Silly Questions

I was at the store buying a new computer the other day. I had already done my research and was pretty much ready to buy. I was just doing some final checking and comparisons on what was available.

After standing in front of various computers for 15 minutes or so, a sales lady approached and asked if I was interested in getting a computer. Now I suppose they have to ask the question because they get lots of looky-loos. But when you do want to buy a computer, it's a goofy question. I'm standing there thinking, "Yes, I want to buy a computer, that's why I'm standing in front of the computers."

Then she spent the next few minutes telling me how this other computer was better. It wasn't. It was slightly cheaper. But it had a smaller hard disk, a slower processor and less memory. The kicker was, after spending several minutes telling me how much better that computer was, she said "But we don't have this one is stock anyway." Huh?! You just spent your time telling me about a computer you don't have? Why?!

To her credit, she did tell me about a sale on some monitors, so I got two 24 inch monitors for just few dollars more than one 27 inch monitor. That was a no brainer.

I'm very happy with my new computer. But if you're in the market, I recommend you do your homework first - there's no telling what kind of sales person you're going to get at the store.


How Does that Affect Me?

Humans divide themselves into all kinds of different groups. Almost all of us group ourselves by family units. We live with our family, generally not with other families or in group settings. Sometimes we divide ourselves by our gender. Sometimes it's our profession and we will associate with people who work in the same field that we do. Sometimes it's by nationality, race or religion. Sometimes we group ourselves by hobbies or activities that we like to do. People who like to shoot guns generally hang out with other people who like to shoot guns. You get the idea...

Often times we can be protective of our groups too. If someone says something hurtful or mean-spirited about our group, we get defensive. We don't like it when someone else is tearing down our groups. We don't like it when someone else views us as bad, or substandard in someway. It's not unusual to hear about a group boycotting a movie because somehow their group was portrayed poorly in the movie. I'm quite sure the police officers and lawyers are tired of everyone viewing them as bad-guys because of some the members of their groups act poorly. Because of this defense mechanism, many times when we see someone in one of our groups acting in a way that might not reflect well for our group, we get concerned. Our first thought is usually, how does that affect me? If that group member continues with that behavior, will there be repercussions that affect me?

For example, if you've been reading this blog, you know I'm a member of the group of motorcyclists. Now motorcyclists, or bikers, are often portrayed poorly in the media. Sometimes the reputation is well earned. But I'm still often very aware of how bikers can actly badly and how that affects me. Recently I was riding home and the traffic was horrible. I was going between lanes trying to just move through without going too fast and upseting John Q Public in their cars. Another biker came up behind me and I let him pass as he wanted to go faster than I did. This guy was a piece of work. He was yelling at the cars, shaking his fist at them, acting like he was going to kick in their doors, I think he even spit on one car. He was one seriously angry dude. If someone didn't move over and let him pass, he acted like a federal offense had been committed. As I watch his tirades, I wondered - how does that affect me? Now I have to drive along behind him. What if the motorists are ticked off and they decide to take it out on me? What if they get fed up with bikers like him and they decided to change the laws so they are less friendly to bikers? etc. etc...

Never once was my concern for that individual or even the people that he was acting so poorly towards. All I could think about was myself and how his behavior might affect me. That makes me sad. It's hard to believe that I am so self-centered. Now I don't know what I could have done to help that individual. The middle of the freeway during rush hour is generally not a good time for an intervention. But I wish I had offered up a prayer or at least thought about something other than myself.

"How does that affect me?" is not something I want to ponder about too much. Apparently I spend way too much time thinking about me and not near enough time thinking about the people around me. What, or who, are you thinking about?


Creativity and School

This is an incredible talk about the educational system. It's 19 minutes long, but worth every minute.

Thanks to nikao for posting this....


Risky Business

Recently son #2 very thoughtfully bought me a package of Jelly Bellies. He was getting himself a bag and he remembered dear ol' dad and got me one too. That's my boy.

So for the past few days I've been snacking on Jelly Bellies while I work on the computer in the evening. The problem is, eating Jelly Bellies is risky business. The bag I have has 30 different flavors. My unscientific guess is about a quarter of those flavors are just plain old nasty. You never know what flavor your going get. You could get a couple of great ones and then one that tastes like the cross between the bottom of a coffee cup and an ashtray. Not that I've ever tried eating either one of those, but I imagine that's what it might taste like. When I mentioned it to son #2 as we were in the car headed somewhere, he laughed and said "Oh, that's the cappuccino. I didn't like it either." That's my boy.

Eating Jelly Bellies is not the only activity that is risky. In fact all of life is risky. People often comment that my riding motorcycles is risky. And there is an element of risk to riding. But anyone could trip, fall and die at almost anytime. Life is fragile and valuable. You can't just stay at home and avoid all risks. That's no way to live. The Christian life is no different. Often we long for safety, security and assurance. And while I understand that, being a follower of Christ should have an element of risk to it. You should be out there doing things, and some of those things will be risky in nature. People might laugh at you, or belittle you for your beliefs, or cuss you out, or who knows what. But how much did Jesus risk for you?

Reminds me of the old quote.
"A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are built for."
John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928

Are you hanging out in the harbor when you should be out sailing? What are you built for? Are you willing to take the risk to find out? That's worth pondering about.


It's the Thought That Counts

You've heard the saying, "It's the thought that counts." In fact I used it in a recent post here. But after thinking about that for bit, I'm not so sure that adage is true.

Generally actions speak much louder than words. So when someone gives you a late birthday card or present and kind of sheepishly shrugs and says "it's the thought that counts," you probably are not thinking deep in your heart that "yea, it's ok that you forgot all about me." At least, that's not usually what I am thinking. Maybe you're a better person than I am. Their actions say more about how they value you than their words do.

Now I think there are cases when you can use this and have it be effective. If you really tried to put together a nice birthday present, but it just didn't work out for some reason. I think you can say, "I really tried. I'm sorry it didn't work out. But hey, it's the thought that counts." I think it works in this situation, because you really did put some effort into it. And actions speak louder than words.

