Category Archives: Uncategorized

Our Marriage Didn’t Love Raymond (science proves it)


I’m quickly making my way through Martin Lindstrom‘s book Buyology.  It’s a fascinating read about the psychology behind our buying habits and what is used to influence our decisions.

To write the book, Lindstrom did three years’ worth of brain scan research to find our reactions to brands, logos, advertisements, etc.  He explains that mirror neurons are why we smile when others smile, cry during Hallmark commercials, and jump like a loon when our team scores.  He writes that mirror neurons cause our brains “to react as if we were actually performing these activities ourselves.”  This explains why I was so sad when Iowa lost football games when I was younger.  Now I’m just used to it.  Go Hawks!

Here is where science, Lindstrom’s words, my experience, and Everybody Loves Raymond get together and have a big ‘ol lovefest.

When my wife and I had a TV, one of our favorite shows was Raymond.  It was popular, funny, innocent enough, and seemingly fine.  What I began to not appreciate was the snark and sarcasm written into the script each week.  While funny at the outset, the problem began to rear its head when I noticed myself using the same snark and sarcasm with my wife.

Right now you’re saying something about how I’m crazy to think that a TV show can influence behavior.

Well, this rise in sarcasm was one of the reasons why we ditched our television however many years ago it was.  And I wasn’t crazy about my observed behavior.  Science backs me up.

Lindstrom writes that mirror neurons “are the reason why we often unwittingly imitate other people’s behavior.”  What we were watching was behavior that wasn’t worth imitating.

Sure, it was funny on TV.

But try saying this to your significant other:

Marie: Oh I used to love Valentines Day!… then I met your father.
Frank: I used to love every day.

Or try any of these other “funny” quotes from  Most of those lines have no place in a healthy relationship.

If science says we mimic what we see AND feel like we’re the ones doing the things that we see, why subject ourselves to stuff that isn’t beneficial?

How would you benefit from a change in what you feed your mirror neurons?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Typical – MuteMath

Can I break the spell of the typical?

Fathers Need to Die

I’m a dad and I need to die.  In fact, I think all fathers should die.  We’d all be better off for it.

I don’t mean that we should all literally die, of course.  But in a sense, good fathers kill themselves.

I’m not getting any clearer, am I?

How about this:  My selfishness needs to die.

In any relationship, there is a constant battle of what-I-want VS. what-you-want.  That kid (hopefully not mine) throwing a tantrum in the toy aisle?  Selfishness.  He wants the toy, you want your dignity.

The problem is that while our tantrums (hopefully) decrease as we grow older, the root of the tantrum often hangs around much longer.  To be a great dad, I need to kill this root of selfishness.

Break out the Roundup.

I’m not merely talking about sharing your ice cream with your little one.  That’s easy and mostly inconsequential.  It’s exceedingly more difficult to be selfless with our time.

Is your hobby killing your family?

A tremendous young pastor, Josh Lindstrom, spoke some wise words for dads.  Between his job and his family, he doesn’t have time for hobbies.  Truthfully, I don’t either.  Do you?

Do you have kids at home but play golf every weekend?  Why?  Shouldn’t your family be your hobby?

If I took the time for hobbies, something would suffer.  But it wouldn’t be my work duties.  Family often gets the short end of the stick.

I love to go mountain biking with my friend.  But when I go, half of my Saturday is gone – prime time to chill with the family.

So you’re saying I can’t ever have any fun?

Nope.  But I have three suggestions for dads:

1.  Consider changing your idea of “fun”.  Sure (insert activity) is fun, but find something you can do with your family.  Spending time hiking or just being outside together has been great for my family.  Find what works for yours.

2.  “I’ve earned the right to ____________.”  Get over yourself.  You have a family.  Therefore, you have earned the right to lead them courageously.  One of the greatest ways you can do that is to…

3. …be intentional with your time.  I don’t know about your home, but with my kids, the days are often long but the years are way too short.  Spend time doing things that matter with people that matter.

And who matters more than those little people who buy you ties every June?


National Trails Day – Saturday, June 2nd

One of the reasons I started TV STINKS was to encourage people to get outside more often.  The American Hiking Society is putting on their annual National Trails Day with events across the country.  Check out the link for happenings near you, and if there’s no official event, get outside and enjoy the day anyway.  Image  

The Lion’s Den

As a US resident, I enjoy living in relative safety. My car has airbags. My pancake syrup has a seal on it to tell me if someone’s messed with it. We don’t have lions roaming around trying to eat us. We’ve got a pretty good thing going.

But…we DO have lions roaming around. One of the biggest “lions” is naked women.

