Friday, August 23, 2013

Get your muffler fixed

There are guys out there with their big pick-ups who do something I find unimpressive.  For some unknown reason, they favor loud mufflers.  Every time they give their machine a lot of gas, there is this big racket coming from their pipes.  I find it disturbing and annoying.

So I am at a stop sign and this guy with his pick-up will turn and then floor it and the noise from his truck will let us all know he is wanting attention and that he doesn't care about other peoples comfort.

I much prefer quiet modes of transportation.  I hope people fix their mufflers and lay off the gas and consider others.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Turn in your keys

I wish people would drive around less.  To some people I would like to say, "Drive home.  Park your car.  Put away your keys and stay home for a while."  It would appear that some people drive out any old time when they sense the need for some small thing.

Learn to combine trips.  Enjoy being at home.  Stay off the roads for a while.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Highway 41 construction done

When I returned from a weekend in East Troy I drove home using highway 41 north bound.  It was nice to have the road contraction done in Fond du Lac and Oshkosh.  It seems like it has been years since those projects began and we are finally clear to drive through without any orange barrels to watch out for.  I have to say the construction guys did a good job.  The roads are smooth and wider.  It is really easy now to turn off of 41 to merge onto 45 north.  There is no braking or stopping anymore. There are no lights to wait for or intersections to navigate.  Just a nice wide turn and overpass.

Usually I don't like widening or expansion of roads.  But when the project is done I have to say it is a nice improvement.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Power outage

We lost power on Tuesday night when we had high winds in the area.  It wasn't until Thursday afternoon that we regained power.  In the meantime, we were able to put together some meals because we have a gas stove.  I washed up in the back yard using water that we gather in a rain barrel.  Our potable water came from a nearby artisan well.

Without power, our refrigerator and freezer were off and we ended up throwing away some food as it thawed and went bad.

It was dark and quiet in the neighborhood.  Some people were out cleaning up their properties as branches and trees had come down.

We were without internet, radio, and television.  Only the computer did I really miss.  I was able to charge my phone and iPod while at work.

I am grateful that the tornadoes in the area did not strike our home.  It was nice to see the community pull together.  I am still cleaning up the outside but am close to having that done.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Needing my freedom

I am not a person who needs fame, or recognition, or glamour.  I want to stay out of the spot light and away from crowds.  Being an entertainer or the person up front speaking and leading has never been my driving passion.

What I need is my freedom.  Recently I was reminded of a great word that describes that which is autonomy.  Autonomy is freedom from external control or influence.  It is the right or condition of self-government.  Those things are a strong, long-term pull for me.  It is a deep seeded thing that is just there that I can't fully explain.  I like the word autonomy better than independence because there seems to be an under pinning of pride to independence and even an independence from God, which isn't at all what I am trying to get at.

I like having control over my schedule, my activities, and my comings and goings.  I like to move around and not be clamped into one space.  I like being able to make my decisions about what I order, eat, and taste.  I don't like a lot of things forced down on me.  If I respect you, eventually I will adopt your thinking and ways because they have shown to be best.  But I don't want to have things jammed down my throat.  I want to decide.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Build your own radio station

It is great to have an FM transmitter in the home.  I bought one a number of years ago from CCrane.  It has been a wonderful addition and has opened up many possibilities.

I will transmit to the receiver behind me when I want to just be in the office.  But at other times I will turn on the kitchen radio and the living room radio and make it a whole house thing.  Most of the time I have the FM transmitter plugged into the computer and I am playing podcasts or music from the iTunes application.  But sometimes I plug it into my iPod and play music at random.

Either way, it is nice to have a micro FM transmitter that allows you to have your own broadcasting ability.  Defiantly something I would recommend.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Close calls on the road

Last week as I was driving to work and from work I had close calls on the road.  One was at a sharp bend when a log truck was coming the other way.  We passed each other at the worst possible place.  The thought came to me that a thousand pound log could slip off the back of his rig and fly through my windshield to instantly kill me.  Then on the way home a car from the other way dipped into my lane but at the last second saw me and corrected itself.  We could have hit head on.

These instances, happening on the same day, made me think that I have some time left on the earth.  God protected me and graciously allowed me to live.  I am ready to go into eternity.  Jesus is my way to the Father.  In some ways I would welcome death because life can be such a drudgery.  Yet for God to have two perfect opportunities to take me, and not, makes me think I have a purpose to fulfill in my time remaining.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Shake my hand

When it comes to greetings, just shake my hand.  I am not into hugs.  I don't need creative hand gestures.  Take my hand in a firm grip and pump it a few times.  I have no problem with hand shakes.  Others do.  I don't.  I think it is a perfectly appropriate way to signify respect and acknowledge the other person and then begin a conversation.  Just shake my hand and let's move into the next stage of our interaction.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wished for direction for Detroit

Recently the city of Detroit declared bankruptcy.  Anyone familiar with the once mighty city saw this coming.  After decades of Democrat mayors, high regulation, increasing taxes, and unions, the businesses that kept people flush with money moved on.  And who can blame them?  When the welcome mat gets shorter and courser, it becomes apparent that you are no longer welcome.  So they left for greener pastures.  I say, good for them.  Detroit is now the perfect example of what a liberal mentality can do to a place.  I would never want to go there or even visit there.

My hope is that the city starts to level the thousands of empty buildings they have on hand.  Personally, I like things orderly, neat, and trim.  A city full of run down shanties is not very appealing to the eye.  Nor is it safe.  I would recommend they bring in demolition crews, level the worst areas, and turn it into farm land.  Farm land is not the most exciting but there is an orderliness to it that does have a certain voice.  I think Detroit needs to work on its image.  Now is the perfect time.  Get rid of the old junk and turn those vacant lots into green space.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sad on Sunday mornings

It has been my experience that I feel sad on Sunday mornings.  Sunday is a good day.  Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy gathering with other believers at church, worshiping in song, and hearing a message from the Word.  I enjoy having dinner, reading, and resting at home in the afternoon.  Usually I take in some TV too.  It isn't a big pressure day.  I don't have much on my agenda.

Stepping one day back I think is why I am sad on Sunday mornings.  Saturdays are my favorite day of the week.  It is so refreshing to work on my own things the first day of the weekend.  Usually there are a number of things that I want to get to that I have been delaying because I need focused blocks of time to get them accomplished.  I will pick up around the house, do domestic things, and take care of the yard.  All of these are nothing special but I like doing them for one simple reason:  they are mine.  I like my own work and I like to work on improving my life.

When it is Sunday, that favorite day of activity and work is behind me.  There had been such a great feeling of accomplishment and Sunday is not a big day for work and getting things done.  So I am sad on Sunday mornings.

Monday, July 22, 2013

OTA station from Wausau

An over-the-air station from Wausau has suddenly become available.  The station is WAOW, channel 9, an ABC affiliate.  It is not always available on my TV set.  It comes and goes.  Sometimes it comes in strong but other times it will not come in at all.  I have not adjusted or changed my TV antenna in anyway which makes me think this station has upped it's power.

I hope to add an outdoor antenna this year.  Just having an antenna outdoors and as high as possible makes me think I could receive channel 9 consistently.  It is out there.  I just need to have a better way to receive it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stop-Doing List

In the book "Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work" by Chip and Dan Heath, I was challenged to start a Stop-Doing List.  This was in apposed to my To-Do List.  I like lists and I have several lists going on at one time.  But I didn't have a Stop-Doing List.  Here are a few things on my newly created Stop-Doing List.

Stop spending time on the temporal and start investing in the eternal.
Stop complaining about what is wrong and be thankful for what is right.
Stop expecting others to pick up the tab and start being more giving.
Stop being impatient for the next thing and start being content.
Stop fearing other peoples opinions and do what God has called you to do.

Those are just some things on my Stop-Doing List.  I am reviewing it often.  I am sure I'll add things as they come to mind.  It is a good exercise.  I think it helps to expose some of my self-limitations.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

You need something to sell

It is so basic but I fear it is overlooked.  Every business needs to have something to sell.  If people are not buying, their lack of buying should tell you something.  It means they don't want what you have. You haven't adjusted to their needs or demands.  Maybe you haven't been listening.  Maybe times have changed.  Maybe culture has shifted.  Expecting your customers to be the same as they were when you started the business fifty years ago is not very realistic.  It is a empty wish that really is kind of sad.

If you are looking to start a business you need to begin with having something to sell.  Maybe it is your expertise.  Or it is a service.  Or a product.  But you have to have something that people will exchange money for.  Start there but never forget that people need something to buy in order for you to stay in business.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Free & relaxed

Recently I posted on those things that make me cringe and tightened up.  This post is on what makes me feel free, relaxed and hopeful.