But usually if you put no effort out and try to pull the "it's the thought that counts", I think you're wimping out. I think most of the time our friends and spouses see through this weak excuse. If you don't believe me, I have a challenge for you. Guys, at your wife's next birthday or your wedding anniversary (which ever occurs next), I want you to do absolutely nothing. No gifts. No card. No special night out. No anything. Then that evening just before you fall asleep that night in your bed, roll over by your wife and say "I didn't forget your birthday/anniversary, I thought about you today several times. And you know, it's the thought that counts." If you survive that encounter, please comment here. I'm sure we'd all like to learn vicariously from your experience.

It's not the thought that counts. It's taking the time and spending the effort to do something that counts. Are you spending the appropriate amount of time and effort on the things that truly important? That's worth pondering about.


How Bad Can it Be?

We have DirecTV here at our sprawling estate [/sarcasm]. Well, I do have DirecTV, is the "sprawling estate" that is not so much. Anyway, we've been pretty happy with our service. Light-years better than the cable company we used to have. It's cheaper too. That's enough of the commercial for DirecTV.

Anyway, as a gesture of appreciation, DirecTV gave us free ShowTime for 3 months for being a loyal customer. We don't have any movie channels as part of our package. Netflix, an occasional pay-per-view movie and a few trips a year to the video store handles our movie needs quite nicely. So I was anxious to have ShowTime for a bit and see if we liked it.

Oh my, ShowTime is really bad. Not just a normal type of bad, it's colossally, horribly bad. The movies they show are horrible and they show them over and over and over and over.... In the two plus months we've had ShowTime I think I've watched one movie; and I had already seen that movie. The rest of them simply aren't worth watching. How does this channel turn a profit and stay in business?

I'm not upset for DirecTV giving us this disaster of a movie channel as an appreciation gift. Although here's a bit of advice to any DirecTV big-wigs who may be reading this, maybe you should consider letting the customer pick which channel their free 3 month appreciation gift will provide. I'm just saying... Even though I detest ShowTime, someone out there must be paying for and watching this channel. Although that thought baffles me. So I can understand why DirecTV would think that I might like it.

I guess the old adage, "it's the thought that counts" comes into play here. It's nice to remembered, even if the gift isn't my favorite.


Why Do You Ask, If You Aren't Going to Listen?

We all ask questions we don't really want an answer to. When you walk up to someone and say "Hey! What are you doing?" We usually don't really expect an answer; we can obviously see what they are doing. It's more of a greeting than a question. Another one is "How's it going?" If someone stopped and started giving you detailed information on how it was going in their life at the moment, we'd probably interrupt them and tell them that we weren't really that interested. Again, it's more of greeting than anything.

Someone once asked me for some advice about something. I listened to what they had to say and gave my honest advice. "That's a really bad idea." Hey, I'm a straight forward kind of guy. That same person later asked two other people for advice on that same topic in my presence. And they both said, "That's a really bad idea." Ok, they used different words, but basically the answer was the same - don't do that. Yet this person went ahead and did it anyway. Guess what, it truly was a bad idea. There were repercussions regarding that action. Something that could have easily been avoid if they had simply listened to sound advice from three people.

Why do we ask, if we aren't going to listen? Many times it's because we aren't really looking for advice - we are asking for permission. But even when we don't get the permission, we often do it anyway. What makes us so hard headed sometimes?

Please do me a favor. If you get some advice, especially if it's from multiple people, listen to it. You asked those people for a reason, presumably because you trust them. So trust them. And if I ever ask you for advice - make sure I listen.


Tap To Go

LA Metro has a new system to pay for your ride. It's called Tap to Go. You get this card that's kind of like credit card, you load it up for the month and then when you get on the bus you just tap it on some type of reader and then you go. Seems simple enough.

However, I think a better name would be Try to Tap and No Go. Ok, not the catchest title ever. But what a disaster it's been in rolling this program out. It was supposed to start in January. So every month when we made the trek to buy the boy's ticket for the month, they would tell us we need to get Tap to Go. We reply "Sure, let's do it." And then they would say "Well, it's not quite available yet. But you really need to get one." Huh? Eventually a lady ordered the two cards for us (because you can't order them online yourself). Twenty some days later, they arrived in the mail. Twenty days just mail us two cards. I tried to go online to prepay them so the boys could use them. What a horrible website they have. I created an account, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to add the cards to my account so I could put money on them. This would seem like an important part of the process. Eventually, I gave up and sent a message to support. They are supposed to answer in 24 to 48 hours. It's been a week and I still haven't heard from them. So I decided to get brave and call the help line. Surprisingly the wait time wasn't too bad and I got a friendly guy who told me they created accounts for the cards when they sent them to us. Really? That would have been useful information to include with the cards! He emailed me the info so I could log into each card and fill it up. Apparently, I'm not allowed to put both of them on one account. So this thing that is supposed to be so easy, apparently isn't.

This is the government bureaucracy that wants to run my health care. I can't imagine that ever being better that what I have now. I know our health care system needs help. But I think we could do better by fixing what we have instead the major change that has currently been proposed. The government has a hard time figuring out how to get people to pay a few bucks for a bus pass - I can't wait for the problems I'm going to have trying to get them pay for a surgery or a hospital visit. Just the thought of it gives me nightmares.

Oh well, at least my boys can ride the bus. I guess that's something.


They Know How to Get You

We've just had the 'pleasure' of getting son #1's senior pictures done. Overall it wasn't too bad of an experience. He went for his sitting (which we had to pay for separately). A month or so later, the proofs showed up at the house. It seemed like there was about 500 different pictures. Wow! Most of them were pretty good and few were not. But the number of them was overwhelming.

