What I think about evolution

This is a conversation that I have had with the girls numerous times over the years. It’s a particularly interesting topic to Angelica and she is the one that asked me to write about it next.

Grand Universe by ANTIFAN REALThis could easily turn into a runaway post and I don’t want it to… so I am going to stick to really high level thoughts that I have and maybe answer specific questions in other posts.

If you don’t want to read all my science rhetoric, then feel free to skip to the conclusion at the end.

In general I think the debate between evolution and creation is pretty much a waste of time. But seeing as it’s the topic of this post, I will admit that I think evolution as a theory is absurd. The main reason for that is I believe in God, which makes contemplating Him doing some or all of the work make sense. If you don’t believe in God, then nothing could be more absurd than some sort of creation fairytale. That is the issue for me; it’s a lot more about philosophy and spirituality than science.

In order for actual science to be involved it would need to follow something close to a scientific method, which is:

The overall process involves making conjectures (hypotheses), deriving predictions from them as logical consequences, and then carrying out experiments based on those predictions to determine whether the original conjecture was correct.

Some have tried, but as of yet nothing has been proven or dis-proven with any logical scientific process. I’m sure someone would love to debate this… feel free.

The Bible is not a scientific text. God gave us the Bible (happy to debate this one too) as a series of books explaining some history, some prophetic writings, and some instructional letters that help to show us an overview about who God is, why Jesus came, examples of how principles in life work and ultimately that everything is supposed to lead us to a profound, all encompassing, deeply loving relationship with Him. He gave us all that we need for that, and didn’t throw in a bunch of stuff that we don’t really need to know. The Bible does not address if there are aliens, if time travel is possible, what the deal is with dinosaurs or, believe it or not, how the earth and humanity were created.

Lots of the older texts in the Bible follow an old storytelling pattern of Summary, Brief Explanation, Detailed Explanation. So “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” That’s the summary… not how; just that He did it. Then it goes on to give seven days of creation, which may refer to 24 hour days, may refer to 1000 year days, may refer to ages of time, may refer to steps taken in order. Moses, who wrote Genesis, could not have predicted that we would get so hung up on this detail. On that topic, the sun was not formed as a stand alone unit until the “3rd day”, so what were they measuring a day with anyway, and who was measuring it??? Adam didn’t hit the earth till the “6th Day”. That’s all the Brief Explanation. Then the real point of the story has some context and that is when Adam is introduced and goes on to explain what God’s and Adam’s relationship was based on. See that’s the point. The creation stuff might give us some interesting insight, but the point is God’s and Man’s relationship.

The Bible does not in any way say how He did any of it, except that he made man out of the dust of the earth, and that may even be referring to the fact that we are made up of a handful of elements that if separated and water removed would amount to a pile of dust. The only actual account we have from the good book of something being made where there were witnesses is Eve. God put Adam to sleep, took a rib from Adam and formed Eve. There are a lot of interesting sciencey things about that but my point for this paragraph is that God took something that was in one form and made a new “iteration” using part of the old. God does a lot of things in patterns, so who knows if God didn’t start with a small micro-organism, then systematically make iterations from one creature or plant to the next using a part of the old??? Or what’s to say that He didn’t snap His finger (or speak it into being) and make everything happen in the blink of an eye?

The main point here is that Creation people don’t have much to cling to that proves that God did it.

That’s not to say that there isn’t science in scripture. There are loads of anecdotal stories that align with what we know about science… that is science that can be proven. The Bible discusses alternate dimensions – something beyond the reasoning of the ancient world. It refers to stars that sing, which was not proven until quite recently. There are a handful of the miracles of Jesus that show His control over atomic phase, and bunch of other quantum physics principles. The Bible confirms actual science and actual science never disagrees with anything in the Bible.

The Bible says that there was a flood that covered the whole earth (as does the writings of EVERY other ancient religious text). It also says that when God created the earth to start with there was a solid layer of water above the atmosphere and a solid layer of water under the earth’s crust, and that on a specific day that was all released. Very recently a large amount of water was found under North America’s tectonic plates… enough water to replace all the water in the world’s oceans. If these two things were the case, then a rupture the size of the Marianas Trench would release an ocean of that magnitude in a fountain that would go high enough to destabilize the outer water layer and all would crash down and cover the earth. Then the greenhouse environment that would have kept everything even temperature would go away and ice caps would draw enough water back, fairly quickly, to reveal enough inhabitable earth to live on… which also explains sedimentary anomalies like denser elements are on the bottom, fields of dinosaurs buried in instant mud slides, palm trees in Greenland, and a host of other observable phenomenon.

So what’s my issue with evolution?

I have a number of scientific issues with an evolution that does not include God (because as far as I am concerned, God could have directed evolution by prompting genetic adjustments in the womb).

