• Did you ever notice what we can get away with in the name of Christmas? Lying, concealing major purchases from your significant other, discussing the purchase of intimate apparel with pretty (mall) working women, etc. Does Jesus condone this??

  • I've discovered that I finally get around to liking Christmas music about 1 or 2 days after The Holiday. I think someone needs to retune my Christmas Spirit Biological Clock. What's worse, once I finally come to enjoying these aural gems, they take them away and put them back in the box for next year...

  • Saw Memoirs of a Geisha yesterday. It's a beautiful movie, and not really about sex at all, if that was your hangup. It's even a bit frightening, seeing what was accepted in this odd social heirarchy.

  • Got Half-Life 2. They should have called it "Gordon Freeman Gets Screwed Again." Had to activate it over a DIALUP. That aspect alone should have changed the title to "Half YOUR Life."

  • However, I did finally get it running. Holy freakin' pixelshaders, Batman! I am a gamer, and this is my crack. I won't be available for a few weeks now.

  • "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." ~Eleanor Roosevelt. I learned that when I bought The Princess Diaries for my wife and watched it with her on Christmas Eve. Yep, I learned something from a girly movie.

  • My new favorite joke: "An ant and an elephant marry. The first night of their honeymoon, the two make love, but the elephant has a heart attack and dies. The ant is devastated and says, "Five minutes of passion, and now I have to spend the rest of my life digging a grave."

"We live, we love, we forgive and never give up..."



I've had a sort of spiritual epiphany recently, and I hope you don't mind if I share it with you. Proselytizing was never one of my goals here, but I sometimes feel like I've come upon some notion that might be helpful to my gentle readers.

It all started with Romans 12:1, a scripture that was a part of the sermon this past Sunday:

"I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. " (RSV)

I'd heard this passage many times before, and I imagine you have too. Only this time, I felt it take on a new meaning. Sacrifice means to give up something of value, so if we're to be living sacrifices, what are we giving up? Time and money usually come to mind first, but I think there's more. You don't offer your body as a living sacrifice by giving money to a church or spending time at a worship service. I think you offer your body as a living sacrifice when you make the intentional choice to give up the very desires that your flesh seems to have "hard wired" within you.

I heard it put this way once: we each have "IT." "IT" is our secret sin, our failing that we always have, the temptation that gets us every time. Sacrificing our bodies means giving up our desire for "IT." The only problem is that we keep wanting to take "IT" back. We keep coming back to the things that tempt us because we still desire them, and we can't give up those thoughts and actions. Paul even says

"But I give blows to my body, and keep it under control, for fear that, after having given the good news to others, I myself might not have God's approval. " (Rom 9:27, BBE)

At first, this seems to be a cruel calling. It's unfair to expect us to break free of and go beyond our own humanity; the flesh we were born with and cannot escape until death. But here there is a profound difference between the truth of God and the lie of Satan. The way of God is not restrictive, it is freeing. Living with the self control of a holy life is to achieve ultimate humanity, not to submit to something less. The commandments of God do not make your life worse, they make it better.

So lately, I've been fighting a battle of thought. The war for the soul begins in the mind, and it's often the hardest battleground to fight on. Psychologists (and especially the vaunted Dr. Phil) talk all the time about the "tape loops" we have playing in our head - the unconscious repeating thoughts that define who we are and how we see our world. "I'm just not a reliable person." "I'm just always going to want that, even though I know it's bad for me." "I can't help it, every time I look at a woman, I just feel that way." These and many more are the thoughts that we hobble ourselves with, the things that we've just always lived with and never realized were there. The challenge for you and me is to seek out those thoughts and break the loop before it gets started. To be consciously aware of what you're feeling, and to realize when your mind drifts to the comfort of an ultimately destructive train of thought. I've caught myself when this happens, and I literally say in my mind "Lord, I sacrifice these thoughts to you." A silly mantra, some would say. Perhaps, but the biggest part of the war for your mind is to realize when to fight.

"Dare you to live like today never happened before..."



To all those wonderful and amazing Spouses, Significant Others, Family and Friends of the human type we affectionately refer to as a "geek", lemme give you some help this Holiday Season.

