Friday, December 30, 2011

A ship in the harbor

As some of you may know, I have been taking some time off lately.  It has been a time to reflect, to get a few things done, and it has been time to enjoy the holidays with family.  It has also been a time to look inward and ask question about who I really am and what I want.  However, I am getting restless.  I believe that God made us to work and right now my work is limited to things that need to be done around the house.  As enjoyable as that is, I think I need to be out there doing more.  Having time off is wonderful and I can probably handle it better than most people.  I like reading books and blogs and I like listening to radio and podcasts.  These things take time and I am thankful for the opportunity to indulge these interests.  You may have heard this analogy.  Ships were built to sail the sea, not sit in the harbor.  They can sit there and bob up and down and they seem perfectly suited to that location.  However, the ship does not reach it's full potential by just hanging out close to shore.  What seems to be safe actually ends up doing more harm than good.  In fact, the ship will likely break down sooner by living a life of inactivity than if it had stretched out over the oceans.  We are made to do something.  I think I have a better clue as to who I am and what I was designed for.  I want to get out there, contribute, work, complete things, and make the world more livable.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What do you do?

This question has long been annoying to me.  It causes me to bristle.  I never liked it because I don't like to play the game of who has the more important job.  I don't like comparisons because I don't like to compete with people over shallow things.  I heard this week something that was very freeing.  Answer this question not as expected but with what really interests you.  It may come across as sarcastic at first but hopefully the person will realize why you are replying the way that you are.

So what do I do?  I enjoy reading non-fiction, biographies, and blogs on success, finance, and personal improvement.  I like to improve, update, and use my MacBook.  I like to work outside when the weather is nice doing things in the yard like trimming, planting, and gardening.  I find it enjoyable to sit down for an interesting movie or TV show.  Short comedies, animation, and some dramas hold my attention.  I like to spend time at home with my wife talking, playing games, or just being together.  Travel is something I do but am no where near as experienced as I would like to be.  I like to write out my goals and see them accomplished.  Going to church on the weekends is something I usually do and occasionally I will teach children's church.  I like to shop online for electronics, clothes, and household items and finding a bargain is especially satisfying.   Listening to podcasts and radio is something I have long done and enjoyed very much.

What do you do?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What makes for a good podcast

I enjoy listening to podcasts.  They are informative and I think I am broadened in my awareness because of them.  The software I use is iTunes on my computer and the Sticher app on my iPod.  Podcasts from these two sources are free.  Except for the equipment, I have not paid anything for this stream of no-cost information.  A few shows have sponsors or short advertisements, neither of which offend me.  I like a podcast to be well produced.  Clear recordings with constant sound levels is very much appreciated.  Sometimes a podcast will consist of a host in a studio interviewing someone over the phone.  The guy on his cell can be muffled with their sound level much lower than the host which makes for a crappy listening experience.  I like a formate that is predictable and easy to follow.  Having the podcast less than 15 minutes is also important to a quality production.  I am surprised how many people put together a shoddy podcast that is forty minutes or more.  No one is going to listen to that.  Some people can get away with a longer podcast like Dave Ramsey.  His is over forty minutes but that is cut down from a 3 hour daily broadcast.  I also like an appropriate name to the program, good intro, and good outro music.  A consistent release day for the podcast is helpful for the consumer.  One per week on a Tuesday is fine especially if it is a little more lengthly but a short daily program is certainly appropriate too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How not to lock your keys in the car

Today I had to drive a spare set of keys to someone I know who locked her keys in her car.  I have not locked my keys in my car in years.  In fact, I may have never made this mistake.  Here are a few thoughts on how to avoid this error.

1.  Begin a habit of always checking your person for your keys before you lock the doors.  Feel the keys in your pocket, touch them, and sense their weight.
2.  Use the fob.  By using the electronic locking mechanism on your keychain, you know you already have the keys in your possession.
3.  Don't allow yourself to be distracted.  Let others do what they may, but you are the driver so you need to have the keys on you before you lock the doors.
4.  Feel the pain.  Your time is important to you and it is limited.  While waiting for someone else to show up to rescue you, think about how this is a terrible waste of your time.
5.  Pay the money.  A quick search for locksmith's shows that a lock-out service call starts at $35.  Go ahead and call, pay the money, and think about how you could have spent this money so much better elsewhere.  This pain point will create a hesitation every time you leave your vehicle causing you to check that you have your keys on you.
6.  Have an extra set made.  This idea is less practical today as keys have computer chips in them that drive their costs way up.  In the old days, people could get an extra key made fairly simply and then they would get a magnetic key holder and place it under the back bumper.
7.  Keep your car clean and empty.  By clearing out the junk and the valuables, you will not have anything in your car that is worth steeling.  That gives you the option of leaving your car unlocked.  Of course, you don't want to walk away from your car with the keys in the ignition because the car itself is valuable.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Everything in its place

I am one of those people who can not stand for clutter.  I must have everything put away.  Everything has a place and everything in its place would aptly convey my internal drive.  I do not like piles of unopened mail on the desk, bags full of shopping items on the table, or clothes all over the floor.  Those things represent procrastination, indecision, and laziness to me.  Another way of looking at it is I don't like putting things off.  I like to keep things up-to-date.  I prefer to get things taken care of now rather than putting them off.  Part of this internal drive is that I don't like conflict and highly value peace and serenity.  Having things messy takes away my internal peace and can sour my attitude.  I don't mind putting things away, cleaning things up, and straightening things everyday.  Repetition for the most part is okay to me.  Doing these things again and again gives me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling like I have moved things ahead.

Friday, December 23, 2011

To rich to relate

I over heard someone recently say that the super stars out there, can not really relate to us.  However, many people who are very successful have similar backgrounds to the rest of us.  Where they are now is not where they have always been.  I think we need to get over this mistrust of those at the top.  I personally would rather take my advice from those who are doing really well, who have won, who have a profitable business, then the people at the bottom.  People without much money can yield about one study in their lives.  The study of what not too do on your way to being wealthy.  There isn't much interest there frankly.  Instead, I like hearing stories of people's difficulties, tough decisions they've made, obstacles they have over come, their internal drive, all experienced on their way to the top.  That holds my attention and I would rather read more of those stories then I do now.  Too often those accounts are kept in the back ground because the masses give off this "I don't care to hear it" attitude.  Why don't we have more people who are wealthy?  Maybe because we think they are unable to relate to us and we back off.  It is almost reverse snobbery.  Instead, let's start to imitate them, make their habits out habits, think like they do and very likely we will lead an interesting life worthy of emulation ourselves.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Next-Job Personality Profile

In today's blog post, I am entering in some information I received after completing a personality profile.  This was completed when I was receiving some job coaching through Next-Job.  The description of who I am I thought was particularly accurate.  I may post more from this profile in the future.

I am typed as a Gold Green Introvert.

Quiet, gentle and reflective, Gold Green Introverts focus their energy on ensuring the welfare of those around them, something they start doing early in life.  Always curious about people, they are highly observant and quick to make others feel at ease.  They also have a rich inner world, which they share with very few people.
  Practical, detail oriented and thorough, they have a highly developed work ethic, taking commitments and obligations with utmost seriousness.  
They want everything organized and excel at anticipating what needs to be done.  They blend into groups, quietly enjoying what is going on, but typically feel no need to control or take on a dominant role.  
Gold Green Introverts respect authority, history and tradition.  The conservation of resources is a high priority throughout their lives.  Golds do not enjoy change, abstract concepts or untested theories.  
They strive to maintain a harmonious environment, always looking to stabilize the family, unit or organization under their care.  Their warmth, people orientation, and sense of responsibility frequently direct them to careers or volunteer activities where they are of service to others.  They do best when they can plan and have ample private time in stable situations.  They work least well in hectic and ambiguous environments.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spend money to save money - part 7

