Thursday, September 3, 2009

Obama's Speech to Your Kids

President Obama has planned a special speech, directed specifically toward students, to be broadcast via the Internet to schools around the country.

As a prestigious blogger, I've been allowed an early preview of the speech, and I have to say, Obama is doing a wonderful job of reaching out to America's students. I saw the California version, which begins:

"Buenos dias, estudientes. Para Ingles, marque numero uno; para Espanol, marque dos."

(the sound of the "1" button).

"Good morning students. Yesterday, as you know, was Labor Day, a special holiday that we Americans celebrate in honor of the various labor unions that have made the American workplace a safe and happy place for some of your parents. The labor unions, as you know, are foundational to America's prosperity for without them, ALL of your parents would be forced to work consistently without any hope of long-term unemployment benefits. Instead, Americans all over this great land have the ability to stay home a good part of the year and live comfortably, thanks to the wonderful benefits that the labor unions have been able to extract from over-wealthy business owners.

"But I wanted to take a few moments to talk to you today about the importance of the public school system. As you know, we in the Democratic Party have made public education a priority. We have invested enormous amounts of money in your education, and we are committed to giving you the best education available in this country. And we listen to you: as you know, I ran for President last year on a platform of Change, and we are working to make the public education system even better.

"First, there are over 40 million children between the ages of 1 and 4 here in America who are not in a school. I firmly believe in education for everyone. That's why I have instructed congress to pass the "Private Helps Public" act of 2009, in which every dollar that a wealthy parent pays for tuition so that their child can attend a high-priced private school, they must donate a dollar to the "Private Helps Public" fund.

"And what will those funds be used for? You noticed that, as part of my "Change You Can Believe In" campaign, I made some promises to better the public education system. True to my word, this year, when you came back to school, things had changed. Now, EVERY student gets a free breakfast at school; EVERY student has access to either reduced price--or even free--lunches. The money we receive from the "Private Helps Public" program will go to support a student free dinner fund, so that every child in America receives three meals a day. That's the kind of change you can believe in: we here in Washington are committed to ensuring we provide you with everything you need.

"This, American students, is my great dream: a nation in which your government ensures you have three meals a day at no cost to you; that you have all the health care you need at no cost to you; that you have an apartment in which to live that costs no more than 1/4 your monthly net income; that you have a fuel efficient, new car.

"This is my dream for you. There are those who don't want you to have that dream, though. Look around you: the parents of some of your fellow students, sitting right there in that room, would like to strip away all of the positive changes we've made, and keep us from doing this great work. But it need not be that way. You have a voice; you have an untapped source of power greater than any America has ever seen (you have, after all, given the guy with the flyless, elastic waisted camoflauge pants a swirly three times already this year).

"Use that power! Be a force for change! Go to my website and give us your email address; we'll forward links to free flyers you can pass out in your neighborhood. And talk to your parents; educate them. And if they refuse to listen, get them hopelessly drunk this November the night before voting.

"Remember children: you are the America of tomorrow. Our hope lies in you--and so you MUST stay in public school and continue to believe in the change that we continue to bring. And soon, we will have the country we have envisioned.

"Thank you, and may America be blessed."

OK. So, I'm not a prestigious blogger, and I certainly haven't been given access to Obama's speech in advance, but I have a somewhat active imagination, and based on all the uproar, this is what I imagine it'll be like.

Maybe not...who knows.

Thing is, a few years ago, I wouldn't have cared, but as I age (and become, I think, a better parent), I realize how raw my children are. They're literally begging for someone to shape their beliefs and values. And, regardless how noble--or ignoble--our President's intentions, if we're not careful, this speech and others like it will do much to shape those raw, searching children, many of whom have no real force in their life to provide the value structure.

And those children, a few short years from now, will project those values by way of a vote in the voting booth.

Hitler had it right when he formed the Hitler Youth: shape them while they're young, and they'll never depart.

The question you have to ask yourself: is this the message that I want to influence my child's value system?

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Forgot to Take Out the Garbage...

...and Shawna demands a ship-shape house.

Just kidding. I had eye surgery today. Figured those who bear me
affection can poke fun, those who are curious can marvel, and those
who dislike me can revel in my enormous discomfort.

It's really quite disgusting and more than a little uncomfortable...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

An Old, Old Friend (well, she's not old...the friendship is though)

I had quite a pleasant surprise this evening.

I had a comment pop up in my email from Christina over at Cacoethes Scribendi, a blogger who I enjoy reading Oh, so much.

Imagine, then, my surprise when I saw a familiar face standing with a familiar village king from the Ivory Coast. And then, just below, myself, all those years ago, holding a sign crafted (I think) by my friend, Ogre, welcoming me back to the U.S. after weeks spent traveling abroad.

