Monday, December 03, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
So today, I am going to follow my own advice and set my course of what to do. Using my own observed 7 elements of success, I iwill map out and do and make my potential realized! as the own saying goes, it's time to crap or get off the pot!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Yesterday, I sat at my desk, wondering how the hell I got there. I am engaged in a job that I hate doing, yet affords me many things- the biggest of which is money. It just feels like blood money, life money-- as in my blood, my life. Why am I there? It's a job, a sucky one, but a job secured nonetheless.
The problem occurs when I feel down deep inside the possibilities- the "could be's" maybe even the "should be's". I have gifts but not gifts that play guitars or sing. I have the gift to speak. I can speak like few others, but no one cares if you can speak, unless someone else cares that you can speak.
I have the gift of writing. I love to write, but little time to write and no one to which to write. Is anyone out there reading right now?
I have always said that Potential is a wonderfully horrible thing. To have it is a blessing, a hope for the future but until it is no longer potential and it becomes realized, potential is also a curse. The things you should or could do. The things that you have the ability but not the drive, opportunity, or availability to accomplish. So there you talents sit, like family heirlooms collecting dust on some shelve or box, protected from the elements until that great and glorious time that they can be brought forth and admired by all.
I sit here on top of potential, mired in a sea of tasks. Which path will I take? Into which way will I courage to venture?
Which path is labeled my future?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
It’s one of those times when the world seems to be just right.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
The Fear That Lies Beneath the Bed
I know everyone has experienced it, some time or another. The irrational fear of going into the basement, entering a dark room, or walking through a grove of trees at night- especially at this time of the year when all the leaves are gone and there are just sticks and spooky shadows. For whatever reason, we just know something is watching us, stalking us, and at any moment- when we least expect it- is ready to grab us from behind and drag us away.
Generations of kids- and sometimes not so kids- have lived in fear of what lies beneath the bed. They are in terror of leaving a foot too close, too long next to the edge of the bed. I admit it, I have always been afraid of that brief moment after my foot hits the floor and I start to stand up. "Is there anything under the bed?" Just to be on the safe side, I always offer a quick prayer as I put space between myself and the edge of the bed.
It happened on one of those nights when everyone is asleep and you're there still wide awake...feeling thirsty. I wanted to get a drink of water, but that would mean I would have to get out of bed...and it's dark. I was a prisoner of my own irrational fear.
No!!! Enough is enough! I decided to prove to myself (and to all of humanity) that this fear of something being under the bed is completely unfounded! It's not like I had never seen beneath the bed before. All previous inspections had turned up not one demon, not one monster, not even one bad guy! I would symbolically, and actually, put my foot down once and for all and not be afraid. I was not going to pray for protection either! I was going to be the grown man that I was and just do it!"
I flung my covers off with authority and in a mighty gesture I took my small step for man- giant leap for mankind and planted my foot squarely on the floor. My other foot majestically took the spot right next to the first as my body swung around to an upright sitting position. I sat there for a moment as if I was King of a newly conquered world. And then it happened.
In a wink of an eye, my foot was grabbed from the dark underbelly of the bed. I gasped for air, felt my blood run cold and I could feel my whole body swell with fear. After all those years of waiting for me to blink, to let down my guard, something had grabbed me, caught me- like a fly in a spider's web! My own arrogance had lead me to this demise. "Do I dare look?", I thought. Of course, I have to look!
I looked down at my feet and there, with a firm grip was my worst fear. An arm, a skeleton arm, partially clad in a dark robe sleeve protruding out from under the bed, it's bony fingers securely wrapped around my ankle. I was stunned, injected by the venom of fear. I couldn't think. I couldn't scream for help. I had already screwed myself on the praying thing. I began to accept my doom.
I felt the grip of the hand tighten as it started to pull back as if to pull me under the bed. I didn't move. The arm pulled again, this time a bit more forceful and with a jerk. I still didn't move. A light turned on in my head! It had waited too long! What started out as a scrawny 6-year-old boy was now a "too-much-for-skeleton-demon" 240-pound man- definitely not to be dominated by bone and robe!
I kicked my leg up as hard as I could and could barely contain my smile when I heard his bony head clunk against the bed rails. I laughed as I did it several more times. This was fun now! I felt his grip loosen, so I quickly reached down and grabbed the arm that had held me bound and yanked that so-called demon out from under the bed. And then I saw what I believe no one else has ever seen before...I saw fear in the face of fear!
I laughed in its face- "HA!" and let it go. It and his black robe began disappearing...Nay! Running...Nay! Fleeing into the darkness.
What exactly was I supposed to glean from this moment? I am not entirely sure, but I know I learned a couple of things, four things actually.
First: Sometimes, as in the case of my skeleton friend, you can wait too long for some things.
Second: Sometimes, as in my case, good thing do come to those who wait.
Third: Size does matter.
And Fourth and the probably the ultimate lesson: THERE WAS SOMETHING UNDER THE BED!!!!!!!
Friday, October 26, 2007
It was also one of the most enjoyable walks I have had at the lake.
Thank you Marci, for a beautiful afternoon.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
It’s funny when you get into the right mood and the ideas flood your mind like water down a canyon when the dam breaks. So much, so fast, that seems almost a waste only to disappear as quickly as it showed up. Everything I see sparks a possible column, Blog entry, speech segment, book, or article. And then there are times like today.
