Dad, Meet Leah


When we finally arrived in Indiana at 11pm Tuesday night, two-year-old Leah was sleeping.

My dad had never met her before. I asked if he wanted to carry her into the house – it’s so rare to hold her while she’s sleeping anymore. Thanks to many chats via webcam, Leah smiled and recognized him as “grandpa” when she woke up in his arms. While she usually is quiet and shy around strangers, she wasn’t afraid at all.

Our trip took four hours longer than Google Maps said it would, but then, they weren’t counting on us stopping at every other rest stop, hours spent crawling in 55 mph construction zones, or evening thunderstorms with blindingly torrential downpours.

One of the most memorable scenes from our trip, in addition to some spectacular, dragon-esque cloud formations and some crazy lightning, was watching a cop get run off the road.

Someone driving a light blue hatchback zoomed past the undercover state trooper on I-76. The cop, who was sporting a four-door maroon sedan, once belonging to someone’s grandmother but apparently refurbished for the police department with an engine fit for a race car, flashed his lights as the blue car passed.

In the distance, I could see the blue car pulling over to the right shoulder. The cop approached the parked car. Just as he went to pull in behind the zipster, a black car, who had been in caravan with the blue one, pulled into the very spot. The cop couldn’t swerve left because he’d hit the oncoming traffic. Instead, he swerved right and down a slight grassy hill on the side of the road. We passed by just as he regained control without flipping his car (wow!) and then turned his wheels up towards the two stopped cars. As we drove by, we watched as the cop threw his car into park and exited – red faced and screaming like he was going to kill someone – followed by the grannymobile lurching to a halt.

A few hours later, while in the middle of Ohio, Andrew and I could see menacing lightning striking through gushing rainclouds on our path in the distance. Can’t go around it, can’t go over it, can’t go under it, we’ve got to go through it! I was driving. I warned the kids. “We’re about to go through a really bad thunderstorm. It’s going to be hard for mommy to see and the roads are going to have a lot of water on them – it’s going to be easy for the car to slip. When we get to the storm, please sit still and be quiet,” I said. “Even if you’re scared, do NOT scream.” They obeyed and Jack Johnson and his peaceful guitar sang us through.

Casserole Sex

There were no less than 2,000 tab-A-into-slot-B bits of advice, tips and tricks being advertised on the covers of the women’s magazines at the entrance of my grocery store checkout lane this evening. I counted. There were enough bedroom pointers for a different one each night for almost five and a half years.

I find it funny that in each monthly issue, the same magazine finds 100 or so more of the “best” tips. It’s endless, and it sells.

Don’t get me wrong… I’ve been married for almost 10 years now, and I have z e r o complaints in this department. Sex is awesome, it should be frequent, and it’s a very integral element to a healthy marriage.


My gripe with the onslaught of shallow women’s magazines is this: Sex is presented is as the be-all-end-all shortcut to happiness. Yet the inundation of the act makes it as ordinary as a dinner menu. Hmm… what will we eat tonight? In fact, I bet that if the word “sex” was replaced with “casserole,” readers would never notice.

Let me just say, from a great deal of experience, that it is easier to have sex than a meaningful relationship with someone. Sex can be a substitute for real intimacy and oneness, rather than an extension of it.

Since most who read these types of magazines for advice don’t understand true intimacy, they will never have satisfying sex. Like a person who lacks cooking skills, they know there is something missing, but they don’t know what it is. It’s easy for them to think that if they just try new things every night for five and a half years, that one of them must be the winning combination to bliss. This mystery makes it very easy for magazines to appeal to the unsatisfied crowd – the same crowd who buys a cart’s worth of prepackaged foods each week.

Casseroles – with endless ingredient combinations of canned condensed soups, frozen veggies, ground meat, mushy noodles, par-boiled rice – are easier to make than the perfect steak (I like mine medium-rare with blue cheese crumbles or a fresh herby churrasco sauce, thankyouverymuch). However, they are not as satisfying.

If you have a deeply-in-love, committed, trusting relationship with someone, the rush of sex is infinitely more penetrating because it’s a mind + body + soul experience. If you’re not satisfied in your relationship, it’s probably not the fault of your sexual abilities as much as it is with the relationship itself. Delicious relationships are not built upon 15-minutes-to-the-table shortcuts.

Gone Fishing

I’m taking a break from Japan for a moment and am on vacation (my first ever “real” vacation!) in the US.

We’re going to be camping in the Poconos – no Internet.

Tom and I are thankful that the trip has gone well so far. Please continue pray for our family — that we will have a relaxing time, and that everyone will be safe in the water. Pray that we would have a time of refreshment, and that the Lord would bless our time with our extended family. Tom will be heading home first, and, armed with an iPod of music and audio books, I plan to drive to Indiana with the kids to see my family before heading back to Japan.