1.  Getting in the car and going somewhere to explore and discover some place new.
2.  Going outside to put the yard in order.  Enjoying the clear air.  Doing something physical like cutting, watering, cleaning.
3.  Having a bowl of ice cream.
4.  Acquiring something that fits the need perfectly.
5.  Discovering a great deal and pulling the trigger.
6.  Getting every email account, financial account, and document up-to-date and organized on my computer
7.  Seeing something good win.  Like creation over man's development or good character over bad character or a wise choice over a poor choice.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Taking a break

My hope for this blog is that I would come across a subject matter that I could get deeply into.  My hope for this blog is that I would share who I am and it would be very attractive to someone or someones out there who would invite me to journey beside them to our mutual success.  My hope for this blog is that it would grow in readership.  My hope for this blog is that I would get a more clear understanding of who I am.  My hope for this blog is that I could write something of lasting impact.

Right now, it doesn't seem like much of that is happening.  I am struggling most weeks to come up with a very minimal three posts.  Therefore, I am thinking of taking a break from this blog.  Perhaps I just need a week off.  Perhaps I need to shut this down and go in an entirely new direction.

If I come back next week with more to say, that is terrific.  If this is my last post, it has been a good exercise and a learning experience.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Turtle roadkill

As I commute to and from work, I drive along the Wolf River.  Sometimes I see that a turtle has been run over and killed.  I never like to see road kill.  It shocks and saddens me.  Over time, I have come to the conclusion that these untimely deaths are a message from the Lord that we are all mortal and it is best to be right with Him because we never know when our time will be up.

The strangest road kill is turtles.  To actually run over a slowly crawling reptile, a driver must really be inattentive.  The person must have been impaired, sleepy, or of poor eyesight.  People!  Please pay attention!  If you can't dodge a turtle, you may want to take yourself off the road.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

To-do list

I am currently writing a list of my daily, weekly, and monthly things I need to do.  Once those lists feel complete, I intend to look it over and filter it by these three criteria.

Can I eliminate it?  If there is anything on the lists that I don't need to be doing at all, I should scrub it from my schedule.  Maybe I feel the need to do something.  Or maybe it has been a habit for a long time.  I may need to let it go and strike it from my list.

Can I delegate it?  If there are things on my lists that others could do better, I need to hand those tasks over to them.  It maybe that I need to pay someone to do those things.  I need to be willing to give up that money in order to free up my time to do more important things.

Can I quicken it?  When my list of to-do's has been shortened and cleaned I then need to examine those things that remain and see if I can speed up any of them.  Maybe there are steps that could be eliminated.  Maybe I could make a concentrated effort to get a number of them completed in a short period of time.

My hope is that I can make my essential list my highest, most needful, most impactful items to accomplish.  I also want to free up time so that I can have more of it to spend building relationships, resting, and thinking of ideas.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cringes

I was recently listening to the CD that comes with every issue of Success magazine.  In there, the publisher Darren Hardy, was talking to an author who said we are living in an age when people have many options.  But they don't know what to do next.  She suggested that we write out everything we have to do and then go over that list.  When going down the list, note how your body reacts.  Does it cringe and tense up or does it relax, feel free, and feel hopeful?

So in response here are some things that make me cringe.
 
1.  Meetings.  Especially where I may have to be spontaneous or cleaver.
2.  Being on stage, giving a speech.
3.  Washing dishes.
4.  Attending social gatherings.  Where people have surface conversations.
5.  Opening a letter from the insurance company which likely contains a bill.
6.  The moment that I remember that I forgot to bring a gift.
7.  Being confronted by someone who claims I did something wrong when I didn't.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Gadgets

Why are gadgets so interesting?  I think it has something to do with what they allow you to do.  A gadget expands your ability.  It gives you greater power.

A gadget is also engaging.  It asks to be figured out.  In a sense it is a puzzle.  It holds a promise and it wants to be used for its purposes.

I like gadgets and I find them somewhat addictive.  My wish list has a number of gadgets that I hope to bring into my life very soon.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Recent re-fi

Recently we refinanced out house.  The motivation to do so came from a Dave Ramsey podcast.  In it he essentially said, "For those who haven't re-financed, I don't know what you are waiting for.  There is some evidence that we have reached bottom on rates and that things will begin to go up from here."  For some reason, his few words motivated me to action.  I asked my wife to set up an appointment.

We choose to go with a local credit union.  They have been advertising low rates and a 10 and done scenario.  The process was super clean and I respect this organization because of how they handled the whole thing.

Our upfront cost was $500, which we paid out of our checking account, and then a $70 filing fee.  I choose to look at that money as a house payment.  They would not allow us to role those expenses into the loan.

We lowered our rate by 1.475%, took 3 years off the loan, but added $40 to our monthly payment.  These are numbers I can live with.

My ultimate goal is to live in a house that is completely paid for.  I see this re-fi as a step toward that goal. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dropbox update

I contacted Dropbox customer service and they gave me instructions on how to better sync saved documents on my MacBook and on my iPod.  They said I had two accounts and then suggested to disengage the iPod from Dropbox and then log back in.  I have done that and it does reload things so they are updated and synced.  But only for the moment.  This solution is not satisfying.  Syncing over the internet should happen seamlessly.  I should not have to log out and log back into my account on my iPod in order to get things to come over updated.  This just isn't making sense.  I will need to do work in this area.  As for now, Dropbox is under delivering.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Update on calendar synching

I had been frustrated that my iCal app on my iPod was not syncing with the Calendar application on my MacBook.  Both applications were Apple products and my devises are not that old.

What I wanted was simple.  When I made an update on my MacBook calendar, I wanted the app on my iPod to sync and show that update.  Nothing more than what anyone would expect.  Yet it wasn't getting done.

Enter Fantastical.  An app for the Apple iOS and recently reviewed by MacWorld's Lex Friedman.  I downloaded this app for $4.99.  When I opened it up for the first time it asked to access my calendar.  I clicked "Yes".  Without any problem it is synced with my MacBooks calendar.  No problems.  Seamless.  Easy.  As it should be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interesting analogy

Someone told me an analogy that I thought was interesting.  He said that in many places where you work, you are nothing more than a lady of the night.  You are wanted for your time and your body.

When I heard this I couldn't help but laugh a little.  Though I don't agree that it is entirely true.  In fact, I don't like to think that others are out to use me.

Yet, he had a good point.  People are often paid not for who they are and their special gifts and strengths.  People are paid because they are a warm body and are available.  They may have also shown a certain amount of competence.

For me, I don't want to sell my body and time like a street walker.  I have much more to offer than that.  Yet, his point is well taken.  His analogy gives me one more reason to seek independent employment.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Morel mushrooms

Recently, I found three morel mushrooms on my property.  For a number of years now, I have been aware of morel mushrooms and their popularity.  So I was on the look out for some.  These mushrooms  I found here were all discovered in the shade under evergreen trees.

After frying them up with butter and salt, I dug in.  The texture was okay.  The sight was a little fearful.  But the taste was nothing special.  Maybe I didn't harvest them right or maybe they weren't cooked correctly.  But I don't see what all the fuss is about.

There is still one growing in the back yard.  I am in no hurry to fry it up.

Friday, June 7, 2013

New Tracfone

My old Tracfone finally came to the end of its usefulness and I was forced into replacing it or going with a different carrier.  I choose to stay with Tracfone because I like the pay per use system.

I went to the local Dollar Store, of all places, to see what they had.  For a gadget loving fella, not the most sexy place to buy technology.

There were about three models.  The cashier was most helpful.  She recommended one and took a knife to the packaging, opening it up, so I could actually see and feel the unit.  Immediately I knew this was what I was looking for.  I didn't need to look at the other two models available.

The phone I now have is an LG flip phone.  Perfect for my once-in-a-while usage.  It is black with a number keypad and a screen.  There are many options and settings but I won't get into those.

Overall, I am very happy with this purchase.  It was only $15 and I had some carry over minutes I was able to immediately add.  I like having the phone in my pocket for security and to occasionally check the time.

The only drawback is that I was unable to port my old phone number over.  I choose to look at it as starting fresh.  I will be more prudent with calling people from this phone and selective with who I share my number.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quick Look

For years now, I have been using a MacBook at home.  The operating system is Snow Leopard, which isn't the latest pushed out by Apple, but it is good and it is stable.

After reading an article at Macworld, actually the comments relating to the article, I discovered something new.  Quick Look.