Refinancing is a way to spend money but in the end to save money.  One thing no one tells you about refinancing your mortgage is that there is a cost to it.  All people talk about is the new, lower rate that they are getting.  Be prepared to have "settlement charges".  Last year, we inquired about refinancing at a local credit union.  The process will take some calls and be prepared to answer some questions.  They will ask you what, if any, debt you have, how much you make, where you work, birth dates, address, phone numbers.  If you can lower your rate by a percentage point, I would go ahead and refinance.  Remember, the whole goal of owning a home is to own the home.  That is, to have no payments to anyone.  Otherwise you might as well rent your entire life.  So make it your goal to pay off the mortgage.  When you refinance for a lower rate it is also a great time to lower the years of the mortgage.  When we refinanced in 2010 we lowered our rate a full percentage point and we took the life of the loan from 30 years to 15 years.  Those 30 year mortgages will kill you.  They never should be allowed in the first place.  Thirty years is like forever and people can't ever see an end to it so they resign themselves to being debtors their entire lives.  It doesn't have to be that way.  When you refinance, the bank or credit union will give you a chance to roll the cost of refinancing into the loan.  You can do that because it will make the whole thing less painful.  However, do not borrow additional money at this time no matter how tempting this might be.  As I said, the goal is to have a paid for house.  The quicker you can do that the sooner you can start laying aside huge chunks of money into your savings and investments.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Emotional Energy

Seth Godin writes in his book "Linchpin" that art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.  It involves digging deep down within ourselves and finding the unique answer and having the courage bring that out.  I grew up in a home where there was not a lot of emotions.  Emotions were feelings, not facts.  Facts were things we could put our trust in because they were true.  As a result, I do not score very high in art or music.  However, in this new economy, I need to tap into my inner self and find that emotion and put that humanity into my work otherwise my work becomes just a commodity, something easy to replace, and therefore I am easy to replace.  There is no security in that.  This is a challenge for me because I have been so much about following rules, leaders, and others.  It has been about complying, obeying, and staying within the lines.  I am being enlightened by this book but it is a sweeping change for me and bringing my artist to work, and releasing emotional energy in what I do there, is something new for me.  When I get past this fear and distrust of emotions, I believe it will open new worlds and generate significant personal growth.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My dog

My dog is a Labrador Retriever mix.  We were told when we picked her up that she had another undetermined breed apart of her.  We know she is not a full Labrador because she has a pink nose and pink around her eyes as apposed to usual black.  She is a yellow lab with white on her underside as well as a white tip to her tail and a white patch on her forehead.  Her weight is about seventy pounds which she carries well.  We named her Ellie for no other reason other than we liked the sound of the name.  About five years ago we stopped into the Fox Cities Humane Association just to look around.  We had been talking about getting a dog and this was the next step.  Walking into such a place without deciding on taking something home is almost impossible.  There was a litter of 4 that someone had dropped off and we decided to take one home.  She was on her best behavior the first two days but has been herself ever since.  It did not take long to train her to relieve herself outside as we take her outside about four times per day.  We have certain areas in the yard that are not mowed and these are the place we give her the command to go.  Ellie likes to chase tennis balls and we throw one to her so that she can get her exercise.  In the warm months, we take her to a pond nearby and throw the ball in the water which she swims for.  Getting her to do this was nature and required no training from us.  We try to bath her once a month, clip her nails once every two weeks, and brush her everyday.  I think we take care of the things we value and we definitely value our dog.  She sheds quite a bit so we have to sweep up her hair everyday.  Her ears can get really gunky and she shakes her head because of that.  We have tried a number of remedies but so far it comes back very quickly.  I buy dog food about once a month for her.  That is about her only cost at this point.  Although we have bought her a kennel which is out in the garage and we have bought her toys, collars, and a leash.  She likes to have the run of the house but we keep her out of our bedroom and out of the laundry room.  I would recommend a dog for a family.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Keeping out of the spotlight

In the well-know song “Limelight” by the rock band Rush, there is a line that says, “Living in the limelight, the universal dream”.  Although the song is catchy, I have to say that being on stage, in the spotlight, or in any way having fame is not my dream or appealing in the least bit.  Performing in front of people, being called out, speaking in front of groups, is not at all my style.  I feel very uncomfortable with this.  I would much prefer working behind the scenes, having my privacy and anonymity.  I like doing my tasks off camera where I am not observed or open to criticism.   I take pride in being kept off the front page.  It is my goal to work privately and independently, to earn a good living for sure, but in a place not known to many people. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Relocation

Today I am going to write out some thoughts on the matter of relocation.  You may ask what could be better than a small town in the upper mid-west.  It is true, there are some advantages of being here.  It is quiet, stress levels are low, the stars come out at night, there isn't a lot of strife, cost of living isn't especially high, and people leave you alone.  However, in a small town there are not a lot of opportunities.  I would like to have more chances to attend seminars, workshops, and classes.  They are few and far between here. To attend a festival, lecture, or gallery, I have to be very deliberate and drive quite a ways.  I would like to have a growing, enjoyable career.  So far I have not found that in this or any neighboring village.  Getting connected with people is hard as most probably like to stay at home just as much as I do.  Having outdoor recreational options are somewhat available here but not all the ones I would like to have.

So that brings up the issue of relocation.  It is a possibility.  I have heard that Americans move on average every seven years.  I have been in this place since 2005 and the matter of moving has been brought up with my significant other.  It is in our system as Americans to move and find a better life and I see that as a good thing.  If we can improve out lives by relocating, I think that is fine and should be encouraged.  Therefore, I am open to selling this home and moving to really anywhere.  This is the United States after all and I am free to do so.  The issues that come up with moving are considered next.  My wife has two living parents, and a few other relatives, with some need of support.  I have one surviving parent who is fairly independent.  Other relatives for both of us are in the area and it is easier to stay connected to them by living where we do.  Our house is another issue.  As money comes in, we fix things up and replace things as we see fit.  If we move, all those plans and ideas would be left behind for someone else to experience.  We are also tied into the community through friendships, stores, church, and events.  If we were to leave, those things may get easily over looked as minor but later show up in a feeling of lose.

I am not apposed to moving.  In some ways, I would look forward to the change and the challenge.  I would like to move where there are many opportunities and where there is a good community and economy.  Mild weather with less snow and darkness would also be a plus.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spend money to save money - part 6

Around a typical home, there are many electronic devises that are plugged in and draw power although they are in stand-by mode and not in use.  Computers, televisions, printers, space heaters, radios, and many more things.  To cut your electric bill, a good thing to buy is a power strip with an on-off switch.  We have a basic 6-outlet strip like the one in the previous link but you can also buy ones that power things down on their own when they recognize the appliance is not in use.  The less sophisticated one is only $16 at Amazon and I think the pay back would be less than a year if used to turn off idle power-hogging electronics.  I think a surge protector would also make a nice, practical gift.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I liked in my past jobs

I will attempt to convey what I liked about my last three jobs.

As an Inside Sales Representative at a Cisco reseller, I liked creating quotes for hardware.  By getting the quote to look attractive to the customer or the outside sales rep was something I took pride in.  Before the quotes were made, I would have to configure the products.  This was done in a special online tool that Cisco had developed so that people would order the right products.  I thought I was pretty good at that.  I enjoyed working in an office that was clean, where people tried to help, and the coffee was free.  It was also helpful to have an incentive on gross sales for the month.

As an Inside Process Specialist at a call center, I liked the variety of tasks that would go into the selling of Cisco service agreements.  I enjoyed gathering customer contact information, working up equipment reports, and discovering sales made by my customers.  It was satisfying to keep track of the sales process and discover a purchase that I could take credit for.  This job provided some training in sales and an exposure to many computer and online tools.  Having a quarterly bonus to work for gave me something to look forward to.  Being a work from home agent allowed for a short commute and much savings in terms of money and time.