I could go really in depth on any of these issues, but… I won’t at this point. “The Big Bang” could very well have happened, but even Stephen Hawking in a Brief History of Time, says that everything can be quantified back to a single super dense atomic particle that could have burst into all that we know and see, but the problem with all those equations is that the particle would be inert. That means that it can’t blow up on its own… someone or something has to pull the trigger. Later he goes on to theorize that some inverse of gravity might be the trigger, but these are only theories to explain what had to happen when the answer “can’t” include God. (By the way, I loved that book)

Dead things don’t evolve. Science has been able to see that species have survived because predators always go after the weakest, meaning that the strongest – and purest – genetics get passed on. In order for evolution to happen, animals would have to go through a transition from one functioning set of parameters to another, and in the middle neither set of parameters would function well… making it weak… meaning its going to be prey. Some of the adaptations would kill the animal if not done perfectly the first time. The bombardier beetle is a good example of that. It creates two chemicals in its abdomen that when sprayed together creates an explosion that can blow a spider far away. It sprays these chemicals in a finely tuned set of minuscule drops because if they were steady streams, they would propel the beetle to kingdom come. Imagine all of the attempts that evolution must have had to make to get that formula right, and if its not just right, then boom. Which means that the genetic trial would not be passed on to any offspring and that would mean evolution would have to try again. Lots more examples of this, but like I said, dead things don’t evolve.

We can’t make it happen. 600+ (its well over 700 now) and 10,000+ lifecycles trying to force fruit flies and bacteria to mutate and not one singe generation benefited from a mutation, and the predominant end organism was exactly the same as the first generation. This isn’t just exposing them to environmental anomalies, but actually introducing genetic changes, and still nada, and the real atmosphere and environment has never put any of our world’s critters through anything like that. If we can’t do it to one or two species under those circumstances, then how am I to believe that it happened billions and billions and billions of times to create the “successful” (because remember, unsuccessful adaptations = dead animals = they don’t evolve) changes that resulted in all that you see on the earth today?!?

Conclusion:

I’ve seen a number of evolution / creation debates, and I have yet to see evolutionists find religion after being proven wrong; they go back and figure out logical answers to the questions they couldn’t answer and carry on. I have seen people come face-to-face with a love and peace and deep inner knowing that they are desired by God, accept and follow Jesus, and then turn almost immediately to believe in one form of God directed creation or another. I have seen people receive miracles, arms grow back, ears open, instant healings, observable things, and accept the message that comes with those… mainly that the reality of Heaven is within arms reach (the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand), accept and follow Jesus and almost immediately turn and believe in creation as well. Conversely, I have seen people that are not set in their faith, get exposed to some good arguments that make them challenge their ideas of the existence of God, and when God gets explained away, they turn and almost immediately turn and begin to believe evolution.

It is a product of your philosophy and your belief in God… and your belief in God is not a product of your view of creation. I believe in God, and I believe in creation, and I believe all the stories in the Bible, and I am a curious scientist, and all those things are compatible.

And to the Christians out there that want to see the world a better place, put down your need to be right and your need to have all the answers and your need to know all the rules, and just get really good and letting a love that you couldn’t have produced on your own flow through you, and let Him take care of the rest.

Conflict, Compromise and Social Skills

This isn’t a question that my girls have asked me per se, but its a discussion that we have had around our house for the last week or so.

Christy Clark Jim IkerHere in BC the teacher’s union is on strike, so school hasn’t started for my kids yet this year. The government and teacher’s union have been fighting for a great many years and the situation is hot and heated and controversial and everyone has an opinion and they hold those opinions with great emotional conviction.

Here’s my problem with where things are at.  I am not upset with the teachers; they have a difficult and thankless job. I am not upset with the government; they were elected under the promise of financial accountability and balanced budgets and this is one facet of trying to deliver on that. I am not upset with the people at the bargaining table; they are humans, trying in an imperfect way to do what they think is the best.  I am upset with you.  (Not you specifically, but the “greater you” that makes up everyone on social media that is involved in the greater social discussion and commentary flooding my Facebook wall.)

We live in a weird age. I have noticed that my teens have NO conflict resolution skills. They almost never meet face to face, but end up chatting with lots of people over various forms of instant messaging and social media. When something happens that is awkward or someone says something that might be taken the wrong way, you can simply stop answering their texts. Imagine acting like that with everyone in a room… you say something awkward and all of a sudden everyone just acts like you disappeared.  You can scream at the crowd and say, “no, no, you misunderstand!”, but still they ignore you. That would never happen. It might be awkward, but you would have to – and get to – deal with it right then and there.

Something else that is weird about the age that we live in is the ease with which your voice can be heard by the masses. Anyone can sit down at a keyboard and write something that sounds plausible and have it published and read by thousands. There is no burden of proof, or references for cited material, or even any requirement to try and be truthful. I’ve seen people write some crazy stuff and if it gets shared enough, even legitimate news media will republish it to try and fill the insatiable demand for tantalizing news.

When you put all of the above together, you have some very good people exhibiting some very bad behavior. Economists are on the side of the government, but should they share something about their opinion, they are sure to get hate mail and have their moral character called into question, but not face to face. No, they will be blasted over social media or email or text or other forms of communication that don’t require you to look into the eyes of the one that you are berating and recognize that you are hurting them.

Parents with special needs kids are mostly on the side of the teachers, but should they post something about their opinion… watch out. Parent’s with kids in private school or home school have mixed opinions, but can they share them as part of the discussion without being slandered in return?

And then there is hate. If you support the teachers, then support them, but why do some people feel entitled to degrade the personal character of our Premier? If you support the government, that’s fine, but then why is it ok to blast unfounded hateful comments about the union president or their demands or about unions in general?