Life was going on great and then boom! One thing happens and it weighs on your mind like a wet blanket, suffocating all other thoughts and ideas. It causes our mind to stick on a cycle of emotions: hurt, anger, pride, sadness, despair, vulnerability. The world, although trying to cheer you up, seems to be powerless to change the mood, alter your thoughts, or inspire to reach back to that high experienced just shortly ago.
The only hope, really, is that as quickly as the “down” cycle began so can the “up” cycle. Today I pray it starts soon.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I had actually heard the forecast the day before warning us. I had felt the cool air as the storm blew in during the afternoon. I had seen the snow pellets mixed within the raindrops as the storm began to hit. Yet for some reason, as I looked out the window on Sunday morning, the inch of white on the lawn still surprised me.
I do this a lot, but not just with the first snow but with a lot of different things. I can be told its coming or happening, see all the warning signs as it approaches, and then go “OMG!” when it happens.
Am I really that dumb? Or am I just that faithless. I would worry more about it but I think there are many who are equally faithless. They, just like me, don‘t believe anything will ever happen until it does. That’s the definition of a true conservative right. Someone who believes nothing should ever be done for the first time.
Luckily, life does not wait for the unbelievers to believe before it decides to act. Life just moves forward. It waits for no one, no event, or no declaration of readiness. It just moves forward.
And luckily it does. Life would be dull and uneventful if it actually waited for us to be ready. If everything only happened because we wanted it to or were ready to accept it or thought it was a good idea, I doubt that life would be worth living at all.
I may be faithless but it keeps my life exciting.
Monday, October 22, 2007
In 2004, the Redsox came back from a 3-0 deficit and it was against, no less, the Yankees. Not just the rival of the Redsox, but the Evil Empire itself. It was like the Forest moon of Endor all over again!
This time is was a measly 3-1 deficit. Highly unlikely, but not thought of impossible. That is what I think is the miracle.
It used to be that once a team got down 2-0 in a series, it was considered over. History does not record a lot of 2-0 survivors, but enough not to dash all hopes. But 3-0 or 3-1? Fans are normally sucking down bullets at that point. But Boston has shown that it does not need to be that way.
And what about the National League Champions, the Colorado Rockies? They swept though their two series 3-0 and 4-0, but theirs is a story of seemingly insurmountable odds. They had to win like 14 of their last 15 games of the regular season just to make it to a one game play-off for the wildcard spot. In that game they were down by two runs in the 13th inning and yet found a way to win. They may have earned themselves a couple of series sweeps since that time, but they are comeback kids nonetheless!
This year’s baseball play-offs are the example that will be used for years as the “never give up” season. The season Writers and Speakers will write and talk about for years. Especially if one of these teams get way out ahead and the other one comes back. As a writer and a speaker, I am watching this storyline with much interest!
“Sorry honey. I have to watch this game, I’m working.”
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Madge Buchanan Jensen
(April 23, 1920 - September 6, 2007)
Centerfield, Utah - Our kind and beloved wife, mother, grandmother and sister, Madge Buchanan Jensen, age 87, died September 6, 2007 in Gunnison, Utah. She was born April 23, 1920 in Centerfield, a daughter of Archibald Lorenzo and Ann Geneva Ahlstrom Buchanan.
Madge graduated from Gunnison High School and attended Snow College for one year. She married Ivan James Jensen August 7, 1940 in the Manti LDS Temple.
Madge was an active member of the LDS Church where she served as organist and pianist. She was a member of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Centerfield Camp where she served as secretary and treasurer and organist.
Madge was an excellent seamstress and enjoyed crocheting, quilting and cooking. She could do anything she set her mind to do. Music was a big part of her life and she enjoyed playing the piano and accordian.
Madge is survived by her husband of Centerfield; her children: Mardy and Karen Jensen, LaMaun and Debbie Jensen, Russell M. Jensen, all of Centerfield; Venna and Russell Dreshek of Oconto, Wisconsin; Sherry and John Claire of Tooele; 16 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchildren and 37 great-great-grandchildren; a sister, Gwenna Nelson of Alpine, Wyoming.
She was preceded in death by two brothers and four sisters: Neil Buchanan, Lynn Buchanan, Reva Sorenson, Della Buchanan, Alta Martin and Verl Rosenberg.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 11:00 A.M. in the Centerfield 2nd LDS Ward Chapel, where friends may call for viewing Monday evening from 6 to 8 P.M. or Tuesday morning from 9:30 to 10:30 prior to the services.
Burial will be in the Centerfield Cemetery under the care of the Springer Turner Funeral Home of Richfield, Salina and Gunnison, Utah.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
1. Don't fall asleep. Yes, people make fun of you. No, no one is going to wake you at your stop. And yes, drooling does kill your credibility.
2. Don't talk politics. If you really had an interesting take to share publicly, you'd be on the radio. No matter what point you have, no matter how good you articulate it, 1/2 the bus will think your wrong, and the other half will think you're right for the wrong reason. You can't win, move on to something else. If you can't think of anything else, get off the bus and run for office.