In the finder, one-click on a document to highlight it.  Then click the space bar.  The document will pop up and most everything in it is visible.  The program that opens that file will not start when Quick Look is activated.  You can look at the document and find your information and then x out the file.  Simple and quick.

This is so useful and I just found it after years and years of using Mac OS X.  I always like to learn and grow in my understanding.  Yet, it is amazing how great features can remain buried until someone casually mentions them in a comment to an article.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Running the Sole Burner

I recently ran the Sole Burner in Appleton.  It was my first 5k of the year.  There were a lot of people in attendance.  Way more than I expected.  The temps were a bit cool and the winds were strong out of the north.

It was a struggle going through downtown.  The winds had really picked up by then.  It was pavement all the way through there, of course.  When I run on my own, I usually mix it up with concrete and grassy lawns.  Just to give myself something more cushy.

After we were through downtown, we descended close to the Fox River.  I liked the terrain difference through that point.  Due to the fact that we went downhill, of course we had to run up hill at some point.  We did that over by Lawrence University.

I was glad to see the finish line.  It came up about the time I expected it.  Maybe a little sooner.  There have been races in the past where I never thought I would get to the finish line.

After the race, I immediately caught up with my friend who also ran and he handed me a half of a banana.  We then both went through the tents to get some nourishment.  I always like to grab some free food and a bottle of water after a race.

Friday, May 31, 2013

You don't have to mow all of it

As I drive home in the evening, I will often see people out on their lawn tractors.  Many people out here own several acres of land.  A riding mower is definitely in order for them.  For that, there is no condemnation.

What I want to tell these people thought is that they don't have to mow all of their property.  It seems like a real waste of the persons time, not to mention the gasoline, to be out there mowing what doesn't need to be mowed.  No one cares if your lawn is fully mowed or if you have long grass on the edges.  You are not a bad person for leaving it untouched in places.  It isn't a crop you are able to cut and harvest.

I would recommend mowing slightly less than what was done last year.  Bring it in a little.  Then plant some trees, shrubs, or even a full garden.  Having a large lawn that nobody uses, doesn't do anybody any good.  Turn that space into something else that doesn't need quite so much attention.  Mow less and use the time that is freed up for something else more productive.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hitting a plateau

Where I am right now feels like I have hit a plateau.  The essence of what I am doing now is similar, if not the same, as I have done in the past.  There are a lot of good things about how I go about my work.  I have many good practices and habits.  I am polite to my co-workers, I respect authority, I arrive early, I complete my tasks, I continue to learn, I offer suggestions on improvement.  However, I can't seem to push beyond what I have already done and get to that next, more lucrative, more fulfilling, level.

Recently I was listening to a podcasts about eventual millionaires and the guest said we often hold ourselves back.  We have a fear and we live under that fear.  His idea was to take on the worst, most difficult task on your to-do list, at the beginning of the day.  Eat the frog, so to speak.  By doing that, you will be able to get off that plateau and push upward.  It maybe obvious to others but I don't see where I am holding myself back.

I desperately want to move up from being just an ordinary employee.  I have done this before ad nauseam and it is getting so old.  There has to be more opportunity and success out there for me.  For some reason, I can't see it and I don't know how to find it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

If only more days were like Saturday


Saturday is my favorite day of the week.  You may think that I use the day to sleep in and slough off.  To the contrary.  I am up sometimes even earlier and I go like gang-busters most of the day.  It all comes down to this:  I love working on my own things.

This past Saturday I went for a run in the morning.  I had a my devotions and then I enjoyed coffee and breakfast with my wife.  I gave the dog a bath.  I cleaned the bird feeder and put out fresh seeds.  I got out the ladder and went way up into a tree to cut down a top branch that had died.  I mowed the lawn and prepped the mower for the next use.  I worked on my truck by replacing some rusty screws and shinning it with Back to Black.  I blew off the hardscapes and vacuumed the garage.   I gave myself a hair cut, listened to my podcasts and made dinner.

I love Saturdays!  It is the best day of the week.  My hope is that I can take what I love about Saturdays and find ways to incorporate those things throughout the rest of the week.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tesla


The name "Tesla" had been on the very fringe of my radar.  I knew they were some electric car company from out west.  But I was reading an article on battery life and in that piece Tesla Motors was referenced and I clicked the link and went to their website.

This electric car company is amazing.  I am very impressed.  The model s that they are selling now is the car for today.  It perfectly fits the smartphone, tablet, internet generation.  From what I saw the model s is more technology than car.  There are a lot of wiz-bang neat little features on this vehicle.  It is so unlike a traditional car.  Under the hood is a large storage place.  There is no motor.  The battery is on the undercarriage of the vehicle.  The car looks great!

From what I have seen, this car is the direction many people would wish for where the auto industry should head.  I am excited when I think that this is the type of car I'll be driving in the near future.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

RadioHead


Sometimes I will go back to a big phenomenon to see if I really missed something.  This can be the case with a movie or a band.  My motive is I want to explore what they had to offer and hopefully discover something that has stood the test of time.

I recently did this with the band RadioHead.  I Googled "RadioHead best songs" and a list of 10 popped up in an article in Rolling Stone magazine.  After listening to their two best songs on that list, I concluded that I had not missed anything.  In fact, not giving this band any of my time or attention was a good thing and I am so glad I never bought one of their albums.

My thought is that you are better off skipping RadioHead.  They are not a band with anything that will last.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Geocaching


Recently I watched the television program "Motion" on a Sunday night.  The host of the show hikes and walks through national and state parks.  The episode I watched was about Geocaching.

I have not entered into the Geocaching sport yet.  The hesitancy is probably due to the fact that I don't need another reason to buy expensive electronic equipment.  GPS also creeps me out some as I see it as a way for a big brother government to track citizens and monitor what they are doing.

Yet the idea of taking a hike with a purpose does seem intriguing.  The discovering, the anticipation, and the satisfaction of finding the cache are all things that I would like to experience.  Plus the melding of technology and the outdoors is a really neat combination.

I will keep you informed of my thoughts on this hobby.  If I do decide to take the leap into this sport, I will let you know.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Syncing on the iPod


I have three apps on my iPod that sync with data on my laptop.  One syncs wonderfully and just like what you would expect.  The other two do no sync very well at all and it is a big fail.

The one that syncs is the Toodledo app.  It is a list of to-do's that I use everyday.  I have a list of things to do and I check them off after I have completed them.  On my iPod, I open the app and in 3 seconds the data is in sync with what I have on my MacBook.  This works great.  But it is as it should be.  I wouldn't expect otherwise.

The two that do not sync from my computer to my iPod are Apple's iCal and also Dropbox.  When I first set these apps up on my iPod, the information from the computer transferred over.  I was happy.  But I was also expecting a continuous syncing of data.  Why wouldn't that be my understanding?

My main calendar is iCal.  I want what I have my computer to also be on my iPod.  My documents are up-to-date on my computer.  I would like to see those files on my iPod occasionally.  Dropbox is a much loved system in the Mac community.  How can people love an app that doesn't work?  I have tried everything to get Dropbox on my iPod to refresh but it won't.  There isn't a button for that.  That is terribly disappointing.

I hope one day to have my calendar and my documents up-to-date on my iPod and my MacBook.  Right now, they do not sync.  I hope to find a solution.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Quarterback signs record contract

Our much beloved quarterback recently signed a record breaking contract worth many millions of dollars.  I am happy for him.  He is at the top of his profession.  He is reaping the rewards of all his hard work and effort.

I have overheard more than one person say, "no one deserves that type of money".  I believe that they couldn't pay him that money if the money wasn't there.  The NFL has done a very good job of attracting people's attention for three hours on a Sunday afternoon.  People are mesmerized by the action on the field.  As people sit, watch, and listen, there are many ads between plays.  With that many eyeballs watching, the NFL is able to charge very high rates to companies that want to get their message across.

The thought I have is, if it is possible for this quarterback to earn this sort of money, how can I?  I don't see him as undeserving.  I don't see him as competition.  I wonder, "how can I earn that much money"?

Friday, May 10, 2013

How I use Pinterest


Pinterest is helpful to me because it gives me a visual reminder as to where I would like to be going.  One of my boards is titled "Goals".  On there I have a number of things that are my hopes and wishes for my life.  But really all of my boards are goals.  They are all pictures of good things that I would like to be incorporated in my life.  I like to collect images from around the net that are good, pleasing, and wholesome.  Those are things I want to dwell on and continually be reminded of.  I want to be uplifted and drawn to great things.  Things that are helpful, things that have meaning.  Pinterest is a place to collect pictures that I have enjoyed for one reason or another.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quarterback signes record contract


Our much beloved quarterback recently signed a record breaking contract worth many millions of dollars.  I am happy for him.  He is at the top of his profession.  He is reaping the rewards of all his hard work and effort.

