Did you cry today?

I used to have this friend who thought the best way to open a conversation with someone he’d just met was to walk up to them and say, “So, do you believe in God?”

It wasn’t because he was a particularly religious man – he lived in L.A. and watched way too much of Dr. Gene Scott, but other than that, I think it was pretty much just honest curiosity and a firm desire to cut to the chase in everything that he did.

Well, I have pretty much decided that a really good day for me is if I find a reason to cry for beauty. I know that sounds fruity, but it feels really good, and I’m running about 7 days out of 10 where I can find something as beautiful as that bag that blows around in the wind in American Beauty to cry about. Often it’s a song on the radio or a passage in a book, but sometimes it’s just an item in the news, the way my daughter looks when she’s asleep, or the fact that every vining plant in my yard winds counter-clockwise around whatever it’s climbing on – there’s a beauty in it all that I find poignant, and I like it.

So in memory of Tom, I’m considering walking up to strangers and asking them, “So, when’s the last time that you’ve cried over the sheer beauty of it all?” and they’ll look at me like I’m crazy, but that’s OK. (I actually tried this on a guy in his mid-50’s who was a cattle rancher that I met in a bar at the Phoenix airport, and he definitely didn’t get it, but we still had a nice conversation about cattle.)

Yes, I’m still here…

In case it’s not obvious, this is one of those, “Yes, I’m still here,” posts.

I spent most of the last week or so driving around between Kansas City and south central Iowa, and I haven’t posted in, like, forever.

Nonetheless, I’m still out here thinkin’ and writin’.

While I was driving my Hyundai Accent around on “Clean Burning Iowa Ethanol,” I heard a few good songs on the local alternative station out of St. Joseph’s MO, which I believe was called KJO. (Speaking of ethanol, it was amazing &#151 the 89.5 octane unleaded with ethanol was 6 cents cheaper than the 87 octane without.) But the really nice thing about driving a Hyundai rental is how good my old ’89 Honda Accord feels when I get home.

The first good song was Breathe, by Anna Nalick. If you go to her website, and I think you should, I’d encourage you to listen to the sample for Wreck of the Day. Breathe has a cool lyric, though: “Life’s like an hourglass glued to the table.” Check it out.

The other song I liked a lot was Almost by Bowling for Soup. This from their FAQ page: “Why not Bowling for Stew? Because that would suck.”

Please click that “Bowling for Soup” link now, watch the Almost video and go look at Random Thoughts. Here’s a sample:

  • You know, no one is born a menace to society. That shit takes work. – Jaret
  • I wish I could have met the guy who coined the WORD “fart.” I’ll bet he had a few more up his sleeve. You know he had a few that were even better. – Jaret
  • I was so glad when I found out that masturbation is normal. I thought I was going to be the only blind kid with hairy palms. That didn’t really worry me. I don’t want to offend the hairy-palmed people of the world. You look fine. It looks really good on you. What does it feel like to pet a dog? (emphasis mine – CB) – Jaret
  • I think if puppies weren’t so damn cute, that the reptile industry would be booming. – Jaret
  • If I could fly, I always wonder if I would still drive early in the morning time. I mean, I can’t even get myself to do 10 pushups…let alone flap my freakin arms up and down 2000 times per second. – Jaret

(If you actually do listen to Almost and you don’t hear people going “bop-bop-bop,” listen again &#151 I only heard it myself just now, and it really makes the song. Jaret rocks.)

The amazing Good-Fast-Cheap diagram.I was visiting with my good friend Bob the other day, and he showed me this model for evaluating projects. The idea is that everyone wants things to be Good, Fast and Cheap, but in real life, you only get two. So if you want to remodel your kitchen, you can go cheap and good and do it all yourself, but it won’t be fast, or you can hire it done and get it done well as quickly as possible, but it won’t be cheap. Or you can hire it done by a bunch of unlicensed people with little experience, and it may be fast, and it may be cheap, but it won’t be good.

He pretty much convinced me that you can apply this model to everything.