Seeing Red [Starbucks Cups?]

Everybody knows “that person”. These are the people that got Kinder Eggs banned from the USA, because they were dumb enough to completely miss the entire point of Kinder eggs and, in the gluttonous haste to scarf down chocolate, choke on the toy inside. Even if you’re blissfully unaware of anyone fitting this description at present in your life, you can at least remember it from your school days, because there is always “that person” in school. You know, the one who caused so many problems with having [insert random item] in class that now NOBODY is allowed to have them? Or the one that verbally diatribes about how easy everything is for them and how they’re so smart and could really use a challenge for a change . . . so the teacher makes the test 200% harder for the entire class? Operating from a place of self-aggrandizement and absorption, these people (left unchecked) can have a terrible impact upon the world around them, skewing the image of any group to which they ascribe.

To my utter dismay, there is a group of self-proclaimed “evangelical Christians” currently acting as Exhibit A of What It Means To Be “That Person” directly in the public eye, as they raise their voices in consternation at the removal of a semi-religious symbol/words from this holiday-season’s Starbucks cup design. How is it that this silly cup-business, of all things, is the story listed among CNN’s top news links about what “Christians” are doing in this world? What a horrible testament to the God they claim to serve.

I am so disappointed at the level of attention being brought to their petulance, not only because their behavior reflects negatively on other followers of Christ, but because they have the audacity to claim that a quintessential First-World-Problem complaint is of import to their faith. In claiming outrage about such meaningless trivialities, these “Christians” are taking the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and warping them beyond recognition through the fire of self-involved entitlement until they resemble nothing but the pretext for an embarrassingly bratty temper-tantrum. While there are people who have been – and continue to be – persecuted mightily for their faith, these abrasively vocal Starbucks customers are not among them. I feel like this situation calls for an awkward parody of Matthew 7:5. . . You hypocrites! First evaluate the glaring lack of Christ in your actions, and then perhaps you can think clearly to evaluate the removal of vaguely christian symbols from your red cup.

Jesus came to earth to proclaim good news for the poor, freedom for prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and freedom from oppression (Luke 4)! Jesus lived and died to fulfill his promises and renew our ability to be in authentic and legitimate relationship with Him. Everything in the entire narrative of the Bible points to a God who is desperate to reconcile his beloved people to himself and redeem a world that is tragically lost (Luke 19) in order to MAXIMIZE our joy (John 10). If you even BEGIN to truly understand the gospel texts, you cannot deny the beauty and magnitude of a love that could motivate an all-powerful God to sacrifice himself on behalf of his creation. I don’t claim to know everything that there is to know about faith or Christianity, but the more I study and seek and research, the more I see that focusing on oneself is the antithesis of the truly Christian walk. Jesus was ALL about social justice and transformational love. When you lose sight of this, you make God’s beauty and goodness into something self-serving and miss the entire point. Rather than seeing the love, redemption, service, and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and being motivated in turn to emulate him, people are choosing to insert him into their identity like they would slide a membership card into their wallets. Instead of seeking to be transformed into His likeness, they add distorted fragments of their perception of Him to their own likenesses and cross their fingers in hopes of club benefits. These are the people that completely miss the mark. These are the people that care about Starbucks’ branding choices more than they care about the person handing them their drink.

Rather than simply proclaiming my disgust and throwing my two cents into the online dialogue around this absurd social-media-spotlighted topic, I want to challenge myself and anyone who reads this (Christian or not, although I guess especially those who profess belief in Jesus), to talk more about issues that really DO matter. There are enough tragic needs in this world that it is shocking that people are collectively taking the time to talk extensively about some company’s seasonal branding decisions.  If anything, the sheer breadth of online dialogue has reminded me that human beings (whether they are “religious” or not) often spend their time and talk unwisely (myself very much included). In the same world where Starbucks’ new seasonal cups are solid red, hunger is the number one cause of death (x). Poverty is rampant; and while I personally spent $2.89 on my (relatively cheap) Starbucks coffee this morning, more than 1.3 billion people are living on less than $1.25 a day (x). When I pulled off the highway last night and walked my five-year-old niece into Starbucks to buy a bottle of water  and use the restroom, I did not even think about the fact that over 750 million people lack access to clean drinking water (x) or that about 1 out of every 5 deaths of children under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease from lack of proper sanitation (x). Rather than seeing some stupid branding decision splashed across our computer screens, imagine seeing ways to mobilize to make differences (even small ones) in these areas of need.