This is something that social media makes available but society should not. These are basic social skills…

I have a friend that likes to read and share articles that have various degrees of different opinions. The other day, she posted an article that was mostly pro-government, but from a perspective that she hadn’t seen anywhere else, so she shared it asking what people thought. I read the article. It was an interesting perspective. She took the post down within a couple hours because her inbox filled up with hateful comments and personal attacks. It wasn’t even specifically her opinion, just something she thought was interesting.

No one knows the truth. Only those in the actual bargaining discussion knows the truth of what is said in there. Everything else is hearsay and conjecture and opinion and some outright lies. There is no requirement that you validate your sources and make sure that whatever you post is true, but understand that they are opinions and thoughts that support your own stance and… they may be partially incorrect or taken out of context, so accept comments for and against with understanding and dignity. If you disagree with something that you read, by all means post a comment, but do it with grace and tact.

“Treat others the way that you want to be treated”, but I’ll add something to that… Treat others wherever they are, the way that you want to be treated when you are face to face.

Just my opinion.

How long should you work at McDonald’s

It is the time in my daughters’ lives to go get some work. Well, I figure they should get some work and pay their own way for some of the expensive things that they want to do. Patti figures they should not be rushed into the marketplace where they will spend the rest of their lives. Regardless, one day I told Xandra this story and she asked me to add it to this blog.

McDonalds I Was Loving It

My first job was at McDonald’s. On my 16th birthday I got my learner’s license, just under six weeks later I had my unrestricted driver’s license and the day after that I had a job at McDonald’s. The particular McDonald’s in question was right beside my high school and for the rest of grade 11, all of grade 12 and about a year after that, I worked almost full time hours.

McDonald’s was great. They taught me how to work hard, how to work in a team, and that effort and attitude were rewarded. I had spending money, a car, and something that required me – something that really helped me to find relevance while bouncing around inside this ADHD mind of mine.

I worked hard, and was promoted and trained on everything they could possibly train me to do. I became a trainer, a crew chief, and eventually a swing-shift manager. A swing-shift manager is still technically a crew-member and not an actual manager, but you start wearing the manager clothes and that changes how people relate to you… which is an interesting study on human psychology on its own. I was even part of the team that hosted the media release of McPizza.

Now the real managers at my store liked to party at night and no one wanted the opening morning shift, so I volunteered for that. I started opening in the mornings and doing all the manager stuff, before an actual manager would show up. I earned the trust of the other managers and eventually I was put in charge of all weekday openings and I alone ran my store from opening to 10:00AM (which at the time was the #2 grossing revenue store in Western Canada). This created a problem because I was not an actual manager.

Let me back up a bit and explain something about McDonald’s managers’ social lives. Corporate McDonald’s doesn’t pay their managers all that well, and the benefits are not all that great. But what they do do is drive around a corporate funded McParty Van and pick up managers from different stores and take them out to various evening social establishments (they go clubbing). This creates an odd social dynamic where these managers become friends and create their own socioeconomic peer group. By creating a peer group where everyone earns the same, has the same financial issues, gets the same benefits, there is no motivation to improve on any of those things. There is also a lot of McDonald’s manager inbreeding, which is a whole other kind of odd.

I had two problems while working at the big M. The first was that I was volunteering at my local church, helping to run the youth group and this meant that I had schedule conflicts with giving McDonald’s 24×7 availability (something that is required of managers), and secondly I was observant enough to see that all the managers I knew only ever hung out with other managers, and all the married managers that I knew were always married to other managers, and I thought that was weird.

So when the regional manager came to our store, specifically to meet with me to rectify the opening manager issue, and he offered me a promotion to manager trainee, I said “No”. Then we he came back and said that he would promote me directly to second assistant, I said “No” again. Then when he said he would make me second assistant and let me choose which store I wanted to work at (something that they never did) and I said “No” again… they let me go.

Leaving McD’s was sad, but great at the same time. I had learned a lot, including some interesting tactics for employee retention, but I was also glad to not become part of some cult community.

Answer: Work at McDonald’s or any other ‘first job’ place that has the resources to invest in you and train you and give you new skills, but get out before you have to sign your life away in blood.

The pizza experiment – to give or not to give

We all have an opinion on beggars. You know the guys at the intersection that walk up to your car and ask for money. Almost everyone has seen these guys (and girls) and said or thought, “If they can get themselves here every day and pace back and forth interacting with people for this many hours, surely they could get a job.” and “If people keep giving them money for doing nothing, then we are just enabling them so they don’t have to get a job” and “they are probably going to just blow this on alcohol or drugs.” At the same time, we respect and admire people that we see giving.

On the other hand, I’ve heard people state that the net worth of the person begging at the street corner is higher than most of the people that they are begging for, because most of the “beggars” have at least a few dollars net worth and most of the “givers” are swamped in debt and have massive negative net worth.

This experiment does not reveal any scientifically relevant information. My first thought is that there are only two classes of people that were experimented on. There are people that look homeless by their appearance, and there are people that don’t look homeless. You never know; some of the first people asked that said “no”, might be just as homeless as the last guy. My second thought is that if you asked enough people that don’t look homeless, you would find a few that would give without hesitation, and if you asked enough people that look homeless, you would find quite a few that wouldn’t share.

But don’t take that as being cynical. I love this kind of demonstration, because it raises questions and gives place to talk about meaningful stuff.

Money doesn’t change anything in life; it amplifies who you are. If you are greedy with the little that you have, you won’t become philanthropic when you win the lottery or sell your latest app to Google. If you have bad habits now, when you are not successful, then money will just give you the ability to really put yourself behind those bad habits in a professional way.