As a Lab Assistant at the local blood center, there were several things that made this an enjoyable experience.  I liked the variety of tasks that I engaged in.  I would label products, prepare shipments to hospitals, organize testing tubes, along with many small things that added up.  I was able to have control over my whole shift and I took what I did seriously.  The time of day I was there allowed me to work independently so I was able to select the radio station I listened to and when I took breaks.  I felt I had managements trust.  Being associated with an organization that was a good cause in the community was important to me.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Books

While shopping this weekend, I went into a bookstore.  There were streams of people coming in from the parking lot.  I don't think the regular old book is ever going to go completely away.  People like to hold them, touch them, and put them on shelves.  They also like to give them as gifts.  I think that is why Barns and Noble was crowded on Saturday.  A book is a thoughtful little present to put under the tree.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stopping for a refreshment

I am not one to stop at a coffee shop or a restaurant on the way home for a refreshment.  There have been a few times where I thought I would try it.  There is a favorite deli of mine that serves cold tea and hot coffee.  I spent the $2 and took a seat by myself.  I checked my iPod for emails, finished my drink, and left.  It wasn't very fun.  I don't understand the appeal.  In small towns throughout Wisconsin there are bars everywhere and cars line the street out front.  Evidently this is where people go to for a drink of some sort.  To me, it is not where I want to be.  I like to be home surrounded with the familiar.  Everything I need is pretty much here.  I most certainly don't need noise, crowds, or cigarette smoke.  On television, in the show Cheers for instance, people stop in and stay for hours, drinking and coming up with cleaver sayings.  I just don't see the need and the desire to do that is not inside of me.  When I am on my own time, I like to be at home.  I guess that makes me a home body.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas shopping

I went up to the valley to do a little Christmas shopping.  It wasn't too bad.  Being a Saturday, the traffic was a little more than usual.  I did not go into the mall but went to the stores lining it.  I had a list in my mind and pretty much bought what I had intended too.  There were a few stores that I went into to look around but came out with nothing.  Stores with color and fluff don't have much appeal to me.  I need purpose and practicality with what I buy.  Usually I won't exchange cash for things that are frilly and fun.  Things can look good but it needs to do something that benefits me.  The things I bought are pretty good and I hope the person they are intended for like my selections.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wheelbarrow vs. lawn cart

Wheelbarrow vs. lawn cart

I recently acquired a lawn cart and wanted to write about this handy item for the yard.  I have a yard that is over an acre and a half.  Through-out the year, I move materials all over the place.  Things like leaves, needles, branches, dirt, compost, fire wood, and vegetables from the garden.  A wheelbarrow is classic and they are readily available at home stores and I have two.  However, I do not recommend them.  This is for one simple reason.  When operating one, you have to bend, grab hold of both handles, and lift.  There is no other way to move it.  Taking one handle and dragging it would be too heavy and would possibly result in the wheelbarrow tipping over.  This is a terrible design yet we live with it because we assume this is just the way things are and that we don't have a choice.  Enter the lawn cart.  The lawn cart has two large wheels on either side of the box and a handle that is connected.  When moving a lawn cart, the operator only has to take it by one hand.  You can walk forward or backward.  Other advantages are that it is light, the container is deeper, there is no need to bend, and materials can stack easily and high inside it.    Do no waste your money or hurt your back with a wheelbarrow.  Buy a lawn cart instead.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Too bad this is what it takes

Right now, I have a little time on my hands.  That is great and all but the reason is obvious.  I am between opportunities.  The irony is that having this extra time is terrific and allows for all kinds of opportunities.  Just today, I was able to donate plasma, attend a class on social networking, visit with a friend, try a new restaurant, take the dog for a nice walk, read, listen to a wide variety of podcasts, and enjoy some time at home.  What a tragedy that when we have that traditional job that we miss out on so much.  I was in downtown Appleton today, and what a marvelous place to hang out, but I would not have been there if I didn't have a wide open schedule.  You should visit this little mid-west city.  It really is charming and there are a lot of things to see and do.  I think it has a lot of class.   But so many people are working during the day that they miss the life that is all around them.  My goal is to have large blocks of time off, like I do now, but I want to have the income as well.  I guess what I am saying is, my desire is to be in a place where I can make large amounts of cash quickly without giving 40 prime hours away each week.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Spend money to save money - part 5

Cable or satellite television is something I have not paid for directly.  I just can't bring myself to pay for something that is available for free.  I would encourage people to cut the cable TV and ditch the dish and buy an antenna to receive free over-the-air high-definition broadcasts.  Here is one that I like and have inside my house on top of a book case that receives all the major stations in my area.  It is only $30 but does require to be plugged in while in use.  Here is an outside antenna package that I would like to have.  It is only $100.  Being an outside antenna, I would think it could pick up a few more channels.  These antennas are one time purchases whereas cable and dish are on-going monthly outlays of about $30 per month or $360 per year.  I can't imagine paying that much for television.  If you are looking to buy something to save money, this is a prime example.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What I want

Even more than any material thing, what I really want is work that I can love and be proud of, something that brings satisfaction.  I spend too much time at work for it to be something I hate or dread.  I have had jobs here and there doing many different things.  Usually, the pay was not great or the conditions where not what I was looking for, so I moved on.  Those jobs did not yield the success I am looking for.  As I am in the midst of a job hunt, I thought I would write about what I am looking for.  I want meaningful, purposeful work.  It needs to matter.  It needs to help people or better the environment or strengthen the economy.  Strong leadership is important to me so I would like to see competent leaders in my next place.  Expectations have to be reasonable and achievable.  Independence to a degree is something I need where I can work on my own perhaps off by myself or at my home.  I want there to be manageable levels of stress, not stress that causes me to loose sleep.  The best hours in the day for me are the morning hours so I would prefer to start at seven, or eight at the latest.  Lunch break would not need to be more than a half hour as I almost always pack a lunch.  I would like to be out by 4 PM but would like to have the option of leaving early, without penalty, if the work for the day has been completed.   Knowing what I am doing would really help but some learning would also be good.  I enjoy attending a class, lecture, or training now and then and I have shown that I can pass a test.  Being in an environment where I can admit to a mistake without fear and where I can ask for assistance would also help.  An understanding group of people to work with would be most appreciated.  I am task oriented and that is where I get my satisfaction.  When my list has a lot of check marks next to it, I feel good about myself.  Repetition in my job would be okay as I like predictability.  Pay and benefits are important as I have goals that require money.  Making a good income makes coming to work much more enjoyable.  I really want work that I can be happy with and that is what I am looking for in my next position.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why I go to church

I attend church meetings most every weekend.  Today while there, I was thinking of the reasons why I go.  Here are my thoughts.

1.  Hebrews 10:24-25.  "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing".  This is a verse from the Bible that is very clear about gathering for regular services.
2.  Habit.  My parents faithfully took us kids to church almost every week.  It was just something that we did.
3.  Forgetfulness.  I can forget things more quickly than I would care to admit.  I need to be in church to be reminded of eternal truths.
4.  Sinner.  I am a sinner and therefore I need forgiveness.  Going to church doesn't grant me forgiveness nor do I need to be in a building devoted to God to get forgiveness.  But asking God to forgive sin and confessing sin to Him even at church is a good reason to be there.
5.  Peace.  When I miss church I feel uneasy in my spirit.  I need to be in church to have my week complete.
6.  Example.  I wish to be a good example to those around me.  We vote with out feet and that is what I am doing by being at church Sunday mornings.  It is the best place to be.
7.  Spiritual leadership.  A man should care for the souls in his own household.  Part of that is taking them to a place where they can be feed spiritually.

I find it sad that many people never attend a church service where the Word of God is clearly preached.  I know I would be much less of a person without it.  If you are looking to nourish your soul, please seek out a Bible teaching fellowship.  To me, it is the most important time of the weekend.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Composting

Composting is something that is done at our home.  It is so simple.  We have a cookie dough container that we use to gather organic matter.  Some day, I'd like to get a small bucket specifically made for this.  I have seen them online for about $35.  The items we compost are coffee grounds, banana peels, apple cores, potato peels, lettuce, and carrot peels.   We have over an acre of land so we decided that our place for dumping would be toward the back of our property, out of sight and smell.  I have thought of moving it into the garden as that is where it should be applied eventually anyway.  Maybe I'll do that in the spring.  The garden is still far enough away that it would not bother anyone there.  We have a simple ring of fencing to mark the area and add to it once a day or once every other day.  Occasionally there is evidence that an animal has eaten some of what we have left out.  The pile of matter almost never gets bigger as it constantly breaks down.   I don't think many people compost around here which surprises and disappoints me.  I have heard that 30% or so of what is hauled to the garbage dump is organic and could be composted.  We also compost our leaves by adding them to the garden or piling them in a place out back.  I would encourage you to start composting.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Some of my favorite websites

Here are some of my favorite websites that I view almost every day.

http://www.48days.com/ career and life advice.
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ Seth Godin's blog.
http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/ financial advice.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/index.cfm Bible study tools.
http://www.postcrescent.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage local news.
http://www.macworld.com/ Apple related news.
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html Astronomy Picture of the Day.
http://www.noaa.gov/ weather forecast.
http://dealnews.com/ bargins found across the web.

