Run, Shmun. We Sit for Dunkin.

I’m no fan of going out to eat with children in tow. There are families who can do it. There are places any family can do it, but that usually involves eating in front of an animatronic rodent. I don’t like eating in front of rodents, animatronic or otherwise, and my family isn’t one of those that sits and waits, quietly enjoying the ambiance of a grown-up establishment. I’ve heard a lot of suggestions for places that are great for families. You know why those places are great? Because we aren’t there.

When we go out to eat, the conversation never stops. Unfortunately, the context of the conversation is usually, “Sit down! Sit up! Face forward! Don’t stab your brother! Give the nice lady her dentures. Do you have to go potty? NO, NOT HERE! GO!”

Stuff like that.

But there is one place we can all go at the same time without the aid of creepy, bug-eyed, motorized mice. No playland, no toys, no music, no distractions. Just donuts.

I kid you not, when the boys walk into Dunkin Donuts, they are on a solitary mission: get donuts. They wait in line. They order themselves. They stand patiently. They sit when they’re told. They don’t get up. They respond kindly to every question asked of them. They eat every bite and make every effort not to drop a single sprinkle. They don’t push. They don’t yell. They just eat donuts.

Heather and I? We breathe. And also eat donuts, which is nice too.

I don’t care if it takes longer to eat there. I don’t care if the food is bad for us. I don’t care about anything when we’re in Dunkin Donuts other than the fact that my sons behave impeccably from the moment they set foot in the parking lot. On even the worst day, it’s a guaranteed moment of tranquility. You don’t pass those up if you can get ’em.

Once we leave and the sugar rush sets in, the ironclad fortress of peace and harmony becomes a delicate bubble, but for those few minutes, we’re a family who can eat out. Yes, I know Dunkin Donuts is not eating out. It’s just a place we can pretend we’re not all-out loco.

Lou Piniella, former Yankees manager and player, will retire as manager of Cubs at end of season

Lou Piniella, former Yankees manager and player, will retire as manager of Cubs at end of season

The New York Daily News is saying it’s Toodle-Lou after this season. No official word from the Cubs, yet. Also uncertain: whether a throng of disenfranchised Cubs fans will follow Lou out the door. Seriously, this season could make a lot of people want to quit following baseball, let alone the Cubs.

Taking the Cubs Ticket Pre-sale at Face Value

Whatever laws exist to curb scalping, they don’t apply to the Cubs. photo via
The Cubs have announced a plan to give fans who want to purchase single-game tickets in advance of next Friday’s full-scale sale event at a 20% markup. Of course, they’ll offer a 5% discount and a contrived shopping e-coupon to customers who use their MasterCard to buy tickets. So is this a rip-off? Are Cub fans the victims of corporate greed?
In a word: yeah. But in another word: no.
Single-game tickets generally go to three groups of people: 1) people with ticket budgets below the season-ticket level; 2) people on the season-ticket waiting list who want to buy as many tickets as they can; 3) scalpers who want more tickets to sell than just their season ticket packages.

For the people who can’t afford or aren’t willing to spend more than a fixed amount on Cubs tickets, this promotion is bad news. They (we) have to choose between buying advance tickets at a higher price and perhaps getting a better selection but fewer games or waiting to buy the normal price tickets and getting a poorer selection of (and quite possibly fewer) tickets and games.

The third group, the scalpers, usually buy single-game tickets by employing teams of wristbanded grunts to hang out at Wrigley and buy as many tickets as they can, bypassing the usual surcharges, taxes, and inconvenience fees. All it costs the scalper/ticket broker is a slim $50 or so per grunt while loading up on hundreds or even thousands of tickets. But at a 20% markup with the additional per-ticket and per-order fees piled on? Not gonna happen. Their profit margin vanishes.

The scalpers probably get hurt by this the most, because their biggest profits come from the best tickets, which they’ll still have in spades via season tickets, but their single-game ticket supply will take a major hit. That frees up a fair amount of tickets to . . . the people in group #2 who would have wound up buying tickets from the scalpers anyway.

That’s right, the big winners in this pre-sale are the people whose ticket buying is limited only by the fixed supply of tickets, not by their desire or ability to purchase tickets. Okay, maybe that doesn’t sound like the traditional definition of “big winner” to you, but at least these people can move to the front of the line to buy the tickets they were always going to buy in the first place.