3. Don't eat unless you have plenty to share. Just a carry over from kindergarten and plain good policy.
Monday, July 16, 2007
It's not like it's the first time, nor will it be the only time or the last time (I hope), but tonight I get to spend an evening at the ball park with my boys.
I recall all too well the games I attended while a boy. I remember the ballpark, the players, everything. Going to a baseball game was magical, in that we didn't go all the time and it was something I shared with my mom and dad.
In Salt Lake, we have The Bees. They are not Major League and have nothing to do with our team the A's, but they are a AAA team and are the affiliate of the Anaheim Angels. But what do we care, this is baseball. There will be pitches thrown, balls hit, runs scored, and about one million questions asked and hopefully answered and even more hopefully, answered correctly.
Who knows what tonight will bring. We might even have a chance to at a home run or foul ball. Or see a player that becomes a star. Maybe share a memory that lasts a lifetime.
I find myself watching the clock and getting excited as the hour approaches. I might be working myself up too much. It's all good. Baseball is on tonight and the best line-up I will ever see, is the one that will be following me into the stadium.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
I was introduced to the existence of Paul Potts yesterday. Paul Potts had been introduced to his own existence just shortly before that.
Paul Potts was a man, like many, who was dredging his way through life, day by day, half aware of a talent that lodged up inside of him. Within him, Paul Potts had the ability to sing as well as any other human being that can sing yet on the outside he was a cellular phone salesman, lacking confidence, lacking opportunity, lacking the awareness of the ability to shine.
His voice had escaped its solitary confinement in a few instances: for Paul's own personal escape from the rigors and harshness of life, for Paul's wife who believed and supported a quiet scarcely-possible dream of making people happy with his voice, and an occasional lesson and failed audition. Along came reality TV.
In a suit even I knew was bad, looking nervous, scared, and yet quietly determined, Paul Potts announced he was to sing opera on a stage filled with low to no expectations, in a show filled with others making absolute fools of themselves, with judges and an audience set to laugh, ridicule, and exploit weakness. The music started, the audience and judges prepared themselves for their assault and then amidst the quiet intro music, Paul Potts shocked the world. Out of this funny looking man, came a beauty no one could deny or resist and he sang his way into the soul of thousands.
Under the lights of the studio, in front of God, his angels, a studio and television audience, Paul Potts, in a fearless moment, let his light shine. He sang as if oblivious to the possibility of doing wrong, fearless to failure, and courageous to the opportunity of one last go at it. Most, like me, could not tell you very much about opera but most, like me, knew what we were hearing was fantastic. We were not hearing a man sing, we were feeling a man's music.
His song filled the otherwise void of the studio. A television audience awaiting scorn and ridicule was moved instantly. The suit became unnoticeable, the bad teeth that had once been so embarrassing that he withheld his singing disappeared, and the stage became filled by a man who suddenly seemed too big for it. Paul Potts walked out of obscurity and became a name, a feeling, an inspiration to millions.
Unassuming would be one way to describe his reaction. Humble would be another. I would say it was the most refreshing, the most awesome and the most heartfelt thing I have experienced for some time. Paul Potts. I think he knew he enjoyed his voice, but I doubt he knew how much it could fill others.
The formal opera world now waits for Paul Potts. There are some all ready to pounce on the untrained man from Pop culture that thinks he can sing. There are some who await the opportunity to expose the wannabe. I think they will find themselves disappointed. Paul Potts comes not with his audience out of sympathy, not out of some wishful thinking, but Paul Potts comes with his built-in audience because he moved us. He brought to many that rare experience of feeling the music, of not understanding the strings within that he was pulling but feeling them pulled, and of witnessing a miracle before our eyes. Paul Potts, with his voice, opens a conduit into the soul and human existence that most did not know existed. He brought hope to many, extracted cheers from most, and provided joy to all that heard him.
Thank God for people like Paul Potts.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I was one of the millions of people who paid their money to see the new Harry Potter movie. We did not catch the midnight showing, but we did catch the first morning show at 8:45 yesterday morning. I was not alone. I had my family with me, more to the point, I was with them. We, of course, we not alone either, as there were many, many people there to also catch the first showing.
I find it amazing that so many people are caught up in the story and I wonder what it is. You see, I am one of the few who do not get it. I always feel like I'm on the outside of an inside joke.
I do not read the books. I have no problem with them other than I cannot get interested. I tried to read the books aloud at one point. I thought it would be a good opportunity to exercise my speaking voice, but I could not stay awake reading. I fall to sleep often while reading, which is not strange, what is strange was falling asleep while reading aloud. It’s quite embarrassing to be awaken by angry young children because you starting snoring during the best part. I do this in movies as well, but they can continue to watch without me. It was not so easily managed when I am the reader.
As I said, I never understood the fascination with Harry Potter and I don’t completely get the die hard following. But I do get that the story was not written for me. I understand my kids liking it. My parents- I do not get. My co-workers- I do not get. The critiques saying it might not be for small children- I do not get.
Maybe it’s because I am a “muggle” and I realize it. Maybe it’s because my shoes are on too tight and my heart is 2 sizes too small. In any case, I enjoyed the scenes of the movie. I enjoyed the looks on the faces of my kids, before, during and after, and I relish the conversations we will all share now discussing this last movie, the tweener book already published and the one forthcoming. I don’t get the hoopla, but I do get the opportunity to be part of my kids’ imagination!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
We just got back from camping. Have you ever tried to start a fire? Have you been in charge of maintaining the fire? You work and work to get the kindling just right, the tender situated just so, and then have to baby this little fire along until it can burn grown-up wood and then...it topples over and goes out.