As we tried to figure out what pictures we wanted, the number of permutations was astounding. The problem we had was there was no way to get the number of pictures we wanted in any of the standard packages. We basically just wanted one pic of most of them. We could scan the photos and make our own copies, but that's against the studio's policy. But it was nearly impossible to get the right package with the right mix of photos and the price of the packages just kept going up and up. We eventually had risen to a point of getting one of the premiere packages. Premiere includes a premium price too.

The package we had to go with to get what we wanted, was more than we really wanted to pay. We also had to buy more pictures than we really needed. I'm frustrated with the studio for their policy of them owning the photos of my son. We hired them to take the pictures. They photographed my son, it's his likeness. Why doesn't he own the images instead of them? I felt like they were manipulating the love of my son for money. It frustrates me that it worked.

I don't like being manipulated, for love or for money. I wonder if that must be a bit how God feels when someone manipulates the image or reputation of his son, Jesus, for personal gain. There's a lot of low-lifes out there that will do anything for money. Of course, you know that already. But some how we think when it comes to church and religion, we could never get taken in by someone like that - yet it still happens. Be careful. Make sure the church or charity that your supporting with your money, is using the money the way they say they will. Don't let them manipulate you.

Have you done your homework in this area? Are the organizations you support doing what you think they are doing? That's worth pondering about...


It's So Easy

I think this kid has the potential to be a great driver. He can already parallel park with no problem.


Kids' Rock

Funny parody on those commercials that take pop songs and make them into kids songs.

Video Link

[HT Terrace Crawford]



Expectations. We all have them. We expect certain things from the government. We expect police officers to act in a responsible manner. We expect companies to deliver a reliable product for our money. We expect our friends to be loyal to us. We expect the good guys to be good and the bad guys to be bad.

I recently went to get a hair cut. I had an expectation that the person cutting my hair would cut my hair in the way I requested. I expected that when she showed me how much she was going to cut off, that would be accurate. My expectations were not met in this case. She took off twice as much as I asked her too. Maybe we should require hair stylists to go to classes in measuring, that way they will know how much 1/2 an inch is. But I digress...

Most of us have had a time when our expectations were not met. Some of those experiences are rather benign, some are rather painful. Sometimes we set ourselves up for dashed expectations because we have unrealistic goals. For example, we might expect our fav sports team to never lose (that's what we cheer for, but can't expect that). Or we may have unrealistic expectations for our child's accomplishments.

I've recently talked to several different people who have felt their expectations of God were not met. But as I talked to them, it seemed to me that they expected God do what they wanted or what they thought was right. I understand this feeling. There's been plenty of times when I knew exactly what I wanted God to do. But does that mean God should do that? Is he bound to my wishes? What if I get a whole bunch of good Christians to pray for that wish? Should I have expectations that God will do it then? That's a truly tough question. Great thinkers have debated this for many years and will probably do so for many more. I do know this, God's ways are not my ways.... and that's a REALLY good thing.

Do you hold unrealistic expectations, especially ones with eternal implications? If so, what are you going to do about them? That's worth pondering about.


See ya

If you read blogs, you probably know about using a Feed Reader. You can subscribe to a RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed from your favorite blogs. Then you can read them all from your Feed Reader, without all that hassle of entering URLs from all those blogs. Very handy actually. Two free readers are www.bloglines.com and www.google.com/reader.

Recently, I had just over 100 feeds in my reader. But some of them I just wasn't reading anymore. In some cases the blog had changed during it's life. Maybe the author had changed jobs and was now talking about something else that didn't interest me. In some cases, I had changed and just didn't care what the author the blog was talking about anymore. So these blogs were just cluttering up my Feed Reader with stuff I didn't care about anymore.

The easy thing would seem to be to unsubscribe and just quit reading those blogs. But somehow it seemed a bit harder than that. It was kind of like I was turning away from a friend or something. No, that's not quite accurate. Maybe it's more like was saying "I'm better than you and your blog is not worthy of me to read anymore." Hmmm, that's not really it either. It's kind of hard to describe. But it was weird.

Eventually, I did pull the trigger and drop several unread blogs. Some how I feel better because I got rid of some dead weight from my reader. My 'guilt' is gone. My feed reader is lighter. And now I'm thinking about getting rid of a couple of more.

It's weird how we become attached to something or to a routine. There's real truth in the old saying that we are creatures of habit. Changing our habits causes stress. While in this case it was fairly minor stress, other changes in our habits might have more severe results. I think this is part of what makes addictions hard to kick (certainly there are other factors too). This can also be what makes it hard for some folks to make a change in their life and take steps to improve. Whether that is healthier habits, mending a broken relationship, or even making a stand for God.

Are you allowing a routine to stop you from doing something that you REALLY need to do? That's worth pondering about.


The Hypocrisy of it All

Unless you’re in a coma, you know Michael Jackson died. I’m not a Michael Jackson fan, so I don’t have a huge empty hole in my heart right now. I am sympathetic to his family and close friends who are deeply saddened during this time of loss. Michael was someone’s son, he was somebody’s father, and he did have friends – and to those people, you truly have my deepest sympathies.

But to everyone else – what gives?

I didn’t get to watch the spectacle on TV, I actually have to work. But I wanted to see John Mayer’s part as I like his music. So I hunted the video down on the Internet and watched that. I was amazed about some of the comments people left. They were saying things like “John Mayer is so messed up. I hate him.” “His personal life is such a disaster. I can’t stand him.” “He looks funny.” Really?! These are people who like Michael Jackson – all of those statements would be true about Michael. Yet they loved Michael and hate John. If you don’t like his music, fine. It’s just not your style. But to hate him and his music because of his personal life and yet adore Michael in spite of his disastrous personal life, well that’s just hypocritical.

