Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Hinter500 Raceway Championships

My youngest gets a lot of leftovers: Clothes, toys, and too often...my leftover time. I feel bad about that so I try to specifically focus on him as much as I can.

Last month, when the girls were building a toy house on their own (very cool and another story involving wood they found, grownup tools, and custom paint), he asked if he could build a race-car track.

I instantly thought “hot-wheel” track. Honestly, I hate those little hot-wheel racecar tracks. They're tiny, warped, and rarely perform as promised. However, my youngest has an amazing mind, and was thinking FAR outside the box my mind was bouncing around in.

He took my hand and headed towards the outbuilding.

"That's what I want to build my racetrack out of. Can we cut it up?", as he pointed to an old piece of siding.IMG_3045

"No". I said immediately. You see, that's the default answer I give him...and it ticks me off every time I say it. This little man has a brain far superior to mine and I am constantly standing in his way to reaching his full potential.

Sidenote: I'm not talking all cute when I say his brain is smart. It's pure fact. It’s wicked smart. I've tried to put it in a way he'd understand: His brain learns at twice the speed of normal brains. It needs to be fed with much more brain food than our average brains. Part of the reason he gets into so much trouble is simply his brain trying to be fed...I can't wait to see what he does in his life!

But that day something in me snapped free...and I was able to break away from my "I'm-busy-and-it-sounds-like-a-lot-of-work-and-I'm-not-even-sure-if-it's-possible" box.

I quickly said, "But, we can use the whole thing as a track".

His eyes lit up.

We brought the siding to a tree limb, balanced it so the track would curve from the limb down to the grass.

He let the car go.

In 0.632 seconds the race was done. Not very satisfying.

Then, from what I can only describe as a son-to-dad mind-meld, I thought...why don't we just make the track longer?

And that's what we did. I climbed to the outbuilding rafters, found a bunch of our old siding, and got about 6 additional pieces down.track

His brain was very pleased with me.

We discovered the grooves in the siding made perfect race-car tracks. The grooves even made it easy to connect one piece of track (er, siding) to the next.

Not only did we make the track well over 150 feet long, we added a starting gate that accelerated the cars, and a end-of-race jump to put an exclamation point on the finish line.

Now sit back and enjoy some brief highlights of the first annual Hinter500 International Raceway Championships!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mr. Happy Goes To The Hospital

Once upon a time there lived a young man. To his friends and family he was known as Mr. Happy.

Say hello, Mr. Happy!IMG_2917NEW

One day, Mr. Happy was not so happy. His belly was sad, and that made Mr. Happy sad.

Well...sort of. You see, even when Mr. Happy's belly was sad, and he was sitting in Urology with an IV stuck in his arm from his blood work and CT scan to find out why his belly was sad, Mr. Happy was, well, Happy.IMG_2926

To Mr. Happy, there was nothing happier than an exciting adventure filled with new experiences...like nearly being swallowed by a large transformer and narrowly escaping! (at least that's what the CT scan was to the imagination of Mr. Happy)

The diagnosis? Mr. Happy's appendix was very, very sad. So sad that Li'l Appendix wanted to move away. Li'l Appendix had heard stories of a magical place where others like him could gather and have fun, and Li'l Appendix wanted that kind of experience.

However, Li'l Appendix was very attached to Mr. Happy. Li'l Appendix needed to stage a grand escape with a little help from Mr. Scalpel. But how to get Mr. Scalpel's attention? In the only way he knew how, by performing the "Grinch-heart"...growing 3x its normal size.

...and it worked!!!

Mr. Happy was quickly admitted and scheduled for a same-day surgery.

Even in the hospital bed, Mr. Happy was happy. 2011-08-11

Mr. Happy was happy about the cozy electric bed, the warm blankets, the personal TV (complete with remote control that had a built-in speaker), and most of all, room service. He was very happy about being able to order anything he wanted.

Soon enough, the nurses and doctors were ready. It was time for Mr. Happy's surgery...and time for Li'l Appendix to stage his grand escape!

Wave goodbye, Mr. Happy!IMG_2935NEW

Good job.

Mr. Happy had fun rolling down the hallway! Later, Mr. Happy would tell of how the nurses talked about how the carpet near the surgical rooms made it hard to roll the beds. That made Mr. Happy smile.

It should be noted, dear reader, that just before surgery, Mr. Happy was given some happy drugs to make anyone feel happy. Now, because Mr. Happy was normally happy, the happy drugs made Mr. Happy very, very, VERY happy. IMG_2936NEW

Mr. Happy must be reminded in the future that only in very special cases are happy drugs acceptable.

After one hour, Mr. Happy was back.


Mr. Happy's belly felt happy again. AND, Li'l Appendix was free!

Here is Li'l Appendix rejoicing:IMG_2939

Mr. Happy spent the night with personal assistants, room service, and an automatic foot massager that pulsed happiness all night.

Mr. Happy was very happy.

The next day it was time to leave. Mr. Happy dressed, was rolled down the hallway like royalty, and awaited his adventure beyond the elevator.


Whatever awaited beyond the elevator, Mr. Happy could be sure that it would be filled with big doses of love, laughter, and, of course...happiness.


What's that, you ask? Whatever happened to Li'l Appendix?

