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.