Then I turned on the TV all the news could talk about was the funeral. They kept showing various clips speakers and performers. And again, other than a few exceptions, I kept thinking, how hypocritical these people are. They all claimed to be great friends with Michael. But I don’t remember any of them standing up for Michael when he had relationship problems. I don’t remember any of them coming to his side when he had legal problems with molestation charges. I don’t remember any of them trying to put an end to the Wako Jacko stories. I don’t remember anyone helping Michael when he had financial issues. I don’t remember anyone helping Michael when things got so tough for him he left the country for a while. I do remember quite a few negative comments from the black community when Michael started “turning white.” I don’t recall any of these people doing anything to help, love or support Michael. Yet as soon as he’s gone and there’s an opportunity to show support at his funeral where lots of people will be watching – oh, they’re all his close friends then. Again, with a few notable exceptions, it just stuck me as completely hypocritical and fake.

I don’t really know what happened behind closed doors and if some of these folks really were close to Michael. I do know this. True friends are there when the going is tough. True friends aren’t afraid to stand by your side – even when you made a mistake or done something stupid. That doesn’t mean that you condone or approve of their actions, it just means that you love your friend and your trying to provide some support.

What kind of friend are you? That’s worth pondering about.


Happy Independence Day

If you know anything about America, you know that the 4th of July is our Independence Day. Today we celebrate the many freedoms that our forefathers and generations of soldiers have won for us.

Today I'm grateful for what we have in America. I'm grateful for a God who has blessed our nation. I'm grateful for what those who have gone before have done for me. I hope that I can be half as influential as them and leave something to those who come after me.

What are you grateful for? And how is that going to inspire you to action? That's worth pondering about....

Happy 4th of July!


Happiness and Bliss

Let's just say you are having a great day. It's a wonderful day. Everything is grand. You are happy. Life is good. As you go about your daily business in your car, everything is perfect. The radio is playing all the songs you like. Even the freeway is wide open in front of you.

If during your state of bliss you happen to glance in the rear view mirror and notice there is lots of traffic behind you (but nothing in front of you), YOUR DRIVING TOO SLOW! Please move over so the rest of us can go by you and get something done today.

I'm just saying....


Stereotypes and Bad Choices

My two teenage boys love video games. I think it's nearly a prerequisite to being a teenager these days. I can certainly think of worse things for them to be into, so we try to exercise some self-control, but still enjoy game time. Part of enjoying the games is getting magazines that hype all the new games, review the games, rate the games, advertise the games, talk about the games, and -- well you get the idea.

One of the magazines they liked to read was Electronic Game Monthly (aka EGM). "Was" is the key word here. As magazines sometimes do, it ceased publication. Rumor has it the original founder will start the magazine up later this year. Whatever. For now it's dead and the publisher did what publishers do in this situation - they substituted a different magazine for the remainder of our subscription (just renewed).

I've been known to order a few magazines in my day. So I've experience the disappointment of a rag folding up and getting some second rate substitute. Usually the substitute is some how related to the magazine that has ceased publication. So if you were getting a motorcycle magazine, the substitute will be motorsports related. If you were getting a computer mag, the substitute will be a computer mag or at least electronics of some sort. So when EGM folded, it seemed reasonable to expect that another video game mag would be provided. What we got was Maxim.

If you don't know what Maxim is, well it's about this far |--| from Playboy. The magazine is clearly geared for people older than my two teenage boys. I'm pretty sure we don't need a magazine with naked ladies showing up every month. Oh, and the ladies ARE naked in the magazine, they are just posed so that you can't see certain little pieces. To make a long story short, my lovely wife quickly applied for the refund.

Gamers are often stereotyped to be late-teens or early twenties and oversexed. The publisher, following the stereotype provided a magazine that was clearly inappropriate in our situation. A better approach would have been a way for us to select between a couple of different choices. If they had done that, they still might have our business. But now they must refund money - which I'm sure they are loath to do.

Unfortunately, we often put people into little boxes when we believe the stereotypes. We think all "poor people" will act or think a certain way. Or all east coast or west coast people will behave a certain way. All rich people are stuck up. All lawyers are scumbags. All ________ (insert racial group) will be ________ (insert various derogatory statements). You get the idea.

Stereotypes are almost universally a bad idea. The real question is what stereotypes do you hang on to? How are you going to get rid of them? That's worth pondering about....



Clarence FL1946

This is a machine that my Grandfather was using in 1946 to clear land in Florida. Can you imagine anyone using something like that today? Exposed blade, no safety gear, etc. That thing is just scary looking.

I'm generally not a big fan of safetycrats who take away our freedoms and activities in the name of being safe, but in this case - maybe it's a good thing.



If you buy a sporty car. Lower it. Put some nice rims on it. Tint the windows. Install a sweet exhaust system. And then putt around in it, they should revoke your license.

I'm just saying.....


You Need One

Here's an interesting quote. It's related to my last post.

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”
—Jane Howard

Do you have one? Are you caring for and feeding it properly?

That's worth pondering about.


How do they do it?

I suspect whatever environment you are raised in is 'normal' to you. Sure, there's extreme limits, but generally what you experienced as a child growing up is your definition of normal. I grew up in Christian family with parents that didn't get a divorce and so that seems normal to me. Your mileage may vary.

I understand that not everyone believes in God. But while I can comprehend the concept, I can't fully understand it, because I haven't experienced it. But the part that is really hard for me to understand is the lack of community that non-believers are missing. That's very difficult for me to understand.

A while back a friend was telling me of family he had met. I guess they were a pretty close-knit family with a lot of love in the family and they belonged to good church that was like extended family. It didn't take my friend long to see how special what they had was. He was also quick to realize that was something that he desired to have in his own life.

I know that people who don't belong to a church community aren't friendless. They have a circle of friends too. But it's difficult for me to comprehend life without a great bunch of people that you see nearly every week to help you along the journey. To have have community that supports you mentally, physically and spiritually is truly wonderful thing. It seems like such a disadvantage to not have that. How do they do it?

If your part of church that doesn't have a good community of support, I would seriously urge you to consider changing churches. It REALLY makes all the difference.


