Blink changed my life.

My friend Daniel has been writing a little series about the books that changed his life. It is amazing how much he inspires me when he writes. It amazing that two people can connect to the level we have as friends even though geographically we are very far. Reading his posts I began to think of the books that I have read, but it never occurred to me that they would be powerful enough to change my life, but then I read blink.

After reading this book I felt like Malcolm Gladwell was someone that I wanted as a friend. He a talented and best selling author(he also wrote The Tipping Point,) but when he writes he has a conversation with the reader that is spoken in a tone that most people reserve for their best friends. The message of the book is in a way about tolerance and introspection, but the book gave me so much more.

I just turned 30 and self evaluation has kicked into high gear. Event though my birthday has never felt quite like a milestone, this one did and it was partially because of this book. The books title talks about the power of thinking without thinking. In simple terms it tries to let you know that you have a key to your unconscious, but it is not the one that will let you open it.

After reading this book I feel I understand the way I make decisions a little better, but more importantly, I learned that my decisions are being affected by what surrounds me more than I ever even imagined. I then decided that what I was doing for my brain was simply not enough. To put it in computer terms, I have a very powerful machine, but I was just leaving my connection to the internet at dial up speed.

We can all let ourselves be manipulated by what advertisers or media outlets want us to believe about the world or we can go one step further and learn to think for ourselves. Knowledge is power only if it used. One of the biggest problems I have with formal education is that it is almost set up to make you pass tests rather than to actually learn something. After reading blink, you start to see the purpose of gathering knowledge. From being able to read minds to eliminating racism or sexism in some situations. This book gives us the opportunity to look at life in a different way. What if we could literally steer history in a different way by refusing to accept the negative imagery that is presented to us in a regular basis?

The book is powerful because it does not hold our hand by giving us a quick guide as to how to make quicker decisions. Rather it opens up the door for us to make our life and mind better by filling it with better information. The reasons some of the experts on his book are as good as they are is because they took an active interest in a subject and became truly amazing at it. While we might not be able to do it at the scale that some of those scholars did, we can take steps towards being more mindful of all the clues that are out there for us.

While it might have been that I read the book in the weeks before my birthday, I still think there is a lot of merit for the authors ability to make me think. His message is simple while covering very complex subjects. It lets us take a peek into how truly extraordinary people make decisions even when they do not even know themselves.

One simple lesson that you can take with you is that vocabulary is important in any subject. It is probably one of the places most of us get really hung up on. While we might have an opinion about something, not having the correct way to express it can leave us with a simple yes or no answer. If you think about relationships and feelings, being able to voice them is very important, but what if we cannot explain what we are feeling? There are plenty of books out there that can give you the vocabulary you need to vocalize what you feel. When we put a puzzle together we use the picture of what it is supposed to look like to find the right pieces. So if you are particularly stuck with something in your life, it might be a good idea to pick up a good book and find the picture that will help you put that puzzle together.

Heath Ledger Dies at 28

Actor Heath Ledger was found dead today in his apartment in NYC and it seems to have been drug related. He had recently split from Michelle Williams. He plays the Joker in the upcoming Batman Movie.

Daniel just told me about this happening and it made me feel really sad. I don’t remember being this sad when Chris Farley died under also the suspicion of drug overdose. I was living in Chicago at the time and felt almost detached from the whole thing. It was not until the whole documentary about his life came out that I felt a little more connected to the story.

I first remember Ledger from 10 things I hate about you where he played kind of a loner that steals the hearth of the chick that wants nothing to do with boys because of a broken heart. The Movie was a great mixture of a love story and a teen movie without making you want to puke.

Ledger moved on to being in the Patriot which I thought was a good role, and then did the quirky A knights tale which was ok. I had not seen another one of his movies and I am not interested on broke back mountain, but I was very excited to see him as the Joker in the previews for the new movie.

I am sad that his life ended so short because I found him to be a good actor. I am sad for his little daughter that will grow up without knowing a father. I am also sad to lose another great actor to drugs, but it seems like it is not an uncommon thing. Rest in Peace.

Next, What a mess

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I just finished reading Next by Michael Crichton. He is one of my favorite authors, but this book really left a lot to be desired. While I do have to say that I read the book pretty fast and I wanted to keep going, I think it was mostly to see if he could untangle the mess he had created.

