Sunday, April 30, 2006

April on the Road.

Did you know that Candace and I were away this April? We were.

9,000 km’s by air.
600 km’s by train.
4500 km’s by car.
One flat tire in hickville California.
Two bouldering pads, two nights slept in our car, two border hassles and no ID.
Three way too hot, way too cold, way too windy, slices of high desert heaven; the Colorado, the Mojave, and the Eastern Sierra.
Fourbucks coffee and evesdroppring small town gossip.
Five car pile-up in Sacramento.
Six teenagers on cocaine.
Seven days at home.
Gay pride week.
An introduction to brain vacating late nights in Toronto with the infamous Mark deHoog.
A surprising capacity for the French language in Montreal and Ste-Julie.
A well orchestrated navigation through the gridlocked urbania of Portland.
A swirling pool of dirty brown water around my feet as I washed the desert out of places my body never knew I had.
I grew a beard because I wanted to look like the desert father I met.

Did you know that I had a lot of stereotypes confirmed on this trip? I did.

Palm Springs is full of depends and old people.
California’s economy doesn’t belong to fruit, tech, and tourism; it belongs to plastic surgeons and criminals.
Gas station coffee can be easily confused with motor oil.
Speaking of gas stations, first-quarter numbers of publicly owned gas stations show huge profits. Anyone notice the price at the pumps lately?!
French people are visibly more passionate then I am.
Natural hot-springs are full of naked people.
Even though I am conservative and far from criminal minded customs officials still make me nervous. Apparently I am red-flagged now.
There is a huge American trailer-park populace.
Latino men drive low-riderz…that’s right, low-riderz. (As opposed to low-riders).
Tanned, toned, and tantalizing becomes tanned, saggy, and wrinkled. “Slip! Slap! Slop! Where a hat!” makes a lot of sense now.

A few books I read that I would also recommend to you.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck – A brilliant work of fictional literature that dances and tip-toes its way around the Biblical story of Cain and Abel before jumping in bed with it to produce a hugely significant piece of social commentary. In its time this novel was highly controversial and even banned in certain states; it might still be banned from your church library!

What Canadians Think About Almost Everything by Darrell Bricker and John Write of Canadian pollsters ISPOS-REID – What percentage of Canadians prefer a good night’s sleep to good sex? What is the likelihood that a Canadian believes that the devil is active in the world today? Did you know that BC residents are the least religious and least likely province in Canada to believe in God? Do you know which province is most likely? You may be surprised. Quebec. Did you know that only 37% of Canadians know the first line of our national anthem? Do you? If you don’t it’s surprisingly simple… “O Canada” Wow!!

This funny, informative, and often surprising read navigates its way through the often confusing and diverse views, opinions, and actions of Canadians. A very interesting and compelling read for almost anyone who cares about something or anything. If I had a coffee table in my house this book would sit on it right beside a collection of Ansel Adams photographs.

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner – As if the title of this book isn’t gripping enough the authors go and subtitle it with ‘a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything.’ This dazzling New York Times bestseller works from the premise that the world is knowable and, for the curious explorer, penetrable. If the right questions are asked we may just be surprised by how intriguing and unorthodox it actually is. Fascinating!!

Last thing.
Animals. are. everywhere. in. the. desert. Rabbits are cute and should be cared for at all costs. We had a coy-dog trample through our campsite, which, if you are most likely a Canadian reader of this blog, you would understand to be a coyote. I bet they eat rabbits. If it is large and hairy with big scary teeth and eight legs you most likely encountered a tarantula. I bet they eat rabbits. If you hear the playful sound of a rattle in your tent and you’re not baby sitting you should probably leave quickly – you may have just snuggled up to one of three species of rattlesnake. I bet they eat rabbits too. There are lizards….thousands……and thousands of lizards. If you try catch them their tails fall off. We watched them mate and surmised that it wasn’t love. Judging by the sheer volume of lizards I would imagine them to be about as regular as rabbits. Did I mention the desert tortoise? Their pure smug ‘tortoise and the hair’ snobbery must be the largest antagonism a rabbit faces. The plight of the desert rabbit and jack-rabbit is sadly significant...the whole ecosystem seems to circle around them. Poor little guys.

It’s good to be back!! New (and shorter!) stuff coming soon…

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Scary Monsters

Note: this will be my last post until May.

This last week I was in Toronto with Mark where we had a great conversation about the "total depravity of man." Many would assert that, though man was created in the image and likeness of God, through Adam's sin the human race fell and became intuitively sinful in nature which resulted in an alienation and separationn from God. This man, our race, is totally depraved and utterly unable to remedy this lost/alienated condition; we are in much need of God's grace.

But depraved of what? Could it be that there is some good in man? Could it be that we are more aware of God then we realize? Could it be that "total depravity" has been a clever little trick to make Christians feel superior and exclusive to other obviously depraved people?

Think through it in the following context of John Stienbeck's classic novel East of Eden.

Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or lesser degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential for conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms, he can not miss them. Sometimes when we are little we imagine what it would be like to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feelings that birds have. No, to a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare to others. To a man born without conscious, a sole-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolishness. You must remember that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.

Maybe the very idea that there is this constant tension between good and evil suggests that there is some intrinsic good in people? Hmmm. Maybe your not as bad as you've been led to believe? Maybe there is some optimism that we could attatch to humanity? Hmmm.

Monday, April 03, 2006

::Leadership: Consistent Anomaly::

***There is a train of thought in the comment section of this post that kind of makes me re-think this whole thought process. Feel free to read the following post but the good stuff is in the comments section. Thanks for the input guys!!***-Jer

Leaders are regular and consistent.

There is little question that a diet of high fiber, potassium, and Uncle John's Bathroom Reader would keep anyone regular. Regularity is healthy. The health of our leadership development, architecture, and strategies very well could be most accurately critiqued by our consistency.

In literature, consistency is one of the most crucial elements for the reader in understanding the implied time frames for the plot, action, and sequence described. It is simple and consistent verb usage that clarifies the environment of the story. Inconsistent verb usage muddies and confuses the storyline. It seems to me that inconsistent leadership steals the very foundation of clarity and health from any atmosphere – it becomes a pollution that might even kill an environment.

Here is something to think about; leadership that is dedicated to the relentless task of consistency creates an environment of anomaly. Variedness. Weirdness. Diversity. Creativity. I think what happens is that the great big meta storyline begins to make sense and people begin to see where they fit. People who catch the vastness and the smallness of consistent significance respond in the only way they know how > in their own uniquely unique ways. Anomaly. This is a really beautiful thing because it connects the consistent environment that leaders foster to the incredible environment of diversity in their followers.

It is very interesting to me that consistent leadership architects persistent diversity.