A quick presentation on time management and being an entrepreneur.
A quick presentation on time management and being an entrepreneur.
2015….it’s behind me in just a few hours. Honestly, the year started with a great degree of optimism but that quickly faded as the mundane ruled my life. About halfway through the year I was confronted with unexpected adversity, but a renewed faith in God brought me to the other side. As the year closes it feels there is order and most importantly, confidence. Turmoil has been replaced by calm, unknown by hope, and anger by love.
I do not have a “list” I made in 2014 of 2015 goals/wishes, but I know there were certain guideposts. I see guideposts as those things we will ensure happen whereas most of life just takes place in the daily realm. I marked the “planned” guideposts with an asterisk. For my own benefit, to look back in 10 years, I blog my reflections and here is the best of 2015 was (in no particular order):
What is most enlightening about the above is for all the work we do making resolutions, planning, and trying to predict our future it is really life in the moment that seems to drive daily activities. My friend Ken just alerted me to a book via this narrative (The Wisdom of Insecurity) which focuses on less self-improvement and resolutions in the future and instead living in the “now”.
Looking into 2016 my wife spoke words of wisdom last week I plan to use as my theme and teach to my kids – “kindness and careness.” When our boys argue we want to remind them to be kind and caring. The same is true for every personal encounter in our lives whether with a customer or colleague at work, spouse, son or daughter, or a stranger. If we first offer “kindness and careness” all should resolve itself. Second, I have a plethora of milestones to reach in 2016 but I am more focused on what I discovered in 2015: the unexpected can bring the most joy.
For 2016 I have a few guideposts planned:
2016 is a clean slate. I
It was a different weekend, but yet the same as many this year. LeeAnn had plans Friday night – going to see “50 Shades” for the second time – and had to work this weekend due to the race, the Daytona 500. Her job is cool from the standpoint of helping out with the private jet owners, but it also demands she be available for major events like the race. Thus, it was another Dad weekend: Jack, James, Ty and I made our own adventure.
Although he did not win, James’ did quite well at the Pinewood Derby. His car looked great and much effort had gone into making sure it weighed the right amount. I think the downfall was a slightly loose rear axle and lack of proper alignment.
For James the fun was sketching what he wanted his car to look like. And, more importantly was drawing pictures of himself, our dog, and “fire” on the car to make it go fast. His artwork is what truly made the car unique to James.
We headed to the local grocery store to sell coupon books for Boy Scouts. Jack had to sell for his Troop and James for his Pack. Both boys sold out in under two hours!
Friday night we had our Pinewood Derby weigh in. After picking up Jack from school and running to his Mom’s to get some things we made it home about 45 minutes before we had to head out the door. Jack was awesome and helped me out by warming up dinner while I finished getting a proposal out the door. My son is a team player and helps a lot.
We headed to Pinewood Derby and successfully weighed in. Since it was not a boys night we made a trip the Scuba shop so we could pick up our Nitrox cards (see last month) and see if there are any upcoming dive trips for Jack and I to take. Afterward we headed to Home Depot.
Boys can always find fun at Home Depot and we made our way around the store. We left a little poorer and with some supplies for weekend projects.
Sunday was a great day at home. Haley had come to spend night in anticipation of going to the race Sunday and her late night text request was to make “Bacon Waffles” this morning. We started the day with bacon waffles and bacon. LeeAnn had to leave for work , but Haley, her friend Kaitlyn, James, Jack, Ty, and I sat at the big table and had breakfast. Afterward I was able to jump on the bike and ride while studying this week’s readings for school.
This afternoon was about cleaning, re-arranging some furniture and getting more studying done. The boys and I grilled out and settled in to watch a movie – “Gone Girl.”
Overall, a relaxing day.
Three things I did this Weekend (1/12)
This weekend kicked off the start to a new semester of law school. So, unfortunately, the bulk of my weekend was spent studying.
