gramma, I love you THIS MUCH!"

…in unison…

“Honey, I Love You THIS MUCH!”


Now any normal parent would deliver a life lesson to educate the youngster that while this was a mistake, one must be careful with such displays of that particular finger…even if it was an accident.

What did I do?

I submitted an addendum to the ASL 3.0 adoption governance board to adopt “I Love You THIS MUCH'” as an official gesture in the American Sign Language lexicon.

With a bit of dedication, and a lot of work, in just a few short years you may be free to gesture:

Mr. President, I Love You THIS MUCH!

Ex-girlfriend, I Love You THIS MUCH!

Employer, I Love This Job THIS MUCH! (Notice the diversity and flexible nature of the new ASL gesture…applicable not only to people but to things)

…and that’s only when it’s used face to face. Imagine the improvement to humanity when the gesture is used:

  • …across streets at strangers
  • …towards policemen directing traffic
  • …towards fellow car drivers
  • …when signing off of Skype
  • …during worship services
  • …through emoticons when texting

Its uses are endless!

How 'bout it?

Are you with me?

Let's make this viral.

Let's change the world.

Let's take BACK the middle finger for good!!

Oh, and for any follow-up to the ASL governance board, how would YOU use this new gesture?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Funny? Cute? Dorky? or Lame?

No, I’m not asking you to rank me personally. I’m not that desperate for validation.
…besides, I unfortunately know how many of you would vote :-)
I’m asking you to rank a portion of this How To video.
Here’s the story:
I recently repaired my Roland RD-500 digital piano, and I recorded video of my experience. It’s keyboard hammers have been breaking every so often over 2 years time, so after my 2nd visit to the ‘pro’ repair shop, I was told I should just get a new keyboard. Well, the HinterScrooge inside of me couldn’t accept that so I went about finding how to repair it.
Anyway, everything went well…well enough that I also repaired my church’s RD-600.
(Tip, always follow biblical teaching in these circumstances. Haggai 3:56 says “Better to learn how to repair your own electronic device rather than get all ‘know-it-all-y’ and completely break the holy keyboard of our Lord…lest you forfeit your first born…or your first guitar…whichever is more painful to part with” )
I digress.
My point: At about 8 minutes into the video, I must have been getting loopy, because I added a sub-plot to the how-to video.
Yes, a sub-plot.
I don’t mention it in the YouTube description because I thought it would be refreshing if someone was actually learning something through this video, then after 8 minutes they’d get a little scene change.
But my smile-o-meter must be broken because I can’t decide if it’s actually funny, just cute, kinda dorky, or just plain lame.
Here’s the video:
So, what is it?
Funny?  Cute?  Dorky?  or just Lame?
Also, check back to see if any RD-500 user ‘in the wild’ comments on the video :-)
Happy voting!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Living the ST-EA-D-FAST Life

Let us now begin lesson #1...



Is your life missing that special something? Have you been looking for the secret ingredient that will fill your life with purpose? More directly, have you been wondering how you can live like ME...filled with all the experiences and emotion I have soaked up these past months?

Have I got a program for you!  I call it:

"Living The ST-EA-D-FAST Life!"

Yes, with zero up-front cost or obligation, and priceless rewards to look forward to, you can learn how to excel at achieving these life-changing milestones:

STress     fEAr     Doubt    FAST-forward living

Sound too good to be true?!? Read on!

This important first milestone can be achieved through one introductory exercise: 

Focus on what others think you should be good at, not what you are actually good at.

Sound hard? Not at all! It's's how:

  1. Write down who you are trying to impress
  2. List the skills/activities they think you should be focusing on
  3. Circle the activities you think will really impress them
  4. Focus on those skills/activities
  5. Ignore what you are actually really good at

You see kids, what I've learned is that if you find something you love...and you are really good at it...and then ignore it so you can focus on trying to do what others think you should be doing, you will quickly achieve high levels of STress that permeate through other areas of your life.

But wait, that's not all!

This second milestone is really fun. It's like bathing in a bucket of looks-like-spa-quality-mud-but-doesn't-smell-quite-right. fEAr takes that enemy of ST-EA-D-FAST living, 'character' and 'hard work ethic', and drives a paralyzing stake through them. My personal experience is that the stake of fEAr also keeps unwanted pests away like positive attitude, compassion, and the worst pest of all, faith (Tip: I encourage you to increase your STress levels as much as possible, as it will make fEAr that much more achievable..and powerful).