I have overheard more than one person say, "no one deserves that type of money".  I believe that they couldn't pay him that money if the money wasn't there.  The NFL has done a very good job of attracting people's attention for three hours on a Sunday afternoon.  People are mesmerized by the action on the field.  As people sit, watch, and listen, there are many ads between plays.  With that many eyeballs watching, the NFL is able to charge very high rates to companies that want to get their message across.

The thought I have is, if it is possible for this quarterback to earn this sort of money, how can I?  I don't see him as undeserving.  I don't see him as competition.  I don't envy him.  I wonder, "how can I earn that much money"?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Farmer: pasture your cows


As I drive through the countryside, I pass many farms with cattle.  Often times the cows are penned into a very small space.  They are standing or lying in their own excrement without a blade of green grass in sight.  No animal should have to experience that sort of treatment.

For the heath of the livestock, I would like to tell the farmer to let his cows roam.  They should be able to walk over pastureland.  They should be eating fresh grass and breathing fresh air and absorbing the sun.  When they lie in their own muck, they are getting filthy and are taking in all sorts of harmful bacteria.

Let the cows wander.  The land is there.  Open it up for them to walk on.  It is more natural and would benefit the animal.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fame is not one of my goals


Often times you will hear the words "rich & famous" together.  I would settle for just rich.  Fame is not one of my goals.  In fact, I don't really want to be known and I definitely don't want to be in the spotlight.  I much prefer to work behind the scenes.  I don't want to be someones entertainment.  Let me do my job in relative anonymity.  It has always been painful and uncomfortable for me to be in front of a group or to speak when more than just a few people are gathered.

You can have fame.  It isn't for me.  I much prefer to live a quiet life where I tend to my own things.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

This is my type of weather


Over the last weekend, we had our first couple days of wonderful weather.  The bugs were few.  The sun was out but there were some clouds to keep its strength at bay.  The temps were in the high 60's and up to the low 70's but it never got really hot.  At times, I was in jeans and a polo.  Other times I was in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt.  It was perfect.  I remember remarking that this is my type of weather.  Never so cold that I was driven in doors.  Never so warm that I was down to just shorts and no shirt and zapped of my strength.  If I could experience weather in the 60's and 70's ten months of the year, I would be happy with that.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Poverty is not a virtue


Too often I hear poverty lifted up as some sort of virtue.  It is not.  There are dangers with poverty as there are dangers with abundance.  If one is poor, it is possible to dishonor God's name because you think you have to steal to survive.  With poverty, you would have nothing to share with people.  Living out in a field with your shopping cart limits what you can do to help others.  You would not have a cup of water to give, or a coat, or home to invite others to for a study of God's Word.

Just recently I read something from a highly respected preacher who wrote that he would rather his hearers had nothing but the love of God in their heart rather then having a growing abundance and a coolness to eternal things.  Of course, when he puts it that way, I agree.  But does it have to be one way or the other?  Why can't people have a spiritual vitality AND a certain amount of means?  It would make more sense to me.  Because as a person has some wealth at his disposal, he is able to give, take care of his family, and help out with the church and special needs.

If you are in poverty, you are someones mission field.  You need to have others spend their resources and time on you.  Instead of good coming out from you, you are having to receive all the time.  I don't see that as a worthy goal in life.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Longevity


As much as I would like to live into my 90's and even top my 100's, my concern is just how productive I would be in those years.  I do not want to sit around for ten or fifteen years dependent on people to take care of my every need.  I do not want to depend on the government to cover all my expenses.

My goal of living long would only be complete if I was healthy, mobile, and financially secure.  That means I would not be living in pain, able to get around on my own, and having a reliable and steady source of income.  It is a lot to ask but I think I could do it.  Even more importantly though, I would want to have meaningful work to do.  Something eternal.  Something that mattered that would build my legacy.

The trick with living a long time is continuing the independence that has been already achieved.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The rising cost of cable internet


Our local cable company provides our high speed internet.  The company has been fairly good to us.  The connection has been mostly continuous with only a few interruptions in service.

There are two issues I have with them.

One, they call all the time.  They ask if we want to bundle services.  We have a cell phone, so we don't need a land line.  We have broadcast television and rent DVD movies, so we are not interested in cable television.  Their constant calling is annoying.  We have put their number into our phone, so caller id shows who is calling and we don't answer.

Two, they raise our bill constantly.  Even though their service is the same, they charge us more.  Why are they charging us more for the same thing?  Can't they see that they are driving customers away by rising prices?  I predict that something else will come along in the near future that will replace cable internet.  The prices are getting so high that people will start to look for an alternative.  When an innovative company sees that opportunity and comes up with a solution, people will drop the cable company and make the switch.  I know I am already hoping for another solution to my internet needs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Being task oriented in a talking world


In this world where so many just want to talk, I tend to be task oriented.  Others want to chat, to socialize, and to be cleaver.  I want to do what is right, to move things forward, and get things done.

Don't get me wrong.  I like to hear people talk and I like to exchange meaningful information.  But I would much rather be in the audience to hear someone who has come prepared with something intelligent to say.  Or where I am talking one-on-one to someone of high caliber and we both are contributing meaningfully.  Being at some social gathering for no other reason than to be social is not for me.  It never has and I don't ever see it becoming natural for me.

The popularity of cell phones is not a fad I have embraced or warmed up too.  I see them as expensive talking devises that enslave people to large corporations through contracts.  No thank you.  Send me an email instead.

So many people want to talk.  I get that.  But others of us want to do, read, listen, and accomplish.  Not everyone wants to talk and socialize.  Respect that.

Friday, April 19, 2013

How to pay less taxes


We all would like to pay less taxes.  Here are a few ideas on how to have less of a tax burden.

First, demand less from your government.  We would all like better roads, bridges, and schools.  But infrastructure and free education come with a cost.  Keep your mouth shut when you are around politicians.  They love to take requests, create a big project, and tax us all.

Second, buy used.  When purchasing used items from someone locally, there isn't a sales tax.  So buy gently used items at rummage sales, garage sales, and off places like Craig's List.  Many times the used item has just as long a life as something new but at a fraction of the retail price.

Third, use a tax accountant.  Several years ago, we switched over to using a tax accountant.  He has seen things in our state and federal income tax that I never saw.  As a result, we have received more money back at tax time.  He has paid for himself every year.  I recently talked to someone who almost always does her own income taxes.  This year she had someone else do her taxes.  She too remarked that her tax accountant paid for himself.  Spend the money to get someones expert advice.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Public schools


Have you noticed that no one goes to school when it is not a requirement to be there?  Driving past public schools, and even being in them once in a while, gives plenty of evidence as to why no one goes there voluntarily.

The buildings are square, functional, and utilitarian.  But by no means inspiring.  There is very little of beauty and creativity within or without these public spaces.  It is as if they were built to house children during the day and that is all.  Public school buildings are not environments where souls are stirred or imaginations get fired.

It has become clear to me why some parents send their children to private schools.  By paying the extra money and getting an education in a place that is more exclusive, there is an expectation placed on that child.  He or she is given the message that they are there for a purpose and for something grand and noble.  They are expected to do something with their lives beyond merely existing.

Public school on the other hand, leaves the impression that average is acceptable.  Going along to get along is perfectly fine.  Never doing anything remarkable is okay.  Just show up and you will pass.

The architecture of public schools needs to get a second look.  We need to provide better environments for children to learn in.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Isn't being your best the whole point?


It is amazing and depressing how some people live their lives and present themselves.  Some people never clean-up much.  Their clothes are not put together very well.  They don't have the self-respect to care about their appearance.  They are disheveled, undone, and unkept.  Some people never care about their health.  They are falling apart because of bad choices they have made.  They have to have that cigarette.  They are constantly drinking soda pop.  They never exercise.

I am one who likes to put some care into my clothing and my health.  My motivation for this is rather simple.  I want to be my best.  My personal best.  I don't have to top you.  But I want to be striving toward getting better.  It is all about having self-respect and this internal desire to improve my lot in life everyday.

I care about the life I have been given and the value I have for myself is something I want you to have also.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Checking email


I have trained myself to not check email first thing in the morning or the first thing I do when I turn on my computer or iOS devise.  Responding to someone's email, whether that is simply opening it and reading it or by typing up a response, is working on someone else's agenda.  Instead, I have disciplined myself to work on other things.  Things that honestly are more important.