I can have a fire going for an hour, poke it with a stick a couple of times and it's out! Yet get two kids and a couple of firecrackers and next you'll have hundreds of firefighters, a couple of helicopters, and about a million dollars to put it out. What they should do is just hire me. I'll just poke with a stick a couple of times and it'll be out in no time!
If it's really a big fire, just line up a couple of hungry campers who are desperate for fire for cooking, ask them to maintain it...the fire won't stand a chance!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Within the speech, I found a nugget of wisdom that I agree with completely. It was my hope to share it with my readers. And here it is:
Life does not go to the gifted. Life goes to the people who see life. If there's an enigma that has always baffled me, it's this one: The smart get smarter. The rich get richer. The motivated get more motivated. The strong get stronger. Isn't that a strange enigma? You would think the laws of justice in the Universe would go the other way! That the dumb would get smarter, that the weak would get stronger. But there's a fundamental law of life and let me tell you what it is. The more motivated you become, the more you want motivation and the more you look for it. The smarter you become the more you are able to become smarter, to co-relate, to associate, to think. When you get strong, you get in shape so you can get stronger, so you can run farther, so you can get stronger.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Saturday, July 07, 2007
The saying is, "There is more than one way to skin a cat", apparently there is also more than one way to cool a cat.
Koko decided that, this morning, the sink was the place to cool himself down amidst yet another 100+ degree day.
A little freaky, but effective.
Friday, July 06, 2007
I have been accused of being a maverick of my own, of marching to the beat of a different drum. I guess in some ways it is true. I have always said, however, if you have to declare yourself a maverick or a rebel, you are most likely not one. You are just doing the opposite of what everyone expects, which is still the same as doing what everyone expects, just a carbon copy. Many self-proclaimed rogues are exactly that.
But the title above hits it right on the money. True mavericks do not what they do for attention, for glory, or even for celebrity; true rebels just hear and dance to different music. I cannot tell you why some things that are normal to others, such as being happy in a regular 8-5 job, are repulsive to me. Or why when others like social functions and I find them annoying. Or why people feel close to others because they share the same last name, and I feel closeness and fondness must be earned and maintained and not a birthright or duty. I cannot tell you where feelings such as these derive, but I can tell you they are not made up.
The music that I hear is a music not everyone else hears and so to me, everyone else looks mad. I also realize that I do not hear the music of the masses, and therefore, in the opinion of the masses, I am the one who is mad. But until I hear a different music, I must dance to the beat that is given.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
When you can be your own leader, when you can rely on your own standards to achieve greatness, when your success no longer depends on others, you have arrived!
Self Leadership- The ability to get yourself to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether you fell like it or not, and still do it well"- Jim Cathcart
Self Leadership. You either have or you do not. If you do, you agree. If you do not have it, try it and you will.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
A burger, fries and soda in minutes is pretty hard to pass up when in a hurry or when you just do not want to cook for whatever reason. The food is generally tasty and generally satisfying. I have no "beef" with that part of fast food. My problem comes at the drive-thru.
As many as have had fast food before, have also used the services of the drive-thru. I would guess, however, that the employees that work on the other side of the little glass window have not. I make this assumption by the way they pack the bags.
When packing a sack with our food, the Drive-thru "technicians" go through great pains to fit our lunch or dinner in the smallest bag possible. The burgers go on bottom, usually the bigger ones on top. By packing the larger burgers on top, they have a way of, well compressing the smaller burgers and conserving more space. Then comes the fries- laid on their side. The fries on top, laid on their side allows the fries to escape their box and fill in the gaps in and around the burgers. This also makes it possible to partially fold in the fries containers for even more space saving. It all eventually turns out to be some kind of cheeseburger casserole in a sack.
In addition to the barely recognizable burgers and fries, cooled due to the bag being too small to close, the drinks are another matter. "Do you want a drink holder with that?" is the question. I usually buy for me, my wife, and five children. Exactly what am I to do with seven drinks otherwise? They will then place the larger drinks on one side of the carrier and the smaller ones on the other. This causes a carrier that just cannot wait to go top heavy head over hells at the first stop on the way home.
And yes, there IS a difference between regular Coke and Diet Coke! And yes, it is a big deal!
Don't even get me started on wrong orders! Since the bag is so tight, it is impossible to check the order while in the drive thru. If you want to check, you must pull into a stall, unload the bag- careful not to rip it- and audit your purchase. Any problems must be addressed by actually entering the restaurant and waiting at the counter for someone to help you. All the while, the people standing in line are wondering why you are so special that you get to just walk up to the counter past them and they give you the "drop dead" glare.
Condiments, such as Bar-B-Que sauce or ketchup must be ordered twice. Once when ordering the food and another time, just before pulling away. This usually works fine, except for the times that the "technician" decides to calculate the odds of you actually returning to get the items after arriving home and realizing he lied and just didn't want to get them for you.
All in all drive-thrus are horrible. It is an example of what we have become. We know that they are bad and we know we are going to get screwed. We know it, we expect it, and we accept it. Yet we will all continue to use them. Why? Because they make our lives more simple.