After processing my initial frustration towards the Red Cup Radicals, it is with an uncomfortable amount of conviction that I turn the microscope back on myself to evaluate the areas where I allow (or don’t allow) my faith in Jesus Christ to actively motivate my engagement with the world around me. Tonight I plan to do some more hard thinking about what things might be my proverbial “red cups”, the elements of my life that demonstrate focus that has moved away from the beautiful glory of a sovereign God and towards selfish pursuits. It is uncomfortable to realize that I can be perhaps just as wrongly focused as these face-palm-inducing Starbucks boycotters. So, here is my reminder to myself, and you, if you choose to take it. Maybe we (Christians) have a hard time consistently recognizing and remembering the point of our faith, but it is not (now or EVER) supposed to be a personal ego-booster or a step-stool for our pride. Christianity, real Christianity, is an I.V. drip of pure adrenaline-like faith that should propel us into joyful motion in the humble service, care, and love of others.

Autumnal Advice: Feeling Fall-ish?

I love Autumn. It is my favorite season and usually quite the coziest of them all. There are a few things that I love to do most ESPECIALLY in the Fall!  As this glorious season ramps up, consider doing some or all of the following:

Listen to the beautifully melancholy music of Erik Satie:

Watch leaves swirling in the blustery winds, breath deeply that crisp fall air, and let these melodies seep into your soul.

Watch the movie Arsenic and Old Lace:

You haven’t lived until you’ve watched Cary Grant slowly lose his mind when faced by his little old aunties’ murderous activities. To that, add in a serial killing Boris Karloff look-alike, his drunken henchman, a gent who thinks he is actually Teddy Roosevelt, a bumbling police officer, and a little bit of old-fashioned romance. It’s phenomenal.

Eat Squash! In soups, if possible!


Go to Trader Joe’s and get down with some SERIOUS pumpkin-y goodness!

I stopped in at my local Trader Joe’s yesterday to pick up my usual frozen grilled peppers, edamame nuggets, and ice coffee concentrate. And, LO AND BEHOLD, what should my wond’ring eyes reveal? THE PUMPKINS HAVE ARRIVED! I left with pumpkin scones, pumpkin cornbread mix, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin mochi, aaaaaand just a classic plain old pumpkin. Tonight, after a long Monday’s work, I rolled out this year’s Pumpkin Ravioli, and it did not disappoint!

pumpkin goodness

Go buy some. Now, if possible.

What are your favorite fall treats? Any must-do items that I should add to my list? 

Caillou: A Study in What is Wrong With Society





Yup. You heard me correctly. I’m talking about Caillou; that supposedly-innocuous children’s television show from Canada. I almost hesitate to write a blogpost about this, because someone has already done this subject justice. Over at there is a post called “Caillou” is French for SHUT UP which perfectly demonstrates my feelings about Caillou. However, I want there to be zero question of my strong support in the anti-Caillou movement, so I will share with you a few thoughts. 

Thought: Look at the screencap/thumbnails used to show various episodes online. . . JUST LOOK at this child’s face in each one. I would probably avoid real live children who exhibited this emotional range, so why on EARTH would I allow a child to watch and emulate The Abomination?

caillou is a brat


Thought: High School Students that I teach also have strong & unified Anti-Caillou feelings. After finishing their work, my students will sometimes print out a coloring page so that they can just relax and de-stress for a little bit . . . these are some of the Caillou-themed pages they gave me one year:Feed the Cat, Caillou, not the floor. GEEZ.

He would.

Charming Family. This is what they should look like.

Poor Rosie.

Conquest Caillou: Proponent of imperialism or just power-crazed toddler?

She's green because he makes her physically ill.

Gilbert has a hard lot in life.

