Monday, April 23, 2012

Early Morning Week

7:05 AM

Here I still sit, eyes a bit brighter. I had seven early mornings in a row last week, so what's one more?

Even though yesterday was technically the end of this month's Things I'm Gonna Do This Week, I decided not to sleep in this morning.

I know, I know, sleeping in on a Monday? Is that even possible!? Can anybody actually do that even if they wanted to? The answer is "yes" because I do. After a long weekend of performances, I usually look forward to a late start on Mondays.

But guess what? As it turns out, waking up early isn't as bad as I thought. It isn't as great as I hoped either, but here I sit. Waking up is just what we do. 

Humans complain about "waking up" way too much. Everything on Earth that sleeps has to "get out of bed," and yet we seem to be the only ones around that have to force ourselves to do it. Personally, I've never seen farm animals leaving a barn with Starbucks in their hooves, have you? And I highly doubt birds recite little sayings about themselves in order to wake up early and catch a worm.

What they do have, however, is what I discovered to be the only thing you need to facilitate a successful morning: A Purpose!

I wasn't exactly sure how this whole idea of mine was going to pan out. Getting up every day at 7 AM is foreign territory to me. But by the time the third morning came around, I was already so excited by the possibility of what I wanted to do that I woke up before my alarm even went off! By 10 o'clock, I had done three loads of laundry, washed the dishes, taken the dog for a walk, eaten breakfast, done some emailing, and gone to the gym. 

Then, the next morning happened. All those possibilities that made my eyes pop open so easily the day before had been fulfilled. Now my eyelids were cement, and coincidentally, I could think of nothing I wanted to do except go back to sleep. 

From then on, I began brainstorming every night to come up with things I wanted to do the following mornings. Over the next few days I tried reading, which didn't go well. I worked on some writing, which went ok. I sewed, which sounds ridiculous, but actually was a very efficient use of time. I even knocked off a few more films from the list of movies I was supposed to watch before the Academy Awards.

Was I still tired? Absolutely. And I definitely took 20-minute power naps in the afternoon. But what really changed was my perspective. For the longest time I've only viewed "waking up" as the last possible moment to stay asleep. And what I started doing last week was looking at it as the first possible moment to fulfill my purpose.

It is this change of perspective that made Early Morning Week much more enjoyable than I had ever anticipated. I think if I have a lot I want to accomplish on any given morning, I may keep it up. It's also made me pleased to announce that I will soon begin work on my next great feat: getting into bed before 2 AM instead of falling asleep on the couch in the living room with the television on.

I don't think farm animals do that either.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Things I'm Gonna Do This Week- April 2012

7:04 AM

Here I sit, eyes half open, wondering how on earth I ever thought this was a good idea.

I'm rarely up by 7 AM. It's just not part of my schedule. Sure, appointments, travels, and church may require me to set an alarm for 7 AM, but I always allow for at least one hit of the snooze button, if not four.

On the occasion that I do start my day alongside the sun, the birds, and Ryan Seacrest, I'm always a little offended to find out that most of the world has already done so. It took so much effort to drag myself out of bed; I almost expect to have the planet to myself. Or at least the roads…

"Why are you all awake!?" I cry out to a freeway full of traffic. "Are you going to Disneyland?? Gotta get in line for Star Tours!?"

Of course, the truth is I'm the weirdo, not them. Most people wake up early and go to work, or wake up early and take their kids to school, or wake up early and watch the Today show.

So here I sit this morning, eyes half open, ready to feel like a functioning member of society, but feeling more like a zombie instead. Will that change? Only time will tell.

This month for Things I'm Gonna Do This Week, I'm getting out of bed by 7 AM for the next seven days. It's time to find out what I've been missing.

View the results of Early Morning Week

Friday, April 13, 2012

5 Things That Make Me A White Guy

It's a question as old as Beauty and the Beast: "Why am I white?"

Though I'm 89.5% certain that my parents are responsible for my skin color, I've recently discovered through highly sophisticated analysis that there are a number of far more entertaining variables contributing to my "Caucasianity." They've led me to wonder whether or not I truly understand why I am the way I am.  Do I live the life of a cracker because of my "genes?" Or because of my "jeans?"

Here are 5 Arguments for the latter:


Cold Cereal may be the breakfast of champions, but it's also the breakfast of "me." I've eaten it almost every day of my life, mostly in the mornings and without allegiance to a particular brand. Mini Wheats, Froot Loops, Golden Grahams, Raisin Bran, Apple Jacks, Life, you name it, I've had it!

But did you know that despite the great variety of cereals out there, they all have something in common? Take a look at the nutritional information on any box of cereal and you'll most likely learn that it contains 25% of your daily-recommended intake of Riboflavin. Yep. Riboflavin.

So what does this mysterious vitamin do? Scientists say it's a B-Vitamin used in cellular processing, but I believe it's responsible for making children's urine smell like Cheerios. That, and I think it makes people white.

It only makes sense! Why else would Latinos traditionally eat "huevos rancheros" instead of Lucky Charms? To prevent whiteness, of course!! General Mills even puts a little Irish man on the box to show what you'll turn into if you eat enough dehydrated mini marshmallows.

My point is that as a life long breakfast consumer, I'm pretty sure I've stored up enough Riboflavin to keep me white for the rest of my life. And I believe the cold cereal industry is partially to blame.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The truth is, I don't really care. What I do want to know, however, is what came first, Halloween or white people?