There are other sites that I visit almost daily like Facebook and my bank but I thought that was obvious.  What websites do you visit on a daily basis?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No credit cards here

I use my a debit card from my bank for most transactions.  When I swipe it at a store, I usually claim it is as a credit card because I have forgotten my pin.  This works well as it is a very easy system.  One card tied to my checking account.  If the money isn't there, I can't spend it.  My last credit card was with Discover.  For a while they had 2% cash back but that fell and fell to a point where it wasn't worth it anymore.  I then relegated it for travel but even then I could tell I was using it without thought or plan and I didn't like that so I have cut it up.  I do have a gas card and a card tied to my HSA but those are used for two very specific purposes.  Occasionally I will receive a gift card with a limited amount of dollars on it.  Once it is used, I cut it up.  I know there are deals out there for cash back cards and cards that give away airline tickets but I don't want to jump through the hoops to get those things.  Companies are not in business to give away money and trips.  They make their money by people buying more than they should.  I don't want to fall into the trap of justifying a purchase because I will gain miles or a 2% discount.  Using cash, check, and a single debit card works for me.  It is a closed, simple system that I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to simplify and reign in spending.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life in Wisconsin


Every once in a while the state of Wisconsin will come up nationally and usually we are described as a back water or fly over country or a place of weird people.  I wanted to say a few things about living here.

The weather does change rapidly.  It can be sunny and nice for a few hours in the day but then changes to wind and rain not too long thereafter.  It is more often cold than warm.  We may have four or five months that could contain some warmth.  July and August are really the only reliable warm times that we get.  Otherwise, it could be cool enough that jeans are required.

Speaking of clothing, we are not a dressy type of people.  I was recently in Chicago and I saw people in the hotel lobby that were wearing suits.  It surprised me.  I didn't think anyone actually dressed up that much anymore.  I think people dress down here in a relaxing manner.  Jeans, sweatshirts, and t-shirts are popular.

The people are mostly descendants of northern Europeans.  There is a reserved nature and people are close to their family and friends and not necessarily looking for new friendships.  So there might be a closed nature to us.  However, because of this, there is a sort of stability to the region.  People do not move far.

The economy is steady as well.  It isn't a place where there is a wide difference with incomes.  People work hard and want to improve their lives through work.  Agriculture and manufacturing still play a big part in the states economy.

People also play hard.  Recreation is a big thing here.  Fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, biking, running, and sports in general.  People like to restore and collect cars so there are several auto shows here.  People also like their beer and strong drink.  There are many bars and most towns have several in addition to restaurants that have a bar.  I think the bar culture came over from Europe but it is also a place to gather to keep warm.  

The big cities have an unhealthy balance.  Madison and Milwaukee often determine the outcome of any election.  Unfortunately those two metro areas lean left so our state comes across as liberal.  It is true that socialism has crept in like it has through out our nation.  However, I think there is a conservatism that runs deep.  People believe in personal responsibility, protecting life, and personal property.

I think if you are considering moving here, be aware that the cold and darkness are hard to put up with.  People can be closed and it is difficult to really get to know others.  The economy can have some stability to it.  The politics are divided.  It is reported to be an affordable area to live and it is compared to San Francisco or New York but I would not say it is really cheap.   Bargains can be had if you look for them but food, gas, housing, taxes all seem high and relentless to me.  

If you have any questions on life here or if you want my opinion or would like me to research something for you, please let me know.  I can be reach by this blog or keithjameskemp at gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I look for in a car

When I am looking to replace a vehicle, I have some basic criteria.  It must be rust-free, low mileage, and paid for.  When I was growing up, our cars were no beauties.  We usually had only one and it would likely be an old style van, and that van would have dents and rust.  My dad had no auto interest whatsoever unlike many today we are into racing, collecting, and restoring.  That disinterest has been passed down to me.  Yet I don't like the looks of rust but I do like having a car clean so rust sort of spoils that preference.  I like low miles because the car will last longer.  My cars must be paid for because I refuse to be in debt.  Many people see an auto loan as their only way to make it.  I don't believe that.  I would rather save up my money, pay cash, and keep my freedom.  Yes, I would like to have better cars.  Something of better comfort, class, acceleration and that may happen.  Who knows, I could make it really big where buying a new car is a small expense.  But for now, I have what I have and I am content with them as they get me and my family from point A to point B.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Glass containers

I hope our society can go back to glass containers.  They are easy to clean, they don't leach, they can be reused, and they break down in the environment.  Glass has the disadvantage though that it can break and those shards can be sharp.  However, when it does shatter out in the world, it will break down to eventually become one with the earth.  Plastics and aluminum do not break but they also do not meld into the environment.  Studies have shown that these two materials will leach harmful chemicals into the human body.  Therefore, I am hesitant to use them.  I see people discard them along the roadways and there they sit until someone generously picks them up.  I would like to see more companies return to the healthier, lighter impact material of glass.  It is a favorite of mine and I hope it is what you choose to use also.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The prayer of the tax collector

We have many famous prayers in the Bible.  The Lord's Prayer or as some of observed the Disciples Prayer.  The Prayer of Jabez has become popular in our time.  We recite Psalm 23 as a prayer often times.  However, I have not heard many comments, sermon's, or books on the Tax Collector's prayer.  It can be found in the Gospel of Luke chapter 18 verse 13.  He says, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!"  This tax collector was probably looked at as a turn coat, someone who was Jewish but who worked for the Roman government, and therefore was seen as a traitor to his own people.  He probably had great doubts about his work.  His own conscience likely bothered him, especially if he collected more than was required by Roman law.  He was unlikely to have many friends.  So he was rejected by man and only had up as a way to go.  Notice, he starts his prayer addressing the only one who can help with the mess of his life, "God".   He asks for one thing from God and that is mercy.  In other words, he asks God to stay His rightful judgement on his life.  In the end we see what the tax collector sees himself as and that is a sinner.  I think this prayer is a model to the unbelieving world.  This is the way we should begin our relationship with our Creator.  The man had great humility as he stood afar off and would not raise his eyes to heaven.  I think this is a picture of having things in the right order.  Our view of God must be high, holy, and just and our view of ourselves must be low, common, and criminal.  I hope many express a prayer like this one as a way out and as a way to draw near to the Lord.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shopping

I find there is one person I enjoy shopping for:  me.  I know what I have, what I like, and what I can afford.  I do not enjoy shopping for others.  That may sound like I am some sort of a curmudgeon but let me explain.  In the past, I have bought presents and really worked hard at it. I went here and there, picked out some things, weighed the options, bought it, and wrapped it.  Only to never really know if it was liked or used.  I have not liked the uncomfortable feeling I have when people open what I bought.  The look on their face says it was not what they expected, or the wrong size or an odd color.  It would be nice to eliminate those feelings from my life and mostly I have as my wife will now do the Christmas and gift shopping.  I have tried to use the method of buying things for others that I would like to have but that hasn't seemed to have worked as what I would like to have is rarely what people would like to have.  It isn't a great feeling when I see things I have bought for someone in their discard pile.  I would much prefer to buy my own things than buy for others as there is little question as to whether or not it will be used and enjoyed.  I think in this mix is also that I dislike wasting time and money.  Running from store to store and parting with money that could be better used elsewhere is hard on my psyche. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I am thankful for

Here is a list of things I am thankful for in no particular order.