Christina was on that missions trip with me! I was dumbfounded!

At any rate, you simply have to stop over to her blog, check out the pics and read her stuff!

Good to hear from you again! Stop by again and say hi!

(and it's kinda nice to know SOMEONE still reads this blog! Here's a test: if you still read this blog--or if you're reading this now--post me a comment; make me feel better).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hair

In Chicago for a convention, walking down the street yesterday evening
hunting dinner, and look over and see hair!

Yep, Blogojevich and Fabio, together. A random pair and first glance,
but then not all that random. They're both obsessed with their hair
and they're both has-beens struggling desperately to remain in the
limelight.

Sad...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Running A Car Company

The US Federal Government has put their collective wisdom to work as they settle down to the business of running their new company, General Motors.

A recent news story by a favorite news source, The Onion, demonstrates how your elected representatives are focused on bringing Change that we can believe in!


Friday, July 31, 2009

The Album Is Released!

The new Covenant album is out!

And it's good!

Give it a listen at the Covenant MySpace page, and then hop over to the Sillimon Sound webpage to buy! You'll be able to buy it on iTunes soon (not sure when yet).

Great music and great singers ;-)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sounds Familiar

President Obama, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, referenced a new White House study indicating that small businesses pay far more per employee for health insurance than big companies. The disparity, he said, is "unsustainable--it's unacceptable."

First, I would point our esteemed President to any reasonable dictionary, and ask that he look up "economies of scale". Dictionary.com had this to say:

The increase in efficiency of production as the number of goods being produced increases. Typically, a company that achieves economies of scale lowers the average cost per unit through increased production since fixed costs are shared over an increased number of goods.


It stands to reason that a company who is providing health insurance for 5,000 employees would pay less per employee than a company insuring 30 employees; the administrative cost per employee is much less for the larger company, and there's much lower average risk per employee with the larger group than there is with the smaller group.

So, of course the big company get's a better rate.

From Obama's Saturday radio address next week:

"My fellow Americans: I found out today that Wal-Mart and Costco get tires cheaper on a per tire basis than does your local mom-and-pop tire shop. That's unsustainable--and it's unacceptable! I pledge to force Wal-Mart and Costco to pay an extra fee for each and every tire they purchase, in order to subsidize your local mom-and-pop tire shop's purchases just to make it fair."

I'm reading a story about a guy who became famous preaching a similar message to his countrymen. He rose from nothing (like Mr. Obama), and lead something of a grassroots effort (again, like Mr. Obama), crying out loudly and eloquently for "change" (like--you got it--Mr. Obama). And he ultimately won power by demonizing the industrialists in his country, the "big businesses" who had "unfair advantages" over the little guy.

His name was Adolf Hitler.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you;
Happy Birthday to you;
Happy Birthday dear Alexis;
Happy Birthday to you!

Happy 8th birthday Lex!
I love you deeply!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Consumption Smoothing

I was listening to a personal finance podcast the other day and the host, who was talking about funding retirement, mentioned a new strategy. He called it "Lifetime Consumption Smoothing". Sounded interesting.

Basically, the idea is that most people reach their peak earning potential in their 30's, 40's and 50's. Unfortunately, though, that's also when their consumption peaks. They spend the most during this period of their lives as well.

The host was advocating "smoothing" this consumption out over one's lifetime. That is, while you're earning oodles of cash in your 30's, don't spend it all; rather, put some away for when you're old and don't have the same earning potential.

It sounds suspiciously like a rebranded version of my grandfather's "save your money, son, for when you're my age" plan.

But a solid plan, nonetheless. Shawna and I have bought into it.

We're eating canned cat food once a week now.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Palin: The Last Republican Standing?

USA Today reported yesterday that, according to a new nationwide USA Today/Gallup poll, Sarah Palin's approval ratings have improved since her surprise announcement last Friday that she'll step down from the Alaska Governor's office on July 26.

Her move, she said, would allow her home state of Alaska to progress further than it would with her at the helm (in the face of the overwhelming time demands associated with defending herself against a slew of ethics complaints following her much-publicized run at the Vice-Presidency, alongside Republican Presidential candidate John McCain). Leaving would also, she said, free her up to work to "help our nation achieve greatness."

I don't know what that means, and apparently, neither did anyone else in the Republican Party. Political strategist Karl Rove said that he and other party leaders were "perplexed" by Palin's move. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa said that, "It's astounding," and that a run at the Presidency in 2012 would be difficult for Palin in light of her mysterious resignation. Mike Huckabee, another potential Republican Presidential contender in 2012 said that the move was "risky". Senator Lisa Murkowski even went so far as to accuse Palin as having "abandoned the state and her constituents."