As a side benefit, by getting to emails second or third on my list of to-do's for the day, I have less emails to deal with in general.  Hoping a quick reply will deal with the issue can often lead to the very opposite: a response with more particular demands.

Email replies should not be instantaneous.  If you want instantaneous, try texting or phoning.  Emails should be responded to in the time I decide to take.  That maybe two hours or two days.  I am okay with that.  I will often type up a response and let it sit in the hoper.  Then I will come back around, re-read it, make revisions, and then finally send it.

Remember email communication is not likely your most productive task of the day.  It will be on your list of to-do's, no doubt.  But leave it down the list of tasks.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Not having a mom would be empty


I can't imagine growing up with two fathers as my parents.  To not have a mom at home would be so empty.  A mom's role as nurturer, healer, helper, nurse, cook, driver, and a myriad of other things, is too crucial to over look.  A father just doesn't play those roles in quite the same way.  No, two fathers is too much of one and not enough of the other.  Children need a father and children need a mother in the same house meeting that child's many differing needs.  Both genders balance each other out.  It just isn't the same without a mom.

Friday, April 5, 2013

If I were Catholic


If for some bizarre reason, I were to wake up one day and find that I had been Catholic my whole life, the first thing I would do is ask God what He would want me to do.  I would ask for His direction.  Next, I would open His Bible and read what He had to say.  Lastly, I would start looking for a church where the Bible was taught fully and completely.  Then I would attend regularly, make myself accountable to others, participate in worship, and listen intently to the sermons.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An ideal morning


An ideal morning for me would start between 5 and 5:30 AM.  I would take care of the dog and grab a glass of clear, cool water.

For the next hour, I would have my devotions and read.  It would start with prayer, Bible reading, and taking in other inspirational material.  Further reading would be a chapter of a non-fiction book that I had been working through.  Then I would read my favorite blogs.  People like Scott Wimberly, Dan Miller, and Jon Acuff.  After that I would take about an hour to do some sort of exercise.  It could be weight lifting, running, or walking.  Next I would have breakfast & coffee with my favorite person:  my wife.  We would leisurely eat our meal together of maybe oatmeal, pancakes, or scrambled eggs.  Yogurt, toast, and fruit would also be a part of that first meal of the day.  After eating, talking, and reviving we would pray together, clean up, and head for work.

My work would be in my home office where I would be for the next three hours.  My job would be monitoring my distribution business.  I would check the stats from the day before to see what is selling and to see where any adjustment could be made to better my business.  I would restock my supply as needed.  Then I would tackle any customer service issues and questions by email.  As the morning approached eleven o'clock, I would push away from my desk.  To clear my mind, I would take a bike ride or motorcycle ride and enjoy some great scenery.  Or I would take the short trip into town to meet a friend at a coffee shop to converse and share ideas.

That would be an ideal morning, and an ideal life, for me.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Litter in the ditch


As spring slowly comes and winter slowly fades, the snow melts away and what has been in the roadside ditches is revealed.  What is there is rather disgusting.  There are cans, wrappers, cigarette boxes, bottles, and who knows what.  Garbage, refuse, and trash.  I find it all rather disheartening and I hate the eyesore that it is.  For the life of me, I can't understand why a person would toss their garbage out the window.  It is totally irresponsible.  It is without conscience.  It is a lot of work left for others to do.

On this April Fool's day, quit being a fool.  Show some respect for your community and nature.  Keep your trash inside your car and discard it responsibly.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spin the dial on the radio


Occasionally I will hear of people who listen to only one radio station.  All their presets are on one frequency.  On one hand, I respect people for making their choice and sticking with it.  They like what they like and know who they are.  But on the other hand, it is sad and very limiting.

I was raised in a home where we listened to noncommercial stations.  It was either religious broadcasting or public radio.  My parents made their choice and it was how it was in our home.  But there is more out there.  Eventually I needed to find out what other programming was available.  Sometimes you need to do a little exploring to find out what you like.  Maybe there is some key information on the air waves that would make a huge difference in your life and all you have to do is change the station.

My preference is FM.  Yet, there is a whole other band out there, AM, that has many, many stations with their own flavor.  They broadcast talk, news, and sports in a way that is very reachable.  A couple of years ago I bought an AM antenna and made an effort to try out the AM band for a while.  I found I liked our local AM news station.  I also discovered Clark Howard and Glen Haggie.  I would tune into Brewer games and enjoyed the classic voice of Bob Uecker.  The interest in AM has now faded but it was important to explore and evaluate.

So spin the dial on your radio.  Hit "seek" and scan through the stations.  Listen to new speakers and new music.  It can broaden you and make your life fuller and richer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

California


The state of California has only had limited attraction to me.  I like the terrain there, the mountains and the ocean.  It is a large state with a lot to do and see.  The weather seems to be comfortable.

It comes across as a state for extroverts.  That is, for people who are social and out-going and really into their appearance.  I am not one of those people.  So the appeal of Cali is limited.  I don't know if I've ever heard of California described as gentle and quiet or as a place to find a calm little nook in which to read.  I've never heard of introverts making it because they lived in California.

I have been out there a few times.  It seemed so far away from everything else.  I have gone through San Francisco on the way to other things.  The longest time I was in California was when I was at Lake Tahoe for a summer church mission.  It was a beautiful place and the population was not overwhelming.  The amount of gambling going on was a bit shocking.

The people of California seem to be privileged and influential.  Often times, I hear of some agenda or policy that comes from out there that doesn't seem to fit my view of the world.  So it is hard not to dismiss the all people way out west as those without scruples and in need of better judgement.

Someday I want to move to a better climate.  I would be really surprised, however, if I ever ended up in California.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Why I work


I work because I want to provide for myself and my family.  I work because I want to fulfill my purposes for being on earth.  I work for the joy of it.  I work to get something worthwhile accomplished.  I work because the mortgage needs to be paid off.  I work because I like to change things for the better.  I work because I want to do something noble.  I work because it is God's will for my life.  I work because I want to give abundantly.  I work because I like to have somewhere to go for the day.  I work because I want to belong.  I work because I want to build my life.  I work because I want to get ahead.  I work because I want to be the best I can be.  I work because I want to win.  I work because I want to accomplish my goals.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Downcast



I bought a new app for my iPod Touch.  It is called "Downcast".  The app basically plays podcasts.  Small audio shows.  This has been on my wish list for sometime as I've seen it recommended at Macworld.

In the past, I've attempted to use Apple's own "Podcast" app and for a long while I was using Sticher.  But I find Downcast to be cleaner, intuitive and simpler.  The audio quality seems better too, but that maybe wishful thinking.  I like how the volume control is easily available when listening to a show.  I like the ease of putting together several podcast playlists.

Downcast is an app that I would recommend.  It is only $1.99 and it is available in the App Store.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Build a hedgerow


As we move into spring, the idea of adding a few plants to your property maybe coming to your mind.  I always enjoy putting in a few new plants in Spring.  For interest, for variety, and to fill in places that just need something.

A good reason to plant some trees and bushes in your yard is to create a hedgerow.  A hedgerow can be a wind block, a noise reducer, a visual block, and habitat for animals.

First, find a good location.  Somewhere on your property that needs a few plants.  Perhaps you already have something started but additional plants would make it more complete and full.  Second, pick out the plants that you need.  Get a variety.  Some evergreen, some deciduous, some bushes.  Third, plant the new purchases in a row and spaced so they have room to thrive.  Water regularly throughout the first year.  Make it your goal this spring to build a hedgerow.

Monday, March 18, 2013

If I were to die tomorrow…


…my biggest regret would be that I never had really good work.  That I never built anything of value.  That I never had a growing career.  That I was never in control of where I was heading.

It can not be over emphasized how important work can be.  Men have a drive to leave the home and go out and accomplish something in the world.  We want to do something and be someone.  We want to get things done.

Our jobs are a large portion of our weeks and our lives.  Forty solid hours are spent working during the week.  From that work comes our identity.  Who we say we are.  Our titles and how we introduce ourselves.  Our lifestyle is also derived from our work.  The income we receive allows us to live at a certain level.  How we provide for our families is also a result of how well we are doing out in the world economically.

Some people abuse work.  It is all they do.  As a result they neglect their physical and spiritual lives.  Their families suffer because of their absence.  Some people see this and conclude that work can be all consuming and an addiction.  So they pull back any ambition in this area.  I think that is wrong.  Other peoples abuses does not make something completely wrong.  We need to have a more clear emphasis on work.  Where it comes into play in our lives.  How we can maintain balance.  But it is so important as so much plays off of work and our jobs.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Eastern people


My impression of the people in the eastern United States is not the most flattering.  They come across as pushy, impatient, arrogant, secular, and materialistic.  They are influential, no doubt, yet I find them divisive.  Often times, I wish they would take a generous, open look across America and consider what they are doing to our country.  As it is, they seem to be doing all they can to pull our land in a direction most of us don't want to go.