Friday, June 29, 2007
About a year ago, I started to use cast ion cookware. I got a set from Wal-mart before we went camping and I started to use my pans whenever I could. I learned about the benefits, experienced the hardships and tasted the deliciousness of cast iron cooking. I am hooked and enjoy cooking with my Dutch oven and skillet either camping, in the back yard or in the kitchen. I find it fun but I have found others are much more serious than I am. I have learned that there is an entire world devoted to cast iron cooking and like other cults; they have their belief system, their feeling of superiority and their caste system.
Here is the caste system as I see and understand it:
1) The Newcomers: this caste has just gone through “the awakening”. They have just become aware that there is such a thing as cast iron and that it is different from the cookware they received as a wedding gift or bought at Traget. Cast iron, for this group, is primarily for camping. With the advance of non-stick coatings why would you want to use anything but Teflon when at home? Cast Iron is cool, but it ranks with the coolness of sleeping in a sleeping bag, in a tent, with rocks in the middle of your back, smelling like a campfire and licking s’more remnants from your mustache. Its “roughin’ it”, but not anything practical.
2) The Health Conscience: This caste has learned of the potential health hazards of non-stick coatings and has decided on a “healthier” way. The feeling of superiority has begun to take hold. They are now trying to use cast iron beyond the campsite and becoming possessive of the cookware. They have now started calling dish soap evil and rejecting any meal cooked with the poisons of modern culinary development. The majority of the food is still prepared in the traditional use of the stovetop and oven, but now with cast iron. Of course, in order to make food not stick to cast iron, generous, and I mean generous, amounts, of grease, oils or cooking spray is required. It’s still considered healthier, because it’s “natural” and “that’s how our grandparents did it, and look how long and healthy they lived!”
3) The Quality Conscience: Name brand of cookware, type of lid, with or with out legs, depth, diameter, and personalization all become important and discussed. To paraphrase a skit by Emo Phillips, a conversation within this caste would follow as such:
Cook #1: I just got new cookware.
Cook #2: Really? Me too! What kind?
Cook #1: Cast Iron.
Cook #2: Really? Me too! Pan or Dutch oven?!
Cook#1: Dutch oven.
Cook #2: Really? Me too! What kind is it?
Cook #1: Lodge.
Cook #2: Really? Me too! What size?
Cook #1: 12”
Cook #2: Really? Me too! How deep?
Cook #1: 5 1/4”
Cook #2: Really? Me too! Flat bottomed or legs?
Cook #1: Legs.
Cook #2: Really? Me too! Flat topped or rounded lid?
Cook #1: Flat top.
Cook #2: Really? Me too! With a lip or no?
Cook #1: With a Lip.
Cook #2: Really? Me too! Pre-seasoned or non-seasoned?
Cook #1: Pre-seasoned.
Cook #2: (Hitting cook #1 over the head with a skillet) Die heretic! Die!
4) The Fire Cookers: There are arguably different stages of this caste, but they all espouse open flames. Some use the flames of the campfire, some the flames of propane, some the indirect use of the flames of the gas grill. This group usually develops either a taste or immunity to the taste of burnt food as many dishes are burnt on the bottom due to inconsistent high cooking temperatures. The unburned half of the dish, however, is proclaimed delicious and is “how food is supposed to taste like” by the chef. To understand the correct order of things, open flame users look down upon propane users as a culinary equivalent of an urban cowboy, close but not fully evolved.
5) The Charcoal group: This cast is separated into two sub groups: Commercially prepared briquettes and hot coal users. Briquette users have learned how to control the heat, not by unnatural knobs and dials, but with counting the number of briquettes that can be arranged on or over the cookware. High heat, low heat, fry, or bake. All cooking requirements are possible and burning becomes rarer. Cooking times, however, extend and sometimes even double but that’s part of the “experience”. Hot coal users take the coals of the open fire and use the same process of the briquette users by counting coals, but with less predictability. This uncertain heat causes the skill of the user to be honed more carefully.
In general, at this point most stop their evolution and some even regress back to a reasonable stance as to what works, what is required, and what is really needed and desired. A conclusion of the fact that there is no “right or wrong”, just different ways to do the same thing is usually grasped by the fully evolved cast iron expert.
There are some, I am sure, that will continue down an evolutionary path. Continuing the logic of the previous path without coming to the final reasonable conclusion, I speculate that the path would resemble the following as the “natural way to do things”.
6) Eat no food prepared and placed in a box.
7) Eat no food not raised and harvested by your own hands.
8) Eat no animal you have not killed with your own hands.
9) Reject the use of industrial cookware altogether and cook on fireplace hearth and eventually stones and rocks.
10) Use only fire started by lighting.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
“What a mess!” I thought as I approached the beaver pond. The place was a mess. There were sticks and logs everywhere! They may be industrious, these beavers, but they are not neat about it!
There’s a certain beauty to nature and its irregularity, and I appreciate it. But on my early morning walk, I just found the place to be pushing my limits.
As I sat there contemplating the order-challenged, dam-building, lodge-building, fat, furry, flat tailed, swimming rats, I saw several trout rising in the cool waters of the pond. They were leisurely partaking of the early morning fly population that was equally enjoying the environment provided. Obviously the fish and flies didn’t have the disconnection like I was experiencing and just used the pond as it was.