Not a lot of fun, but necessary! I have five classes for the first six weeks of the semester: Civil Procedure 2, Property 2, Evidence, Professional Responsibility, and an environmental law seminar. I calculated approximately 200 pages of reading for this first week of school to start of the new semester. Unlike ungrad, we do not spend the first class getting to know each other, talking about a syllabus, or otherwise wasting time we jump right in and attack what lies ahead. I spent my weekend reading, throughout most of the weekend.
As crazy as it sounds I washed cars this weekend on Saturday afternoon. Every weekend I have chores and obligations in addition to the fun family things we set out to do. Many years ago when I was first divorced I struggled with the dichotomy between being a “Disneyland Dad” and a real father. I was counseled to do the things with my kids we would if Mom and Dad were still married. The reason being is my kids still have to learn how to survive and mature and they will learn from those things families do: cooking, cleaning, laundry, and even eating together. Washing three out of four cars was accomplished by my son Jack and me. We spent time together. Sure, we were working, but we were spending time together. I had left my books on the table and he left video games behind in his room. Ty came outside and rode his little car all over the driveway. Fun and laughter ensued, combined with hard work and a sense of accomplishment. Watch a great video of us here.
View on YouTube
Finally, I got my grades for the Fall semester 2014. Why is this part of what I did this weekend? Because I was stunned and it set the tone for my outlook on the whole weekend. I had received a Constitution Law Grade on December 30. Realize, we took finals the first week of December so four weeks had passed. Still unknown were Property and Civil Procedure. I felt I had done well in those two classes and predicted a B+ or better. For Con Law I was convinced it was the worst essay I had written in law school and would not have been surprised if I received a C+ or B-.
Surprisingly, Con Law (a four credit class) came in as an A-. Not just an A-, but there were two A’s, three A-s and grades among the 77 students in the class went down from there. In addition, I scored an A in both Civ Pro and Property bringing my GPA for the semester to a 3.88 and my over all GPA up from a 3.64 to a 3.73.
A subsequent blog will discuss how we make our own world and with law school I have truly managed to make success. Last semester I did not study nearly as much and worked to make sure family came first on the weekends. To do well at the same time was a huge and it getting my grades was part of what I did this weekend.
I drive a Suburban. I drove a Jeep Cherokee when I bought my bike and then bought a Suburban (not this one). Getting a bike in the back of the Cherokee was a struggle – it fit, but created luggage challenges. Thus, I bought a bike rack. I have a four bike, hitch receiver bike rack. It is ugly, well worn, but has been on my RV and vehicles. It works great. It weighs a ton though and is not sexy.
My first bike rack was an old-school 1980s version on the back of my Volkswagen Bug. That rack taught me an important lesson – make sure there is plenty of wheel clearance. With my Schwinn on the back of the VW at my parents’ house in Minnesota in August 1985 I backed out of their driveway to head to college. This was the maiden journey of the bike rack and sure enough when my car came out of the driveway into the street gutter the bike extended far enough, the wheels were low enough, and the contact made bent my rims. Always, make sure there is plenty of clearance between wheels and road!
I recently purchased a new rack system. I have a 1992 Corvette and wanted to take it to my cabin in Georgia. However, I always wanted to take my bike so I do not lose a week of training. I started searching the web for Corvette bike racks and could not find a strong recommendation of any kind. Along the way I came across the Saris Bones rack. However, I had two concerns: (1) scratching my paint as the car is black, and (2) my wheels bottoming out as learned from prior experience.
In a car forum somewhere on the web someone made a reference to a product called “Seasucker.” Curious, I checked it out. I found this was a marine oriented product that had adapted to new markets for kayaks, boards, skis, and bikes. There is not a huge amount on the web, but everything I found was favorable regarding performance. A lot of older postings talked about product failures but these were based on speculation, not use. At $270 though the pricing seemed high to me, but yet the product was perfect. I managed to search eBay and Craigslist and found a “Talon” in need of one new pump and I found a mini bomber that was nearly new. I gambled and went the Talon route.