The question isn’t really about “those” rich people or poor people… it is always a question about “me”. What kind of person am I going to be? What will I do when someone asks me for something? If you watch that video and walk away shaking your head, but don’t make some decisions for yourself, then you have missed the point.

The good book says, give to people who ask expecting nothing in return, lend to anyone that asks and lend to people when you don’t expect to get paid back. It goes on to say that if someone steals from you, then track him or her down and offer more. This is some crazy advice, but it exposes who you are, and whom you trust.

This question came one day while we were stopped at a store getting Slurpees. A guy walked up to our van when we were getting ready to leave and asked if I had some money for food. I had just bought a snack with my Slurpee and offered him that – after all he was in need of food right?!? He declined the warm and tasty treat and asked again if I had any money. So I gave him what I had and chatted with him for a bit and I left with my family. My daughter asked me why I did that, pointing out that he obviously wasn’t looking for food. I said simply, “The Bible says, don’t judge and to give to those that ask.” Later that day, she sent me the video above and asked me to write about this.

There are two things that guide me here.

1) I trust God for what I need. He is a father, and a really good father at that. Fathers take care of their kids. It’s really just about that simple. If I don’t trust that He can handle getting me food when I need it, then how can I expect Him to do something far more urgent, like keep me from hell? If He says to give to people when they ask, then surely He won’t make me go without if I am lacking because of following His advice.

2) I once met a man. Once I looked at a homeless man in the eye and asked him his name. I sat on the sidewalk beside him and talked to him about his day. It made something painfully obvious to me. He was a man; not a homeless man – just a man. One of the things he said really changed my perspective. He said that the reason a lot of people (who happen to be without a home for the moment) buy alcohol with the money that they get is because it makes them warm on cold nights.

2b) A female druggy on a bike once stole my Palm Pilot. I was earning some extra cash while I was starting my business, pressure washing awnings with a friend. One evening I had taken off my jacket and left it by our supplies. A little while later as we worked our way down the mall, a girl on a bike with the look of the street and scabs from meth on her face rode past me and smiled at me as she rode by. My first thought was how much info was on my Palm Pilot that I needed for my business so I ran back to my jacket and sure enough, it was gone. It just so happened that a police cruiser was in the mall parking lot and I ran over to the cops and explained what had happened. After getting a description of the girl, they said they knew her and for sure she had been the one that had stolen it, then they took off after her. They came back to get me a few minutes later because they had caught her and believed that she had thrown the Palm Pilot in some bushes when she was running from them. Another police car was holding her for questioning and I got the rare chance to confront her directly. These cops had given her a really hard time and she was shaken. I told her that I would give her $20 if she would show me where she threw it and tried to be loving and kind. After her repeated denials we all got out of the cop car and I went back to my work, waiting to see if she would take me up on my offer of cash. I called my wife to let her know what had happened, and she said, “Your Palm Pilot is right here… I’m looking at it.”

I had judged the whole situation based on the fact that this girl who looked broken, had smiled at me. I had judged. Then I came face to face with the reality that my judgment was wrong, and it had put this girl – just a girl; not a homeless or druggy girl – through unnecessary hardship and pain. I was the villain, not the victim. I went looking for her to give her the reward anyway, mostly so that I could feel better about myself. I was never able to find her again, but I carried the $20 in my wallet for over a year. I also began to carry the resolve to not judge… not people who look broken… not people that look successful.

So, in conclusion, be a giver and don’t judge the receiver.

Check out this video:

How many mosquitoes does it take to kill you?

Mosquito HazardWe were just up at a lake where mosquitoes make up most of the local wildlife. After counting over 200 mosquito bites (she actually took a mirror and counted all of her bites), Alexandra asked me how many mosquitoes it would take to kill you.

I guess you would first need to define what it means for a mosquito to kill you. For me, this can not mean getting West Nile Virus or something else from the little midges, it means that the mosquito actually does the physical killing themselves.

There are several ways that this could happen. The first and most obvious is that they could suck enough of your blood to kill you. This means that you would need to loose more than 40% of your blood, or more than 2800mL. A mosquito can take anywhere from 0.001 to 0.01mL of blood, so it would take between 280,000 and 2,800,000 mosquitoes all getting at you at the same time. Believe it or not, that’s over 15,000 lbs of mosquitoes. I’m pretty sure that more than enough weight to do the trick. But either sucking blood or crushing you would mean that they can all get to you… 2.8 Mil mosquitoes take up about 22,400 cm2. An average adult human has about 18,000cm2 of skin surface area, so a good number of the little guys will have to wait in line. In the crushing you scenario they would all have to be on one side of you, and one exposed side is less than half of that area, and your body can handle the dispersed weight of the little vampires of the ones that could land at one time.

I’m not even going to go into the math of how fast you create blood vs. how fast mosquitoes can take it out…

The next option would be that an overdose of their venom could kill you… but its not venom. Its mosquito spit and its mostly protein. It is designed to block blood clotting so they don’t get turned off at the pump. I searched really hard to find out what an overdose of mosquito spit would do, but there is surprisingly very little research on this topic. (They are in the process of creating a machine to harvest mosquito spit for blood thinning studies to help heart disease patients.) I did find an odd reference to a study that found repeated exposure to the stuff actually creates a tolerance in your body and mosquitoes will stop visiting you… so you won’t die from spit.