As a result of these impressions, I have yet to visit a city out east.  The appeal of New York, Boston, Baltimore, or Philadelphia has never been that great to me.  I am sure there is a lot to do there but I don't want to be around the noisy, busy, crush of people.  Being on the streets of mean is not where I want to be.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Seeing a fisher


As I was driving to work this last week, I think I saw a fisher.

It was about 8:25 AM and I was driving west on highway 161 toward Iola.  I was traveling through a low-land section when the animal dashed across the road.  It was running from the south side to the north side.  I slowed down to view it.  The animal was mostly dark but dark brown around its neck and head.  The ears where small.  It must have been over two feet, maybe three feet, from head to tail.  I was impressed with its size.  After crossing the road, it bounded and scampered through the woods and snow.

I wish I would have completely stopped and looked at it longer.  But I am one of those people who has to be at work on time.  So I stubbornly kept driving, allowing the opportunity of a life-time to slip away.  At least I saw the animal.  I was glad too that it made it safely across the road and was on its way.

Hopefully this is an animal that is growing in population in Wisconsin.  As it grows and expands, I hope it checks the feral cat population.

Monday, March 11, 2013

So many clocks


When I look around my home, and my life, I see an amazing amount of clocks.

This computer has a clock.  I have two watches in the drawer behind me.  The radio has a clock.  There is a clock on the wall in the living room and another on the mantel.  We have a clock on the stove in the kitchen, another one is on the front of the radio out there.  We have clocks in our cars, a clock on the thermostat, and a clock in the bathroom.  Time is kept on our phones and iPods.

So many opportunities to view what time it is.  News and weather programming often have clocks showing at the bottom of the screen.  We certainly don't need another devise to let us know the time of day.  I have resisted updating our latest electronic devise with the time.  I just don't need to have it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

No more "Us vs. Them"


I no longer see things throughout this country, and even across this globe, as "Us vs. Them".  I much more prefer to see things as "We".  We are all descended from one family (Adam and Eve).  We all have hopes, dreams, and desires.  We all have problems, pains, and challenges.  We are all looking for significance, meaning, and purpose.  We all are living right now, together, on one planet.

We are all trying to get along, survive, and make it.  In many ways we really are not that different.  Let's have a little more understanding.  Let's have a little more curiosity   Let's put aside the things that drive us apart.  Let's instead see everyone on the same team.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Choose your counsel


This is one of the most empowering things I have heard recently:  choose your counsel.

We do not have to listen to everyone.  We can shut off voices that bring us down.  Like news.  The news media wants to instill fear and anxiety.  I don't want fear and anxiety in my life.  So I decide to keep them at a distance.  I do not want to hear from voices that divide and put down.  So I decide not to have a whole lot of politics in my life.

I do want to hear from people who bring encouragement, hope, and wisdom.  When I find those folks, I come back again and again to listen to what they have to offer.

If someone hasn't told you, hear me.  You can choose your counsel.  Ask yourself what results do you want.  Find those who will manifest those results.  Tune out those who cause unwanted emotions and reactions.

Personally, I love choosing my own counsel.  I want wish counselors.  It is so powerful to know that it is up to me.  I can choose.

Monday, March 4, 2013

College experience


Many people claim that the college years are the best years.  They weren't for me.

I went to a two-year community college right after high school.  After those two years, I had an Associate of Arts degree but still no direction.

After working two years out west, I was counseled to go back to school to finish my college education.  In all honesty, I don't think it was the best advice.  I went ahead with the plan because I respected my friend but I never felt that academics was the place for me.  If you want to compete in any scholastic discipline, I will probably back off and declare you the winner.  I have no desire to do battle where I know I do not have a gifting.

One more year at a community college and two years at a university left me with no more direction or help than when I started.  In some ways, I feel like it was lost time.  In other ways, I know it was just another step in the process of finding my true calling.

If I were to do it all over again, I would do something different.  I would not repeat my same choices.  Instead, I would pick something at the local technical college.  I think it is better to have something practical on one's resume and something that can be completed in far fewer years.  A technical college certification or associates degree can put you right to work and when working, a person can continue to find and seek direction.

Colleges and universities will always have their places.  But I think many people would be better served at a two-year technical college.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wine, oil, and bread


We read in Psalm 104:

"And wine that makes glad the heart of man,
Oil to make his face shine,
And bread which strengthens man’s heart."

Many Christians are opposed to any drink that contains alcohol, including wine, even though the Bible has many favorable mentions of wine.  Often we hear of people on their latest diet of "don'ts".  Don't use oil.  Don't eat breads.  Don't taste.  Don't touch.

In contrast I read in places like Psalms where there is wine that brings joy, oil that is good for the skin, and bread that makes the heart strong.

My conclusion has to be that God knows what He is talking about.  When God's food is taken in proportion and in a more natural state, I think we are better off.  Be careful about the latest fad of "don'ts".  My Bible is very clear.  Wine, oil, and bread are beneficial to the body and our health.  Enjoy them and don't get caught up in the latest fear.  Trust in Him, the Maker of all good things.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What state would you get rid of and why?


Someone recently alerted me to oddball interview questions.  One of the questions was, "If you were to get rid of one state in the US, which one would it be and why?"

The state I would get rid of would be Hawaii.  I would sell it to the people of Japan or China.  My plan is very simple.  When one is in debt perhaps the fastest way to get your life back is to sell something and use the proceeds to pay the bank back.  We as a nation are very much in debt.  We owe 16.6 trillion dollars.  I would sell a chunk of our land to these wealthy Asian giants.  With the money, I'd pay those same folks the money we owe them and wipe out the national debt.

To many, this would be unpopular.  But I just hate debt.  I would be willing to sacrifice a state, that few Americans will ever visit anyway, to regain our freedom.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Speed trap in Royalton


You will probably never drive through Royalton Wisconsin.  It is a small cluster of houses, with a church, and a gas station.  I drive through it twice a day.  On the way to work and on the way home.

I have an uncle who commented a while back that it is a speed trap.  That surprised me at the time because I didn't think it was so.  But now that I drive through that area daily, I have noticed police vehicles of all strips sitting and watching traffic.  I have also seen a number of people pulled over.

Now, I am for law enforcement but I am against a heavy handed manner of carrying things out.  For the small town that it is and for the little amount of traffic that goes through the area there sure seems to be a lot of people getting speeding tickets.  It seems disproportional.

There have been times I have gone through Chicago and people are racing by at 80 mph when the speed posted is 65 mph.  There are policeman watching as people drive excessively.  Yet, they don't take action.  These Chicago folks are driving a BMW or Lexus and are making six figures.  They have the margin in their financial lives where they could pay a ticket and it would be a minor inconvienience.  Whereas these rural people driving way out in Royalton with their Ford pick-up or Chevrolet sedan are making modest money.  It really hurts for them to pay a $150 fine.

It seems out of balance and unnecessary.  They post the speed limits at ridiculously low levels anyway.  Just beware that some of these little towns have eager policeman watching.  You are perhaps more likely to get a ticket for not slowing down in an anonymous town than for flying through a big city.

Friday, February 22, 2013

GMC ad on This Old House


I've been watching This Old House on PBS for a number of years now.  When the show starts, they have previews of that days episode and then they have a few sponsor advertisements before the programs real content begins.

There has been a GMC ad that has been going on now for far too long.  There are three men at a construction site attempting to move a bolder by their hands and a few simple tools.  They express how difficult it is and then off handedly say that they need elbow grease.  Just then, a GMC van backs up and it has barrels of elbow grease.  The timing of the arrival is perfect.

The ad is suppose to be mildly funny.  But GMC needs to come up with a new one.  It has been around far too long.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Taking a one-way trip to Mars


I have discovered a new podcast that I am really digging right now.  It is called "99% Invisible" and it focuses on the thinking that is put into every day building design.  It calls attention to what we often overlook and just live with.

Episode 9x really drew me in.  It was about a one-way trip to Mars.  The technology we have today can get a man to our nearest planet but it can not get him back.  The debate on both sides was convincing and intriguing.  NASA doesn't believe congress would approve funding for a suicide mission.  Others outside of NASA believe it is a viable plan as there would be hundreds of volunteers and no mission is without its dangers.