So far the rack looks perfect and should perform. Yesterday I ordered the replacement pump and will take the maiden journey, a short trip locally before making an eight hour trek to North Georgia. I will report back on how it does. My worst fear is my bike blowing off the roof at 80 mph on I-75.
Hang ‘em (12/7/2011)
Americans tend to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to government. Sadly a majority cannot name the Vice President, and certainly not the Secretary of State or the Speaker of the House. Thus, this is the reason for referring to “sheeple” or “zombies” to stereotype the average citizen. It seems the career politicians understand this and manipulate the masses for their own gain. The latest failure of the ruling-elite is to come up with budget cuts for the next ten years. The proposed method of manipulation to make this happen was so appalling every member of the House and Senate should be publicly hung for treason against the people.
Over the last years, under Obama and prior to the Republicans winning the House majority, Congress has failed to submit a budget. This year with new leadership the Republican majority made a valiant attempt but was blocked by Democrats in the Senate from approving the budget. The new “super-committee” was created to break through the deadlock and find $1 trillion in cuts. What is more important to note was they were tasked with finding $1 trillion in savings over 10 years, starting in 2013. A simple task, right? $1 trillion over 10 years works out to $100 billion per year and the current budget is approximately $3.7 trillion in expenditures (outlays) and $2.6 trillion in revenues (incomes=taxes). A $100 billion cut per year is 2.7% of the total expenditures. Sadly, these ass-clowns running our country could not come to an agreement, but why should they? There are no consequences!
Similarly, on November 18, 2011 Congress had a chance once again to demonstrate the interests of the country and the people were more important than their bipartisan bickering. Voting primarily along party lines the proposal for an amendment to the constitution failed to pass. Currently 49 states have some type of balanced budget amendment. Interestingly, the federal government has only balanced the budget six times in the last 50 years, four times while Bill Clinton was president.
It is easy to ignore the actions of Congress as most people yawn over politics and turn on a Sunday afternoon football game. However, this past week the Federal debt hit a post WW2 high of debt to GDP (Total Debt/Total GDP) equal to 99.5%. In the next two weeks that number will move to triple digits and will not stop increasing. Interest rates are artificially low and any crisis remotely similar to Europe will drive the cost of treasury bonds higher therefore adding to debt faster. At the same time an economic malaise engulfs the country and GDP based on the consumerism of the threatened American shopper is likely to remain relatively flat. Congress is the only entity to change the course of America right now and it must make tough decisions to rein in spending. Arguments are taking place over taxes, but spending is the first, and easiest, place to cut. For instance: foreign aid, arts, museums, the Department of Interior, Department of Education, Department of Energy, and closing military bases overseas.
The ass-clowns running Congress want to ensure they have a luxurious lifestyle based on a taxpayer funded income and pension for life instead of making tough decisions best for future generations. I assert today’s Congress is committing treason as they have become the domestic enemies of our country by willfully and knowingly harming our credit rating, impairing national security through reckless spending, and stealing the wealth of future generations.
We loved Gulf Shores enough to stay most of Friday. The extra stay paid off as our time at the beach turned into a “mini Sea World.” Walking on the beach we saw: tar balls, sting rays, jellies, hundreds of small fish, tiger sharks, dolphins playing off shore, and a baby loggerhead turtle. We also saw the Park Rangers counting eggs that did not hatch from a sea turtle the night before The clouds were out and it made for a cooler, nicer morning.
We managed lunch and packing up the RV before heading to the pool. The kids wanted to maximize their time at the pool before heading back up the road to Georgia. Disappointingly, the folks at Pine Mountain RV Camp would not accept a cancellation. Upon arrival it is obvious because they need the revenue, not because the opportunity cost of a sold out campground would cause the loss. There are at least a hundred vacant sites, but they strictly enforce their three-day cancellation policy.