I know my students are (in my humble opinion) often above-average, but if my high school students can see the problems intrinsic to this show, WHY CAN’T PARENTS???

Thought: All kids I have ever encountered have the tendency to copy behaviors that they see. Should ANYONE be copying this behavior? 


Thought: It is telling that people from all different lifestyles and backgrounds are able to get solidly behind the anti-Caillou movement. Case in point: I recently returned from being out for a day to find this note from my substitute teacher . . .

it's not just me


These are my thoughts on Caillou.

So, the next time you wind up talking about me and somebody asks:hate caillou

 . . . you will be able to answer just like my above student!

GiShWhEs 2015 – With A Vengeance

If my first experience with GishWhes (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) was Die Hard, and last year was Die Harder, then that would make this installation Die Hard With A Vengeance, right? Not a fantastic metaphor, but still somehow fitting, since this was definitely a scavenger hunt that my team, Team HowWeDo, tackled WITH A VENGEANCE.

August 1st began a whirlwind week of daring stunts, crazy acts, and trying to edit any video footage successfully down to less than 14 seconds. Sleep was scarce and adventures abundant! Now, I could share all 130-or-so items that my teammates and I wound up officially submitting, but that might be overkill in the sharing department. Instead, here are all of the items I was personally involved with making (with their descriptions), interspersed with a handful of my favorites from my AWESOME teammates across the world:

  • Kick back in a hammock that’s suspended from trees on opposite banks of a river. (Make sure it’s a safe section of a river to be suspended over.)


  • Get 10 of your friends to stand on a field or lawn. Strap inflated balloons to 5 of your friends’ stomachs. The other 5 friends must pop these balloons using only the impact and weight of their bellies or their bums (they can’t use hands, feet, mouths, or anything sharp).

  • Do a dramatic reading of your grade-school report card.

  •  A drawing, painting or digital image (no photoshopping of existing images) of Misha and the Queen as 1950 pin-up BFF girls.

Misha & the Queen

  • Show us what Supernatural will look like at the start of Season 50.

  • Find someone you love and butter them up; literally, cover them in butter and then give them a big hug.

  • The 2015 gishwhes mascot Dinomite asks you to pick a number between 1 and 1000, asks you 10 questions with yes/no answers, and then guesses the number. What were the 10 questions?


  • Have at least 3 people in a domestic or office setting, completely camouflaged to match their background.


  • Have a tea party with a special needs child or pediatric cancer patient dressed as a character from “Alice in Wonderland.”


  • Schools, hospitals, and prisons are notoriously dismal places that are in desperate need of art to brighten them up. Get permission from one of these places to create a giant Gishwhes-themed (mascots, items from the past, kindness, etc.) wall mural.


  • Blow us away with your amazing cosplay as a famous inanimate object.

cosplay famous inanimate

  • Show us your idea of love. Caption the image if you wish.


  • At the time I’m writing this, the price of crude oil is $48 per barrel. A barrel of oil is 42 gallons. So presumably for about $1.14, you should be able to get a gallon of crude oil. Let’s see you handing $1.14 (or your country’s currency equivalent) to an employee of an oil refinery, oil transportation or oil extraction company while they hand you one gallon of crude oil.


  • Write a thank you letter to a teacher or mentor from your past that you never sufficiently thanked. Mail it. You may submit an image of the letter, or if you wish it to remain private, submit an image of you mailing it. But you must mail it or bad karma will be rained down upon your toothbrush.


  • Make a nest and nest in it, dressed as a Russian Nesting Doll. Submit as two images side-by-side: 1) the image of your nesting-nesting doll, 2) and a fully functional, hand-made QR code, that links to the image of your nesting doll.


  • How do you do it? Everyone on your team has such beautiful mustaches? Do you have some sort of hair growth cream you slather on or pills you all take? Let’s see a grid photo of everyone on your team that features your mustaches prominently.


  • Create a cocktail dress or tux out of flowers (you can use foliage, but at least 50% needs to be flowers). Photograph yourself in a contrasting “greenless” urban setting. – Olivia Desianti


  • They say, “A dog is a man’s best friend,” but they are sexist. Dogs can be women’s best friends too. To prove it, make one entirely out of feminine hygiene products. The dog must be at least 40 centimeters tall. (See how international we are? Look at these units!)