You're trying to find a gift for your favorite Geek, and you haven't a clue what to get them. After all, once they start talking about what's on their Christmas list, you need a degree in rocket science to figure it all out, so all you know is that these toys are going to be expensive. Even if they happen to give you the exact brand name and model number of the gizmo they want, what if your local Gizmo City (TM) doesn't have the exact thing? What if your geek wants the 220, and all they have is the 240? A higher number is better, right? Isn't it??

Folks, have no fear. We're going to suss out how to find the perfect gift for a geek, because you and I are going to take a brief journey into the psyche of a geek. We're going to find out what makes them "tick" (even if they probably don't own a single analog timekeeping device), and give you some keys to finding something they'll actually like.

Here's the key, the overarching rule that's going to guide you to the Christmas Present Xanadu:

All Geeks Are Problem Solvers.

Too simple? Let's discuss the implications. You see, all your geeks just love a mental challenge, because that's what we do best. We're usually nowhere near being a physical specimen, so we like to challenge our brains. This is why a lot of geeks are computer programmers, because at it's core, programming is the use of technology to solve or simplify a human problem. Even if the problem is something as seemingly inane as trying to defeat the boss stage on level 5, finding a solution to a problem fills your average geek with a warm fuzziness usually reserved for Precious Moments figurines. Your geek LOVES a good problem, and even more so, LOVES coming up with a solution.

So, to find a gift that will satisfy the geek in your life, it needs to accomplish one of two things:

  1. It needs to offer a suitably challenging problem, or

  2. It needs to help solve a problem they are already working on.

Now, understanding what problems the geek is or would like to work on may seem difficult, but it's not impossible. For example, let's take the series of problems that led me to become obsessed with PDAs. The first "PDA" I ever owned was actually called a "Phone Card." It was a small computer the size of 5 or so business cards stacked on top of each other. All it did was store the names and phone numbers of people you typed into it - up to 100. It would also work as a calculator, but like any geek kid, I already had a watch that could do that. ;-) My dad gave it to me when he upgraded to another kind of PDA that did about the same thing, just more and better. Both devices solved the simple problem of having your friend's phone numbers available at any time - because cell phones with their built-in phonebooks weren't around yet.

So, problem solved, right? Well, not exactly. You see, when the geek solves a problem, they want it solved for ever more in every case possible. I had storage for 100 names, but what if I needed 200? It doesn't matter that I probably couldn't come up with 200 numbers I absolutely had to have with me at all times, I just wanted to be able to do it. And thus began my foray into the world of the Personal Digital Assistant. A better device holds all the addresses and phone numbers I could ever want, but what about my calendar? And then I wonder if I could just put all the books or magazines I want to read on there, so I don't have to be without them. And then, what if I just put the entire online Wikipedia on there, so I've got the Internet Community's knowledge on any of thousands of subjects available at my fingertips? And why can't this thing play movies or surf the internet or check my email or... you get the idea.

So now that we know all this, let's find a great present. A good start is to find something that geeks use to solve a lot of problems. When my mother-in-law was looking for a present for my brother-in-law, I asked if he had a small cordless screwdriver for taking apart computer cases. I knew that, since he's a geek like me, he cracked into his fair share of computers and would welcome something to help him do that. Your geek's mileage may vary however. Some geeks are obsessed with satisfying the problems that come from their photography hobby, so they need a bigger memory card to let them take more pictures. Some geeks are just bored and want a good game to take their minds off things for a while. If you know what your geek is into, chances are they have some problems that need a tool to fix.

The other category of good geek gifts actually CREATE problems. I don't mean that they do this by breaking or failing all the time, but that they create a whole new realm of possibility. For my last birthday, my Mom got me a 20Q Ball - a little electronic device with an LED display wthat will actually play 20 questions with you, based on your input. It has a very basic fuzzy logic AI that responds to what the average human will choose, and narrows down the possibilities though it's predesigned questions. It's a totally neat geek gift that solves a problem that I didn't even know existed - a cool geek toy I could put on my desk at work that people could come by, pick up and play with when they were visiting. Now that this realm of possibilitty has opened up, I'm wishing I had a keychain version, so I had a novel conversation piece always with me. It created a desire to find more, and as such it's a great geek gift.