A measure of health.
A clear mind.
My loving, supportive wife.
My parents.
Salvation.
God's Word.
Heaven.
A good book to read.
My dog.
My church family.
Enjoyable, satisfying work.
Ice cream.
Open spaces.
Radio, audio files, music.
Paid for vehicles.
Warmth.
Sun light.
A winning home team in the Packers.
Good food.
Freedom, independence.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Expecting company's to care

I was in a group this week where I heard from a man who stated that the company's he does business with don't care about him.  They supposedly only care about getting money from him.  The man was apparently unemployed and needed income.  He said that his bank only cared about getting his mortgage payment each month.  His cell phone company only cared that he pay them every month.  It surprised me that he would expect anything else.  The people he deals with at his bank are paid to collect mortgage payments and process the monies and they are not encouraged to be sympathetic or to think creatively on how someone can make a payment.  He did the right thing by contacting these places to let them know his earnings had dropped.  He was proactive and that was good because he was taking responsibility and he may have bought himself some time and prevented harassing phone calls.  However, that is about as far as it can reasonably go.  They eventually will need to get their money or he will be cut off.  But they don't want his house or his phone.  They want him to be a consistant customer.  He needed to find caring people elsewhere like his family, his friends, or his church.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Work shops at the job center

I went to two work shops today at the Fox Cities Workforce Development Center.  The first one was titled, "Where do I go from here?"  One idea that I really liked was that each of us should brand ourselves.  In a short phrase we should be able to describe our value and what we do.  So I came up with "Bringing order and efficiency to any situation".  I also scribbled this one, "Improving and upgrading the human experience".  It was suggested that I change my slogan to "Bringing I.T. order, efficiency, and improvement".  My branding might need some work but the teacher suggested that we use this phrase in our email signatures, on our resume, and in our conversations.  His other idea that I liked was that we should say to people when we are introduced, "Thank you for who you are!"  Then tell them that they are valuable and that you are looking forward to learning more about them.  That usually brings people in and so ask them for five minutes, tell them what you are doing, and see if they have anyone in their network that can help you.  But we should also be striving to broaden ourselves by learning about them and customizing our service to their needs.  The teacher also said to know what your learning style is so that you can tell an employer how to best train you in order to cut ramp up time and costs.  The second workshop was on Transferable Skills.  We were encouraged to put on our resume anything that we have learned or done whatever the source.  That includes parenting and family origins.  Put it on there if it is relevant information.  I wrote this while in class and really liked it, "Prefer intensive, deep relationships in customer service in order to get people to the point where they are independent.  Then, in several months, come back and check on them."  I think that is pretty close to what I am striving for.  These workshops are held on Mondays and are taught by John Gosling.  They are free and it is not necessary to reserve a spot.  I would highly recommend either workshop.   

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Deer Hunting 2011

I went deer hunting again this year.  It has been five years in a row that I have gone.  When I was in my teens I went maybe three times.  In those years, I never tagged a deer, however in four out of five of my recent deer hunts, I have bagged a doe.  I enjoy the time away, doing something different, and spending time with my aunt and uncle.  I also like being out in God's creation, having an experience to share, and firing a gun.  Fortunately, my uncle supplies all the equipment.  I don't even have a gun.  That has been nice, but some day, I would like to have my own rifle, gear, and orange clothing.  I am challenged by the cold.  That is probably the worst part of deer hunting.  Cleaning out a deer, though disgusting, can be managed.  I would like to get to place where taking off the week of gun deer season would be possible.  I would also like to shoot a buck.  Something with a good set of antlers.  So far, the males have been elusive and the shots I have taken at them have been wild.  They come in by themselves so there is no warning, they keep moving, and they are quiet for the most part.  The property my uncle and aunt own is terrific deer habitat.  I saw seven deer on Saturday and seven on Sunday.  There may have been some duplication.  There was more activity this year than last.  I even saw thirteen turkey's on Saturday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ask me this

People will often ask, "How are you?" and though I appreciate their interest, there are better questions to ask me.  Ask me how things are going with my home church.  Ask me what books I have read lately.  Ask me what new technological item is catching my interest.  Ask me what I have learned lately from one of my favorite podcasts.  I am not the biggest, most interesting talker.  However, I do have interests and passions that I am willing to discuss and explore.  Let's move on from the most basic, uninteresting, dead end questions and let's move onto the topics that put some fire in the soul.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

27 Letters

I thought of a sure way to become famous and add some breadth to the English speaking world.  If I could come up with an acceptable 27th letter to the alphabet it would get me into the history books.  We assume that we have all the letters we need.  But isn't it possible that there are pronunciations that we are over looking because we are missing a letter?  After choosing the letter, there must be a sound that accompanies it, and there would than be new words that could be made, each of which would need to have their own definition.  People would need to start using those words, having the ability to type the letter, and gradually the new letter and words would be accepted into dictionaries and the like.  I see adding to the alphabet as somewhat the same as adding more endings to internet addresses.  We started with .com, .net, and .org but now there is .info, .biz, and .tv.  Why can't we add to the alphabet?  Are we missing an opportunity here?  Why limit ourselves?  Why stop with 26?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Grace of Interruption

In Dan Miller's book "48 Days to the Work You Love", there is a paragraph on the Grace of Interruption.  The credit of this phrase goes to a woman who was let go from her job.  Instead of looking at that as a wholly negative event, she framed it as something much softer.  When we have unexpected time, it can give us time to breath, to catch up, to meet up with people we haven't been able to see because of work, and it allows us to refocus, write goals, exercise, read, and rest.  I had a plan to leave a job that had become very routine, where any small mistake was considered unforgivable, and where the pay was stagnant at best.  I received an invitation to go somewhere with better pay.  Something I was definitely looking for.  However, the hours expected to work and be available was not communicated up front.  I could not sleep, was stressed, and could not get anything accomplished.  Now after parting ways, I am experiencing the grace of interruption.  I am doing those things mentioned above.  Yes, it is a little scary.  The expenses of life do not quit because the paychecks have ended.  Yet, I believe there is something out there for me, I am clarifying who I am, what I want, and what I don't want.  I look forward to a new challenge and I don't assume this is for the worse.  I believe that there are many opportunities out there for me.  I plan on taking initiative and doing my best.  God is my provider, I go to Him in prayer, and I have asked His people for help and prayer.  This is a season of my life that I think I will look back on in some years and see as a great time to reflect and refocus.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pixar films: most to least favorite

Below is my listing of Pixar animated films in order from most liked to least liked.  I have followed this studio from almost the beginning and anticipated each new movie with great excitement and expectation.  I like the companies commitment to quality and doing it right.  They do not over produce and thereby lose focus and put out shoddy work.  Usually it is one film a year and the release date is well planned.  For a quite a while there, they were releasing films like no one has ever done but in recent years they have made a follow up film or two that has not been original.  It would seem that they have fallen for profits over art.  I also liked that Steve Jobs was the CEO of this company for quite a while.  It was just too cool that he was running both Apple and Pixar.  I've never seen anything like that before.

The Incredibles - love the 1950's setting with the tradition family, cloak and dager, and great action.  I can watch this movie again and again and wish more films were made like this one.

Cars - this one had to grow on me but now it is my second favorite Pixar film.  I like the values of this film and the portrayal of life in a small town and the struggles it can bring.

Bugs Life - one of their early films.  I enjoyed learning about Pixar at the time this one came out and this began a long love affair with the company.

Toy Story II - the voices of Woody and Buzz are so well done.  A wonderful piece where they make it look easy.  

The next in line would be Wall-E, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Toy Story I, Toy Story III, and Up.  Cars 2 I have not seen but I have heard that is more geared to parents than to children.  I will see this movie I am sure but am not in a hurry because it is a second film.  I really wish this company would have continued to create original films rather than pursuing profits by going with what already known by the audience.

My least favorite film by Pixar is Ratatouille.  I just can't bring myself to see a rat as a hero.  I also did not the spiritual dimension to this film.   