  • The cats are coming! Prepare your dog for battle. Outfit him or her with armory, weaponry, cutting edge laser gear – whatever it takes to create a canine of mass destruction.


  • You’ve just received an invitation to the annual Color Me Pretty Construction Paper Gala. Design and wear an elegant gown consisting of only construction paper. You must be posed with a antique or hotrod car/motorcycle (that will take you to the Gala, of course) or in front of the Gala itself which takes place in the most stunning public building of your city.


  • Let’s see a portrait of Robert Downey, Jr. or Ironman made entirely of salt and pepper. Tweet it to him (@robertdowneyjr) with @gishwhes in the tweet. SUBMIT a link to the image to us, NOT a link to an image of the tweet – but you must tweet it to him for your image to count.


  • Stop hiding your true talent. The world deserves to see it. Without using special effects or trick editing, make a person disappear.

  • Take your mom, dad or other family member that you don’t give enough attention to (based on what they’ve done for you over the years, or perhaps, what you’ve done to them) to lunch or dinner. Both of you must be cosplaying established or newly invented comic book heroes. If you’ve created new heroes, caption the image with their names.


  • Your friend loves cake, so being a good friend, you offer to take them out for cake at a nice restaurant. Alas, you discover when you arrive at the restaurant, that your friend has recently undergone medical treatments that prevents them from moving their arms, so you will have to feed them. Unfortunately, light is harmful to your eyes so you must be blindfolded. While blindfolded, stand behind your seated friend in a fancy restaurant and put your arms under their armpits and feed them cake with your hands. Trust us. This is going to work out beautifully.

  • Death’s funeral.

Death's Funeral

  • You’ve been hired to design the cover of National Geographic’s next issue, “Discovering The Padalecki.” Do a drawing, painting or digitally created image (you may photoshop existing images for this item) of the new tropical species that has been discovered, much by accident, by workers building an inland dam.


  • You may not know this but William Shatner is a big My Little Pony Brony (a male fan of the My Little Pony series.) He wants to share this interest with other actors. Create an image however you wish of one of your favorite actors as a My Little Pony and tweet it to them. Get the actor to retweet your image and hashtag #Shatnermademedoit @gishwhes. Submit a screencap of the actor tweet.


  • (Time lapse this down to 10 seconds.) Dressed in something celebratory, hug someone you love, motionless, in a very crowded location. You must hug them for 20 minutes without moving and time lapse it. Add your favorite score to the video.39 POINTS

  • You know how sometimes you look at your child’s weird behavior and think, “Where did you come from? You certainly didn’t come from me.” Well, after extensive DNA analysis (thanks for sending that in) we just discovered they did not, in fact, come from you. They came from the new planet that was just discovered: Earth2.0 ( They’ll behave better if you stop trying to make them human. Dress them up or convert them back into keplerians and take them to a park, playground, ice cream shop (or similar).

alien children

  • Order a sandwich at a deli consisting entirely of condiments. There can be no bread, no meat, and no veggies. Eat it at the counter.

  • Depending on which self-proclaimed expert you speak to, the universe is likely heading towards a Big Freeze, Big Rip, Big Crunch or a Big Bounce. Act out what that looks like in your own interpretation using whatever props or moves you need.


  • The Department of Consumer Kale Residency has decided 2015 is the year to find its favorite hotel lobby in the world. They’ve asked us to help. Put on your most beautifully designed hat (hat must be made of kale) and evening gown or tux and get a picture of you in your town’s finest and most elegant hotel lobby with a maid or bellman.


  • Perform this EXACT choreography wearing similar wardrobe as the man depicted here but with one of your pant-legs tucked into your sock: – Do your dance while a dog watches you.

  • VIDEO. You know those people that stand around with signs offering to give away “free hugs?” Add balance to the universe (and bolster capitalism) by asking for something in exchange: hold up a sign on a busy sidewalk that reads, “Hugs $5” (or whatever you think you should charge). Donate anything you make to your favorite charity. Don’t pocket it. Bad karma will be rained down on your butter knife.