So people with less desire for tickets or less disposable income with which to buy them will get lousier tickets to less interesting games. The Cubs will recover a lot of the money scalpers would have collected. The absolute ticket fiends and college students with brand new credit cards and no sense of financial restraint will be closer to the field.

Did Cubs fans get the shaft? Some of them. But this is hardly a heartless move by the Cubs. It’s just a manipulation of capitalism that creates more PTWBRITT (Profits That Will Be Reinvested In The Team). And if that happens, we all win, right?

The Key to Resisting Temptation: Admit You Have a Problem

This is a news story for the smokers, the cheaters, and the overeaters. It’s also a lesson to those people who look down their noses at anyone who ever succumbs to life’s primal urges. A scientific study by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University showed that judgmental people who think they’re impervious to temptation are more likely to give in than those who lack the confidence to resist.

I generally give scientists a hard time, but I have to applaud them for this study. Using science to expose hypocrisy and false pride is well worthwhile. Granted, Proverbs 16:18 told us as much a long time ago, but it’s still good to get some practical evidence to back it up.
By the way: the photo (and the chocolate) comes from here:

This Video Will Change Your Life

Especially if you live in a house made entirely of privacy Plexiglas.

I love science experiments that consist of revealing strange phenomena by playing with everyday stuff. This is just one of those things.

Hakuna Matata

You might not realize it, but you probably do know at least a little bit of Swahili. The phrase made popular by The Lion King, “Hakuna Matata,” is really the Swahili way to say, “There are no worries.” Job 39 carries a similar vibe to the sentiment espoused by Timon and Pumbaa in the Disney cartoon: Hey, we’re animals; what do we have to worry about?

So what’s the point, here? This isn’t one of those chapters where the logical conclusion hits you over the head with a sledge hammer. Here are some gut reactions that might come to us naturally:
  • The animals listed here don’t have to worry, so why should Job? I really don’t think God would ask Job to take solace in the carefree nature of the wild kingdom after losing his family, his possessions, and his health. “Sorry about your kids and the hideous boils, but hey, ostriches are fast.” Not exactly a bright side there.
  • God cares for the animals, so He’ll certainly care for Job. True, but not the point here. The tone of the previous chapter had been the folly of claiming to empathize with or comprehend God. We can’t put ourselves in His position. We can’t grasp the why behind His actions. We can’t even pinpoint His actions. To segue into “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” would be a complete non sequitor at this point.
  • God cares for things you can’t, so you don’t have to worry about them. Again, this is true, but it doesn’t follow from what the general direction of the text. God isn’t asking Job to leave his worries to God (although he should); He’s correcting Job’s skewed view of just how superior God is, how small Job is, and how silly it is for Job or anyone to give their opinions of what God should do.
  • God does have to care for the animals’ tiniest needs, and He equips them with their most intricate features. Man has no idea what it’s like to truly provide care on the level God provides it. I put this one last, because that’s how I read this passage.
God’s response to Job here reminds me of a speech a parent might give to a child (or even to an adult who doesn’t have kids). Until you become a mom or a dad, you have no idea what it’s like to love and care for a baby, a child, a teenager. Actions and inaction that seem completely ridiculous or unfair to our children are motivated by a love that is deep and inexplicable. If we could explain to our kids the pain we feel when they suffer or the extent to which we care, they still wouldn’t get it.
I think, though, Job got it. At least he finally understood he couldn’t get it. Got it?

God: You Don’t Know

A) I don’t have any excuses for going over a month without seriously dwelling on God’s Word. But that’s what I’ve done.
B) Nobody knows what it’s like to be God.
I think that (point B) is the key of this passage. I can see people taking Job Chapter 38 to be God’s chastisement to Job for asking God questions (You have no right to ask Why?). I can see people understanding it to be God’s statement of distance (You aren’t on my level, so you can’t expect me to relate to you). But neither of those adequately reflect the words or the essence of the passage or other revelations God has made about Himself.
No, the point seems to be that humans like Job & friends (and us) have no clue what it is like to stand in God’s place or to wield God’s power. So when we go beyond asking God “Why?” and venture into the land of making conclusions about God’s motivations and reasoning . . . we’re publicizing our idiocy.
We don’t know what it’s like, and we should never have the arrogance to conclude why God has done anything, unless He has spelled it out clearly in His Word. Even then, we shouldn’t claim to comprehend the magnitude of God’s actions, only gratefully awed that He would include us in His explanation and in His plan of grace.