A Tap on the Shoulder

Tuesday I rode my bike to work like every other day. It was beautiful riding weather. In fact, it was hard to go to work, the local mountains roads were calling my name. After a long day at work I went to the parking structure looking forward to my ride home. I geared up and got on the bike and it won't start. It cranks just fine, but it won't fire. Stupid bike. I checked all the usual stuff, hoses, sensors, kill switch, etc. Nothing. I even tried to bump start it. Nothing would make it start. I called the tow service we have (which shall remain nameless, but it starts with All and ends with State) and they said they'd have someone out there in an hour and half. What great service. Not! That was too late to do any good, the shops would be closed by then. So I called my lovely wife to come get me and left the bike at work overnight.

Now before we go any farther in the story, you should know that I hate it when a vehicle leaves me stranded. It's a bit like your spouse cheating on you. I don't trust the vehicle any more, I just want it out of my sight. If someone had offered me $20 for it, I probably would have sold it on the spot. So it was all I could do to keep my cool and my Christianity.

On Wednesday I took the truck to work. I was sure the bike would fire right up and I would be even more frustrated at it. But no, it still wouldn't start. That's kinda good, at least it's consistent. I got the tow truck out (after a 2 and 1/2 hour wait when he was supposed to be there within the hour) and loaded up the bike. When the bike got the shop, the mechanic got up on the flatbed truck and the bike started the first crank. Arrrrgh.... stupid bike. So he thinks there's a short or something and he works on it for over an hour and can't find anything wrong with the bike. But it needed tires and oil change, so I told him to go ahead with that and I'll pick the bike up on the Thursday.

On Thursday, the mechanic calls me and says you won't believe what I found. I'm thinking, "Great, he found the problem why it won't start." But that wasn't it. The whole rear end that holds the rear tire in place is called the swing arm. That swing arm basically mounts to the frame of the bike with one bolt, so it can articulate up and down as the suspension moves. What the mechanic found is that the bolt was there, but the nut to hold it in place was missing! If that bolt had fallen out while I was riding the bike, the rear end and rear tire would have completely fallen off. As you can imagine, at freeway speeds in LA, that would not have a happy ending.

I am certain that the reason the bike didn't start at work, but did start at the shop, is because there is nothing wrong the bike. The bike is just fine. However, once in a while we get a tap on the shoulder and God reminds us that he is still around and involved in our lives. I'm grateful that he takes the time to care for us.

So what God stories do you have? That's worth pondering about.....



There's good and there's the guys that have real skillz.

Then there is Danny MacAskill - he's in a class by himself. He's defiantly got skillz.

Direct link


How to be Rich

Warning: Sappiness ahead...

Yesterday our church hosted a Cinco de Mayo party (ok, so it was really a Tres de Mayo party). I was expecting a fun time of hanging with some friends and eating some good Mexican food. That's good stuff. It turns out the whole thing was ruse to give me a surprise birthday party (2 weeks early). Needless to say I was surprised. But now looking back I understand why things seemed so weird... Anyway, it was great party. Lots of fun. It was the weirdest Cinco de Mayo party I've ever been to, but still lots of fun.

Events like this always give me cause to do a little reflection. What makes the party so fun? Is it the surprise? No, although it certainly was surprising. Is it the good food? No, but there was lots of good food. Is it the generous gift? No, but that's very nice and thoughtful of everyone. Was it the Mexican dances? No, but we got some good pics for someone else surprise birthday party. LOL. What makes the party so much fun is all the people. All the friends that there laughing and talking, that's the joy of the party. And great friends are what makes us rich.

It's easy to look at our bank accounts during a recession and to not feel very wealthy. But richness of life, joy and happiness do NOT come from a full bank account. We can all name off dozens of rich people that don't appear to be happy. We all know folks that are not rich and seem to be very happy. Certainly there are happy, rich folk and unhappy, poor folks too. What I'm getting at is richness and happiness are two different attributes that do not come in a pair. If you want to be rich, have some good friends. They will add richness to your life in unmeasurable ways. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this is true. Consider these quotes:

Where there are friends, there is wealth.
~ Titus Maccius Plautus

Count your age with friends but not with years.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"
~ The Bible: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

If you want to be rich, have some good friends. And we all know the old saying, "If you want good friends, you need to be a good friend." Try it. Turn enemies into friends. Develop new friends. It's great! You'll never be sorry that you have great friends!!

I truly am rich.


How Big is a 100 Million?

I mostly stay away from political issues on the blog. So I don't want this to become a discussion on whether or not President Obama is doing the right thing. But I think we need to understand exactly how much $100 Million from our budget really is.

Link here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWt8hTayupE

Isn't it amazing at how small $100 million can look?


So What?

We live in the Information Age. There's an unmeasurable amount of information available to us. Some of us even have 24/7 access to all the information on the internet because our cellphones are internet capable. But it's not just the internet. There's more information, more news, more data, more science, more medicine, more theories, more everything. And all that data is growing. I recently read that the average 13 year old has already been exposed to more information than their grandparents were in their entire lives.

All that information is great, or at least has the potential for greatness. But what does one do with all that info? Learn to ask the question "So what?" Just because a piece of information exists, doesn't mean it's useful to you. I could know the weather report for New Zealand tomorrow - but that's not overly useful for me. I'm sure some people care about that - New Zealanders for one - but it doesn't really affect me. A careful application of the "So what?" can help filter through information that's non-essential.

This can even be true when dealing with a timeless truth. I believe the Bible is the Word of God. But not every text or passage in the Bible is useful in every situation. There are some passages in the Bible that when you read them, you need to ask "So what?" Why is this story here? Is it just a history lesson OR is there some truth to be learned in this story? You've got to run it through the "So what?" filter. And just because someone else finds a story particularly meaningful to them at that moment in their journey, doesn't mean that you will. And here's the important part - THAT'S OK. (Some of us need to read that last sentence a few more times and REALLY digest and understand that.) Maybe that text will matter in a different point in your journey, maybe it will never be a biggie for you. That's ok. Just use the "So what?" filter.