What impresses me about fEAr is that it can increase through completely irrational thoughts:

  1. I'm not hitting a home run at activity xyz!
  2. Mr. ImpressMe must think I'm not good at that activity
  3. That activity surely must reflect my core value to humanity
  4. I can't simply work harder at activity xyz, the unknowns scare me too much. Better to just work on my e-mail.
  5. I'm going to lose my job, home, and worst of 'rock star' reputation

For those advanced students, add these quality measurements for more rapid fEAr achievements:

  • Put all your self-value into activity xyz, even though xyz doesn't even reflect your true talents
  • Don't have any other outlet that feeds your talents
  • Focus on the fEArful outcomes, not the tools to dig you out of the rut

Do you feel it? Surprisingly effective, isn't it!!

You are well on your way! Keep striving! This third millstone, er, milestone, is Doubt...with a capital D. (I should really be a children's writer! Think how different the world would be with childhood education focused on ST-EA-D-FAST living!)

Doubt in your abilities is critical to ST-EA-D-FAST living. Without it you will be inclined to keep thinking of ways to change and adjust and reboot.

Nonsense! Changing your pattern is the worst thing for Doubt. What I've found is that Doubt feeds on itself. While it may take some effort to Doubt your life initially, once you do, it becomes easier and easier...and eventually you plan your life-direction knowing that Doubt will most likely succeed.

DO NOT WORRY that your doubt initially focuses on the activities you are not wired for...very soon Doubt will cover all activities...even those that you are actually really good at.

FAST-forward living
Now that you have a solid bedrock of STress, fEAr, and Doubt, you will find yourself careening headlong into FAST-forward living. Don't confuse this with 'life in the fast lane', or that crazy biblical self-reflection exercise of 'fasting'. FAST-forward living is quite unique.

Now pay attention...and repeat after me:

"Soon this will be done...and I can move on to the next thing"

I know. It sounds orthogonal to milestones 1 through 3. You want to say, "Dr. Rob, this doesn't sound like you.  Isn't anticipation and looking forward to the joys in life the opposite of living a ST-EA-D-FAST life!?!"

Yes, dear student, it is. But the beauty of FAST-forward living is in its nuance. Try it once and you will discover: You are not anticipating the joys in life to arrive at are simply avoiding living in the moment by distracting yourself with the next thing...avoiding any sliver joy anticipating the END of the thing you are currently experiencing. Think of it as “Your Life – Powered By Impatience”.

This is truly the secret ingredient to ST-EA-D-FAST living.

With FAST-forward living, you can short-circuit any potential joy and satisfaction with every activity in your life. Let me repeat: EVERY activity in your life!

  • The latest work project? "Soon this will be done...and I can move on to the weekend"
  • Lazy blue-sky Saturday? "Soon this will be done...and I can focus on that next work project"
  • Quality family time? "Soon this will be done...and I can watch that recorded TV show"
  • Dream Disney vacation? "Soon this will be done and I can pay off the credit card"

Notice how it avoids immersion into any current activity! I know. Thank me later. Frankly, we all know that if we immersed ourselves into an activity, even a work activity, we might find some joy in it, and most likely come out with a successful result...and that in itself would reduce stress, fear and doubt. And that is simply unacceptable.

Of all milestones, FAST-forward living is by far the most critical to achieve. With it, a self-feeding cycle is achieved that will become the black hole center for your impatience-driven galaxy you call life. 

Join Now!
I urge you to join now. What are you waiting for?

While you may just be having a 'Blue Monday' today, you could harness that emerging stress, hint of fear, glint of doubt...and with a little effort...achieve these milestones so that every single day, every lingering week, every fast-forward year can become...

your ST-EA-D-FAST life.

Start now!!!


Thus ends lesson one: "Using sarcasm to pull yourself out of a deep rut...and rebooting your work life where some joy can be found so you can focus on the rest of your life...and what is truly important".

Stay tuned next time for lesson two: "Using sacrilege to find a deeper connection to Jesus" 

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