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Unsung Heros of the Bible

Today for Sunday school, the lesson was on Jehoshaphat and Micaiah.   Jehoshaphat was a good king but one who allied himself with some wicked people.  He wanted to do what was right but allowed himself to be pulled into friendships that took him where he didn't want to go.  Micaiah was a god-fearing prophet who stayed true to his Lord.  He took an unpopular stand that showed he truly cared for someone who was heading down the wrong path.   It is funny how these two have for the most part flown under the radar in Christianity.  There are many heros of the Bible and some are there to be discovered on your own.  I recommend reading 2 Chronicles 18.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tech Check podcast review

Tech Check is a podcast that comes out on Thursday or Fridays where a panel reviews and comments on technology happenings for the past week.  The fifteen minute or so program comes from the studios of CNN in Atlanta, Georgia.  The host is Doug Gross and the panel is John Sutter and Stephanie Goldberg.  Doug is the most talkative and keeps things moving whereas John and Stephanie jump in and provide some short commentary.  Items of conversation are smart phones, social networking, technology celebrities, computers, and the internet.  I like this podcast because of the variety of news and opinions.  They talk about the most notable stories of the week but they usually have some newsy item that has slipped my notice.  The format is almost all the same with introductions, item # 1, item # 2, (sometimes item # 3?), the comment of the week, and finally, the tech fail of the week.  I would recommend Tech Check for those who want a short program focused on technology.  It is available for free on the Stitcher app.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ranking holidays

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  Late November is well passed summer and deep into fall so there really isn’t much going on.  The requirements of the holiday are small.  A little travel, greet and talk with relatives that you haven’t seen for several months, and eat.  Then talk some more, maybe watch a football game, and say heartfelt good-byes in order to go home and prepare for a three day weekend.  
The middle of the group would be Christmas, Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.  I like Christmas for the family get together redux.  However, I find buying gifts to be stressful and taxing.  I have really only found one person that I enjoy buying for and that is me.  With others, I don’t know if I have ever felt like I truly met a need or if they say thank you to just be polite.  The religious meaning of Christmas is not lost on me.  I attend church services and extra events during this time, most of which I actively participate in and enjoy.  I like Memorial Day because it gives a three day weekend and it marks the beginning of summer.  In the same vein I like Labor Day because it gives a three day weekend and bookends the summer.  I do not attend special events for either of these holidays so they end up being days off more than anything.  Come to think of it, I have gone downtown several times to listen to the band and the giving of roll call for Memorial Day.  So I have attended a special event for that holiday a few times.  Independence Day is during the summer and having additional time during the summer to enjoy the weather is a good thing.  Watching fireworks has become old to me so I don’t always attend special events for this holiday.
By far, my least favorite holiday is New Years.  Having a day off right after having a day off for Christmas seems too much too soon.  I would rather be doing something purposeful but I usually end up not having much to do on the day.  I would easily trade this holiday for one in April (Good Friday) as I would like to have time off during the nicer weather.  I do not enjoy staying out late or mixing it up with large groups of people so I have learned to stay home and keep things quiet.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Saturday delivery

I would be in complete understanding of the Post Office doing away with Saturday deliveries.  My mail consists of a lot of disposable advertising, not very important notices, and political ads.  Occasionally there is a wedding invitation or a financial statement.  These few real letters can wait until the week day.  My personal habit is to pile up my mail at the desk and then take 20 minutes once a week to open, look through them, and take any action needed.  I think five day delivery gets everything to me in good time and may even be too much.  But for now, I think we the public are without danger of missing anything important by shutting down the Post Office on Saturdays.  As an alternative, perhaps the Post Office could be open Tuesday through Saturday, that way people could find it easier to actually visit the Post Office building on Saturday.  Either way, I think five day delivery covers everything important.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The News from Lake Woebegon podcast review

Garrison Keillor spins a tale each week about a fictional small town in Minnesota as part of his show “A Prairie Home Companion”.  The full show is on public radio Saturday nights from 5 to 7 PM.  The News from Lake Woebegon is usually in the second half of the program and can last from 8 to 15 minutes.  Garrison will start in one place, describing someones activities or thoughts and will end up in an entirely different place describing another event by the end of the segment.  Sometimes he speaks about the church pastor or parishioners, sometimes teenagers or teachers, sometimes husband and wives, sometimes grumpy old men or dissatisfied women.  His topics are church socials, finding and falling in love, moving out of a small town, aging parents, gearing up for deer hunting, conversation at the local watering hole, and many others.  He is chronicling life in the United States but doing it in a very artistic way.  He essentially speaks back to us what we are doing and thinking.  Our quirks, contradictions, and ways of life.  Sometimes what he says ends up being a jab, other times it is confirming.  Either way, it is comforting to know that someone is noticing life in small towns.  He does not change his voice to try and mimic other peoples speaking styles.  He pretty much uses his own speaking style.  There isn’t any sound effects or music during this part of the show.  It is almost a sermon of sorts.  The humor is subtle but usually not the laugh out loud sort.  He can bring a slight smile to your face.  He does the news in an effortless way but what he is doing is by no means easy.  I believe he is a national treasure but sadly I would guess that 90% of the United States population has never heard of him or his program although it has been going on for decades.  The News from Lake Woebegon podcast is available for free using the app Stitcher.  I would highly recommend this podcast.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fire

I enjoy fire and think it is a useful tool.  I like burning twigs, sticks, and wood in our backyards fire pit.  When I am done, the fire has consumed all this material.  What was there, is not there anymore, taking up space and getting in the way.  When I drive around our world, I see large pile of brush that farmers have piled up in the middle of their field.  If I were them, I would burn them up so that the whole field could be accessible   I also see old barns that are not being used.  If I were the property owner, I would call the fire department and ask them to have a practice burn.  I see piles of burnable material in yards and property and think how wonderful it would make the owner feel if they would responsibly burn that stuff up.  I think fire is under used today because people are concerned about global warming (a small fire is not going to add to the over heating of our planet), pollution (a little smoke will get quickly taken away by the wind), or that the fire will get away from there (yes, you need to be careful but containing a fire is very doable).  Let me encourage you to have a small fire to clear out some of your piles of brush and wood.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Believer or Disciple?

We had a challenging message today at The Vine Christian Fellowship.  The question before us was "Believer or Disciple:  can we be one and not the other?"  It was not a feel good and be happy message but the guest pastor delivered it in a manner that was not judgmental or condescending.  I think the church at large needs to hear this sort of message because we are in eternal danger if we get this one wrong.  We are so fuzzy on our theology and so many worldly and unbiblical messages have crept in.  One of which is that we can believe on God and merely give recognition that He exists and somehow that is enough.  No, it isn't.  We are called to believe in Jesus as Lord and that means we surrender to Him.  We do not come to Him to negotiate and attempt to have a little give and take.  We are called to pray "Let Your will be done".  Adding Jesus to our lives like adding a philosophy is not Christianity.  Being a disciple means we are teachable, disciplined and learning.  Any child is pushed to do things for himself and that includes feeding himself.  As a child of God we are suppose to feed ourselves.  We need to be in the Word throughout the week between services.  Sundays should be like desert.  Filling and sweet to be sure but it should be on top of what we have fed on during the week.  