Several hummingbirds were also buzzing about the pond. Along with several other aviary creatures, life was bristling forward towards the new day. I was the only one with the problem.
I inspected the dam more closely. It was a typical construction as I have seen elsewhere. The beavers had actually done a good job. It must be tough competing for good wood with all the campers that share the neighborhood.
This pond shares its location with hundreds of sets of campers every week. The traffic makes it hard, I imagine, to keep up the pond maintenance. The working hours must be restrictive. We all know how hard it is to work when everyone is just standing around watching, like you know the campers would do.
I would venture to guess that the beavers don’t have a lot of say where they get to build and keep a dam. They don’t’ get to cruise to Home Depot for supplies. They don’t even have “How-to” books, clinics, or TV shows, yet despite all the difficulties, the pond exists and it does the job for all the “important” users.
I guess it’s all the same; the beavers probably wouldn’t be impressed with my keep of my desk either.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Our family completed an excellent camping trip. We didn’t, however, get the camp site that we wanted. #84 had been our site for the last two years. Apparently, not all parties had been informed. As we arrived, we found that “our site” had been taken shanghaied, commandeered b another group. Incorrigibles, no doubt!
We were traveling in two cars: the mini van for maximum passengers as required by our maximum passengers and the truck for maximum equipment again as required by our maximum passengers. The cell phone communication came to life immediately.
“What are we going to do?”
“How could they?!”
These questions were the first part of the conversation, but we ultimately settled on site #86.
Personally, I found #86 better than #84. It was bigger, near the river, and had a better lay-out…and a haunted cabin! We had found a new site and had found a new place to call home in the mountains. We had such a great time, we decided to repeat our camping adventures the next week.
The next Wednesday rolled around and we rolled past sight #84, which was occupied. No problem we thought, we were on our way to option A anyway!
When what to our wandering eyes should appear,
But campers in site 86 with all of their gear!
“What are we going o do?”
“How could they?!”
We rolled past site after site checking them out. Not enough privacy. Tent site too small. No grill on fire place. On and on we went. Our 15 minute car pass to find a site was extended to 30, then to 40 minutes. Finally after starting at site #87, continuing to #97 and then circling back through starting at #1, we “settled” on site #76.
Upon first inspection it wasn’t #84 or #86. But the set-up was nice. The tent site was lumpy and a bit sloped, but a quick work with the shovel to remove some mounds and rocks and a little leveling; it was quite good.
The site was an edge site so we had an entire mountain to our south to explore, the bathrooms were just two sites away, as well as the water supply. #76 actually wasn’t half bad!
I find it funny that the only thing that was really wrong with site #76 was that we had never been there yet. We hadn’t tried it yet. Obviously the lesson that should be learned is this:
Sometimes we jus need a minor set-back to make us look at new options or make us look at things differently.
As for us, we now have three options for the next time!
And next time we’ll be there earlier.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
As I rode across the valley this morning, the sun was up and rising. It occurred to me that it was a brand new day. Like a painter approaches a blank canvas, we too can decide the fate of the day. There may be things we have to do, but it is up to us to interpret the events, create the feelings, and attach the emotions.
It is to us to give the day color. Nothing is set in stone and each day is new and in our hands to do with what we will.
Monday, June 25, 2007
As I wrote last night:
This evening is one of those evenings where everything just seems too perfect. I have a pineapple upside down cake baking in the Dutch oven, the sky is blue, the grass is green, the pool is full, and the only real sound around is the rat-tat-tat of the sprinkler and the birds chirping in the trees.
The air is cool in the shade, recovering form another 100° assault, but the soft breezes bring cool refreshment as it blows through the shaded trees, across the misting sprinkler and onto the shaded and cooling porch. The aroma of the yellow cake wafting from the Dutch oven is welcomed, as well as tantalizing. It won’t be long before the time comes to pop it out and eat it.
There are no meetings to attend, no goals to achieve, no assignments to fulfill. It is a splendid, beautiful, most welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed afternoon.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I saw on the news that a married couple were the only winners of a $200 million plus jackpot. Although I won't say they won't enjoy the money, no one, including themselves, will consider the couple a financial success story. They got lucky. Their true success and happiness now will be determined by how they use the money they have been given. There are many stories of people who were given many things, but found them of very little value when self-worth was questioned.
Make the goal of your success worth pursuing. Aim for the stars. If it doesn't mean anything to you- what worth does it have?
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Although knowing where you want to go is a key element of success, knowing how to get there is another.
What does it take? Has anybody else blazed the trail? What resources are available to help you?
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I went for years without a cell phone, made fun of people who did have one and generally felt my life was still complete without instant access. Then the day came, after acquiring all the habits, all the addictions, and always being available, the day came that I did not have my phone. The horror!
I had to concentrate on my reading and writing. I had to watch out the window of the bus. I had to listen to the conversations around me that did not necessarily include me, and I had to not check baseball scores- pitch by pitch, every ten seconds. It was like... way back in 2006!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Planting trees is one thing, saving trees is another! We are hoping these two tress make the transition, but we saved these trees from their original plantings that are now enveloped by giant Chinese Elms. Two things learned:
1) I can now easily see and appreciate and enjoy my aspens. Both are the same age, but one is 8 feet tall the other is 20 feet. Hopefully they enjoy their new home back in the sun yet protected from the afternoon heat. Lesson: Sometimes a change of scenery is good, no matter what the reasoning was for your original plan. Things change, so must we.