Yet, Republicans nationwide indicated that they like her more for it. Maybe it's because the voting public recognizes that it takes a lot to walk away from such an incredible post for the good of your state, knowing it might cost you a lucrative job in the future. There's a ring of honesty that can't be explained away.

Think about it: Sarah Palin walks away from a post that would be a natural feeder to a Presidential run because the drama surrounding her life is taking away from her ability to serve the state of Alaska. No matter how hard you try, there's no way that the press could possibly spin that and make it some strategic move.

And the American public appreciates that.

Because if there's one thing we American's would love more of, it's representatives who are willing to actually sacrifice their own aspirations for the good of those they purport to serve.

The sad thing is that the Republican Party still doesn't get it; to them it's just a "risky" political move. Which is why they're a party headed rapidly toward political oblivion. It just feels right when a politician stands up and says, "me being in this post has cost the state $2 million; it's not fair to you, so I'll stand down and let another fill the spot." How dare Senator Murkowski accuse Palin of "abandoning" her state? She sacrificed on behalf of her state.

And unless the Republican Party can remove their collective heads from their collective backsides, stop pursuing their own political ambitions, and start doing what's right for their constituency--despite the personal political costs, they'll be a party no more.

Mark my words.

And the last one standing will be Sarah Palin. For all her shortfalls (including her incredibly shrill voice, her lack of nationwide political experience and her relative inability to make more than three consecutive public appearances without saying something incredibly foolish), the American people trust her. And believe in her. And will vote for her.

Governor Sanford could take a lesson from her.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Forgot To Tell You...

That you can see pictures of the trip over at Shawna's Facebook page. But I haven't the slightest idea how to get you to her Facebook page.

So if you're already her Facebook pal, you can see the pics...if not, try to find her.

Or not. Whatever.

Home!

We're back.

I'm glad; I REALLY missed the kids (we haven't been away from them for that long since...well...since they were born, actually).

But I LOVE Manhattan! I wanna live there. Really, I do!

I have the building picked out, and everything! It's in the Upper East Side, right off of Central Park West...sigh...

Someday when I'm a famous (and eccentric) writer...at least famouser (and eccentricer) than I am now.

Until then, back home in the lovely Central Valley!

Didja miss me?

Had a fantabulous time, though! A Broadway show (which was incredible); a Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island-Chinatown marathon; Times Square (sensory overload); Cirque du Soleil (Oh. My. Goodness.); $200 in taxi fares (not all at once); and like eleventy-billion blocks walked.

Wonderful! You should go!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Shawna!

Happy Birthday to my wife, Shawna!

We're spending the day (most of the week actually) in Manhattan, so we
met up with Lady Liberty for a birthday lunch...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Sweet (Pungent) Smell of Victory!

I've finally done it folks!

Today, I am a king! Today, I soar with eagles, a master, a recognized authority. And I am happy.

I received an email today from the Universal Record Database notifying me that I am the new certified URDB record holder for "Most American Quarters in the Nose"!

I'm so excited, I'm giddy!

The email said, in part:

On behalf of the entire Universal Record Database team, I'd like to offer my heartiest congratulations. We think your fitting quarters inside the nose abilities are tremendous.


You realize that this legitimizes what I've always known: I truly am great--the greatest in the world, in fact--at something!

I encourage you to visit my page at the URDB site. It's a shrine of sorts, a virtual museum dedicated to my momentous feat. And it's awe-inspiring (if I must say so myself). When I first visited it, I found myself sitting in quiet contemplation for a few moments, marveling at the awesomeness of this truly incredible feat.

I have to say that I do feel different now that I'm a celebrity. I recognize that I have an obligation to society--to do all I can to end world hunger, to ensure children have books to read, and to help ensure stray dogs are spayed or neutered. And I want to assure you that I won't forget where I came from: I won't allow myself to lose perspective; I want to stay grounded and in touch with my roots. I could never have achieved this without each of you, and I won't forget you.

Thank you once again for your continued support! Never forget: you can do anything you put your mind to! If I can do it, so can you!

__________

For press inquiries, please contact PJ's publicist at myndfood@aim.com. If you'd like to arrange for PJ to speak or perform at an even, please contact his agent at myndfood@aim.com. For general correspondence, please send a note to myndfood@aim.com. All other inquiries should be sent to PJ's business office at myndfood@aim.com.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Big Tree in the Backyard

It used to be that when Shawna and I tucked Lex and Gentry into bed, we would pray for them. But the other night, as I was praying, I realized that something had changed. We no longer pray FOR the kids; we pray WITH them.

I still do the whole, "God, protect my babies; give them rest without bad dreams, and place angels at their windows and doors to keep away anything that might hurt them." But then the kids chime in with their additions.