The first issue I encountered is that I could not keep the characters straight. Initially I thought it was because he was introducing to many, then later I realized that, while all of the mini stories were connected, they did not flow. I ended up not caring for any character in particular, there was no real hero, no real victim, no real redemption, no main story.

The book tries to bring genetics to the forefront of our mind, but it does so in a very disjointed way. I don’t feel like he was thinking of the reader when he wrote the book, or at least not the average reader. One of the things I have always loved about Crichton is that he makes science seem easy, but in this book we feel very removed from he actual science, catching only glimpses of it. If genetics was to be the main character of the book, it was an elusive character that never quite came to the forefront of the story.

I blame Google for the spastic nature of the book. Imagine someone doing a search on Google about genetics and then trying to fit every link that came back in the first page into a book.

I do not recommend this book, but if you want to read Crichton start with Timeline or Airframe; both are way better written. I am sad to say that this book ended up being an spaghetti bowl that I expected to find meatballs inside of, I searched and searched and in the end I ended up with a bunch of noodles that filled me up, but I did not really enjoy.

Box Office Number Ones of 2007

One of my non resolutions this year is to start reviewing movies again. I really slacked in 2007 not just on movie reviewing but also watching. We have recently found a place where movies are only 4 bucks for matinée and 6 dollars even on weekends for new movies. So here is a list that I took from the wikipedia and gave myself the title of reviewer or the number one box office hits of 2007. Somebody better buy a freaking DVD from Amazon after all the link building I did.

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Garth @ The Sprint Center

Garth

My first time at the Sprint Center came with a lot of expectation. I have read a lot about the place and have been wanting to visit it since I first moved to KC and saw the structure being built. I am not the biggest country music fan, in fact I kind of dislike most of it, but last night I became a total cowboy wannabe. Garth Brooks is a great entertainer and he puts on a great show. So lets see how the Sprint Center did.

Parking

I heard a lot about parking for an event at the Sprint Center from the local media and I am sorry to say they are all wrong. If you park close to the event you are going to be stuck on traffic for a while, I knew that just from going to big events before. We decided to go for drinks at Vivaces first and meet the couple that was going with us to the concert. We then drove only one car a little closer to the arena and found parking right away. We went into a parking garage that was advertising 5 dollar parking only 5 blocks away. It was a beautiful night and 5 blocks is not a long walk. This also helped tons getting out because there was no opportunity for build up of traffic and since we were not going towards the highway like everyone else that simplified things. We were back home in less than 30 minutes.

The Arena

Even though I was impressed with the size from the outside of the arena, I was not too impressed when I was inside. It is more of a sports arena than for concerts, I really hope they get a team or it would really be a waste. We are lucky enough to have a private box at the center thanks to my boss, but if I had to buy tickets I think the best seat in the place for a concert is actually behind the stage. Those seats are at the best viewing angle for sure. The acoustics of the place seemed fine to me, I am not an expert on the subject but I heard every note.

The Crowd

Yes, I have to rub it in a little more. Going in as a VIP is the way to go. No line to get in for us, but general admission an hour before the show it wrapped around the block but it seemed to flow. Everyone seemed to have a great time and the noise level was amazing when Garth came out to play, compared to the cheers when his wife started the night. The people that worked inside all seemed to be very nice and attentive, the best thing to get food wise is in the Quick Trip inside the arena. The Founders private bar was not anything too special and I believe the prices of the food in there are the same as everywhere else.

The Show

Garth’s wife sang a couple of good songs that I actually recognized, one was a cover of “How do I live without you” and the other one was “American Girl.” She did a very short set and I think did an excellent job. I did not like that there was a big pause between her show and Garth’s I kind of felt like she should have warmed up the crowd and then led right into him singing.

Garth is an amazing entertainer. He works the crowd like nobody else I have seen live. He truly wants to make you a cowboy for the night and take you on a ride. I did wear the belt buckle that Travis gave me, so I had at least one piece of Country attire. His songs are pretty timeless and even for a non country fan I seemed to know a lot of them. Even though he did a long set it seemed to go by way too fast.

The Verdict

The Sprint Center is one of the best arenas I have been to. It seemed like it was very well organized and if you are willing to walk some blocks you can park pretty cheap. As long as the scalpers do not ruin the chance to get tickets I believe that this arena will become one of the best places in the country to go see a show. Go take a look at the pictures at my wife’s flickr.

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