  • CNN has a video that they created that will play if the world ends. What would your end-of-the-world broadcast be if gishwhes caused it? Create it and then tweet it to @cnn #endoftheworld @gishwhes. (SUBMIT the video link to us, not the tweet, but you must tweet it for the points to count.) – Jane Lowther

  • Tweet a photo of two men or women kissing each other (clothed) to @Ricksantorum. We need to see the Tweet with #facerealityRick @gishwhes.


  • Last year saw the epic battle for mascot supremacy. Document this action packed tale in a fitting comic book strip that includes this year’s mascot (Dinomite) as well. Be sure to include all of gishwhes’ heroes, heroines, and super villains! – Roxy Fox


  • You know how when you draw lines to connect the stars in a constellation you see the image of the thing it’s supposed to be? You connect the stars in the Big Dipper and you see a giant ladle. The Stars of “Supernatural” deserve their own constellations. Connect the dots of stars to create a constellation in the likeness of a Supernatural actor. Your constellation must be crafted from an actual high-resolution telescope photo of stars in the night sky. You may not overlay an image over the night sky. You must connect stars to form the shape. You may use an existing image (or images) of the night sky.


  • Make and wear a “Save The Unicorns” t-shirt and stand in a crowded public place asking people to sign a petition to “Save The Endangered Unicorns.”

  •  Throw a conspiracy theorist party complete with tin foil hats and suspicious guests. – Joe Diaz


  • The Tooth Fairy is on strike. Invent another fairy that provides a service in your home for your children, or your dorm room/apartment for your roommates. Dress up as the fairy providing the service, and then caption the image with what you are.


  • The problem with growing kale is that hipsters are always trying to sneak into my garden to steal it! Show what a trap would look like to catch these pests. Extra points if you capture (alive) a real life hipster.


  • Many school music and art programs are underfunded. Find a local school art program that needs instruments, art supplies, etc. and donate a needed item to it (as well as try to find others to donate to it). The image should be of you presenting the item(s) to the teacher/administrator at the school.


  • Turn your living room into a giant snow globe with fun props and falling “snow.”


  • Read “Call of the Wild” to a dog in a public place. They must be within 10 feet of you.

  • Let’s see a refined game of croquet on a public lawn of a historic site. All participants must be zombies.


  • IMAGE. Create the Impala or any iconic object from “Supernatural” out of compost scraps.


  • Stand in front of your garden holding up a sign with your best unorthodox or hard to believe gardening tip for the First Lady of the United States. Tweet it to @MichelleObama and include “@gishwhes” and “#gardeninghack”

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.00.54 AM

  • The setting is a candle-lit romantic dinner for two. Let’s see the “spaghetti” scene from “Lady and the Tramp.” Both of you must be dressed for the hot date. Super bonus points if it’s in an actual nice restaurant.


  • Locker Love. Post messages of love or support on or in lockers of students that you think might need it.


  • Use recycled computer or cell phone parts to create a video-game inspired diorama.


  • Do your best 1950’s June Cleaver impression and vacuum the lawn.


  • A stunning origami floral centerpiece.


  • Random Acts’ August #GetKind theme is Literacy. Hold a book drive and then turn your automobile or bus into a mobile free book give-away. Each book must be bookmarked with a positive or kindness message. The image you submit must be you in front of your mobile book-give-away-vehicle with the books and with a recipient.


  • Let’s see the Leaning Tower of Gishwhes.


  • Let’s see a conquistador riding a giant tortoise or a man throwing a frisbee to an iguana which catches it in its mouth. Only because I think you deserve an easy item or two here and there, this should be done as a zoetrope versus doing it with actual tortoises and iguanas. You’re welcome.

  • Tweet a picture of you holding up your most inspiring book or book title with the hashtag #booksnotbullets and @gishwhes.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 3.34.01 PM

  • Commit a random act of kindness and have someone take a picture of what you’re doing and caption it. Here are some examples: Tweet it to @RandomActsOrg if you wish but submit to us the image only.


  • Carrie Fisher is known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in Star Wars. Her memorable hairstyle was often called the Princess Leia Bun. Bake a portrait of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in bread.