Useful information is not just head knowledge - it changes how you act. If you truly believe that 2+2=5, you will behave in a different manner than if you believe 2+2=4 (namely, much of your addition will be wrong). But information that passes the "So what?" filter, affects us. It changes us. Hopefully, it makes us better in some small way. When you find a Bible text that passes the "So what?" filter, it will change your beliefs and your behavior. And that's a good thing.

Use that "So what?" filter effectively. It will take some practice, but eventually you will be able to cut through all the noise and data, and have some great wisdom that really matters.



There's a billboard by the freeway on the way to work that has kind of freaked me out. It's been up for what seems like a long time, maybe two months or so. It's also in place that makes it kind of hard to see. It's on the curve on the freeway and it's kind of behind another sign. So when you are doing LA freeway speeds, the sign is not visible very long. Also, it's dark when I am going to work, and this particular sign is not lit, so I can only read the big print on it, not the smaller print. Basically the sign is hard to see.

On this sign, there's a picture of cop trying to be tough guy. He's got the dark glasses, the hat and the tough guy scowl. The text says "Observe and Report." The sign seemed very Big Brotherish. Or maybe even a bit Orwellian. I didn't know if it was telling me to watch for terrorist bombers or people who change lanes without signaling. It was just creepy. (Maybe it's just the fact that 5:30am is too early to be looking at that particular sign.)

About week or so ago, the movie trailers for a new movie hit the TV screen. The movie is called "Observe and Report." I started laughing when I saw the trailer. Not because the movie looked that funny. It didn't. What made me laugh was the goofy sign that had been freaking me out.

I drove by the sign and looked again. It still doesn't look like all the other movie signs. There's no start date or any of that other stuff. Maybe that's look they were going for.

It was a case of unclear communication - at least for me. I know that sometimes the advertising campaign tries to build an air of mystery by revealing only a small bit of the story. But this doesn't seem to be one of those types of ads. It just doesn't communicate the fact that they are advertising a movie. Seems like a waste, because their ad has not made me want to see the movie.

Is your communication as clear as you can make it? It's a never ending struggle to be clear and concise. Are you doing the hard work so you can get your message across clearly? That's worth pondering about....

PS - I just finished a great book about communication. It's called "Less Clutter. Less Noise." by Kem Meyer. It's really for church communications, but it would apply to any one who works in communication. If you lead a group or team, whether that's at work or a group of volunteers - this book is worth the read.


When Your Help Isn't Perceived as Help

This is my bird Kaylee.

They say you are supposed to give them toys to play with so they don't get bored. They like toys they can rip apart. This seemed like a good one to me. No sharp edges. Should easily come apart.

Apparently, Kaylee doesn't agree with me. She is more than a little freaked out by the toy. I didn't know she was part chicken.

Have you ever tried to do something nice for someone, or help someone out, but they didn't see your offer the same way you did? It's frustrating. Sometimes even when we mean well, it's not taken that way. Are you efforts to help really help? Or are you just frightening the locals? That's worth pondering about...


Debt Free

The world needs more mayors, and people, like this one.

Link here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY79KbCptTo


No Luck

Yesterday I wanted the repairman to show up early - he came late.
Today I wanted the repairman to come late - he showed up much earlier.
I'm just not having good luck with that.
Well, there's always tomorrow when he'll be out for the 4th visit. (He was here on Friday too.)


People Are Stupid.

People are so stupid.

Maybe that's a bit harsh - just a bit. We might not be stupid, but we really do some stupid things. I'm not talking about the occasional goof up or mistake. We all do that once in a while - no biggie. What I'm talking about are the major screw ups. The big mistakes. The I-can't-believe-you-did-that things. Here's some examples...
- throwing away many years of marriage for a few moments of pleasure with someone else.
- thinking the rules of the work place don't apply to you. So you don't have to do continuing education, keep your credentials/license current or even listen to your boss.
- ignoring overwhelming advice from all of your friends on a given subject and doing the stupid thing anyway.
- taking questionable short-cuts to reach a goal when we know the only way to achieve that goal is to do it the 'right' way. (is any one else thinking of the crazy weight loss or get rich schemes?)

Why are we so hard-heading sometimes? Why do we always think the bad things will never happen to us? Why do we think we can get away with breaking the rules and we won't get caught?

What stupid behavior do you need to eliminate? That's worth pondering about...


Jumping Jack Fail

This is just too funny. I guess some people have no coordination at all.

Watch the guy in the middle. I'm still laughing.


Softball Distractions

I was driving by a high school the other day and there were some young ladies out on the ball field practicing for softball. It looked like maybe they were doing batting practice, as the pitching machine was set up. As I sat at the light waiting for it to change, I noticed that the young ladies at bat were quite a bit more focused than the young ladies in the outfield. This closely matches my own experience with softball.

See there's only two kinds of batters in softball, those who can't get the ball out of the infield and those who can hit home runs. No one ever (or very rarely) hits the ball into the field. So if you are in the outfield you've got plenty of time look for 4 leaf clovers, count the number stitches in your glove and many other numerous mind-numbing activities. So while the young ladies at bat were concentrating very hard on hitting the ball (with limited success). The young ladies in the field were concentrating on something else. Namely, cheerleading. They kept doing some little dance step in-unison that ended with leg kick. That would probably be a better detraction than the old "batter, batter, batter... sswwiiiiinng" chant that we used to do in softball. Can you image all the fielders on the team breaking into a little cheerleader dance step right as the ball was pitched? That could mess up the batter's concentration. Not to mention make the game a whole lot more interesting for the fans. After all, you can only spend so long looking for 4 leaf clovers.