Here is how we can be His disciples.  1.  Keep yourself in the love of Jesus and stay there.  2.  Serve God (and yes it can be work and inconvenient).  3.  Know who you are.  4.  Remember what is important (your soul and the souls of those people around you).  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Collect a new radio station

When I travel, I like to tune into local radio.  I enjoy finding a slightly different spin on the usual music I like.  Getting local talent and local advertisements is also interesting.  It can help to widen my understanding and it broadens my knowledge of what is going on.  When I get home, I will find the station in my "TuneIn Radio" app on my iPod Touch and mark it as a favorite.  Then I will listen to this station at home and it reminds me of the place I visited.  I will think of the terrain, the smells, and what I was doing there.  Here are some examples.  I found Beach 92.7 FM when visiting Florida.  I found Love 105 FM when driving around Minneapolis.  I found Rewind 100.3 FM when I was in Chicago.  When I was in Door County, I found The Lodge 106.9 FM.  When I drive through Madison, I will sometimes tune into Life 102.5 FM.  These are great stations not on the air in my area.  However, with the "TuneIn Radio" app and wi-fi, I am able to listen to stations that otherwise I would have only been able to listen to if I was physically present where they broadcast.  Try this out.  I think it is more enjoyable to bring home a new radio station than a tourist souvenir.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let the fans rush the field

I love seeing the fans pour down out of the stands onto the field in jubilation.  The home team has won, the arch rival has been defeated, and there is not time remaining.  The goal post is climbed and eventually it tumbles.  People are all smiles and want to do something.  The heck with the grass and safety, let the fans fun onto the field to celebrate a big moment.  Why do we have to keep the fans so separate from the players that they love?  Why care more about the one fan who falls during the mad dash than the thousands who want to express their heart?  There are so many rules today that people are not allowed to do much at all.  This saddens me.  I secretly am delighted when security is over run and the enthusiastic band of hoodlums gets loose and onto the field.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Loud pipes annoy lives

I don't understand the appeal of loud motorcycles.  I much prefer a quiet bike like a Honda Goldwing.  Or any Honda for that matter.  I hope to have a Honda PCX some day soon.  But I digress.  Some people like to rev their Harley Davidson and make a bunch of noise.  I wish they wouldn't do that.  I remember how someone in our former neighborhood would go to work early in the morning and really let it rip and this was before seven o'clock.  How many people are still asleep at that hour?  Probably a lot.  Some motorcyclist are in a sort of contest of how loud they can be.  I hope they all loose and quiet it down.  I would like to see more fined for disturbing the peace.  Please consider your neighbors and their schedule before riding up and down the street interrupting conversations, waking people from their slumber, and disturbing everyone.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Money Life podcast review

This is podcast that I listen to almost every day.  The host is Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries.  The program is two minutes long and is available Monday through Friday.  It is available in the iTunes store and the subscription is free.  I would recommend this podcast.  Chuck covers a wide variety of financial topics including budgeting, tithing, raising children, debt, and jobs.  I would like to see him lean more on God's wisdom found in the Bible.  Often times there is a quick mention of God at the end and it can feel like an after thought.  I think what he is trying to do is provide guidance and get help to people where they are at.  I would also like to see him focus more on what God has to say about earning money.  There is so much advice out there on managing money but way too little on actually earning and generating income.  I think a lot of money management problems would go away if there was an abundant and growing income.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Have one family

I would find it confusing and difficult to be raised in an American family today.  With divorce so wide spread, children are essentially raised in two families.  They live at their mothers, with her new husband, with all their rules and traditions.  Then they live at the fathers with his new wife with all of their rules and traditions.  Other children come along from those new marriages giving children siblings from multiple unions.  Those half brothers and half sisters are not being raised in the exact same setting with not exactly the same parents so there is less in common.  Some people are over here, some people are over there.  Where do I belong?  How do I relate to all these people?  I am even confused writing about the whole thing.  What I am trying to say is that I think it would be better for people to get married once, have children, and stay married.  Have children with the spouse of your youth and leave it at that.  This way there isn't a set of family over here and set of family over there.  I know being single isn't always the best.  It can be lonely and there can be a longing for something more.  However, to avoid confusing children and making things messy, I would encourage people to stay single if they have had their children already.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wal-Mart is not a bank

I was watching the World Series tonight and one of the banners in the back ground was saying, "Wal-Mart.  Save Money.  Live Better."  If one didn't know better, one would think Wal-Mart is a bank.  It is not a bank.  It is not a credit union.  It is not a saving institution of any kind.  It is a place to go to buy things and spend money.  Saving money is adding to your savings account or mutual fund.  This is all marketing folks.  Don't buy into it.  I have not shopped at Wal-Mart for some time now.  The last time I was in their store was when I was on vacation.  My wife had to buy a swim suit and there really were not any options.  I don't shop at their stores because they don't have anything I want, there are other retail options, and I don't like the feel of their stores.  I don't like messy, cramped, and an all around poor image.  I choose to shop other stores who do not try and trick me into thinking I am saving money by spending.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Max Lucado Daily Audio Devotional review

Max Lucado is a pastor out of Texas.  He has written many books that I have enjoyed.  His podcast can be heard daily.  It is less than minute long.  He has a heart for people.  You can hear that through his voice.  His objective is to direct people in the right path.  Max usually speaks but sometimes he has little snippets from other people.  Maybe those people are being interviewed or answering a question or acting something out.  There is usually a little back ground music.  He has ended the program recently by saying, "This is Max on life".  Or he will wrap it up by saying, "This is Max Lucado".  Nothing too heavy here but definitely Christian.  I would highly recommend this podcast and it can be found in iTunes as a free download.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Birch tree taken down

We had a birch tree taken down.  It happened this morning after my wife left for work and before my daughter came home for lunch.  She told her mom who then told me.  We were both sort of surprised that the guys came today as they had not called to confirm the appointment.  When I arrived home tonight I saw all the wood in the yard that would need to be cut up and moved.  Fortunately, the men had done some cutting.  I am glad the tree wasn't just cut in five pieces or less and left for us to deal with.  Still, it was some work to cut up.  After supper, I got the chain saw out, plugged in, and finally started.  By then, it was raining lightly and mostly dark.  I cut and my wife loaded up the wheel barrows.  It was a little frustrating cutting as I could not get a good angle and had to do a lot of awkward bending over which probably put undo pressure on my lower back.  There are still three large pieces lying in the yard that will need to be dealt with.  I will have to cut them up quite a bit as even cut in two would be to big for both of us to load.  I may get to them Thursday night or maybe this coming weekend.  Now that the tree is down and the stump is ground we can move onto other plans.  We may put up an eighteen foot fence and we may put a paved path on that side of the house.  Even if we don't, it will be nice not having to mow around that tree, pick up its leave, or twigs.  I am glad we had that tree removed as it did not have enough advantages.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Body language not always as it seems.

People may think that I am resisting them when I fold my arms.  However, just as often as not, I am crossing my arms because I am cold, not because I am angry.  It is a very comfortable stance for me because I can warm myself.  It may also be that I am thinking about and contemplating what is going on around me.  Often times, I have to remind myself to place my arms at my side in order to not communicate something I am not intending to communicate.  I often times wish it wasn't so widely believed that crossing ones arms is a negative gesture.  I also like to place my hands in my pockets when I am standing.  This too can be read wrong.  Some people may think it says I am trying to hide something when I am really just trying to keep warm my hands.  When you see people and you think they are saying something by their body language, give them a chance to speak their mind and share their thoughts.  It may not be their intention to say what you think they are saying.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rest

Resting is not very popular in our society today.  Being a busy person is warn like a badge of honor.  People will work late into the night on some project that needs completion.  Overnighters for college students is suppose to symbolize how serious they are at passing an exam.  Practice and sporting events take up families evenings and weekends.   Sunday afternoons are often filled with the noise of lawn mowers as people try to get one more things accomplished on their to-do list for the weekend.  When is there time to relax and rest?  How is burning the candle at both ends working out for people?  I personally like to get my work and shopping done during the week.  I like to have my weekends free.  I will do house work and yard work on Saturdays so that I don't have to do on Sunday after church.  God gave us an example through the creation week of how to order our lives.  God created, formed, and gave life for six days but then rested on the seventh.  Not that He needed to but because we need to.  I think sleep is important.  We minimize sleep and how it helps us to stay healthy and be productive when we are on the job.  Setting aside one day per week to worship, relax, read, think, meditate, recover, and do something different is balancing and of great importance.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why I don't use the f-word.