Halloween was obviously either invented for or by white people so that we could have one day a year to be more colorful than we really are. Of course, still being white, we weren't that creative and decided to dress up like Dracula, someone who is actually WHITER than white people.

Still, there are times when us white folk recognize Halloween as the great opportunity it is for our creed. In the 3rd grade, for example, I decided to take full ownership of it and expressed my whiteness through an impressive venture into the world of color. I dressed up like M.C. Hammer.


White people like to be clean because dirt is easier to spot on us. Wait a minute...that's not true with cars, so why would it be true with people? And I guess you only see whites on Hoarders...

Never mind. What I'm trying to say is hand sanitizer seems like something that makes a white person whiter. For example, people who have a little color on their hands tend to put lotion on them, not disinfecting alcohol that dries out their skin and makes it look white.

Which leads me to...


Did you know there are almost 800 million people in the world that don't have access to clean drinking water? While few, if any, of those people live in the USA, my research shows that the average white American is still dehydrated. I believe this voluntary dehydration, though largely due to the Coca Cola Company, is also a condition and symptom of whiteness.

But there is hope! Coca Cola reported a 1% decline in sales in 2011, meaning they only made $9.27 billion last year. Facts like this help me believe that the day will come when carbonation-based dehydration will no longer play a role in skin color.


We've all been to them: Chili's, Applebee's, TGI Fridays, Red Robin, Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, all those restaurants with loads of stuff hanging on the walls. And if you haven't been to them, well... you might just be a different color than me.

Which is fine! You're probably healthier for it. I used to love Chili's because it always made me feel so eclectic.  I'd order a Quesadilla Explosion Salad for dinner and a Molten Chocolate Cake for dessert. All in all, it totaled out to 2,320 calories, 132 grams of fat, and 2900 mg of sodium. Did I mention I ordered the salad?

So I guess when I was feeling "eclectic," I was actually feeling heart disease. But I didn't think about that at the time. All I knew was growing up I didn't have a restaurant close by with stuff all over the walls, and by the time I was 23 years old, I had one 15 minutes away. It was the American Dream! Or at least the white, middle class version of it.

In conclusion, I think we can all agree that based on these five examples I have just presented, absolutely nothing has been proven. I know race can't be cured. It's not a condition, nor a choice.  (Unless we're talking about sunburns, in which case, you got to apply the SPF, people!)

But race certainly isn't a trap either. While I'm quite happy being a honky, I know that what I choose to do as one is up to me regardless of any cultural or social diagnosis. For whatever reason, I am a white guy. But I'm also more than that. I'm Jeffrey Scott Parsons!

Wow, my name sounds really white...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Making Up Time

"It all comes down to Physics, you see."

Like a young Jedi knight piecing together the wisdom from Yoda's peculiar syntax, I would often hear my grandpa use this phrase and wonder how a simple cattleman had become such a proponent of this particular science.

Regardless of how, "It all comes down to Physics, you see" was one of the most popular sayings he used. (Right up there with the always-helpful 1st and 2nd rules of working with cows, "Shut the Gate!") So by the time I took Physics during my junior year of High School, I was somewhat disappointed by the general lack of urgency I felt in the classroom.

In fact, the only thing I remember from that class was a lively debate between the teacher and students over whether or not you could "make up time." The students debated that you could, citing the example of driving too slow for part of a journey, and then making up for it later by driving too fast.

The point I believe the teacher was trying to make, and I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt here, is that it is physically impossible to make up time, not figuratively.

This principle came to mind the other day when I got a little overwhelmed by how much I want to do in my life in contrast to how little time I have to get it done. Where, for example, was the time to learn French!? Certainly there could be a way to "make up time."

I started by examining the time I spend in my car. I usually drive for at least an hour a day, so maybe I could use that time more effectively. Perhaps I could be better at filling those drives with a proper balance of music listening, podcast playing, and "hand-free" communicating. Then again, the purpose of those drives is to safely take my body from points A to B, so it's probably better to focus on that.

Then I thought about my showers. If I could be in there a little less, maybe I could save some water and a few minutes. But the truth is I get really good ideas in the shower. In fact, the idea to write this experience down came to me in the shower.

So then I got more frustrated, which made me feel like complaining about it, and that desire to complain led me to think about all the time I spend complaining, which then ultimately made me want to complain to someone about complaining!

I mean, doesn't it just seem like a colossal waste of time? Complaining, I mean. I know venting can be healthy, and funny, and often times informative, but it rarely changes anything.

So what if I could add up all the time I spend complaining every day, whether it's online, or on the phone, or in person? Even if it just totaled up to 10 minutes a day, that would be over an hour a week, about 4.6 hours a month, and 2.5 days a year! Parlez-vous Francais, anyone?

You know, Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion states that when a force acts from one object to another, there is an equal force acting back on the original object. So if you're pulling on a rope, technically that rope is pulling back.

That law is also a pretty effective way to look at how we spend our time. If we use our time and energy to complain about something, then that "something" is technically complaining back! And doesn’t that sound exhausting!?

So while frustration and discouragement come to all, and there's no need to feel guilty when they do, it's nice to know that we don't have to complain. If there's something we'd rather do instead, we can do that! Then we won't have to "make up time" for it later.

I guess that means Grandpa was right. It all comes down to Physics, after all.