I did come across something surprising in my countless hours of research for this post; there have been reported bovine deaths where the cause of death was discovered to be asphyxia due to the nasal cavity being clogged with mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are drawn to CO2 (your breath) and given the chance, they will aim for your face. If you had enough of them right around your nose, and you breathed in deeply enough… This would still take several thousand all hanging out around your upper lip. (The mental image I conjure up for this looks like a really bad mustache.)

The bottom line: Other than the very slim chance of mosquitoes spreading disease, they can’t kill you with the tools they currently have.

Can a girl be “just friends” with dudes?

One of Xandra’s friends asked this question, and I thought it would be easy to answer, but the more I think about it, the more complicated it seems. Keep in mind, that this is all purely my opinion.

First off, I guess you have to define what a friend is. There are acquaintances – people that you see at school or work or church or wherever and you chat with them but don’t go out of your way to see them or talk to them outside of there. There are closer friends – these are people that you would invite to a party or people you would miss if you haven’t seen them in a while and you would go out of your way to see them and they would go out of their way to see you. Then there are best friends – people that you check in with every day, that you know what is deep in their heart and they know what is deep in yours.

I would say that you can have any gender of acquaintance, and you really can’t have a best friend of the opposite sex that is just platonic. So for the sake of this question I am going to use the “closer friend”.

The first issue, from my perspective is that God made you to be half of a whole. God had made Adam in His own likeness, so Adam had a character a lot like His own, then when God took the rib out of Adam and made Eve, he took half of His own character and put it in Eve. When you find someone to spend your life with together, you find wholeness together. For that reason, there is a natural tension and attraction between guys and girls, and it’s a healthy natural thing.

The second issue that I see (again all this is my perspective) is how well everyone is playing their media defined gender roles.

100 years ago, children wore clothes that were easy to wash and because of the difficulty of getting decent clothing everyone wore hand-me-downs, so all the clothes were dresses. On top of that boys didn’t get their hair cut until they were at least 6 and maybe older, so little boys and little girls looked exactly the same. Here is a childhood pictures of Franklin D. Roosevelt at age 2 ½.

Franklin Roosevelt in a Dress
Franklin Roosevelt in a Dress

Enter department stores and their desire to get people to part with more money, so the very first boys and girls section was a ploy by department stores to make parents feel like they were not doing enough for their kids. Boys got pink because it was a lighter version of red, which is obviously a good strong color, and girls got blue because it was a softer color. Pink did not become a “girls color” until the 1930s when chemical dies made it possible to make a color called “Shockingly Pink” that wouldn’t fade. Clothes were launched in that color as was a perfume with the same name that had a bottle in the shape of a woman’s bust.

From that time to this, marketing departments have been working on making you feel like you are missing something so they can sell you more things.

The reason that this has anything to do with boy-girl friendships is because the main target of the marketing machine is teens who are mostly at a stage in their lives where they are figuring out who they are and are therefore the must vulnerable to feeling like they need this “thing” to make them feel more complete or to define them. If the message 100 years ago was that boys and girls need to be recognized separately by colors, then the message today is that you are not sexy enough. In order to make that message stick, they put hyper-sexualized images… EVERYWHERE. And 95% of people or more buy it all, hook-line-and-sinker.

But the 95% crowd is constantly moving toward the target that the media painted and if the crowd ever gets to the level that the marketing departments are painting then they won’t have that disparity to make you feel like what you are really missing in life is a new bikini top and Daisy Duke shorts, and a hot boyfriend, and… So they keep pushing to sexualize and make things even more over the edge so you will keep pursuing the elusive happiness that is represented in those Photoshoped and staged ads.

If you go back and watch TV shows and movies from the 50s and 60s you will see a lot more “just friends” or plots that don’t involve cheating at the first opportunity.

Boys do the same thing. We all hate Axe deodorant, especially when mixed in great quantities with 10th grade guy sweat, but your school is full of the stuff. Not because of the quality fragrance and effective adjustment to body odor, but because the ads say that girls will throw themselves at you, even if you are a comely nerd.

Just Friends

Add in the movies and TV shows about the topic of “just friends” where it is never just friends, or movies about cheating, or “friends with benefits”, or any other movie where the guy always gets the girl or the girl always gets the guy and you have everything stacked against you. You’re a girl to start with, which dudes are going to naturally be attracted to. You are wearing clothes that are designed to get guys attention and get them turned on. And you have a million different media messages the give nothing but examples of making everything about sex.

And you want to be “just friends” with a dude.

I still think you can, but “the cards are stacked against you”. I think that there is always some awkwardness and most of the time one of you actually wants more out of the relationship than you/they are actually saying. But there is value in getting to know different kinds of guys and figuring out the kind of guy that you want to be with long term without going through meaningless relationships and breakups. I personally married my best friend, someone that I had known and been friends with for over four years before we ever went on a “date”. Here are some pointers that I came across and I thought they were good:

1) View your friends as family – There’s a verse in the Bible telling a dude to treat the girls around him as sisters. If a guy intentionally thinks of you as a sister, then his instinct will be to protect you and your honor. And you are not all that likely to flirt or be inappropriate with your brother.