Why don't I use the f-word?  First of all, I can't see my parents saying it.  In the home I grew up in, piss and damn were not even allowed.  Secondly, it lowers a loving act into nothing more than a compulsion beyond control.  Sex is God's idea and therefore we should treat it has holy and use the gift in the best possible way.  If we need to speak of it, it should be lifted up not torn down.  Thirdly, we are all a product of two people uniting and to say that we are just a by product of some grunts and groans is unseemly.  We are made in the image of God and therefore each of us has much worth.  Fourthly, bringing sex into any and every conversation brings to mind something that maybe inappropriate for the situation.  Maybe there are men and women together or maybe the conversation is about something else entirely.  Why do we have to have the subject of sex interjected when it is not the topic at the moment?  I vote that we dismiss this word from our collective vocabulary because it does not reflect the true nature of what it is trying to describe.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dog verses cat

I enjoy our dog but I tolerate our cat.  My dog is excited when I come home and greets me at the door.  My cat is hidden away most of the time and I rarely see it.  My dog wants me to throw the ball for her and I get outside in the fresh air to play with her.  My cat doesn't want me to do anything with her.  My dog warns me of visitors and potential danger.  My cat would walk over my dead body on the way to the litter box.  My dog wants me to touch her, scratch her, and snuggle with her.  My cat can go days without any physical contact.  My dog is right there at the edge of the table looking for little scapes.  My cat is not around for dinner time.

I think cats are too successful for our own good.  They are cute and they can survive without much human effort.  But they also have a negative impact on the bird population.  I hope people with cats keep them inside and keep them from breading.  I would recommend a dog to most any family.  The companionship, the exercise, the physical touch that comes with a dog make up for any negative thing that comes with pet ownership.  When the cat is gone, she will not be replaced.  When the dog is gone, it will break my heart.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What are you doing with your freedom?

We have so many options, choices, and freedoms.  My question to you is, what are you doing with your freedom?  Are you exchanging your freedom for slavery?  Giving up your freedom for a little high, a little buzz, a little thrill.  Is it really freedom you are experiencing or an addition, a monkey on your back, a bad habit?  How is that working for you?  Do you like the high doctor bills, the poor health, and the thin wallet?  Why can't we have more people who are truly dedicated to the best?  I mean, being the best.  Why not strive for getting as far as you can and doing all you can?  Why get side tracked and hampered by silly, useless things?  We have far too many people settling, giving in, compromising and we have far too few champions.  Those that give it their all and become truly amazing.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Burned out on Angry Birds

I haven't played Angry Birds for some time now.  Maybe a month and a half ago I attempted to get back into the game on my iPod Touch.  But I noticed my heart wasn't into it any longer.  The game itself turned me away.  Playing Season's Greedings, I could not completely master level 1-17.  I am a person that likes to get three stars on every level and this one was impossible.  I must have played a thousand times.  It felt like it anyway.  I felt like the designers betrayed me by having a level so impossible.  I am also a person who likes to get all the achievements.  I was doing pretty well, over 80% completed, and ticking off  quite a few of them.  However, in the original Angry Birds game there is an achievement called "Smash Mania" and I had read that there was a glitch in the game not allowing anyone to snag this one no matter how long they played.  Also, the Score Addict achievements where so high, I felt deflated when I thought about going through all those levels again just to get a better score.  It would have been impossible.  Truthfully, I like Rovio, the makers of this game and I really don't think they intend to make levels or achievements impossible.  However, I think I am pretty good at this game and to never be able to reach 100% is a turn off.  I can't bring myself to go on when there isn't a chance that I will some day conquer it all. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How to not hit deer

When I went into work today, there was a dead dear on the side of the road.  I noticed that it had some spike antlers and was probably a young buck.  The air smelled terrible as I passed by and I notice a single, long, black skid mark leading up to the carcass.  The killing must have happened overnight.  I find it sad when I see animals dead on the side of the road.  Could it be possible to lower the chances of hitting a deer or other animals?  Yes, I believe so.  Here are my suggestions.

1.  Slow down.  Don't drive like a crazy person.
2.  Pay attention.  Keep your eyes ahead of you but also look back and forth from one ditch to the other.
3.  Drive sober.  Don't drink beverages that contain alcohol and then drive.  Get a ride home.
4.  Drive when it is light out.  Keep off the road when it is dark and hard to see.
5.  Get enough sleep.  It is easier to pay attention to what is happening on the roadway when you are fully alert.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Answers in Genesis podcast review

The Answers in Genesis podcast is updated weekdays with a minute and a half audio lesson.  The host is Ken Ham.  He is well spoken, easy to understand, and he deals head-on with important issues that many people don't know how to answer.  The topics that Ken uses are wide and varied.  Some include dinosaurs, the flood, stars, planets, comets, death, suffering, Adam, and the six days of creation.  I would highly recommend this podcast and it can be found in the iTunes store for free.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wisdom

Who needs wisdom?  Everyone.  According to Ecclesiastes 12:1, "Remember now your creator in the days of your youth".  

What is wisdom?  Good judgement, sound decisions, applied knowledge.

Where can I find wisdom?  The wisdom books of the Bible are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastics, and Song of Solomon.  However, there is wisdom found throughout the Bible from Genesis through Revelation.  Ultimately, we find wisdom in God's Son, Christ Jesus.  

When do we need to wisdom?  In relationships, with finances, at work, during free-time, and with the myriad of choices we have to make.

Why do we need wisdom?  To make good decisions.  To live a life that matters.  To avoid harm.  

How do we get wisdom?  By obeying and fearing the Lord.  According to Psalm 111:10, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments".  By asking God for it.  According to James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him". 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Darkness comes quickly

At this time of year, the day starts late and the night comes quick.  The temperatures can be comfortable so one feels like being outside but there is little time for it after work and after dinner.  So I usually push dinner back in an attempt to get some outside jobs done.  There are many leaves to rake up and everything like that takes time.  After doing a few things and looking up, there is the sun on the horizon.  In the mornings, I find it more difficult to get up due to the total darkness.  Sunrise is not until seven o'clock.  So having the radio set to 6:05 AM means no help from the sun.  I like the light.  It really helps me with my energy level and with my mood.  Changing over to all this darkness is an adjustment.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lots of raking lately.

I enjoy trees.  They provide fresh air, are beautiful to look at, and give shade.  However, there are some down sides.  They drop needles, leaves, and sticks.  All of which I have to pick up or else run over with the lawn mower.  We have a number of large trees on our property and as a result we spend far too much time picking up their litter.  This week we called a tree removal service and are going to have a birch taken down and the stump ground.  They will leave the wood with us so that we can burn it in a year or two after it dries in the fire pit out back.  This particular birch leans a little over the north side of the house were the garage is.  As a result it drops leaves and stick on the house which end up in the eaves which then clog up.  This is the only large tree we will take down this year.  However, next year, I can see us taking down a white pine in front which drops needles and sap on the drive way and any car underneath it.  I like trees but some of the trees we own need to come down.  I am looking forward to our guy coming out next week and I am anticipating less work in the future because of his service.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Where is the music within me?

It has been said that "Many people die with their music still in them".  I am still searching for that music.  I would like to think I have a large dream that would release my energy, fire my imagination, and delight my spirit but I am not sure there is any music down deep that needs to be played.  Sometimes I turn inward and try to listen but nothing seems to be there.  I want to get along with people, I want good health, I want to have peace and tranquility, and I want things to get better and improve.  However, a big project, a large dream, a beautiful symphony does not seem to be there.  I don't know if it has been buried or if the music was never trained to get out.  I don't mean to live small.  My dreams and aspirations seem much more down to earth.  I will definitely post of I ever identify this "music within me".  I could possibly be there but I just need to have the right circumstances to bring it out. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

House tear downs

I enjoy observing the happenings on other peoples property.  Construction and destruction are especially interesting.  I have seen it happen several times where a house is removed.  With heavy equipment this can actually take less than a day.  In Neenah, when the television show "Extreme Home Makeover" came to town, they took down the owners existing small house in one day and then rebuilt on the same land.  I remember reading with interest in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a story of a house getting ripped away to the surprise of most of the neighbors.  The article went on to explain that the people just behind or up from the house bought the place with cash and removed it because it blocked their view of Lake Michigan.  I have noticed that two houses in downtown Hortinville have been removed in less than a years time.  This particular part of the town hugs a small lake.  I think real estate changes in a big way when it is next to water.  People will do crazy things and will spend money they would not otherwise spend when water is involved.  I don't entirely blame them.  A view of water can be calming and peaceful.  I like stories about a house being moved, torn down, or burned.  There is just something powerful about taking action that is that bold and that big.