Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Today's Special

I went for a swim during my lunch hour today and I stopped by the SuperAmerica convenience store to pick up a Diet Coke. As I was standing in line, I saw a sign on the counter advertising a special deal:


The sign pictured three packs of cigarettes fanned out like a deck of cards across from a breakfast sandwich (english muffin with a fried egg, sausage patty, and cheese). Maybe I was feeling a little superior since I had just exercised, but I couldn't help but think this was a little over the top. You get a free sandwich if you buy THREE packs of cigarettes? Do you get TWO sandwiches if you buy SIX packs? Or is there a limit? The sign didn't say. Don't they want their customers to come back? Yikes, dude!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Version 2.0?

Some may know that I have been shepherding a project at work to create a version 2.0 of the application I have worked on for years. It is a major undertaking and we are well underway; but I'm beginning to think that the only version 2.0 I will nuture this year will be this one:

(Not such a bad thing!)

The work project is on the rocks because cost cutting measures are being imposed across the company. It just might not be in the cards for now. It is sad because I have invested many hours into this over the last two years -- dreaming it up, packaging it, selling it, seeing it become reality and even start to get off the ground. It might continue in a limited way but not the way I envisioned it. Oh well. That's how it goes sometimes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Dad & Debbie stopped by last week on their way to Alaska in the RV. It was a short visit, but they got to play a lot with Molly. First she played with the bubbles that they brought her. Then we played on the swing, went to the playground, and walked to Izzy's for some ice cream. They even got a chance to read a bedtime story (several times over, in fact). I think she called him 'pawpaw'. Hmmm. Will it stick?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Heaven on Earth

St. Paul (and Minneapolis)! Here's a slice of the good life here in the great twin cities today: Ate breakfast on the back porch . . . rode bikes around Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles, stopping for swinging and sliding at a playground, watching other bikers, runners, and lake swimmers . . . did some much needed chores and struggled with Molly's teething pain . . . went to neighborhood ice cream social where we played games (they're all free and everyone always wins prizes), ate free ice cream, made giant bubbles, watched kids jump in the moon walk, and listened to the live Dixieland jazz band . . . went to Muneet and Dipi's house for dinner and socializing . . . put our tired daughter to bed who went to sleep with a smile on her face. Sounds like heaven to me.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


This is a pondering I wrote about three years ago and just came across recently. Obviously these thoughts meant a lot to me then, and reading them now, they still do. I hope you find something in them too . . .


So I’m flying home from another short business trip. My flights recently have been smooth, short, easy hops from Minneapolis to Chicago and back. But tonight, we hit turbulence. For a seasoned traveler, it’s light, nothing to worry about, hardly noticeable. To me it brings back the fear of flying that I’ve only recently gotten over so that I can do my job.

My first thought: “I’m going to die today.”

My heart’s racing, my knuckles are squeezed white. Occasionally I clutch at my chest, take my pulse. After all, if the plane doesn’t crash, maybe I’ll have a heart attack instead. My mind is racing over so many things. What will it be like? Probably won’t feel a thing. Probably I’ll experience some calm acceptance of the inevitable. What was the last thing I said to my wife – we weren’t fighting were we? When is the last time I talked to my parents? Who will come to my funeral? Will my wife bury or cremate me? We’re too young to have planned for things like this. What if I’m wrong and there is a life after death and God is getting ready to judge me? Is it true what the Baptists say: “Once saved, always saved?” I hope so. Or worse, what if I should have been Muslim instead of Christian? If so, I don’t have even have a leg to stand on. Call me infidel.

Then my mind settles on a short novel by Thornton Wilder I read recently. If you haven’t read it or seen one of the movies, the story is about a small Peruvian town around the beginning of the 18th century that has a rope foot bridge that crosses a deep gorge. Folks can take the bridge or trek through the gorge, it’s their choice. One day the bridge breaks while several people are crossing. A missionary, mid-sacrament, happens to look up and witness the moment that the ropes break and watches all the people fall to their deaths. Stricken, he later tries to find out about the lives of the people and determine whether they were good or bad and see why God took them, for He has a reason and purpose for everything.

In the end, he can find no rhyme or reason, no justification. It was just senseless and random. What we learn from the story is something else entirely from what the priest was trying to learn. We learn from the survivors who are brought together by their tragic connection. What they teach us is not that death has meaning or purpose, but that death is the end of life and after death it is those we leave behind that remember us. But they only remember us for a time. One heroine muses that she’s already forgetting the sounds of their voices, the looks of their faces. Others are beginning to forget their names. Perhaps her friends and descendants will remember the victims for a time, but less and less as generations continue until they are completely forgotten. In the end, she says, there is only love that continues. The love that these people had was shared with others and passed on and will be passed on until long after they are forgotten until at last their contribution is felt by people they never would have dreamed to exist and those people will have no inkling that the progenitors of this love ever existed.

Like a professor suggested to me once: “Everyone we meet becomes a part of us, and we become a part of everyone we meet.”

And suddenly my whole life comes down to this evaluation: have I shared my love with others? Surely not all the time and not to everyone, but have I at all? Have I done my best? Have I done so in a way that these people will in turn love others? Have I done so enough that I will achieve my anonymous immortality?

Of course the turbulence ended, the plane landed safely, I went home, I hugged my wife and got up and went to work the next day.

So, great, I had some epiphany (though I admit it wasn’t the first time – I fly frequently). So what? Well it makes me think a certain way about things. It makes me want to not hurt other people, to help them sometimes if I can, and for some people, yes, to love them. It makes me see myself as part of something larger. It makes me act less selfishly, less prideful.

When I was younger, I wanted to change the world. I’m 34 now [in 2003] and I still do, but now I realize that I probably won’t. But I’m going to keep trying.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, published in 1927, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I didn’t spoil anything. Pick up a copy.