Both sides had me convinced so I am waiting to see how this plays out.  What is interesting is that a man could get to Mars yet in my life time.  He could record his experience and send it back to earth.  It would be a high price to pay.  Or it may never happen.  That too would be okay.  But it was interesting to hear both sides of the debate.

If you get a chance to hear "99% Invisible", I would recommend it.  They do a quality job and bring up interesting topics.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Harvard's original motto


Recently I learned that Harvard's original motto was “Truth (Veritas) for Christ (Christo) and the Church (Ecclesiae)”.  Now it is just "Truth".

This is sad to me but it is also not surprising.  Our nation has continued to move away from our God and our roots as a nation.  

What these the leaders at Harvard don't realize is that there is no truth apart from Christ.  These words of Jesus must be considered: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life".  If Harvard wants its' students to know truth, they must have the opportunity to know Jesus.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Consider closely before getting a pet


When I got married, I got two cats as part of the deal.  A couple years later, we moved, and as part of that move we agreed to take only one cat with us.  The more aggressive cat we gave away to friends who had the space.  It wasn't too long after we moved to where we now are that we acquired a dog.  We picked her up on our anniversary at the Fox Valley Humane Association.  She is now perhaps seven years old.  For sometime in there, we also had a rabbit and a hedgehog.

When considering adding a pet to your family, consider it very closely as this is a long term commitment.  A pet may have a low initial cost but you may have to pay to get it neutered or spayed before taking it home.  You may have to pay for shots and vaccines.  If this is your first pet, you may have to buy bedding for it to sleep in.  It will likely need a collar and some chew toys.  Your city or town may require that you pay for a license.  Around here it is $3.  Your pet is going to need to eat so you will need to buy it food.  I pay about $30 on food for our dog and maybe another $10 on our cat.  Over a year, that can really add up.

Personally, I like having a pet.  They are cute, small, and interesting for the most part.  The problem I have is that it is hard to say "yes" to one and not acquire more.  Once the door is open, more seem to find their way in.

The other issue with pets is the length of time they live.  They can live a really, really long time.  Consider that before getting any type of animal.

Here are these some things to think about before getting a pet.  The expenses and the total cost.  The wear and tear on your house and furnishing.  The length of time you are committing to.

My final recommendation is to get one pet and leave it like that.  Two can really add up the costs and it can also be a lot of responsibility.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Most views from 2012


When I look back at my blog from 2012, I was curious to find what one had the most views.  It turns out to be "Seven areas of life" from early April.  This blog post was on Zig Ziglar and his seven spokes to the wheel of life.  I imagine people were searching for "Zig Ziglar" after his passing away to glory and somehow ended up on my blog.  

In the post I expressed frustration at how I felt like it was difficult to be a success in all areas of life at the same time.  I still haven't managed to keep all areas in balance.  I sort of wish this wasn't my most popular post as it had sort of a negative angle to it.  I think I had others that were better written and more interesting.

My intention is to continue to write and post and offer what I have to say.  Hopefully over time my writing will get better and a focus will emerge.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Get rid of things


In winter we spend a lot of times indoors.  We are surrounded by our stuff and often those things fade into the background after a while.  Over Christmas we probably acquired a few new things.  Maybe we even bought something for ourselves.  So we have more stuff.  Stuff creeps in and it can often go unnoticed.

Since there is not a lot to do in the dead of winter and since you are staying in doors a lot, now would be a good time to take a look at your things and determine what is really necessary.

If you are not one who is willing to part with much, take a look at somethings that are real basic.  Maybe you have a pile of newspapers or catalogs.  Recycle those and see how that makes you feel.

If that feels okay, and you like the freed up space you have created, take a look at things you have shoved in a corner or in the back of a closet that you haven't used for maybe even years.  Give away, sell, or throw away those things that you haven't used in six months and have no intention of using in the next six months.

If you are liking the freedom you are feeling, move onto those things that though good are not really helping you.  Maybe you have a spare of something that you can get rid of easily.  Maybe there is something of value you have that you could get some cash for by selling it on Craig's List.

Now is a good time to get rid of stuff.  Make the decision.  Put in the effort.  Do it now while you have the time.

Friday, February 8, 2013

We can lower gas prices


We can lower gas prices if we would just work together as consumers.  Not long ago, I read that there are really just two things that affect the price of gas.  Demand and Taxes.

We drivers need to use our vehicles more sparingly.  We need to combine trips and put off things that don't need to be done immediately.  Sometimes, we should give our cars a rest and let them stay in the garage for a day.  By buying less gas, we will lower demand.  As demand lowers, so will the price at the pump.

We drivers need to keep our mouths shut about road expansion.  The politicians listen to the people and try to respond.  Part of this is serving the people but part of it is getting re-elected.  When people open their big mouths and demand a new monster highway or a new mammoth bridge, the politicians get stars in their eyes and come out all for it.  They love to raise taxes, build big things, and put their names on it.  These roads, highways, and bridges cost money.  A lot of money.  The people who pay for this infrastructure are we, the drivers, through gas taxes and other fees.  To lower gas prices, we need to keep quiet about road building.  I am all for upgrades but I am also for keeping my costs low.

We can do this.  We just need to stick together.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How to combat the winter itch


The winter itch can be terrible.  I had such a strong itch attack recently one night that I actually woke up several times to scratch like a mad man.  It was driving me crazy and I was not getting my sleep.

Here are a few things I found that worked for me in combating the winter itch.

1.  Wear lose clothing.  Often in winter we put on a lot of clothes and draw them tight.  However, it is best to keep them loose to allow for air circulation.

2.  Take cooler showers.  In winter, I tend to really crank up the heat in the shower.  I have noticed that itching will increase with the hotter shower.  So turn it down some.  This should help.

3.  Wash your hands with less soap.  When I had my itch attack the other day, even my hands were itching.  I have since used less soap when washing my hands.  I will even use cold water and sometimes no soap.

4.  Take an allergy pill.  Though I am not much of a fan of pharmaceuticals, I took a couple of antihistamine pills before going to bed.  After a few good nights, I took it back to one pill.  Now I take none as the series of itching nights have ended.

5.  Use lotions and oils.  After taking a shower in the morning, I put on vitamin E oil and a masculine lotion.  I am not into a lot of lotions as I don't like a greasy feel, but oils and lotions will keep your skin healthy and less itchy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What a great January


Usually the beginning of the year is hard for me.  The holidays are behind.  A long winter is ahead.  But this January went really well.

First, I was back to work after a long hiatus.  Working gives a focus for my energy and a reason to get up everyday.  Second, we acquired a new freezer and a Kindle.  Both things were on our wish list for a long time.  It was nice to make the additions.  Third, I was mentally prepared for the weather and took it in stride rather than seeing it as an intrusion.  A long winter is a part of life in Wisconsin.  Fourth, I started attending a new men's Bible study close to home and I continued in another men's group at church which began the review of a new book.  I like meeting new people and new beginnings.  Fifth, I read four books.  All of which I thought were excellent.  Three of these books were read on the new Kindle and they were free.  Sixth, I gave blood and am on the way to reaching my goal of donating three times this year.  Seventh, I was only sick for a couple of days and did not miss any work.  I quickly recovered over a weekend.  Eighth, I continue to exercise.  Many years I have quit exercising in the winter because it is difficult to get out doors.  I have been consistently lifting weights so far this year.

January does not have to be the dreary, depressing time of year it often seems.  It is a new year!  Get upbeat and optimistic about what is ahead.  Write out some goals.  Exercise.  Meet new people.  It really can be what you make it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

How to keep depression at bay


I have heard a number of things regarding depression recently.  Because of that I want to add my experience on how to keep depression at bay.

First, recognize what it is and that it can happen.  We can all get into such an emotional pit that things look hopeless.  All that our minds can focus on is how bad our situation is.  Being like this is not helpful but it can happen.  Recognize this.

Second, be proactive.  Before you think you could fall into depression, do the things that counteract that sense of hopelessness.  Winter is a cold and dark time of the year.  This can be the time of year when things look bleak.  So you need to be ready.

Third, see the sun as your friend.  Even if it is only for brief moments, get out into the sun, drink in the light, and stand in its heat.  The sun is reviving and life-giving.

Forth, eat better, more wholesome foods.  Kick the burger fix and greasy foods.  Eat more nuts, vegetables, beans, and fruits.  Drink more water.  You need to have a strong body to fight through these cold months.

Fifth, fill your mind with good, uplifting thoughts and words.  Watch your self-talk.  You need to replace the negatives with positives.  Read books and scripture that calm the mind and soul.