He did escape! He hitched a ride in the back of a pick-up and traveled all the way south of the border. Once there, he met up with Li'l Ms. Tonselita, and enjoyed a beach party with others like them:ChiliPeppers2

Together they lived the rest of their days enjoying a grand adventure beach-combing, dancing the salsa, queso diving, and sharing happiness with their friends.



Friday, August 5, 2011

Omni-Tasking: An Amazing Experiment


I'm sitting down to watch the season finale of Glee with my wife...beautiful thing...Netflix ;-). I had timed it just right...kids were asleep, wife was on the couch, and my very yummy evening dessert was freshly dished (heated home-made berry crisp bar with some really great french vanilla ice cream).

But it wasn't just the 'together time' with the wife, the dessert, and Glee. I had my iPhone next to me, and even my laptop. I WAS SET! I clicked play, and my multi-sensory, multi-tasking late night experience started perfectly as planned.

And then the wife got up. WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING!?! I shout with my eyes (I'm good at that...especially when she's walking away from me). She just hears the clink of the spoon and the pause of the show.

Dang it! I was so frustrated!

The experience instantly changed from a synchronized multi-tastic media blitz, to a time-wasting "watch the dessert melt while waiting for the missus" disaster. 

I stared at my dessert in despair. 

It started melting. Sadness.

I stared closer...

...it continued to melt...Amazing! I had never noticed it before:

The top of the ice-cream was changing in real-time from a jagged mountain-scape into a smooth, soft pillowy cloud-scape. The berry crisp was causing the ice-cream bottom to melt faster and created tiny fjords ... ending in a micro sea of sweet deliciousness. The first spoonful was exhilarating! The textures I saw translated into a complex symphony playing across my tongue...complete with instruments of cold, warm, smooth, hard, sweet, tart...all within the first taste. The remaining bites were just as exhilarating...but different. As the melting continued, the texture changed, blending of sweet and tart increased, and each spoonful turned into a seamless tastexture that no amount of preparation could have produced.

I began to feel grateful for what I now refer to as wifus-interruptus. All I saw, felt, tasted, heard, smelled, savored...was all because I focused 100% on this one singular event. A multi-tasked version would have resulted in the dessert disappearing without barely tasting it, while at the same time a less enjoyable show with all the interruptions of glancing down at the dessert! 

Then a sudden realization shook my core beliefs: Could my constant push to increase efficiency, experience, exposure, and excellence through multi-tasking actually be decreasing those very goals?

What if, instead, I focused 100% on one single thing at a time? 

What if I took the time to dedicate all senses, all brain power, every curious and analytical fibre to experience everything that surrounds me like I just did eating that dessert?

What else would I notice that usually zips by without a neuron of recognition? 

What delightful details evaporate before I can partake in their beauty?

What insight, skill, or invention escapes me because I constantly swap to the next of 18 things I'm trying to accomplish all at once?

I started to focus 100% on other things...

Did you know that the froth on a newly shaken glass of iced coffee bubbles like it's alive...only to settle into a delicate blanket of protection over the liquid...preserving it for the perfect first taste?

Did you know a glass filled with iced coffee contains 1000 micro waterfalls? At least that's what it looks like when the glass spontaneously starts sweating in the 90-degree summer air.

It was like I was given a sixth sense...focus. I wondered: Is omni-tasking the key to unlocking a deeper, fuller, more satisfying experience? In everything?

I continued...

How about the pond and crick burbling in our walkout? It's usually a background artifact filling the silent gaps between task switching. What if it was the foreground? The primary focal point? What would I absorb? 

Did you know a chickadee stares at the water like it was the first time he'd seen such wonderful thing? Every time! "WOW! Look at that amazing, thirst-quenching river of life!"...he looks around...not frantic...looking for a friend? Lonely...he looks back: "WOW! Look at that amazing..."

Did you know that a yellow finch seems so afraid at being eaten that every time he takes a drink he quick looks all around assuming it's his last?

It was like I discovered a super-human power...

Did you know that 100% focus on your oldest son at the end of the day enables him to talk in a continual stream of consciousness? That through that kind of focus you can ask deeper questions, absorb his passions, likes, dislikes, and in the end show your love for him by just listening, reacting, and laughing?


Now I'm wondering: Could omni-tasking help in other areas?

What if I focused 100% on my girls gymnastics training? Could we have deeper discussions on what the ropes feel like as they climb, arms only, in a pike position? Could they convey the feel of chalk on their hands as they spin the bars? What do they see as they flip across the floor?

What if I focused 100%, even for 10 minutes, on reading the Bible? Not just read, but completely absorb? What would I discover? What would surprise me?

What if I listened to my youngest? 100% focus. What would I learn from his crazy-smart brain? What insight would a 7 year old not-yet-jaded-by-assumptions-and-rules child have on a 42 year old too-distracted-by-everything-all-at-once-to-appreciate-much-of-anything brain?

What if I scheduled dedicated time throughout the day for working on one work activity at a time? Would I marvel at what I accomplished? Would I find greater insight? Solve harder problems? Provide better leadership? 

What if I omni-tasked while writing music? What hidden gem would I discover? What deeper emotion could I share? What funnier lyric could I write?

Would I discover that through the self-driven pressure to multi-task I'm cheating myself...and everyone around me...from a deeper, better, happier, appreciative, wonder-filled, higher skilled, more inventive, kinder, better playing, love-giving, attentive, listening man?


Omni-tasking. I might just have to spend 30 days experimenting...

Anyone want to join me?
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