  • Present an artistic depiction of a famous Italian landmark – on a pizza.


  • Ich bin ein Berliner! Und ich bin Berlin! Dress accordingly in front of a Berlin national monument.


  • Register to vote, then take photographic proof of this event (i.e. you at the post office getting it done, you all holding your registration cards, etc.). In the photo hold up a sign that reads, “If Richard Speight Jr. can’t be King, I’ll settle for democracy.” (Or something else that indicates that democracy is your tolerable second choice of political systems.)


  • Make a portrait of a CW actor using only naturally shed hair/fur of your pets.

Tim Omundson - WOof

  • “Your room looks like a Pigsty.” Make this common parental figurative phrase a literal reality.


  • Work opportunities are scarce since the Death Star blew up. Let’s see a stormtrooper working at their job as a waiter, fast food line prep, car mechanic, postal worker, deli sandwich maker, road-repair worker, etc).


  • At least four people doing a harmonized round of tongue-twisters.

  • Sign up to your country’s organ donor register.


  • Matthew 14:22, “Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.” and so did the best of you Don’t submit unless you solve the puzzle or you will be docked points.  IMAGE. Impress a clergyman or woman with one of the following: John 2:1-11, John 9:1-12, Matthew 14:15-21


  • Writer Elizabeth Meriwether describes a game called “Frolic” she and friends played while driving through Scotland. Anyone could yell out “Frolic!” at any time and they’d pull over the car and run up and down the hills. Inspired by her, host your own “Medieval Booty-Shake!” road trip in Scotland. Film a video of you and your friends, pulling over at any castle in the country, jumping out of the car, yelling that phrase, and doing just that. We must see the castle in the background. You can time-lapse if you wish but we must hear the phrase.

  • Paint a stately, magnificent portrait of world or state leader after they’ve turned into a Clicker zombie.


  • Contribute the recipe for ‘Dinomite’s Fluffy Bites’ to and get at least 20, 5-star reviews from people who enjoyed the recipe.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 11.31.47 PM

  •  Show us something you find beautiful that most others would deem ugly.


  • On Friday, August 7th at 12:00PM in your local time, go to the most prominent location in your city dressed in a nun’s habit. You must provide an image of you in the nun’s habit in front of the landmark doing a “power pose.”


  • Back to school! Pack a backpack (or more!) full of school supplies and deliver them to a local school or school collection sight.


  • All Random Acts staffers volunteer long hours. They get no pay and often get too little praise. Do something nice for a Random Acts volunteer (or for the staff of another all-volunteer organization).


  • Help Misha and Gishwhes get an Erdös number for real this time. Go to  and complete the tasks, per the directions you find there. Submit a screenshot of your certificate of completion.


  • (Slide-show). Using only pictures of actual tattoos, relay a memorable moment in history or a fairy tale.

Although it still feels like we barely scratched the surface of the 215-item-long-list, I am so proud of myself and my teammates for doing all that we did! As always, the week left me exhausted (physically and emotionally), sunburnt, sporting extra bugbites and some unusual bruises, in need of a shower, desperately in need of doing laundry, and inhabiting an unusually filthy house. . . and I wouldn’t change a thing. Another year of zany fun in what I hope will continue to be a long line of years and a life-long tradition!

The Trouble with Blogging (& Also Life)

The trouble with blogging is that sometimes you have everything to write about, and so you put it off. Then, before you know it, you have been on a hiatus for months and you don’t know where to go back. 

It is in moments like these that I must remind myself of the true purpose of this blog. . . to document and share the worth-while endeavors I undertake (rather than keeping shoeboxes full of pictures in my attic), with full knowledge that organization and timeline are not the emphasis. BOOM. Reminder administered. 

Me and My Momma, living the Reminder. . .

Me and My Momma, living the Reminder. . .

Life has been busy and full! Since last writing I’ve thrown a prom, traveled to places I’d never been, tackled strange new projects, and tasted hitherto unknown delicacies (such as chocolate cheese, which: Yes, is a real thing).

Prepare for more consistent, yet still just as random, updates!