2) Avoid “pair” pressure – as soon as you talk to the same guy more than once, someone is going to ask you if you like them, or if you are going out. Be ready to answer that and tell your friends that say stuff like that to get a life.

3) Alleviate awkward – sexual tension and attraction and uncertainty are all made a lot worse when things are awkward and someone you like but just want to get to know as a friend doesn’t know what you expect, or what to say, or what to do. Doing something as a group, like having a few friends over or doing something in your youth group is a great idea. If the target of your friendship is there in the group, its a lot easier to ease into meaningful conversation if there is a group around.

4) Learn how to converse – there’s no real precedent anywhere in history for the kind of social skills your generation is growing up with, using technology and instant messages, etc. One thing that I have noticed though is that this generation is not great at meaningful conversation or resolving personal conflicts where words are required. When you do get together with others (guys or girls) put away the phones and talk. Being better at talking in general will help you to be better at talking with guys in a platonic way.

5) Don’t flirt – this might seem obvious but if you have a dude that is your friend and you like them and you are goofing around and you start flirting with him in even a joking way, it could derail everything. Draw up some obvious boundaries like no hanging out in a guys house or having a guy to your house when no one else is there.

6) Ask for help – if the dude is really a decent guy and worth being a friend with, then ask them to tell you if they find something you are wearing to be too suggestive or makes them uncomfortable. If they really are decent, and really are looking at you like a sister they will not only tell you if if makes them uncomfortable, but they will tell you if you are sending the wrong message to other guys as well.

Heartbreak sucks! Hurting in general sucks and most of it can be avoided by not jumping into relationships that have no chance, but it will require you to think for yourself what you want in your relationships and not just play the parts you see in the movies. By only having relationships with people that are worthy friends first, you can avoid a world of hurt and your relationships will have a fighting chance.

This is all my opinion – and I am sure there are a million exceptions to all the rules and ideas above, but the conclusions are pretty much the same. You can be just friends with a dude, but it is a bit complicated and most of the time its worth it.

When 95% is a fail

One of my daughter’s friends asked me a question. At first I thought it would be a fun and fairly easy question to answer. But I keep coming back to this key concept that I need to explain first.

There is a study that was done at some point in the late 60s. (I’m not an expert or on trial, so I have no idea what the reference for this study is, but I trust the source that told me about it.) They took a bunch of average people that were all at about the same level of life when starting in college. Then they looked at where these people ended up, at the age of 65. The statistics broke down like this: 1% was wealthy, 2% were fairly well off, 2% had enough to take care of themselves. The other 95% had to keep working, were dependent on others to take care of them or were in complete poverty.

Keep in mind that these people were all level at the start of college, so they were not “poor” to start.  They were not unintelligent or unmotivated… they were all going to college!

So they looked into what the difference was between these folks. It wasn’t the grades they got in college, or even if they finished college. It wasn’t what classes they took in college. It wasn’t how wealthy they were to start with. It wasn’t their IQ or gender or any other predictable factor.

What set these 95% on a course for failure? What helped the 5% get ahead in this race? The 95% didn’t plan on failure; in fact, they didn’t want failure and they thought they were headed in the right direction in the beginning.  But there was a very important but missing skill.

The difference is independent thinking.

Independent thinking means looking at a situation and deciding what to do for yourself. That seems simple enough, but 95% of people will make most of their decisions by looking at what other people are doing, making sure their actions and social interactions are in line with what other people are doing, and following what is expected. The lie in all of that is that you think that most people know what they are doing.  The truth is that they are all just as insecure as you; they don’t want their actions to break the normal and they can’t bear to handle the potential shame of trying something different and failing. So the pack huddles together and shuffles in mass towards oblivion.

Random example… buying your own kids presents for Christmas or their birthday. 50 years ago, on Christmas you might get 1 present for Christmas and a few stocking stuffers. The present would be worth the equivalent of a new pair of shoes (a BB gun, a toy car, a train set, a doll, etc.) The media starts showing us pictures of Christmas trees that can barely compete with the pile of toys and gifts under them, and over the holidays we visit friends that have piles of gifts all laid out nicely, and well they seem successful, and it sure looks fun. Added to that pressure is the knowledge that your kids are going to go back to school after the Christmas break and are going to compare what they got with other kids. So you go shopping, and you make your tree look like that.

You have no idea how much debt the other people incurred to get that pile of gifts. You know you couldn’t afford it. You know that most of the gifts you bought will not get used, and will likely get discarded within the first few months of the new year, but you buy them anyway. If you keep this up year after year, you will struggle to keep out of debt and your house will be filled with junk.  If you follow this pattern for birthdays and everything else in life, your finances will be a wreck. You will have debt instead of savings or investments.  The reality is that this simple issue can destroy your life and leave you with nothing, but… you will look the part.

Nobody will stop you and tell you that you are going too far. Nobody will chastise you for your lack of planning or short-sighted thinking.  Your children will certainly not complain… All those people who are saying nothing are trying to keep up with you.  I am not saying that giving gifts is bad or that even giving lots of gifts is bad.  I am not saying that someone who gives lots of gifts is somehow making a big mistake, but what I am saying is that you have to look and decide for yourself what you can spend, and what your kids actually need and not to worry about what others think of you.