As I listened to their prayers the other night, my eyes began to water, and I thanked God under my breath. Because they get it; their prayers were so trusting, sweet and pure, from the heart of a child directly to the ears of a God whom they know to be a Father.

But a few of those tears were tears of sadness. Because their prayers were the prayers of someone far older than their seven or six years (respectively). They were the prayers of children who carry heavy loads on behalf of those they love.

Prayers for their aunt, uncle and cousins who just vacationed in Mexico--a simple request that God keep them from safe from the swine flu. Prayers for the family of Houston, a friend who passed away a few months ago in a tragic automobile accident--that God would be a comfort to them and heal their hearts. Prayers for their Mommy, who was in bed a little early that night, with a sick stomach and a throbbing headache--that God would help their mommy feel better. Prayers for their Pastor, who recently underwent a major surgery--that God would heal his stomach. Prayers for Poppy, who was in the hospital--that God would help him stop bleeding. And prayers, oddly enough, for their dog that died a few months ago--that God take care of her (in case, by chance, dogs actually do go to heaven).

It was a beautiful thing, this realization that my two incredible kids understand prayer, and talk to God with that simple, untainted, innocent faith that only a child can have. But as they both said, "Amen", I had a lump in my throat, and a heavy heart, because their prayers were all the prayers of one burdened by the calamity of others; none were the lighthearted prayers of a child. They didn't ask for toys or video games; they didn't ask for a vacation or a swimming pool; they didn't ask for a bicycle or even a new sword or doll.

They simply asked that God reach down and care for those they love.

And that's beautiful, but somber.

I swallowed the lump, and with a soft, breaking voice, told each one how much I love them, that they are two of the three most precious people in my life.

And as I hugged them tight, and kissed them both, they each blurted out--almost simultaneously, "Daddy! We forgot something!"

And so we all closed our eyes again, and I listened as they told God that they'd forgot to ask for a house with a big tree in the back yard--big enough for a tree house.

I smiled, and whispered a silent prayer of my own: "God, as you grant each of their requests, please take special care to answer that one." Because if two people ever understood being a Christian, it's the two selfless children who, despite being true kids--ornery, rambunctious and strangely hard of hearing when Mom tells them to clean their room--spend their prayer time talking to God on behalf of those they love instead of themselves.

And if anyone deserves a big tree in the backyard, it's them.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Tale of Utter Ineptitude

My son came home from school and told me that there was a kid on the playground today brandishing a pocket knife, and threatening to "hurt" anyone who refused to give him their lunch.

I was, naturally, alarmed, and rushed back down to the school and requested an audience with the principal. He called me in and asked how he might help.

"Mr. Bateman," I said, "my said came home from school, and told me that another boy was on the playground today brandishing a pocket knife, threatening to hurt anyone who refused to relinquish their lunch."

"Oh my!" the principal exclaimed, jumping from his desk chair. "Which boy was it," he asked my son, as he strode across the room.

"It was Joey," my son said quietly.

The principal picked up a dry erase marker and began to write on a whiteboard hanging on his office wall.

I waited until he moved away, then read:

"The Principal and administration of Horace J. Morgan Elementary School condemn Joey's use of a knife and threats against other students."

"There you go," he said, as he put down the marker. "Don't you feel better?"

_______________

President Obama would like us to believe that convincing the principal, the UN Security Council, to issue a statement condemning the school yard bully, North Korea, for rattling its nuclear saber, is leadership. And he'd have us believe that making a statement condemning the action is sufficient to cause that bully to stand down.

The bully has never cared before; he's not likely to care this time just because his name was written on the board.

Our President has demonstrated Chamberlain-like, bury-your-head-in-the-sand diplomacy on this one. And that should worry you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Funny

I heard a guy on the radio today say that doing your own taxes is kinda like a do-it-yourself mugging.

I like that.

Friday, May 22, 2009

10 Years

Today, dear MyndFood readers, is a day for celebration!

Shawna and I celebrate our 10 year anniversary today! That's right, 10 years!

I have to say, I don't deserve to have had 10 great years with such an incredible woman--and I count every day a blessing that we have together.

Sometimes it takes a paradigm shift in order to understand what true love really is, and I'm so incredibly fortunate to have found it.

So, here's to an incredible lady--who has stuck with me for 10 years! And here's to at least 70 more!

I love you Shawna! I count myself fortunate to have you as my wife. I certainly don't deserve someone as truly amazing as you!

Happy Anniversary!

Oh--if you have Shawna's phone number/email/facebook (gasp) tag, send her anniversary greetings!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wal-Mart vs. Green Day (Go Wal-Mart!)

Kudo's to Wal-Mart for not selling the new Green Day album (which has vulgarity and other adult content).

