Monday, December 29, 2008

A Classic Resolution

A New Year’s Resolution: To do one million pushups in a year. That is the ambitious goal of the weight coach at my work. Apparently, someone has done this. And this guy wants to take a crack at it, even though it means averaging 2,740 pushups a day. Or, if he devoted eight hours a day to doing pushups, 343 an hour for eight hours a day for 365 days.

Personally, I don’t think he is going to do it. Tackling 500,000 pushups in a year is a lofty goal, but twice that? No way, at least not while keeping his job and any sort of healthy lifestyle, but it got me thinking about making a resolution for myself. I like the pushup one because it is a goal with a clear number. I don’t like most resolutions because they are not concrete enough like I’m going to workout this year or I am not eating cheese in 2009. I need a number. If I set a goal to work out 4 times a week in 2009, I would be much closer to achieving that goal than if I had set it without a number. The number sticks in my mind and it is hard to shake a number because it eats at me more than anything else.

The number in my New Year’s resolution is 12. I am going to read 12 classic books in 2009.  I haven’t heard of a superb and successful writer that hasn’t read a chunk of the classics. Whether or not I become a successful writer, reading more classics is something I’ve always wanted to do. In addition, I’ve always wanted to be a well-read writer, but I can’t call myself one unless I read more classics. Despite my education as an English Major, many classics did not touch my path to a degree.

I have set some rules for my resolution. I don’t necessarily have to read one book a month for the next year. Some books are going to be shorter than others. Taking a month to read The Brothers Karamazov is not the same as taking a month to read Heart of Darkness. All books must be designated a classic by some major publishing house. I can move across the spectrum of classics in any manner I wish. For example, I could, if I wanted to, read twelve Victorian classics. I could read twelve classics from Russian literature. Or, I could read six from each. You get the point. I realize twelve is not a high number. Why not pick twenty or twenty-four classics in a year? Well, for the same reason War and Peace is not going to be the first book I romp through in 2009. I need to start with a number of books that is both challenging and achievable. Starting with War and Peace may just derail this whole resolution in a matter of weeks. So, I made the decision to start with something light, and with a book that could not double as a weapon.

Yesterday, I used a gift certificate to buy the first classic on the list, The Grapes of Wrath. I don’t know how I’ve gone this long without this novel being required reading. I’ve read other Steinbeck works, and most memorably cheated by listening to East of Eden, his longest, on CD, but never this novel, which is considered by some to be the best American novel ever written.

I guess now that I have publicly shared my resolution I need to give occasional updates on my success or failure. Even though I have book one on my nightstand, I am not starting it until Thursday. That would be cheating—I’m a stickler that way.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

What would today be like without Jesus? A Thursday. A workday. Traffic jams. Hours in the cubicle. One day away from a paycheck. Several coffees just to get you to noon at work. Another day to further your career. A new Gray's Anatomy. 

Many people have those things, but today Jesus reminds us that all those things don't matter. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

2008 in Covers

I was a little bored this afternoon so I took a years worth of Newsweek and Time magazines and covered the living room floor with them. It was carpeted history, and it wouldn't make for a bad bar top. The magazines took up so much room that without a wide angle it was impossible to get all of them in one shot, but my Olympus seemed up to the task and these are some of my favorites.

Our current president was on one cover. Our president-elect was on at least ten covers. McCain was also on many covers.

During a six week period, Palin was on four of the covers. Thanks for the nightmares, Newsweek.

Time's person of the year cover is iconic, but I still prefer the original of that image, copied onto campaign chum for all to gobble up. I was able to come away with a 4x6 sticker that will never be used.


I really enjoy blizzards. They make me feel young. I feel a little more alive when I have to speed everywhere to keep the car from getting stuck. The snow makes you do things like walking through snowdrifts instead of taking the cleared path.

Today, all I had on the agenda was to get my haircut and I couldn't even do that. The place was closed, along with every other business in that strip mall. 

The snow looks to be 10-12 inches deep with drifts getting quite deeper than that. 