In the mean time, please take a moment to check out the links on the right hand side of my page. There, you’ll find everything from tips on choosing the right fragrance to buying used motorcycles to blogs from all over the world.

If you have a blog or favorite link you’d like me to consider adding to my list, please go to my contact page and send me a note.

Looking forward to my relaunch and to starting up the monthly giveaways of themed cool-stuff care packages from Japan!

Much love,

United Airlines: How to Handle the Dave Carroll Baggage

On July 6, 2009, musician Dave Carroll posted a singing rant called, “United Breaks Guitars” on YouTube, cleverly lamenting the loss of his guitar, allegedly at the hands of the United Airlines’ baggage handlers.

Carroll’s brilliant jingle is catchy enough to sing in the shower, clearly makes it points, and is now oh-so-viral.

It doesn’t matter to what degree United is responsible for the damage to the guitar, they have a serious public relations situation on their hands — as well as some serious potential for claiming a new following of customers.

If I were working for United’s PR department, here’s what I would do:

  • Quickly form a new set-fee service for the special handling of fragile items
  • Hire Dave Carroll as the spokesperson.
  • Hold a contest to fly an unsigned band, instruments and crew to their next big gig, all accommodations paid — (and film the instruments being handled, and the band along their trip, to use in future United ads, of course!!) Use SM to vote on favorite band.
  • Fragile Check Baggage Service would offer:

  • Fee-based, item packaging service [UPS’s Pack & Ship Promise is a model] / item inspection service — for musical instruments who are in a case, United can assess packaging to ensure it meets requirements.
  • Insurance for lost or damaged items covered by the guarantee
  • Service ensures extra special handling of items in sent through this service category [I would hire or train a special set of handlers for this service]
  • Restrictions:

  • Customers would have to arrive within a certain time period before their flight
  • Item fits within weight and size dimensions of baggage handling allowances…IWO, Fragile Check would not cover bringing along a baby grand piano!
  • Would cover the structural damage/integrity of an item. It would NOT cover having to retune the instrument due to temperature changes.
  • Commercial Script Idea:

    White space, with black lettering : Did you see this on YouTube?

    (Quick fade to Dave Carroll’s song and bravely include the phrase “United Breaks Guitars”)

    White space, same black lettering: “So did we.”

    Cut to cool, smiling, United baggage handler, playing his own musical instrument. Underneath in white lettering, same font as from first part of commercial: “Johnny Hero , United Airlines-Baggage-Handler – and owner of a Gibson Les Paul”
    Baggage handler plays a riff from his instrument, then pauses and say something like, “We here at United want you and your instrument to arrive at your next gig safely”

    (Next baggage handler, plays few bars from sax) “Dave inspired us to work harder to ensure that fragile baggage is properly handled.”

    (Next handler, same format as before): “That’s why we’ve launched a new Fragile Check Baggage Service. It’s music to my ears.”

    (Next handler, same format): “United customers can now bring fragile items, like guitars, for our new insured service that guarantees your item will arrive in one piece.”

    Then, cut to information about the contest.

    Handling the Dave Carroll baggage in this way shows that United Airlines is:

  • Hip, current and connects with social media (bringing SM fans on board),
  • Gives impression that they respond quickly to situations (even though it was months ago, the viral-ness of the video is still fresh),
  • That they care about musicians (personal touch of musician/baggage handlers speaking for themselves)
  • First One is Always Free

    “What level of customer support do you expect with a free product or service?”

    This is the question being asked today by blogger Seth Simonds.

    He observes,

    “Free” is not a new concept to those with experience in the gratuity-driven parts of the hospitality industry. “On the house” are a patron’s three favorite words. But the staff charged with distributing the free good or services rarely feel the same way. Why? Because people who get free food, drinks, massages, etc. seldom remember to tip. In the moment of “free” they fail to behave like paying customers.

    A departure from normal behavior often takes place on both sides of “free.” Consumers, given the chance, take advantage (in the pejorative sense) of promotions. Producers and service providers give a lower level of service because they think it’s enough to simply give something away for nothing.

    Companies are not friends. If they give away something for free, it is because they want something in return — your business. “The first one is always free.”

    Many companies, though, are run by idiots who think that if something is free, they shouldn’t have to support/replace/put their best into the item. Avoid these companies. They have a cutting-corners mindset that will likely show up in the product itself and even in their customer service for paying customers.

    I would be curious to see how a company who was giving something away for free, yet refused to support or lessened support offered , would react if someone were to write a nasty review of the item or service with massive syndication that bridged media outlets. Methinks the company would figure out pretty quickly that a good reputation is more valuable than money.

    ” A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
    Favor is better than silver and gold. ” – Proverbs 22:1

    Photo Credit: Wakest via Flickr