As vacation winds down I see work picking up. Several phone calls today and many emails have given me plenty to do this weekemd, just to catch up. In addition I feel like a good part of the week is booked with calls already. I commented to a colleague that it’s not like we work in a factory and someone else does your job while you are gone, instead it is like a factory where work is piled aside until returning. Oh well, that delicate work/family balance remains precariously hinged.
The drive up I-65 was uneventful, other than I found myself dead tired to the world. Beach, pool, and unbearable heat zapped the life out of me. But, we made it down the road. We started looking for the Aurora’s from the geo-magnetic storm but did not see any. Finally we arrived at Pine Mountain at 10:30pm. I did punt tonight and take the kids out for dinner – Mexican, “Old Mexico” in Greenville, AL. We made cookies and watched the last of the movie, “The Right Stuff.” Poor Marcella has had to survive a “man’s week” but done very well. Since we had wi-fi for the first time all week we streamed Netflix and stayed up late watching “American Pickers.”
This morning I awoke to wireless and checked email. I cranked out my column for the week and am looking forward to getting home. The kids wanted to enjoy the pool here and I find myself blown away by the attractive Moms that all seem to litter their bodies with “tramp stamps.” Is it Georgia, RV’s, or just our society? It seems like America has become a society of circus freaks in dress and body decorations.
One last comment, the good and the bad from the week:
– Gasoline came in under budget
– The total vacation was just about at budget
– We drove 1100 miles
– We were short on gas bottles for the grill and outdoor stove as I cooked outside more than inside due to the unbearable heat
– No wi-fi at any state parks made managing work more difficult. My AT&T wireless card helped, but I have concluded AT&T sucks as a phone company. Marcella always had signal on T-Mobile.
– The kids did great and help me alot, I could not have done it without them.
– The RV ran perfectly and once again we proved it is easy to live in 200 square feet.
– We ate out only one time, otherwise every meal was in the motorhome
– I should have brought some rope as a clothesline to dry our swimsuits and towels
What Happened Last Week
Last week there was a lot more happening in America than reported. Of course everyone is aware of the change of power in the House of Representatives, and most people know Reid, Frank, Boxer, and Pelosi were re-elected. The political sage purported their own theories as to what happened, but last week was easy to explain: while the masses slept the informed went to the polls and voted. Throughout the constant barrage of political analyses there was one shift in the majority reported rarely; 19 state legislatures changed from Democrat to Republican majorities. The impact at the state level is the passage of conservative agendas, aligned with the will of the people: state influenced immigration controls, no gay marriage, gun rights will stop eroding, and we can expect more fiscal control of budgets.
In addition to the electorate changes, the twelve members of the Fed Open Market Committee, private banking individuals not elected by the people, forever changed our future. Although called “Federal Reserve” the “Fed” is as federal as “Federal Express”. The group of private bankers promised to purchase $600 billion of government bonds because our debt, traditionally the stalwart of confidence to the world, has no other buyers. America will look like the 1970s, interest rates will drop further, past the already historically low rates making home and car purchases cheaper, if you can qualify for a loan or have a job, but increased prices are inevitable. By monetizing our debt, our currency was devalued and therefore it will take more dollars to buy exports. Although it sounds complicated, in the coming months the cost of everything made in China will rise, our foreign food supply will rise in cost, and OPEC will want more dollars for a barrel of crude. Gasoline should easily reach $3.40/gallon by April as OPEC is demanding a minimum $100/barrel.
What happened last week was historical, America moved politically in a direction not seen since Reconstruction (1865), recognizing the failed policies of an out of control majority. Similarly, Europe has done the same, moving Right to fight Unions, pensions for life, and nanny-state mentality. What happened last week when the Fed announced quantitative easing will also change our lives. We the People will pay today and well into the future for printing money. As we were taught in school, the Fed needs inflation to grow the economy, but inflation is really a hidden tax on us, the people.