I'm new to Wisconsin, but since I've been here there has never really been any doubt about having a white Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Summarizing a Year

I was trying to write a Christmas letter over the weekend and got terribly frustrated with the insurmountable task of boiling down a year of highs and lows to a one page letter. By the time I was supposed to write about my own year I was a bit snarky and I wrote the passage below, which didn't make it in the final draft. Kate thought it was a little too mocking.

Bryce broke up with Starbucks in June to go to work for a distant relative of Osama Bin Laden. You might have heard of him, his middle name is Hussein. The days were hot, long, and often frustrating, but in the end, Bryce valued his time as a community organizer and came away from the whole experience still believing in God, as well as feeling like he wasn't a baby-killer, and feeling like he still supported the troops. 

An amusing summary, but, I suppose, one not appropriate to send to our families. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Math and a Donnybrook

I took the GRE diagnostic quiz. My performance in said quiz was of the caliber of my performance on tests in Java class in college. That is to say, I didn’t do so well, but I find myself enjoying the studying. It has been years since I have done basic algebra. Doing a little math everyday has been enjoyable. The thing about math that I always enjoyed is that there is no gray area. An answer is right or wrong. Yeah, my answers are often wrong, but I feel so great when I get the right answer because there was no room for mistakes and I made none. There aren’t too many things you can do in life that are free of mistakes, even when you are doing the right thing.

My performance in the verbal section is better than the quantitative. However, words like donnybrook and sapience threw me for a loop in the diagnostic quiz. I’ll leave sapience for you to look up or maybe you know it. Maybe you know both. Congratulations.

Here is:



a scene of uproar and disorder; a heated argument : raucous ideological donnybrooks.

ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from the name of a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, formerly famous for its raucous annual fair.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


No blogs in seven days. I haven’t taken that kind of break since summer vacation. I was in Minneapolis for a few days last week at an invite. We won, women and men. That was pretty cool, but it is good to be home.

I signed up for the GRE yesterday. I don’t know if I’ll be going to grad school next year. There are many deadlines that I have missed, but there are a few that I could make and to make them I have to do an insane amount of work between now and then. I suspect blogging will be very light over the next two months. December is always busy and in January I am in Florida for ten days with the team. I’ll also be scrambling to get some application materials in on time.

On the other hand, I need to be thinking about next year and what happens if I am not starting grad school in the fall.

I can see the forks in the road. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

GRE, Major Tom, AC-EP, Poem Memorization

I already hate the GRE and I haven’t even made a test date or really cracked open my study book.

I can’t possibly make any grad school application deadline that is sooner than February 1st.

“Major Tom” by David Bowie is a fantastic song.

I’ve been Facebook free for three days. I am not going through withdrawal. Actually, it feels quite good.

Listen to MxPx’s The AC – EP. Through iTunes I have been able to track down some MxPx I don’t have. This little album has been one of the best finds. If you don’t buy the whole thing, at least buy “Invitation To Understanding.” This version is one of the best MxPx songs I have ever heard.  It was the 203rd MxPx song to grace my iTunes library. Well worth the purchase.

Was your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie any good? Be honest. We weren’t in charge of the pumpkin pie. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t as tasty, and it wasn’t Libby’s recipe.

I had never memorized a poem until last week. I thought it was about time so I set out to memorize “Crossing the Bar.” Nothing big, just sixteen lines. It makes me feel smart. I think Donald Miller wrote about this somewhere in one of his books

Thankful for...

There were many things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving, but I kept on thinking about last year’s Thanksgiving. Thus, I was most thankful for my health last Thursday because last year I didn’t have it and one’s health—physical, mental and social—means everything.

Last year I had to spend the first part of my day alone because Kate was at work. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone. I was in a place I hated. I felt I had been banished away to die at a young age, having accomplished nothing in my short 24 years on the Earth. I literally thought I was dying. I was scheduled for an MRI the next day. The whites of my eyes were scarlet. The closest I could get to family was a pitiful phone conversation that provided me little comfort and in the end made me more depressed about my lot in life.

Somehow, things turned around and here I am, thankful that year has passed.

From a Friend

Due to recent budget cuts and the cost of electricity, gas and oil, as well
as current market conditions and the continued decline of the U.S. economy,
The Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.

We apologize for the inconvenience.