2) Old age caught me and I found myself in the desperate need for my wife and two oldest boys to bail me out. I hurt my arm and was unable to continue digging. I helped as much as I could, but it was the three of them that had to save the old man from himself. Lesson: Getting old sucks!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Where do you struggle? Myself it is the daily things that get the best of me. You see I have a clear picture of my long term goals, and tackling the things that are the big ticket items is no big deal. But those daily things, those short term goals eat me alive!
I rarely establish my daily goals. Weekends OK. But all those days during the week I am so willing to let the day's events dictate my actions.
The day's events fill all the time and I rarely take the time to get my stuff done on a timely basis. When I come to a dead line that effects my long term goals- I then have to push everything and "last minute" my stuff. This operation always steals the sense of accomplishment, makes it hard to fit in the important or fun events that come around all the time.
Start making daily priorities for your yourself. Identify three things YOU need to get done. Write them down and get them done no matter what. At the end of a week, I guarantee you that you will see your accomplishments and feel successful. If these are the things truly important to you, they most likely will be moving towards your long term goals, and after a month, three months, you will see your success path opening up before you.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Another day, another fire. This time the fire was to our north, across the street and at night. It’s always odd to see fire trucks so close to your house and then to have them twice in two days seems really odd.
We had just settled in to watch an episode of Star Trek: The New Generation, when I heard the boom. This time it was not thunder, but actually something blowing up. I peeked through the blinds and I could see people gathering in the church parking lot across the street from our home. My wife and I ran out to see flames rising into the air behind the house immediately next to the church and kitty-corner from our home.
A storage shed was on fire and there were gas cans, junk, and old cars in and around the flames. Soon four fire trucks showed up and started hooking up their hoses and raising their boom ladders. The newsmen claimed the flames went 50-100’ high. We didn’t know if we agreed with tat, but it sounds good in the story. It wasn’t long, however, and the army of firemen had the flames doused and the big excitement was over.
People had poured out of their homes from all over. We saw neighbors that we haven’t seen in years! Some we spoke to, others we will wait for the next neighborhood catastrophe. I had thought everyone was asleep at that hour as the excitement lasted right up to about midnight, apparently people are still awake. We learn that the previous' emergency was also a fire. A fixture had fallen in the kitchen and the sparks had ignited the flames.
Two fires in two days, one on each side of the house. Ummm. Makes one stop and think. I decided to stop for a minute and say a short prayer this evening. Not that I think that the other people were being punished for similar sins. My prayer was how thankful that the fires had missed, the lightening had missed and the opportunity to acknowledge my good fortunes had not been missed.
Tragedy can hit so suddenly, as fast as a strike of lightening or electrical spark, yet we take so much for granted. Take some time and be thankful for what you got, and take an audit of what around you is really important and what is not. You may have to make a quick decision on what is and what is not worth saving. It’s best to already know.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
It has been said that it is a frightful thing to be in the hands of an angry God. I have even quoted that saying a number of times but this morning, however, I think I understand it a little bit better.
I awoke early, as I like to do, and did my normal morning rituals: shower, breakfast, read, and I was preparing to sit down and start writing. I then heard the sound of a siren. We all hear sirens from time to time, but this siren, I could tell, was coming our way. Sure enough, in about half a minute, the Paramedics and an ambulance were crawling up the street and stopped just out of my view out my living room window. They were shortly joined by two large fire trucks and a police patrol car.
There cannot be anything more curiosity-generating than the flashing lights of emergency vehicles just out of eye shot. The tops of the trees, the houses along the street, and even the whole sky seem to dance with lights but yet just out of sight! A man can only stand this for so long. So I was determined to go find out exactly what was going on.
I finished getting dressed and went out the front door, braving the wind and rain that had been building throughout the night. I could see the fire trucks in the street, but I wasn’t sure at which house they were parked so I proceeded across my lawn with the intention to get to the sidewalk and like a moth, get closer to the lights. “I’m not being nosy,” I told myself, “it’s about being current on the events of the neighborhood.”
All of a sudden, I was enveloped with light. I was sure that the police from the scene just a few houses away had spotted me and had captured me in their spotlight. It was blinding and I wasn’t sure what to do. Fortunately there was not a lot of time to think about it as the light went back off. It was enough that it had frozen me in stride and I stood like a statue.
BOOOOOOOOOOOM! A clap of thunder exploded and ripped through the dark silent air. It was a large, shocking, bone-rattling boom, followed by at least 20 seconds of rumbling. I had to listen to the last 19.5 seconds from inside the house, because no sooner then the first boom started, I was back across the lawn, up the steps and on the safe side of the closing door. It was the first lighting strike of the passing storm and it was the only one that I was aware of, although I would say it had my most utmost attention!
The boom had shaken our house quite well and had apparently rattled my wife out of her sleep. She met me in the living room as I leaned into and held the door shut.
“Did you hear that?” She asked?
“Loud and clear”, I responded. “God don’t like nosy!”