Wal-Mart's music purchasing policy has always been that they'll not sell an album that requires a parental advisory sticker. They'll allow artists to sell a modified version of the album (with adult content removed) in Wal-Mart stores, but not the original content.

Apparently Green Day doesn't like this policy, and is blathering on about "censorship". I don't see it as censorship (if, that is, censorship is defined as "repressing speech, art or any other form of communication"). It's not repressing, it's simply Wal-Mart applying a standard to the products that they choose to sell. Green Day is still free to make the album, sing the songs, and sell the album anywhere else that'll carry it.

Would Green Day be angry at me if I disallowed my daughter from buying their CD? Would that be repression?

At any rate, I'm proud of Wal-Mart, and you should be too. I urge you, take a few moments and sent an email note to the folks over at Wal-Mart, at questions@checkoutblog.com, congratulating them for their high standards!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

America's Greatest Threat

MyndFood Readers:

It is with great solemnity that I write this post. I read, this afternoon, with great horror, about a brave legislator from North Carolina (Congressman G.K. Butterfield) who has devoted himself to fighting the newest silent enemy to attack unsuspecting Americans everywhere.

And, in support of his valiant fight, I post this, asking you, faithful reader, to send a letter to your local congressman asking them to please support the "Don't Let The Bedbugs Bite Act of 2009". I have, for your benefit, included below sample text for you to include in your letter, but first I would like to give you some statistics.

Bedbugs are, according to Butterfield, a force to be reckoned with. They are known to have attacked every state in the Union en masse. They are easily transferable: they jump into suitcases and travel across borders. And they can go for up to a year without food.

While they aren't carriers of any disease (that is, you won't get sick if you're bitten by one), they are a distinct public health concern because, as Michael Potter of the University of Kentucky (the leading US authority on bedbugs--which doesn't seem like much of a feat, if you ask me; how many people, really, have devoted their academic career to studying bedbugs, for goodness' sake?) says, bedbugs often cause great emotional distress to their victims. "They're, like, ready to blow their brains out," says Potter (although, if you ask me, a person is already in pretty bad shape emotionally if bedbugs cause them to contemplate suicide).

Butterfield's proposed legislation would allocate $50 million to programs to help train public health officials about these diabolical critters. Further, it would require that public health departments submit Bedbug plans to the federal government, and would require the CDC to research the impact of bedbugs on mental health.

It's a relief knowing that our elected officials are committed to our protection, and are working on our behalf on the issues that really matter. So, with that, I ask you to please copy the following text into an email to your local legislator; let him know how important an issue this is.

Dear Legislator:

I am writing to ask you to please support Rep. G.K. Butterfield's proposed legislation, the "Don't Let The Bedbugs Bite Act of 2009".

Bedbugs are, very possibly, the single most important issue that we, as a nation, face today. National security, global unrest, the economy, the health of big business and unemployment pale in comparison to this enormous issue.

Bedbugs, while they don't carry any communicable diseases, bring great emotional trauma to those who are afflicted with them--even pushing some to the point of suicide. That's un-American. Our government MUST do something!

We must understand how to identify bedbugs--that's why I support the $50 million that Rep. Butterfield has allocated to bedbug training. And we must understand the emotional effects--which is why I support Butterfield's plan to push the Centers For Disease Control to spend their time and resources studying the psychological effects of bedbugs (the CDC has the swine flu thing pretty much under control, right? What else is there for them to work on?). Finally, though, if the crisis on Wall Street has taught us anything, it's that we CANNOT TRUST business--which is why I support Butterfield's plan to require many businesses to submit bedbug control plans to the federal government for approval.

No cost is too great, no expense too extreme, if it saves us from this "Insect of Evil", these insect brokers of terror. We must fight, and we must prevail.

And so, I ask you, legislator, to lead the charge!

Sincerely,

[your name]

Friday, May 15, 2009

10 Year Anniversary Trip

So, next Friday is our 10 year anniversary--that's right, on May 22, Shawna and I have been married for 10 years--nearly 1/2 her life ;-).

At any rate, I'm taking her on a surprise trip (in a few weeks) in celebration of our 10 years--well, it's not a surprise that we're going on the trip; the destination is the surprise. The thing is, she won't stop pestering me: she wants to know where it is I'm taking her.

So I thought I'd give her a hint. MyndFood style. Maybe a few hints.

So here's the first hint: there are lions, tigers and other animals there.

Guess?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quote of the Week

The great thing about American government is that even the most fiercely ignorant politician can accomplish the utterly absurd if they put their mind to it.

