Sit Down, Shut Up and Put the Gum on the Bedpost!

Multitasking is a lie, claims Gary Keller in one chapter of his provocative book The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.

In 2009 Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford University, tested 262 students for how successful multitasking was for them. Nass concluded: “…high multitaskers are suckers for irrelevancy … Multitaskers were just lousy at everything.”

“To do two things at once is to do neither,” said Publilius Syrus, probably frustrated by trying to pronounce his name five times in a row really fast.

“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time” cleverly concurs Steve Uzzell. A Russian proverb says if you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither.

Since the 1920s psychologists have studied the ability of humans to do more than one thing at a time. But the term multitasking originated in the 1960s describing the ability of computers to accomplish mind-boggling calculations. Keller points out that the computer is actually doing only one piece of code at a time — alternately sharing the CPU not simultaneously.

For humans inundated with an average of 4,000 thoughts a day, so a change of thought every 14 seconds, Keller says it’s natural to think you need to multitask. Especially when it’s being demanded by employers and by our gadgets.

Poet laureate Billy Collins says of multitasking that “A Buddhist would call this monkey mind” — driving ourselves bananas!

Safety experts are trying to ban cell phones and texting while driving, claiming that even an idle conversation takes a 40% bite out of your focus — or whatever car you’re wrecking!

Keller argues that “At home or at work, distractions lead to poor choices, painful mistakes and unnecessary stress.”

My best friend dismisses the male author’s attack on multitasking, believing that women are intended to do it for the sake of their kids and family.

“Hey, I can walk, talk and chew gum at the same time. This is crazy talk!” you might be arguing. Keller counters that those kind of automatic responses are not directed from the same part of the brain where you must focus to accomplish important matters. The whole book is a good study, urging us to figure out what matters most and letting nothing distract us from that.

In our spiritual life Matt. 6:33 states plainly what “the one thing” should be. Hope you’ll look it up because instead of choosing that, the rich young ruler walked away sad because his was his money (Lk. 18:18-25). The Bible guides us about priorities and making good choices each day (Deut. 30:19-20).

Maybe it’s time to sit down, shut up and put the gum on the bedpost if there’s some way we’re living a lie.

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FUN FACT: Multitasking has become so mainstream, but we moose in the bog aren’t about to give in to the pressure. We stop while eating to listen to our surroundings.

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The Nicest Gift My Dad Gave Me

What makes a good Dad? Most moose never get to know.

It could be when a thankful son or daughter looks at a man who is probably quite ordinary and just trying his best for his family but they see something special.

Dad was the consummate hard-working provider, from 6:30 in the morn until work done at night. He was driven to be the breadwinner, yet never stressed about money or having enough lichen and ferns on the table. I was blessed to spend time with him daily at his workplace. That was a wonderful day in, day out stabilizing gift.

The second best gift Dad gave me was a one-time special event — what he did on the night of my graduation from high school. He came! Sitting on the front row during the ceremony, trying to look dapper in my gown but probably looking more like diaper (which I honestly hope you can’t picture in your mind), I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked back and saw Dad sitting in the audience! I never expected him to come and had no inkling that he was coming. I don’t think Mom knew. Dad never came to any school or social functions. And even more amazing, he was wearing a suit! I think that was the only time I ever saw him in one besides his wedding picture and I think it was the same suit — that still awaits coming back into style.

But the nicest gift my Dad gave me occurred toward the end of his life, and maybe that helped make it the best gift.

Dad would have never written a blog. I don’t remember him ever writing anything. He didn’t even write checks because he always paid cash.

He graduated from high school in La Junta, Colorado in 1943, and back then most graduates probably knew how to write basic sentences. He served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater in World War II so he surely wasn’t illiterate. But I certainly had no idea what kind of a writer he might be.

Until in the last year before he was afflicted with alzheimer’s, he gave me the nicest gift. And it certainly was a surprise one!

One day out of the blue, Dad handed me 6 jam-packed pages front and back of handwritten details on lined yellow paper about his life, covering most of the big major factors. It displayed no literary fluorishes, but it was factual and organized. In those 6 pages I learned some important aspects of my Dad’s life before he could no longer share his thoughts with me and eventually didn’t even know it was me.

Those of you with kids or grandkids would do them a huge service by passing on to them the story of your life while you still can. Ann Landers and Dear Abby often recommend this. You could do this by talking into a tape recorder and then having someone transcribe that into print. I suppose you could record tracks right into a CD.

Or as ol’ Broose is doing, you could write the story of your life on your computer. You could use chonological order. Or you could use James Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness technique where you write down thoughts as they come to mind. If like me, you’ll grow in patience waiting for the next one!

The hard part is to just get started (remember my first blog?). There is an unforgiving deadline.

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FUN FACT: What could be better than a stream of consciousness!  We are at home in water and, no brag, are pretty good swimmers, churning up to 6 mph. We can paddle several miles at a time, making us wonder why dogs get the credit. We can stay under water for 30 seconds or more, which helps when it’s time for baptism.