If nothing has popped in your head yet and you're still looking for inspiration, I'd suggest looking at Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools. This is a repository of tools that really work to solve real problems for real geeks of all kinds as submitted to the author, so there's probably a solution in there somewhere for your geek's interests.

I hope this helps you find something for that geeky someone that's always hard to shop for. Merry Christmas!

P.S. - This very post is brought to you by a number of solutions to a problem I'd been researching - how to create blog posts on my PDA. Thanks to a foldable keyboard and the services of AvantBlog, I'm able to create a post whenever I want and publish it over my PDA's Wi-Fi connection, or when I sync with my connected desktop. Now that I can blog from bed, I don't think I'm EVER going to get to sleep. :-)



Do you ever get those random letters from people you know (or don't) during Christmas, usually instead of the traditional Christmas Card? My wife is putting me through that experience this year. It's nothing that my parents ever did, but it seems like an okay idea, so long as you limit the address list to people who actually know you and yours and actually care. SO, since I'm kind of on a roll with rules:

Eric's Rules For The Christmas Letter

  1. "Independent Recreational Pharmaceuticals Distributer" is NOT a good job title for little Johnny.

  2. Your purpose is to inform, not persuade people how great you are. "Joe bought a boat this year" is ok. "Susan bravely left Highland Park this year to teach those underpriviliged children in Plano" is borderline. "Paul would like to give a shout out to God, his Mamma, and to all the playa's in the 818" is not allowed.

  3. If you're trying to show us how you look today, putting on elf costumes (or any costumes for that matter) in the Family Photo simply defeates the purpose. We don't think it's festive, we just laugh at you.

  4. Nobody's gonna die if your letter arrives the day after Christmas.

  5. We are looking for one page of text only. If you've got more, you're sharing too much information. COROLLARY: If you're using more than one stamp on the envelope, you need to re-evaluate your budgeting for Holiday Correspondence.

  6. GOOD IDEA: Including your contact information at the end of the letter. BAD IDEA: Including your financial information at the end of the letter.

  7. And my favorite...

  8. BLOGGING your Christmas Letter is a BAD thing.

"Caroling, caroling through the snow, Christmas bells are ringing..."



I find a lot of humor in the world around me. Stuff like names - have you ever noticed that some people have COMPLETELY inappropriate names? Just recently I was watching a TV show where one of the characters was a girl named Cherish. Sure, sounds all cute and nice for now, but what happens when this girl gets married??

"...to honor, love and cherish Cherish until death do you part..."

Sure, you've probably seen other inappropriate names, especially in pairings: Justin Case, Amanda Sue Goode (she's a lawyer), etc. Did you know that there is actually a very wealthy family here in Dallas called the Hoggs? And did you know that one inebriated patriarch (we'll call him Boss Hogg) actually named his daughters Ima and Ura?? To this day, if I go to the Meyerson and look at the featured donators wall, I gotta laugh when I see Ima Hogg prominently displayed in golden script. I'm sure she's a perfectly wonderful lady (if she's still alive, not sure about that), but any time you combine a symphony with a swine, that's cause for humor.

So with that,I'd like to offer Eric's rules for naming offspring:

1. Holidays are out (that means YOU, Miss Christmas Bond Girl), and so are days of the week. Seasons are okay.

2. Naming your child after actual objects is just fine, but only if that object elicits positive connotations. Apple is okay, Denim is borderline, and Rocket is not acceptible.

3. Names shall be easily written on the signature line of a check, for the sake of all of us that will ever stand behind your child at the grocery store, and so that they won't have to order custom-sized credit cards.

4. Elements of a name should at least appear to come from a similar ethnic background, or at least the same family of language. Naming your child Maximus al-Muhammad de Vostok is like trying to celebrate Christmahanukwanzaakas.

5. Names should be appropriate to the projected physical characteristics and personality traits of the child. Let's face it - if you're 5'7", and your wife is barely cracking 5', you have no right naming ANY progeny "Golliath". LIkewise, if you're the leader of a death metal rock band and your wife has both "pornstar" and "former Baywatch babe" on her resume, names like "Serenity" and "Chastity" are not allowed on your list.

Of course, I reserve the right to add to this list or change it, especially if I feel like breaking any of these rules once I'm a Dad.

"...see, I've been through the desert on a horse with no name..."