-PJ Green

Monday, April 20, 2009

Let Them Fail: Common Sense, Buffoon Style

A story today in the Wall Street Journal points to a sobering reality. According to the WSJ's analysis, lending activity by the banks receiving TARP funds decreased by a total of 4.7%, month over month, between January and February. This sounds a little ominous, but when you factor that out over 12 months (remember, that's a one month decline), you get a decrease in lending activity of 56.4%! That's huge! Essentially, we pumped billions of dollars into a bunch of banks in order to get them moving again. And what did they do? They DECREASED lending activity!

What a surprise!

The real question, though, is what does it mean?

First, despite all the bailout money we've pumped into the various banks, they are loaning even LESS money. And that's a problem. Because this house of cards our government is trying so valiantly to prop back up requires the loaning of money (not that I'm an advocate by any means; I'm merely trying to establish the fundamentals of the government's plan). We need to circulate more money in the economy, but people don't have money. So they need to borrow more from banks, which means the banks need to loan more. But the banks are broke, which means we need to give them some money to loan.

Which, after a great deal of analysis, brings us to this question: if we give the broke banks money to loan, and their lending activity DECREASES, what do we do next? The obvious answer is give the banks more money, right?

Wrong. The truth is, we're merely trying to prop up bad businesses. It's true of the auto companies, the banks and the insurers. They're poorly run, inefficient businesses--and the truth is, they can't compete with the rest of the world.

So why in the world would we want to throw more money at them? In the REAL world (the one that you and I live in), high performance is rewarded with returns; poor performance with failure.

Why would it be so terrible if the banks failed? I know: that comment qualifies me as an ignorant buffoon, right? I mean, think of the lost jobs, the lost money, the vacant high rises in New York (and the resultant plummeting NYC Class A rental rates). I'm just narrow-minded and downright ignorant.

Perhaps. But before you pass final judgment, consider this: according to statistics compiled by the Small Business Administration (SBA) over 50% of private sector employees in the U.S. are employed by a small business. Further, small business accounts for over 45% of the TOTAL PAYROLL across the U.S. (including private sector payroll). Even more remarkable is the fact that between 60-80% of all new jobs created over the last decade have been created by small businesses!

Profound numbers--all of them. And they seem to indicate that, first, small business is substantially more impactful on the economy than are these giants that are being bailed out. Additionally, small business is growing in proportion to big business (the lumbering giants are slowly but surely being overtaken by their swifter, more innovative and much smaller counterparts).

And I would contend that that's OK. Why not let these giants fail--and let the small businessmen (who are actually, based on the statistics above, GROWING our economy) keep that tax money, and put it to PRODUCTIVE use in their OWN firms?

Makes perfect sense to me.

But then, what do I know? I'm just an ignorant buffoon.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Revolution?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock (or you can't seem to escape the vacuous pull of the Facebook homepage...sheesh) for the past few days, you know about the various Tea Parties that cropped up all over the U.S. on Wednesday. For those who haven't heard, I trust you recall the original Tea Party (in Boston...a few years ago...when Sam Adams and his rabble rousing buddies drunk on the idea of Liberty--and just a little too much of his soon-to-be-trademark ale--unloaded a whole bunch of tea into Boston Harbor in protest against mother England's unfair and burdonsome tax on the stuff). Well, the Wednesday (tax day, not coincidentally) events were in protest of the progressively oppressive tax burden on U.S. citizens, or of the corporate bailouts that Obama and his merry band of aspiring investment bankers keep pumping out (depends on who you ask).

At any rate, basically U.S. taxpayers are fed up--either with the taxes they're being forced to pay, or with the way the money's being used. And in many cases, both.

The Tea Parties were remarkably well-attended (I was travelling, or I would have attended); I think it scared some folks. Including this guy at a site called Mother Jones (which, after a cursory read, seems to provide an extremely one-sided perspective of politics and policy in the U.S.).

But this guy, Ridgeway, wrote a blog post called, "Conservatives Branding Themselves 'Right-Wing Extremists'". It's a long, rambly post, most of which is utter nonsense (which is OK; everyone has a right to be wrong). But his final sentence just irked me. He said:

Do the Tea Party attendees really want to paint themselves with the same brush as guys like this [neo-nazis], just in order to get some victim cred?


First, what self-respecting writer would ever use the phrase, "just in order to"? I can see, "just to get some victim cred," or "in order to get some victim cred," but his language is just appalling.

That's not really what got me though. He's trying valiantly to liken Tea Party participants to neo-nazis! What?!? I missed something somewhere. I didn't see the news stories where Tea Party participants were yelling hate-filled racial epithets, burning ethnic effigies, or taking baseball bats to the legs of their opponents. Did you? How in the name of all that is rational can you even begin to compare the Tea Party protesters with neo-nazis?