I suspect that there are a couple of young ladies out there that are good at softball and cheerleading. But I'm guessing they are the exception rather than the rule. Most that are doing both are probably not the best at softball or cheerleading. I'm reminded of the old saying - "No one can serve two masters." If you want to be good at softball, spend your time on the ball field batting and fielding. If you want to be good at cheerleading, spend your time working on your cheers and dance steps. It's not rocket science to figure that out. But how many times do we actually try to do too much? How many times are we spread too thin? How many of us have our kids in karate, ballet, music, soccer, etc.? Is it too much? Do you need to cut back and spend more quality time on fewer things? Most of us probably do.

So what are you going to give up? That's worth pondering about....


Simple Pleasures

My family recently got together with some long time friends for a fun evening. We didn't do anything spectacular. In fact, that's probably what made it so fun. We went out for some good Mexican food and then went back to their house. We had no particular plan in mind.

We ended up watching the Daytona Supercross race (dirt bike race). My friend is bigger fan than we are. But with his assistance of who to watch and who were the fast guys - we were able to enjoy the race. It actually was a pretty good race. Lots of drama, accidents and front runners trying to get back into the race. Very fun.

Then we ended up watching some of America's Funniest Home Videos. I haven't watched that show too much in recent years, or maybe that's recent decades. But for whatever reason, the program that night really struck a cord with us. A couple of the clips were closely related to various experiences in our own lives. We would pause the program to tell our stories (I love the DVR!). We were laughing so hard tears were streaming down our cheeks.

When was the last time you took a break and really just had a good time with something simple? When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses? You don't have to to spend a lot of money. You don't have do anything spectacular - just stop and enjoy a moment or two with some good friends.

That's worth pondering about...


Snow Day

Yea, we don't get too many snow days in So Cal. But last week I went with my wife's elementary school to the local mountains to play in the snow and go tubing. We had a great time and some fabulous weather.

As you can imagine the kids had great fun tubing down the hill. There was a flat spot at the bottom of the hill to slow down and then a fence at the end. There was snow piled up at the fence so errant tubers wouldn't plow into the fence too hard. Of course some kids thought it was fun to go flying down in to the snow bank and bounce around. Ah, the joys of being young and indestructible.

On the fence every couple of feet was a sign that made me chuckle.
I'm sure that sign is there for insurance reasons. But really, do we need to be told not to run head first into a fence? Did someone plow into the fence, pre-signs, and sue. I can hear the lawsuit, "I didn't know I wasn't supposed to run head first into a fence. No one told me that." Doh!

It seems like we've raised a generation of people with absolutely no common sense at all. I guess that bothers me. It seems like we should be doing a better job than that. If you've got kids, do what you can to make sure they develop some amount of common sense. It will benefit the entire world.


Am I the only one???

Am I the only one who thinks the new U2 song is awful? Yet it seems like many people are saying how great it is. I don't get it.

It kind of reminds me of the old story about the Emperor's clothes. He's as naked as he can be and no one says anything because he's the Emperor. U2's new song is as horrid as it can be, but no one says anything because they are U2.

Well, I won't be silent. It's horrid. There I said it. Bono, are you listening? Who's with me? Or am I the only one?

As requested, here's a link to the song on YouTube. I just couldn't bring myself to embed it.


There Probably Is a Law

The office building where I work is fairly typical in construction. There are some nice parts (the lobby that everyone sees) and some less than nice parts (that only employees see). In our case there are some unfinished areas, like the basement, the parking structure and the stairwells. In these areas you can see lots of pipes, mostly for the sprinklers for the fire suppression system. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we have a sprinkler system in the office. The floor I work on is higher than the tallest ladder the local fire department has, so sprinklers are good. But man, are there are lot of pipes for that system. They are everywhere.

The weird part is, apparently there is a law that these pipes must always look good. They get repainted fairly regularly. Nothing else get's repainted. Not the walls. Not the metal stairs or railings. The paint on them has worn through in some places, but they never get repainted. Only the bright red pipes that no ever touches get's repainted. Weird. There's probably some law... Who know what's it is trying to accomplish, but it seems rather pointless. I suspect it's a conspiracy by the makers of red paint. :-)


There Ought to Be Law

On the way home from work, I pass 4 gas stations. Three of those stations are potential refueling stations for me. The fourth, well let's just say it has to be a cold day in hot place before I stop there. (read more here)

The three stations that I would potentially stop at are usually fairly close in cost of the gas. A few cents per gallon doesn't matter too much on any one fill up. But over the long haul, I'd like save a few bucks and get the best deal. Here's where my problem arises. No one of those stations is always the cheapest. In fact, I've not been able to determine any method for determining which station will have the cheapest gas (other than driving past all 3 and then back to the cheapest one - which would use more gas and defeat my whole goal of saving a few bucks).

It sure would be nice if I always knew that one particular station was always going to be the cheapest. I guess it's not the worst problem in the world, but it is annoying.

It would be great if everything in the world worked so my life would be easier, better, nicer, happier, etc. But, as you can imagine, the world doesn't work that way. In fact the Bible pretty clearly states that it's not all about me, it's all about God. Maybe someday I'll really learn (i.e. understand) that lesson.

What little thing annoys you? Does it just annoy you, or are you learning and growing from it? That's worth pondering about...


NASCAR and Rain

I'm not a huge NASCAR fan. Parts of it are mildly entertaining, but really how hard is it to turn left repeatedly?

This weekend was one of NASCAR's premiere events - the Dayton 500. I had it on in the background while I was working on the computer. I must say, who in NASCAR approved the singer for the National Anthem. It was maybe the worst I've ever heard. Big thumbs down for that. There were a couple of cool wrecks (that is why we all watch, right?). But at the end of race they had to stop because it was raining. Really? Rain? Put some rain tire on those cars and keep going. Formula 1 runs in the rain and they have open cockpits. Even the motorcycles run in the rain.

I don't think it's a real sport until you can play/race when conditions aren't just perfect. I'm just saying...