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
My screen was blank just a few keystrokes ago and now there are characters on it. Each movement of my fingers plugs the cursor across and down the page. What stared out as a field of white is now becoming a field of write.
I can write about anything, and sometimes that’s a daunting task. What is the subject, what is worth messing up a perfectly good clear screen, what is worth writing about and believing someone will read about or care about? What do I care about? It’s a sobering thought.
As I sat at the bus stop this morning looking at the beautiful sunrise and listening to the early morning sounds and smelling the scent of the new day on the incoming breeze. My thoughts were about what this day was to bring.
The weatherman last night said that it would be 92 degrees today and 58 tomorrow. Apparently there is cool weather coming that no one can see as of yet with the naked eye, but it must be just past the horizon. How many people, I wonder, will be surprised tomorrow morning when they walk out their door and feel we have stepped back into March?
I thought about last night’s game, of the player who struck out with bases loaded in the ninth and missed the chance to win the game, but got the redemption at bat when he hit the game winning walk-off home run in the 11th? I thought, “How many times do people get that second chance?” How many times do I get that second chance? Enough I suppose.
I watched the cars go by and counted the number of cars that had only one passenger. What a waste. I have been guilty of such a crime myself many times, but once one gets on the bus and feels a part of the solution, it’s easy to understand that convenience has a price and hard not to get self-righteous about it. I look at the prices posted at the gas stations and wonder how much of each dollar is ultimately used to kill my ideas, my way of life, my dreams, my neighbor, my friends or maybe one day, my sons and daughter.
How many people heard the State of the Union address and heard the President call for the nation to reduce their oil consumption by 20%? How many thought that meant them? How many remembered it the next day? How many people did something about it? I wonder if the President has done anything about it since that day. If he has, I haven’t heard about it. In fact, I have heard the contrary, that he hasn’t said a word about his call to action; not even a suggestion of how he thinks someone else should do it.
Our county is too big to not have someone smart enough to figure out something better than burning old dinosaurs for fuel. Something that doesn’t make the cost of corn go through the roof, or some other industry to learn how to gut the public of its money. We think of ourselves as so technologically advanced, but take away our oil and our electricity and we are just as idiotic as anybody else. In fact, we wouldn’t have a clue on how to survive, third world country people would…and do.
Ultimately the new day is beautiful and I am thankful that I am free enough, alive enough, and enabled enough to be able to think my thoughts, express my thoughts and share my thoughts. My once blank screen is now full and it is time to go and earn more gas money.
Monday, June 04, 2007
As hard as I try, it’s hard to remember what it was like to be a kid. I remember things such as he trouble I got into, the things that scared me, and the things that were just fun and many times foolish. I have noticed that many stories begin with, “I don’t remember why, but I was…” The “how” and “what” are there, but the “why” seems to escape memory. The reason is the “why” is the kid part.
The bigger reason is because there usually wasn’t a “why”. Kids just do things. Let me give you an example I recently witnessed. I was at a student awards assembly. The kids were sitting through the many awards that were being given out. After some time the group was becoming restless and needed a break. To the credit of the supervising teacher, an announcement was made that all students could stand up and stretch for a minute. All kids jumped up at the chance.
After a minute or so, the order to go ahead and sit down was given and here was the manifestation of the difference between kid and adult. All adults when asked to sit; sit. We just aim our butts in the right direction, bend our legs and drop to our seat. Some of us with less control and grace than others but the motion is all the same and done without fanfare. This is not the case with the kids.
Once the order was given to sit down, every variation of sitting down was being exercised throughout the group. There were some that dropped straight down, some twisted like a cyclone, some bounce down and back up with a diminishing bounce back up with each bounce. There were some that crossed their legs as they dropped like a scissor lift. There were others that stuck their arms out and flapped like a bird landing on a wire. One kid even made the motion as if he was diving into a pool of water. Some ignored the order until it was given again; some waited until the third time and others again waited until they were personally asked.
In short, the kids enjoyed the moment and whatever came to their mind is how they proceeded. There was no correct way, no incorrect one either. Ultimately they all ended up sitting again and the assembly continued.
How many things do we do, not because there is not another way to do it, it’s just that we have accepted one way and we stick to it. It is because it’s better or just safer?
Next time someone asks for you to take a sit, stretch out your arms and come in like a plane landing. Or whatever else comes to your mind! If you find that exhilarating, what else can you do beyond what is expected or accepted? See what happens when you let the kid in you take over the “why”.
Friday, June 01, 2007
The month of May was a busy one for me. There were a number of things going on and I therefore took some time off for myself. The biggest thing that was new for me this month is that I finally got serious on writing a book. I have been spending all my time that I would normally take to write in this blog, to write in my book.
What's it about? I'll give little sneak peeks as circumstance will allow, but for now, suffice to say, I am enjoying my writing experience and I am sorry that the blog took the fall for my focus dedication elsewhere.
Welcome to June!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
"Why not", he asks.
She answers back, "Because I'm dead".
The husband says to her, "What are you talking about? We're both lying here in bed together and talking to one another".
The wife says, "No, I'm definitely dead."
Her husband insists, "You're not dead. What in the world makes you think you're dead?"
His wife answers, "I know I'm dead because I woke up this morning and nothing hurts!"