I know, I know: he's TRYING to make the point that CONSERVATIVES are painting THEMSELVES in that light, but that's just utter balderdash. Maybe SOME conservatives are trying to capitalize on the success of the parties, but the truth of the matter is, this wasn't really a conservative movement--any more than the original Tea Party was a conservative movement. Both were about Liberty--plain and simple. The overwhelming message is not that "we are victims." It's, "you, our elected representatives--from BOTH parties--have done a deplorable job in carrying out your elective responsibilities. We, therefore, put you on notice: change things, or we will."

You tell me: does that sound like the talk of a victim? I think not. Rather, it's the sound of a patriot! A true American, stepping forward and standing up for that Liberty and Freedom that our founding fathers, with incredible foresight, established in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

On the upside though, when status-quo bloggers start writing nonsense like this, it means they're scared.

It's working folks! Feels like revolution to me!
I "tweet" now...over on the right. You see?

That's "tweet", not tweak...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

More Billy Bob

In the news today, Billy Bob Thornton's band, the Boxmasters, canceled the rest of their Canadian tour after being booed and criticized by angry Canadian fans after his recent radio interview.

Good for Canada.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Billy Bob Thornton Is A Jerk

Don't believe me? Watch this video. I'm not a fan of his fusion of "British Invasion meets hillbilly" music, so I wouldn't listen to his music if the Boxmakers were the last band on earth, but I'm not even going to check them out now. And I'm certainly not going to watch any Billy Bob movies.

The guy is a creep.

You'll have to watch the video to know what I mean, but it's absurd to think that some new band in some alt-indie genre has made it big in only a year based solely on the quality and appeal of their music--particularly if their front man is an Academy award winning movie star.

The ONLY reason they've sold enough albums to even buy groceries is because they've got Thornton up front. And for him to so arrogantly insist that their musical success has nothing to do with his movie career and, further, that his interviewer NOT EVEN MENTION HIS MOVIE CAREER is head-in-the-clouds idiocy.

He needs to be brought back down to earth.

Watch it and see if you agree...

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Scariest Tax Yet

The US House of Representatives passed a rushed bill today, levying a 90% tax on the bonuses that AIG executives received--after the government had poured billions into the insurance giant, in an effort to prop up the company and stabilize the faltering economy.

Senate Republicans have put the brakes on the measure, at least for now, in what is a rare display of governmental level-headedness. Regardless your opinion of the AIG bonuses, consider the precedent this sets. Essentially, the House (and a good part of the Senate) has said, "if we don't like what you do with your money, we'll tax it at inordinately high rates." For what it's worth, I'm not particularly fond of what AIG did with at least part of the money (that you and I, unwillingly, gave it). But I'm not interested in a government that can, at its pleasure, decide to levy a 90% tax on money that you save, spend or blow--merely because it doesn't agree with your choices.

Consider this: what if a larger-than-normal proportion of people, this year, saved their tax refunds (or used them to pay down their debt)? Many economists agree that spending stimulates a slacking economy, so it stands to reason that a great number of politicians in Washington would want us to SPEND our refunds on new stuff. Would it be OK with you if the US Government enacted a new tax: 90% of your tax refund in taxes, unless you spend it on something new (paying down old debt or putting it in savings accounts doesn't count)? I'd wager you'd be incensed.

But is this any different? You could argue that since the Government GAVE them the money in the first place, the Government should have a say into what they do with the money. I can follow that logic. But that's not what this is. This is a strongarm tactic that has absolutely nothing to do with the US Government's agreements with AIG. I say that, under NO circumstances, should our Government have the ability to apply or increase a tax because they don't agree with how an individual or corporation uses their money.

Frankly, it scares me to death.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So Easy, An 8th Grader Can Understand

Conservatism: as defined by--are you ready?--a thirteen year-old!

He says it SO much better than I could ever hope to.

Enjoy!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Awesome Resume

I have, in the past, done some resume and cover letter writing for people looking to make their application packet "pop" right out of the stack on the receiving HR managers desk.

But I've never quite achieved this level of...well...awesomeness.

His name is Barney Stinson. And he has the most...awesome...resume ever. It's a video resume!

Go to www.barneysvideoresume.com to watch it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Politics Makes You Old

I was scanning the news online today, and came across this picture of Hillary Clinton yesterday in a television interview while visiting Turkey on US diplomatic business.


The picture below is of Hillary prior to announcing her bid for the US Presidency. Is it me, or does it seem like she's aged quite a bit in the last year or two?President Obama commented last week to an offhand comment about his age. He alluded to the seemingly rapid graying of his hair at the temples. He attributed it to the stress of the job and the many sleepless nights (I predicted this, in a sense, in a post some time back). I have political aspirations; I'd like to someday hold an elected office, but I'm starting to rethink that. It seems as though politics makes you old.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Freedom & Responsibility

Viktor E. Frankl, an Austrian holocaust survivor, once said: "I recommend that the Statue of Liberty be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast." I've come to realize that with much freedom comes much responsibility. An environment in which one exists without equal parts of the other is not a wholesome environment, and is destined for failure.