The Lion’s Den is a perfect name for a porn shop. Lion’s Den Adult Superstores had 38 locations as of 2009 in the United States (so says this article). Almost all of them are located along interstates. Men drive on interstates. Men are prone to like looking at women. It makes good business sense to put porn shops on interstates where men who like to look at women drive by.

If you’ve seen The Ghost and the Darkness you saw the fear that a prowling lion can strike in a human’s heart. You probably don’t want to see a lion because they are relatively scary and fierce.

So how is it that we miss THE lion who plans on killing us? He’s a sneaky devil. Oh wait, he IS the devil.

The problem is that the nasty porn lion is everywhere, not just lonely truck stops. Billboards, bookstores, grocery-store checkouts, hotel pay-per-views, the mall. It’s hard to look anywhere and not see cleavage and leg. When you’re married or want to be married, cleavage and leg that aren’t your wife’s aren’t good for you.

Peter wrote “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Devouring is serious stuff. It’s not taste-testing.

If you’re a man, this is what porn does to you. You can’t taste-test porn or near-porn and come away unscathed. IT WILL KILL YOU! (And I don’t give a care about someone’s “rights” to be naked or semi-naked. Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t make it beneficial.)

Are you married? Watch out! Do you have a girlfriend? Watch out! Do you have kids? Watch out! Are you alive? Watch out! Porn can getcha, for real.

Abigail Tucker wrote an interesting article called The Most Ferocious Man-Eating Lions. She opens with this:

    In encounters with the king of beasts, an unarmed person is “one of the most helpless creatures,” notes Charles Guggisberg in Simba: the Life of the Lion. “Man cannot run as fast as a zebra or a gazelle, he has not the horns of the sable antelope or the tusks of the warthog, and he cannot deal terrific blows like the giraffe.” People are, in other words, easy pickings.

In my fight against the porn lion, I am not defenseless. I’ve learned where the lion hides. Plus, I’ve got a secret weapon: I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

My family is better for it.

She’s My Cherry Pie

My parents have a cherry tree in their backyard that is loaded right now. Naturally my most awesomest wife wanted to make a pie. It only required a few steps.

Like a bad basketball team, we had a few cherry pickers.

The fruits of their labor.

Using the deluxe cherry stoner to remove the pits.

Add a little flour, sugar, and water…

On to the final step…

I love that my wife and kids all had a hand in making a pie from scratch. The cherries were on the tree outside but they’re about to be in our bellies. Gracious, it smells good!


On Painting and Marriage

As a teacher, I have some time off in the summer to do nothing. As a man, I can’t spend much time at all doing nothing. A few days of nothing was enough for me. So I was thankful when my brother-in-law asked me to paint some rooms in his house.

I don’t mind painting. I’m not fast by any means but I enjoy making a space look good when I’m finished. The other day, though, my painting taught me a lesson.

As I was turning a hallway bathroom from forest green to something more appealing, I took a shortcut. Well, it was supposed to be a shortcut. I thought I could paint around the toilet paper holder without taping it or removing it. You can guess what happened. Instead of having two steps (take off and replace) I now have three steps (take off, scrape off paint, replace). It would have saved me time and effort if I had made the effort in the first place!

My marriage can be the same as my painting job. It’s work, for sure. But it just takes a little prep work to make it easier. I can spend time and energy with my wife now building our relationship (even after 12 years of marriage) or I can have more work later when things inevitably become more challenging. There will be challenges.

The paint on the toilet paper holder taught me an important lesson. I choose to do the work now.


Why a TV is NOT the best Father’s Day gift…

You love your dad, right? Do you want him to look like this? Enough said. Don’t buy Dad a TV for Father’s Day.

Happy Saturday!

Enjoy your Saturday!


Seven. Thousand. Dollars

Demetri Martin hits it on the head. It’s funny because it’s true. Or is it sad because it’s true?

Commercials fall into two camps for me. On one hand, I enjoy the creativity of a good commercial. On the other hand, commercials make me want to buy stuff I don’t need.

But when I read that economist Juliet Schor estimates that for every hour of TV a person watches each week, they will increase annual spending by about $200, I don’t seem to like commercials so much. With the average person watching nearly five hours of TV a day, that’s close to $7,000 a year. I wish I were making this up.

Seven. Thousand. Dollars.

That’s a pretty good raise for just about anyone and can be had just by cutting out the advertisements and artificial lifestyles we see on television. We’re less likely to keep up with the Joneses if we don’t know what the Joneses have.

Have you tried going TV-free? What’s your take on this? If you agree or disagree, sound off below.