Looking "Up"

 

Have you seen “Up” yet?  I just came back from my second viewing and just in case you are wondering if all the glowing reviews you’ve been hearing are true, well, the answer is an unequivocal yes.  This film works is enjoyable on so many levels, it is sure to become a Disney/Pixar classic.  

 

What struck be watching this movie the second time around are the many layers present in this movie.  It’s an adventure movie that (mini spoiler alert ahead) touches on themes of life, death, loneliness, companionship, abandonment, greed, friendship, perspective, and priorities.  Not bad for a film that features talking dogs!

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The Power Of Community

Have you ever noticed that you can measure life stages in the way that you move?  Usually, it looks something like this:

Stage 1:  Borrow a pick-up truck, bribe your friends with beer and pizza, and toss your belongings half-hazardly in a an eclectic mix of boxes (or directly in the truck)

 

Stage 2:  Pay for a moving truck, bribe your friends with beer and pizza, and toss your belongings into pre-purchased moving boxes a few days before the move

 

Stage 3:  Pay for movers to pack up your house and move your stuff for you.  Tip them with pizza and beer.  Notice you suddenly have more friends in your life.

 

Like most 20-somethings, I have yet to progress to moving stage 3.  But I have had my fair share of moves - at last count, I’ve moved seven times in just as many years.  At least two of the moves were related to being newly married or newly divorced, but there is also some serious wanderlust mixed in, too.  

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Why I Hate Statistics

Hi.  My name is Jim and I’m a statistic. 

In college, I was a good student.  I was a business major and I received mostly A's or B's in my courses.  Except in Statistics.  In Statistics, I struggled to get a C.  And that C has haunted my college GPA ever since (Ok, not really - I don't even remember my college GPA anymore!  Guess it wasn't so important after all!).  Needless to say, I hate statistics.  Besides the theoretical equations that LOOKED like math equations but WEREN'T, I learned that relying solely on statistics rarely gives you the whole picture.  People use statistics to justify horrible business decisions (see:  New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, anything Windows/PC related) or to find comfort in the safety of numbers (see:  69% of Americans have smoked weed, I should try it too!).  Rarely do statistics tell the story behind those numbers.

Well, I have become a statistic.  But I refuse to become a number.  There is a story behind my statistic and I hope to share it here.  
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This Iranian-American Life

Here's a sign that I'm getting older:  I love listening to National Public Radio (NPR).  My secret addictions are "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and "This American Life".  I download both podcasts each week and usually spend the first two days of my drive to and from work listening to them.  

 This week's episode of "This American Life" was rather interesting.  If you've never had the pleasure of listening to the show, each week the host, Mr. Ira Glass, sets up the theme for the show and then they tell a number of stories around that theme.  This week's theme was about Reuniting - and yes, it included a brief story about the hit Peaches & Herb song Reunited (And It Feels So Good).    Did you know there were multiple Peaches in that group's existence - and it was Peaches #3 that did the vocals on that particular hit song?  Go ahead and file that one away in your brain, I'm sure it will come in handy later.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, Reunited.  So this week's episode tells three stories about being Reunited - a farmer is reunited with his Brahman bull (through the magic of cloning), General Lafayette is reunited with...America, and a married Iranian couple are reunited with....each other.  

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Life, Love, and Chipotle Burritos

"Grace makes beauty out of ugly things." - U2


That is one of my all time favorite lines from one of my all time favorite songs.  Truth be told, I'm not the world's biggest U2 fan, but I do enjoy their music.  Despite that honest admission of truth, the song "Grace" is one of those few songs that always stops me in my tracks and demands I listen to it in it's entirety.  The song has always captured my interest - but my interest in it grew exponentially when my then-wife and I were dreaming about starting a family.  In the throws of newlywed bliss, we talked about our future.  It was a future that optimistic - we’d own a house, have great friends, work jobs that we loved AND paid well, and start a beautiful family.  That family, we discussed, would include a daughter.  And maybe, just maybe, we'd name her Grace.  

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Grace makes beauty out of ugly things. I'm no relationship expert, but when my marriage fell apart, God's grace was extended through His community. This is the place to explore that community together.


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