When I was a teenager, I had a friend that would come with us to Red Robbin. We would all order our meals and drinks and maybe split an appy.  He would order non-stop fries and water.  We would spend $10 – $20 and he would spend $1.75.  He would then proceed to order three or four refills on his fries and leave full.  Now granted, that’s not a well balanced meal, but its not like a bacon cheeseburger is the picture of health. He did eat well at home and he had quite enough money to order anything he wanted, but that’s not where he wanted to spend his money and he didn’t care if he fit in or copied everyone else.  Because of the way he handled his money early on, and mostly because of the way he makes his personal decisions, today he owns a web hosting company that is doing very well.  You would be blown away with the number and size of his clients while even his own company’s dated website design says, “I don’t care what other people think”. He gets so much business from referrals that he doesn’t need his website to look nice to get business so paying to make his website look current would be wasted money.

in 2007, more than 40% of teens admitted to driving high and that number is even higher today.  While that is a bad statistic and makes the roads unsafe, what I got out of it is that a whole lot of teens are trying and smoking weed. So many, that in some social situations it might seem socially awkward or bad to say “no”. So many that you might have to think, “it can’t be that bad if that many people are doing it.” But who is looking down the road and thinking about where this “95%” type activity is heading. Is this a crowd, huddled together shuffling toward oblivion, or is it actually ok? I’m not answering this question for you; I am saying you need to answer this question for yourself.

So, here is a piece of advice that has served me well.  10 years.  I figure that any behavior or habit or strategy in life will start to show how it pays off within 10 years.  So if I wonder what something in life is like, I will find someone who has been doing it for 10 years and ask them. When I was 16 I started working at McDonalds and back then you could smoke on your lunch break in the staff room… I know – gross! Anyway, out of pure curiosity I wondered what smoking was like.  I would watch fellow workers come running down to take their break, get out a cigarette, light it up, breathe it in deeply and exhale like they were finally at peace. It would actually look kind of refreshing. I would then ask, “why do you smoke?”

This is the part that freaked me out… they ALL (and I mean ALL) said the same thing. “Oh, I have to – it relaxes me.”  Then I would ask, “yea, but why did you start?” They would say something about who introduced them, most of the time is was because everyone else was doing it, but then ALL (and I mean ALL) of them did the same thing; they would stub out their cigarette and say, “yea, I wish I hadn’t started. I’m trying to quit now.” This all happened withing about 45 seconds, and I repeated it about 20 times with all age ranges of people.  I figured out that smoking cigarettes has got to be one of the stupidest things that you can do.  I’ve never had one.  Ever.

Ask questions about the decisions you make in life and I mean ask about everything. You will find that most people have very very shallow logic if there is any logic at all in most of the decisions they make, and a lot are regretting doing the things that they are currently doing.  Wherever you find this… think up a new plan that makes more sense and don’t worry how it will look to others.

Because 95% is a fail, but turning on your brain is free and getting at least 96% is easy.

(Feven, your question is next 8-D )

An open invitation from my daughter

xandraXandra shared the Boys, Dating, Testosterone and How To Punch Hard post with her greater Facebook audience.  It was fairly well received and in her status message she said that her friends could ask me questions too if they wanted my unique opinion or perspective on something.

I figured I would just confirm that I would be happy to take anyone’s questions.  I would find it really interesting what other teens would like to know about, and no topic is off limits.

You can post questions anonymously in the comments on this post or over on the Ask Me Here page.  I have to approve comments before they are posted, but unless you are a spammer or have something evil to say, i will approve your comment ;-).

Don’t be shy and thanks for stopping by.

How to get teens to do chores… quickly

This is not a question that my daughters have asked me, but it is a conversation we have had many times. In fact they have said, “I HATE THAT YOU’RE SO GOOD WITH TECHNOLOGY!!!”

ChoresI don’t know about you, but getting teens to do reasonable work around the house is difficult. There are so many distractions and different forms of instant communication that directing and redirecting and reminding and harping and yelling to get your teen to do one load of dishes or fold one load of laundry seems like more work than doing it yourself.

There is a solution

Grab a piece of paper and make a list  that looks like this:

Wash Dishes

1 Load of Laundry

Make Dad cookies

 

wifi

 

Now consult your internet modem instructions to change your wifi password:

Cisco or Linksys: http://kb.linksys.com/Linksys
DLink: http://www.ehow.com/

Don’t get overwhelmed by the techy stuff. This is worth learning if you don’t already know how to do it. I recommend using “WPA-Personal” when you get the chance to choose what kind of password you want.

If you are not good at picking passwords, try this handy tool: Semi-Secure Password Generator – don’t forget to copy the password somewhere so you won’t forget it.

The result is that you have just turned off 95% of whatever was distracting them and taken away most of what they want to do. So now they will be motivated to get the work done and won’t be distracted doing it. When they have checked off what you have asked them to do, you can give them the new wifi password.

Gotcha… You may need to scan your available wifi networks to see if you have neighbors with unprotected wifi access and ask them to put on a password… Tell them you saw a creepy guy in front of their house in a car with a laptop on their lap… usually does the trick.

Another Gotha… in my house no wifi access means hand in all data capable phones… those kids are sneaky.

Pro Tip… change the wifi password when you say “go to bed” to get kids to actually fall asleep faster.

Pro tip… If you have a router that has guest wifi access, change the name (ssid) of guest to “kids” and change the name (ssid) of the regular wifi account to “parents only-hahaha” and you can keep your devices connected while “motivating” your children… its a win-win.