There are more things that can be done to counteract the depression that can come at this time of year.  But these things have helped me to see life differently.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wear your seat belt


Friday night, right near here, there was yet another car accident that claimed the lives of two young people.  We heard a boom like a rocket launch just as we were going to bed right about 10 o'clock.  I got up and looked around the house and out through the windows but I didn't see anything and went to bed.

It wasn't until Saturday morning did we get news that there was a bus and car accident on the road just a little ways from here.  So while we slept there were emergency crews and frantic parents out there in the cold and the dark.  Sometimes I wonder just how cold and dark my heart is to have slept through such a tragedy.

In just a brief moment of time, a distraction, a miscalculation, a sideways glance, and one car hits the front of a bus and two young lives are snuffed out.  Did they know the Lord?  Were they saved?  Did they ever have the chance to hear the Gospel?  What is the message God is trying to reach us with?  There have been so many young people who have died around here by car accidents.

I read the news and at the very bottom it said that neither were wearing set belts.  It is possible that they could have lived through the impact had they have been belted in.

Give yourself a hug.  Wear your set belt.  We want you around for many more years.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Advice for an 18 year old


Someone recently asked:  If you were to give an 18-year-old one specific piece of wisdom, what would it be?  My answer would be that it would be wise to value entertainment much, much less.

There is room for entertainment but it should not be all consuming.  In fact, it would be best to work on yourself at this point in your life.  Put time and money into experiences and education.  Become something.  Don't just sit there watching and observing someone else's life and adventures.  Get out there, get in the game, and create your own story.

My wish is that every 18-year-old would value entertainment less and his or her own life more.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Buy business cards


I resisted getting my own business cards for a long time.  My thought was that I did not want another expense and I did not see them as useful.  But after spending the twenty-some dollars to have them made up, I was delighted to carry them around and hand them out when appropriate.  People accepted them readily and the transaction was very fulfilling.

It may sound weird but you yourself are a business.  You are a service to someone, somewhere.  And what you do generates economic activity.  Your life force does that.  Since you are a business, you should act like one.  Businesses have business cards.  Use a little imagination, spend the few dollars, and get some made up.  I know I am glad that I did.

By the way, I used Vistaprint for my cards and was very happy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Subscribe to a magazine


At the beginning of the year, it seems like an appropriate time to start things.  Start a reading plan, start an exercise plan, start a personal growth plan.  We like new things and we like having done something for ourselves.

Here is a simple way to start something that will benefit you for the coming year.  Subscribe to a magazine.  Set yourself up to receive copies from home.  Magazines are usually focused on one area of interest.  Pick a hobby or something you would like to belong to and spend the thirty dollars.  Magazines can supplement your reading and make you more aware and more rounded.

In my house, my wife and I have subscribed to a magazine each in January.  Often times we mix it up and choose something entirely different the next near.  Magazines are an easy way to keep informed and to let others know what interests you.

Give yourself permission to do something for yourself today.  Pick an interest and subscribe to a magazine today.  That simple act can go a long way in building the life that you want.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Eat to weigh less


When you and I look around this country it is hard to over-look the serious weight issue we have here.  People are carrying excessive weight that in no way is healthy.  Their skeleton structure was never designed to haul so much.

It has been said before but I will say it again.  If you want to be thin, do what thin people do.  Ask someone who is trim what they do to stay that way.

Here are a few simple ideas on how to be more trim.

- Eat more fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans.  All of these foods have fiber and will help you to feel full. Eating them will help keep that annoying hunger pang from always being there.
- Drink more water.  Stop drinking the soda pop, fruit juices, and beer.
- Do not eat after eight o'clock at night.  Eat three meals a day with two snacks (mid-morning and mid-afternoon).

I really feel bad for folks who are over weight.  It cannot be comfortable or helpful.  But to lose weight you have to eat better.  Simple as that.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We are all on one team


My heart grieves over the division that is so evident in our country.  We have allowed ourselves to be divided.  Yet I long for unity.  I want us to play well together.  We are neighbors.  We have a common history.  We want mostly the same things.

My message to my fellow man out there is:  We are all on one team.  I am not out here to take from you or to put you down or to hurt you.  I want to cooperate, I want us both to win, and I want to live in peace.

Let's hang together.  Let's pull together.  Let's build together.  We are walking the earth at a common  time in history.  May it be said that we had a love for each other.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Claiming greatness


It is very difficult to say much when someone claims the USA is the greatest country in the world.  If anyone says something to the contrary it is like they are being unpatriotic or like they don't agree.

Those who have experienced life elsewhere know our country is a special place.  We do live some place that is like no other place on the planet.  I see that.

Yet, there are improvements that need to be made, there are pains that need to be soothed, there are sins that need to be repented of, and there are people who need to be lifted up.

The problem with stating "we are the greatest" is that it shuts down any thought of improvement.  We need to discuss how we can make this a better land.  We need to discuss our energy usage, our national debt, school loans, infrastructure, social insecurity, the environment, and our need for more cleanliness.  There are things that need to be done here and often times issues are not addressed because we all assume this is the best it can ever get.  Clearly, there is a lot of work that can be done here.

Just because we are a great land doesn't mean we can't improve.  Please don't say "The United States is the greatest country in the world".  Instead say, "We live in a very special place and a land of great opportunity".

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Read a devotional


Starting your day with a something inspiring and uplifting can really put you on the right track.  We all need to start our day in the right frame of mind.  To do this, I like to sit down and read a devotional each morning shortly after I get out of bed.  It has turned into a good habit and one that I think you would benefit from as well.

As you look into a new year, you may ask yourself what could I improve on and what have I been missing?  Perhaps your spiritual side has been going undernourished.  A devotional can speak to your soul and not take a lot of time.

Devotionals that I have used and would recommend are:

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
Great Is They Faithfulness by Larry Burkett
Our Daily Bread by RBC Ministries
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

These devotionals are inexpensive, easy to get, and can be used year in and year out.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Buy a radio


New year.  New habits.  New electronic gizmos.  If you do not have an easy to use, easy to hear radio in your kitchen, now is a time to seek one out.

Radio has been a staple of my life.  Since I was young, I have always had a radio to turn on in the morning to help me on my way.  It has given me news from the world, intelligent talk, inspiring music, and play by play commentary.  All for no cost after a small initial purchase.

Maybe you are a television person.  I too am visual and enjoy a TV program or a sporting event now and then.  However, the mornings are all about preparation and taking action.  A radio playing in the background can keep your mind active when you go through your morning routine which may not be the most intellectually stimulating.

I have found CCrane and Bose and Radio Shack to be good sources for radio's.  Pick something that is easy to use, with a good sound, and several pre-sets.  You should be able to find a wide selection for under $200.  Add your new purchase to your kitchen or living room.  Place it in a central location, adjust the antenna, and find your favorite stations.  The radio is still the electronic marvel it always has been.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Water usage


The amount of water our household goes through in a day astounds me.  Even though I do not have a figure to place on it, we must go through a lot.  I've read that an American home can use 400 gallons of water per day.  That amazes and depresses me all at the same time.

We use water to wash cloths, to shower, to flush the toilet, and to drink.  Every single one of us.  Now that we are at this level of consumption, I don't know how one would go about reversing it.  It seems impossible to me.  I can't see myself bathing just one day per week as some people did in this country many years ago.  It would feel grimy and unhealthy to not brush my teeth with water.  I use water in coffee, juices, and I drink it plane just to survive.  Where can a person cut back?  I seriously don't see how it is possible.

We are on a well and septic system here.  I am happy with this as I am not particularly found of city water.  At times when I am running the water in the shower or in the sink I wonder if there will ever come a day when the water just stops.  Where it runs out.  Could it happen and what would we do?

Over the holidays, I was talking to someone who said there have been studies on the water table below the earths surface and it is dropping.  Seriously dropping.  It isn't very pleasant to think about but I have to believe that it is another sign that something is coming.  Some major change in how this world operates.  To prolong things, we have to find other ways to accomplish what we consider normal, healthy, and hygienic.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Learning to say yes


My inner nature is to resist an offer and say "no".  I don't know if this is inbred, a habit, or a discipline.  However, I don't always want to say "no" when people attempt to sell me something or when people try and include me.  Saying "no" at times has its merits.  It keeps you in control.  You know what you want and you stay the course.  But "no" also closes doors of opportunity and new experiences.

I want to say "yes" more often.

"Yes" when someone wants me to join them.  "Yes" when someone wants to sell me something.  "Yes" when there is an opportunity to try something new.  I wonder what I have let pass me by in the name of discipline and self-control.  More likely I have been rude by refusing their offer and I have not been trusting that the Lord will take care of me.