A Change of Perspective

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I ride a motorcycle. (here, here and here). Riding a motorcycle is not just a hobby or something I do on weekends. I ride to work nearly every day of the year. I also leave for work pretty early in the morning and I don't want the entire neighborhood to get up when I do, so I ease out as quietly as I can.

Sometime last winter something happened on my morning ride that I had almost forgotten about - until last week. I had gotten out of my neighborhood and was on the main road out of the housing development on my way to work. I was still taking it very easy and going slowly and quietly. A few blocks down there was an older man taking out his trash in the morning. He was a bit of a mess. He was wearing pajama bottoms, a white t-shirt tank and had messed up white hair. He looked up at me as I went by and then, for no reason I could determine, flipped me off. I was mildly peeved. I hadn't done anything to him. I was trying to be a good neighbor and quietly head to work in the morning - what I done to deserve such treatment from him?

For a while I wondered about him each morning when I passed his house. Did he hate motorcyclists? Was just a crazy old man? Did he hate everyone? Eventually, he just faded away out of memory - until last week.

Last week there was a major fire in his house. The house is a complete loss. I don't know what happened. Was it an accident or intentional? Was it a wiring problem? Did he fall asleep with a lit cigarette? I don't know. I don't even know if he was hurt or killed in the fire. I don't know if he had a wife or anyone else living in the house. Basically I don't know anything about him or his situation.

But the weird thing is that I noticed that my feelings about him changed. I went from wondering if he was a crazy old man to be concerned and hoping he's OK. I guess that's fairly normal. We often come to the aid of people when disaster strikes. We send aid to places where there's been floods, typhoons and earthquakes. We help our neighbors in times of need. And that's good. But what about when the need isn't quite so obvious or related to a disaster? Do we offer help when someone is a little down? Or when they are having a bit of a rough time? Or do we only notice there's an issue when things reach epic levels?

That's worth pondering about.


Bush twins’ letter to Obama girls

Days before moving out of the White House, former President Bush’s two daughters wrote an open letter to Sasha and Malia Obama, giving the girls some advice on living in the White House.

Well done!

The link is here : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/28809961#28809961



Today I had the privilege of doing one of the worst household chores - cleaning the carpets.

Actually I don't mind cleaning the carpets - too much. We have a small carpet cleaner that's kind of like an up-right vacuum. It works fairly well and it isn't too much effort. The bad part is dumping that nasty, black water out of the machine. Yuck! I always swear not to walk barefoot on the carpet again after that. It's disgusting. I swear the vacuum must be broken.

The carpet doesn't look that dirty. But the water tells a different story. Kind of like our lives sometimes. We don't look that bad. Everything seems ok. But a closer examination reveals the truth - we have some pretty big stains with a lot of dirt. Sometimes we try to hide the stains, this is kind of like putting a throw rug over the stains. You can't seem them as much anymore, but they are still there. There's only one way I know of to get rid of the stains - a deep cleaning. It takes effort and it is dirty, but it gives the best results.

Have you got a big stain in your life? Do you need a deep cleaning? Ask for forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Forgive the other person. Ask God for forgiveness. It's not always easy. But it sure feels good to be rid of big nasty stain!


The Main Thing

The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.
-Stephen R. Covey

When you first read this quote, it seems stupid. But when you think on it for a bit, it's really true. What's the main thing in your life? What are you doing to keep it the main thing? That's worth pondering about...


RPMs Matter

I supposed there are lots of situations where RPMs (Revolutions Per Minute) matter.
If you are in motorsports - RPMs matter. More RPMs means faster engines which means faster vehicles.
If you are working with industrial machinery - RPMs matter. More RPMs means more product in the same amount of time which equals more money.
If you are a cook - RPMs matter. Different recipes require different speeds in the mixer or blender.
If you are using a computer - RPMs matter. Faster spinning disks means faster access to the data on the disk.
And I'm sure there's many more. But I found a new place where RPMs matter and it kind of surprised me - my razor.

I've been using Panasonic Wet/Dry razors for a long time. I tried some other brands a couple of times, I thought they were trying to eat my face, so I took them back and went back to the Panasonic Wet/Dry. Last time I bought a razor, I thought I'd save a few bucks by buying one at the big discount electronics store. And I did save a few bucks, but that razor never worked all that well. Fortunately, the rechargeable battery didn't last all that long so I had a good excuse to get another one. This time I spent a few more dollars and got a good one. One of their big selling points was a 10,000 RPM shaver head. I wondered if that would really make a difference. Does it really matter if the shaver head moves at 10,000 RPMs or 5,000 RPMs? The answer is - "Oh yes it does!" This is the best shaver I've ever had. It's great. The shave is better in every way I know how to measure it. It's awesome.

I suspect every human endeavor has something that matters. Different careers or occupations all have things that matter. For an accountant, maybe it's the software they use. For a mechanic, maybe it's the tools. For a artist, maybe it's the paint brushes. Just about everything we do, has something that matters. Something that is important. Something that is the main thing.

As Christians, what matters? What is the main thing? What matters the most? If God asked you to only do one thing that mattered today - what would it be? Would it be to tell someone about some point of doctrine or teaching? Would it be to worship in a certain worship style? Would it be to read the Bible in a specific version? I hope it's none of those things. But what would it be for you?

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
Are you willing to show a little love to the folks around you? Even to those folks who might be unloveable? I guarantee it will be hard at times. I guarantee it will cost you your valuable time. I guarantee it will frustrate you and sadden you at times. Is it worth the cost to you? That's worth pondering about...


Do we NEED God?

I stumbled across a great article today. It's "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God" by Matthew Perry. In this short article Matthew outlines why faith and Christianity is important. He says things like
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

Good stuff!

A confirmed atheist can see how much people need God. As Christians, can we see it and are we will to make the sacrifices necessary to help people find God? That's worth pondering about...

Read the whole article here.

[hat tip: The Philippian Jailer]