Patterns of Denial: The Exodus

I sat down in the theater chair, not really comfy as you might imagine, and not really prepped for what the documentary “Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus” was going to cover and conclude. All I knew was that several ministers and fellow Christians whom I love and respect were excited to go see this special nationwide showing, so I wanted to see what all the buzz was about.

The documentary started out shockingly with several prominent archeologists who specialize in the study of Egyptian chronology claiming that there is absolutely no archeological evidence for the events of the Exodus. None. Zippo. The implication is that the Bible is a lie and you are a fool for believing God.

The only reason this shocked me is that over the years I’ve continually read about archeological findings relating to the Bible and every single time they have confirmed the Bible. Here’s the bottom line. The Bible is the inspired Word of God, every word of it (2 Tim. 3:16). It is truth (John 17:17). Science and archeology are of well-intentioned men dealing with their biases who will eventually discover evidence that agrees with the Bible, but in the meantime are quite happy to focus on postulations that don’t demand obedience to a higher power.

The ah-ha moment of the documentary for me was watching transfixed as the patterns of 6 aspects of Exodus — that supposedly don’t exist — perfectly aligned with the Egyptian timeline when the latter was moved about 200 years earlier. This made the date of the Exodus about 1450 BC which is what I’ve always been taught and which is easily calculated from the numbers stated in I Kings 6:1. Then voila! Suddenly the timeline of the Canaan conquest no longer needed the gaps archeologists had been inserting into it to make it fit their errant Egyptian one. It also lined right up!

Then it was bizarre listening to the unrecanting archeologists state that all the years of research — and their books and courses — could not be wrong. They couldn’t fathom considering the possibility of being a decade off, so no way 200 years.

Why? They fit the pattern of denial God clearly diagnoses in Romans chapter 1. “Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge (verse 28),” lest they would have to obey, including in sexual matters. This chapter clears away the dust!

Same pattern admitted by noted evolutionist Aldous Huxley in Ends & Means: “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning … We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”

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FUN FACT: Moose can kick in all directions with its front feet. This allows us to impersonate the archeologists who are stuck in de-Nile.

The Powell Doctrine? Don’t Forget the Kindness Part

Leaders are readers. And they especially value a good autobiography:  It Worked for Me: in Life and Leadership by Colin Powell, a 4-star general and former Secretary of State published in 2012.

His distinguished military and public service career was blemished after he infamously convinced the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003 that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction when it was eventually proved that he didn’t. This book is the only place where he gives his side of the story and then explains how he simply had to learn lessons and move on. I can relate to that after I write each blog!

The book starts out with his “13 Rules” which were published by Parade magazine decades ago. The first one is: It Ain’t as Bad as You Think, It Will Look Better in the Morning.” Sorry, I don’t! You don’t want to see me before noon. But after that Powell will find me humming along with Annie that the sun’ll come out tomorrow. His other 12 rules are good too, and a few I’ll remember, but they’re not on a par with the Big 10.

I can really relate to his comments about loving to stroll down Park or Fifth Avenues in the Big Apple — destination Sabrett hot dog cart for what is “affectionately known to New Yorkers as ‘dirty water dogs’ because they sit in a pot of near-boiling water.” Now you know how I feel here in the bog in August! We may have no idea what’s in them even when advertised as all-beef, but that doesn’t stop us from relishing them.

The best chapter in the book is called “Kindness Works” and Powell writes about how a statement in a sermon stayed with him for decades: “Always show more kindness than seems necessary, because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.” He has learned that “Kindness is not just about being nice; it’s about recognizing another human being who deserves care and respect.” Once my best friend, with tears in her eyes, let me have it for being unkind. I didn’t see how I had been unkind to her and thought she had provoked what I did. But when she followed up that I didn’t respect her, that stood me up on all fours because it hit me straight in the heart!  Kindness begins with care and respect.

Kindness, the fifth of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit given by Paul in Gal. 5:22-23, serves as a fulcrum for the other eight having balance and power.  Powell often brings up the value of kindness throughout his pages.

You’ll love the story about the president of the New York Central Railroad responding to an irate passenger who’d taken a sleeper from New York City to Buffalo. So the passenger receives a profusely apologetic letter from the president, but as he’s reading it and starting to calm down, out falls a handwritten note from the president to his secretary: “Send this jerk the “bedbug letter!”

This executive probably thought he was applying the Powell Doctrine: apply decisive force. He forgot the kindness part.

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FUN FACT: The Brits are famous for keeping a stiff upper lip. Mine is flexible. Glad we moose don’t have to bother with chapstick!

“This Wine’s So Good, Let’s Try the Punchline!”

On the Internet you can find some pretty funny Bible jokes and riddles. I don’t make any such promises here. Keep reading at your own peril if you’d like to pun-ish yourself.

At the wedding in Cana of Galilee, Mary coaxed Jesus to do His first miracle — and we’re talking public one because His first miracle was living till then without one single sin! Some people probably think He blew it right then and there when He turned 6 firkins of water into wine. I can just hear Bill Cosby now:  “Right, what’s a firkin!” Well, they were waterpots containing 20 to 30 gallons apiece. Jewish weddings were big community events and lasted days.