What is the secret of success?

It should be a dream of all parents to have their children ask this question. We have had a few conversations about success and failure; what they are and how to achieve them. I am sure that I am not fully qualified to answer this, but I can share what I know.

Secret of SuccessBackground

I didn’t start off in life with any of this understanding. I was good with people and succeeded in customer service type jobs, and some were even called sales jobs. One day I was promoted from “sales” driving a service truck to actual cold-calling, relationship building, needs analysis, script memorizing sales… and I failed. I was on the verge of financial ruin, had a wife and three kids to provide for and was desperate.

I still can’t quite recall how I met Ray Yenkana, but we met and he invited me out to breakfast before work. He spoke words that my soul was starving for and they not only changed my current reality, but every day and waking thought since then. He took me for breakfast a dozen times or so, and gave me books and tapes and cds (for the kids, tapes are these square plastic things with this long brown ribbon that can hold, like 30 whole minutes of music on one side). I decided at that point in my life that I wouldn’t regret the years wasted and opportunities lost, but I would make sure my kids knew this stuff.

What is success and failure?

Success is not a lot of money or cars and houses and yachts. Think about it, if you set out to be ‘rich’, how would you know you are there? At what point would you have enough that you would say, “I have just crossed the line into success; yesterday I was not a success and today I am”? Success is deciding something specific that you want and then accomplishing it. If you decide that you want your life to be spent serving the poor of Uganda, you may never drive a sports car or own a Vancouver house, but if get there and do it, you are successful. If you decide that you want to be a millionaire, and you become a millionaire, then you are successful. If you quit on life after you have your million, then you would cease to be successful, and failure would be waiting for you. So ultimately success is the ability to be who you want and do what you desire in life. So failure would then be to never get where you want in life or be who you want to be.

Success is not one monumental achievement, but simply and consistently following simple disciplines over time. Failure is not one cataclysmic event, but slight errors in judgment repeated over time. You won’t get a heart attack from eating a cheeseburger; you might from eating one every day. There are a million little indulgences and bad spending decisions and little time wasters that people do every day. Learning disciplines is the key, and I’m not talking about stuff that’s hard to do. So what are these simple disciplines that you should follow?

There are a lot of simple disciplines that are great, but if you learn one today make it SETTING GOALS! “I will have a job by my 16th birthday”, “I will save $1000 within the next three months”, “I will improve my grades to all As and Bs before Christmas break so I can qualify for this scholarship”, “I will bench press 200lbs by the end of the summer”… A goal can be anything but make it something that you can achieve, and set a date when it needs to happen by. Write it down and keep it close to you, and read it every day out loud. This is SUCH A BORING, SIMPLE, TEDIOUS TASK, and because of that most people won’t bother.

Picture two boats. One boat has a captain and a map and some instruments to measure where the boat is, and most importantly a chosen destination. Each day the captain reads the instruments, compares his location to the destination, makes small course changes and then carries on with his day. The other boat has none of those, but is set out to sea anyway. The first boat will likely reach its destination or at least it will get close; the other will end up on some rocks somewhere. That’s the difference between setting goals and not setting goals.

Here’s another wise quote, “Success is not something you do, but something you attract by the person you become”. When you work on yourself and train yourself to do these simple things, then success will find you. Its actually a little freaky, but I am not kidding; setting a goal and looking at it and reading it every day with almost no additional effort, your goal or at least amazing opportunities to achieve your goal will come to you. So by focusing on the discipline of reading out your goal, you will become a more disciplined person, and that will attract success.

Learn to Farm

The world is built around the law of the farm. A man of great need can go to the field and say, “please feed me”, and the field will reply, “I want to, but I require seed”. A man with barns full of grain who diligently plants seed, though he is not hungry, or in great need, the field will still grant him bounty that he cannot contain. This is not a case of rich getting richer and poor getting poorer, but how you approach life. You ALWAYS have something to give. Giving something to the benefit of others is seed. There is a law that transcends all other laws or circumstances that says that he who sows, reaps; and he reaps according to the type and quantity of his seed. I could fill up a whole blog post about the farm… maybe another day.

Xandra, you see mom and me, you see a couple that is constantly tired and working hard at the daily grind, and rarely has the chance to do anything fun or social. You have questioned before what kind of an existence that really is. What you cannot possibly see in context is that just over ten years ago I was broke, and floating like ship with no captain, very few marketable skills, three kids to take care of, an apartment that was growing mold, and insurmountable debt. By changing very small things about how I approached life, and following a few simple disciplines, I am now highly sought after for my skills. I own a nice house in one of the most expensive housing markets in the world and am almost out of all the consumer debt. You might see me working two jobs and being tired, but today I have goals, and seemingly without effort I get opportunities to achieve those goals. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have to work hard or sacrifice something, but it means that I have a deep inner knowing that I am going where I want to go, and doing what I want to do.

So I will wrap this post up with these words: When harvest time comes, if you find that you have very little, don’t blame anyone, don’t complain, but realize that you planted little, and rest assured that there is another spring right around the corner so get your seed ready. On the other hand, if harvest time comes and you have more than anyone else, don’t be ashamed, don’t apologize, but accept the rewards you prepared for, and don’t think that you can skip planting seed in the spring.

Angelica and Xanrda, I know you both and both of you WILL be successful!