Due to Deadlines
Due to deadlines, I write this column on Saturday mornings prior to publication date and therefore it is difficult to deliver a timely column, tied directly to headlines. For instance, I wrote this five days ago, but with confidence I predicted there was a significant shift in Congress yesterday. I did not predict numbers, but predicted the headlines and commentary from the media; today you are hearing the American people “did not understand” President Obama’s vision, or they were “angry” over the economy. I argue yesterday was much simpler and there is no need to overanalyze what happened.
Yesterday’s outcome was about values and politicians selling out their integrity. The methods used during the health care debate showed a majority party willing to use thuggery to win an agenda. Intimidation by the Speaker, failing to hold town hall meetings and closed-door debates demonstrated Chicago-style politics used nationwide, contradictory to promises of transparency. Sadly, an examination of our local Representative Kosmas’ record shows a pass given on the first vote and then a “yes” vote in round two, against the will of her constituents; a good woman sent to Washington and if she had maintained her integrity against the machine she would be returning.
With two years of legislation, failed economic policies, teleprompter speeches, extravagant travel, and excessive golf yesterday became a mandate for real “change and hope”. What voters moved on was spending, an out of control congress, and failed fiscal policies. Since the last election unemployment increased, the Federal deficit increased, social security spent deficit funds, total debt increased trillions, the social agenda moved decidedly left while most Americans remain center-right, and personal freedoms were reduced.
Nearly two years ago Hillary Clinton presented Russian President Putin with a button, “Reset”. Yesterday voters yesterday sent the same message to Washington and the new Republican Congress has an opportunity to echo the successes of 1994; saving America and possibly saving a President. Without the Democrat puppeteer as Speaker, Congress will find themselves free of the shackles of desperate politics and instead controlling their destiny. Congress can move quickly to save America: maintain the 2001 Bush Tax cuts, repeal healthcare, legislate spending limits as a percent of GDP, require a balanced budget, and stop the tomfoolery of passing new legislation so prevalent during the last two years. If nothing else, regardless of your political alignment, at lease the negative ads have stopped!
ELECTION SEASON – Part V
Most American voters are stupid, but you are different because you are reading this column, this page, and this paper. Unfortunately, everyone else seems to wait for someone to tell them what to do and how to vote, whether it’s by the constant barrage of political attack ads or the non-stop voices of Hannity, Limbaugh, Olbermann, and Maddow. With next Tuesday’s election rapidly approaching I assert the average person walking into the polling place knows nothing more about the candidates or the issues than they have seen on television.
My bold statement about stupidity comes from a personal reminder about the “real world” over the Biketoberfest weekend. Many find it surprising, but I do not have televisions; specifically I do not subscribe to cable or have an antenna to receive local stations. Curious about next week’s ballot I have sought out the proposed amendments and read through the legalese and worked to understand the issues. Regarding candidates I have diligently researched with disregard to party lines, and especially worked to understand judges, commissioners, and other non-affiliated nominees. Over the last four weeks I have worked to educate you regarding labels, parties, and local politics.
I believe the last election had one of the highest voter turnouts ever among young people minorities; captivated by a polished, elegant, intellectual man from Illinois. These same people then checked other boxes on their ballots, radically changing the political landscape. A friend of mine said, “you should not be allowed to vote unless you have skin in the game.” Although somewhat arrogant, the point drives home the fact that our free country allows freedom at the ballot box, even when the voter has no knowledge of the candidates or the issues.
In the final days leading to the election survey results will be reported as truth regarding how your friends and neighbors are thinking. Attack ads, and misleading advertising campaigns will be delivered at a furious pace. No matter what your party alignment and general feelings, I challenge you to find a sample ballot, study the names and prepare yourself to vote. You must take time to read the complicated proposed amendments as they will directly impact you for years to come. Remember two things: our government does not belong to Republicans and Democrats, but “We the People,” and millions of Americans have died for your right to vote next week, don’t waste it.