So the master of the wedding feast tastes the transformed H2O and exclaims to the bridegroom that hosts usually offer their best stuff first and save the inferior for when “the guests have well drunk.” He is reputed to have remarked “This wine’s so good, let’s try the punchline!”

Hope you’re not lining up to clobber me, ‘cause if you tend to pity those of low estate, you might care about who’s the shortest person in the Bible. In reality it’s probably that wee little man Zaccheus, a wee little man was he, who climbed up the sycamore tree. This tax collector was looking to Jesus to rise above the circumstances in his life. Jokesters, heightened by the sound of his name, think Zaccheus should be thought of as a locksmith. Hah, could he even reach up to a jammed lock to get any cheus to work?

The shortest person? Somebody else of macabre taste might opt for the prophet Isaiah because tradition says he was sawn in half by King Manasseh. That’s too painful to even think about.

OK, who really is the shortest? Bildad the Shuhite? That’s the witty concensus.

But if you listen to the prophet sawn asunder, he writes (40:17) that all nations “are counted by Him less than nothing.” Put away your tape measure. We all come up a little short.

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FUN FACT: One reason moose like to live in North America is that we’re the tallest mammal here. From hoof to shoulder we can stretch up to 6 ft. 7 in. That’s not counting our massive horns on males. We can’t help it if we look down on you except for some of your basketball players.

“Where I Want to Meekly Be”

Here we go again, in early January astronomers announced that they found 2 more earth-like planets that are the most like our home yet. Talk about interstellar excitement! Will they have breathable air? Drinkable water? A place to go when we’ve ruined ours here!? Any life there? Never mind that Kepler 438b is 470 light years away and Kepler 442b 1,100 light years. That is truly out of sight and, for this moose, out of mind.

Since NASA launched the Kepler observatory in 2009 with the mission of discovering “potentially habitable Earth-like planets with liquid water,” its 4,175 discoveries outside our solar system have nearly all proved to be uninhabitable.

Remember Gliese 581g discovered September 2010? Me neither. But it looked so promising that some predicted the chances of finding life on it were 100%.” Reality check: According to an article published last summer in Science, you won’t find any life there because you won’t even find a planet there! Gliese 581g doesn’t exist! Blame the less-than-stellar predictions on incredible distances and stellar activity “masquerading as planets.”

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Matt. 5:5 promises “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” “Isn’t that a lovely Beatitude,” and that might be as far as we get. Some think “Oh Oh, I sure don’t want to be meek then ‘cause I’m goin’ someplace else!” The corollary thought is “Oh, that’s just a nice expression that means life will go pretty good as long as you’re stuck down here.”

The best definition of meekness is teachable, and long ago ol’ Broose decided to just believe what the Bible plainly says.

Here’s the thrilling news from Rev. 20-22 that this moose hangs his hat on, no small feat considering my huge antlers stretching 6 feet across: Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth and will rule from Jerusalem. What you seldom hear said, and we moose don’t say much, at the end God the Father is coming down with His New Jerusalem to make His home here after it’s made new (21:1-3).

If that’s where the Meekest are coming to make their eternal home, I may be just a dumb ol’ moose but that’s where I want to meekly be.

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FUN FACT: I don’t want to brag but moose can run 35mph and trot 20 mph, keeping it up for 15 miles tops. To put that in comparison, your blistering fast 4-minute mile is only a 15 mph pace. Of course, you might do better if some hunter were aiming a gun at you! So what about traversing the universe? Contemplating that a light year is about 6 trillion miles, looks like none of us better make a run for it!

Why a Penny Could Still Have Big Value for You

These days a penny seems almost worthless. When you can so easily flash a credit or debit card, having them jingling in your pocket makes hardly any cents.  Feel free to make sense of that!   But there is one simple reason why a penny could still have big value for you.

Are you guessing that I might be talking about collecting them in a big jar, taking it to the automatic counting machine at your supermarket, and then turning it in as a donation to your favorite charity?

That would be a thought surely worth assent!

But no, I’m talking about a reason why I, with 4 long legs that make it difficult to bend down, will still zealously stoop down to pick up a penny every time I see one on the ground. Dingy or shiny, it’s well worth the effort.

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Because it will inspire me to read the 4 foundational words above President Abraham Lincoln’s head: IN GOD WE TRUST.

The just shall live by faith and a good definition of faith is relaxed trust in God. In the Old Testament the concept of faith was translated “trust” (Hebrew “batach”) in 154 places.

Spotting a penny a day and reading its inscription reminds me that God “meant” us to have relaxed trust in Him. It reminds me to ask each day for the faith of Christ, not try to work it up on my own moosey effort.

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FUN FACT: Moose is the largest of the deer species. Speaking of trust, we count on you not to mistake us during deer hunting season! We don’t harm you unless provoked, frightened–or shot at! We males don’t like to be confronted during mating season in September-October. Our females won’t put up with a threat to their calves.