Consider the stereotypical teenage rich girl whose parents lavish upon her every luxury. She has it all, wants for nothing, yet works for none of it. You know one of them, I'm sure (and maybe one of them was your sister growing up; not mine--because my sister reads this blog). They are generally wasteful, ungrateful and disrespectful. Responsibility doesn't enter into their vocabulary (remember Paris Hilton's DUI convinction--while driving her 3/4 million dollar Mercedes SLR McLaren--and subsequent citation for driving without a license?).

We see an excellent example of this in post-Katrina New Orleans. Thousands of homeowners who'd been unable to secure flood insurance on their property (with good reason; what insurance company would choose to insure a property situated on the coast, but below sea level?), were suddenly faces with demolished homes, and no means to rebuild. They chose to exercise their freedom--their right to own property--and purchased a home with no protection from what almost certain to be impending disaster. Yet, in steps the government, and absolves them of all responsibility. They've provided funding atop funding in the form of program after ineffective program to rebuild the homes of poor New Orleans homeowners. And what do we end up with? A bunch of rebuilt, un-insurable homes, in an area destined for disaster.

Innefficient by all accounts. Why? Because weve allowed freedom, but we've not required those with the freedom to take responsibility for how they exercise that freedom. We've allowed--in some cases even asked--the government to step in and be our insurance, often to protect us from our own stupidity. And in doing so, we have enabled further future stupid, and overwhelmingly irrational decisions--all of which detract from the overall value created in our economy.

Freedom without responsibility simply will not work.

Neither, though, will resposibility without freedom. Consider an environment in which you and are I forced to pay taxes, yet have no meaningful (and I mean meaningful) input into how those taxes are used. We bear the responsibility in that we pay, but we have no freedom (in that we have no say into the use of the funds).

Consider, then, the political climate today. It's widely acknowledged that we are in the midst of a severe economic decline. For all intents and purposes, we're in a recession. Some would indicate it has all the makings of a depression. We look around and see examples of individuals and businesses taking their personal freedoms to the extremes. Foreclosures due to borrowers buying beyond their means are rampant. Big businesses who lost sight of efficiency are in dire straights, and begging for help. Banks across the nation are broke--some literally going out of business.

Look across every front of this crisis, and a familiar face keeps popping up: personal freedoms used foolishly. In every case we can see someone who took advantage of their freedom without adequately weighing the cost in terms of their responsibilities. And when circumstances align, and the bottom drops out of so many different things at once, and responsibility rears it's ugly head calling for its due, what is our collective response?

In part, it's been an $800 billion bailout of big business and another nearly $800 billion in "economic stimulus" spending--including a great deal of money to help people who are losing their homes keep them.

And I read today that something like 60 percent of Americans favor this stimulus plan. It's proof positive that we Americans want all the freedom that comes with being American, but don't want to bear the responsibility that great freedom brings.

This, dear readers, is a dangerous place. The moment we ask to relinquish any measure of our great responsibility is the moment we are forced to hand over some of that precious freedom. It's appalling to me how short-sighted we Americans can be. Is our freedom really that valueless?

I, for one, am not content to relinquish any of my freedom. If that means that I'll have to bear the responsibility for each and every one of my decisions, so be it. Freedom is that precious, that important, and I'm ashamed that America is choosing time and again, the meager insurance that our pathetic government offers over the freedom that our forefathers envisioned as our birthright.

Yet we remain, as always, apathetic, sitting like the proverbial frog in the water as they ever so slowly turn up the heat.

It's time, I say, to leap. I leave you with this:

"...whenever any form of government becomes destructive to 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."

-The United States Declaration of Independence

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quote of the Week

Among men and women, those in love do not always announce themselves with declarations and vows. But they are the ones who weep when you're gone. Who miss you every single night, especially when the sky is so deep and beautiful, and the ground so very cold.

-Alice Hoffman


I'm traveling again; can you tell? I'm in Santa Fe, where the sky is, indeed, deep and beautiful, and the ground is, without question, very cold, and everywhere you look the beauty and complexity of nature is so breathtaking it almost makes you cry.

And in all of it, I think of Shawna. When I look into the sky, across the valley, to the snow-capped mountains, my thought is, always, how the full beauty can only truly be experienced when it's experienced with all the depth of your emotions. But I can't do that because there's this enormous piece of my heart that's back in California with my wife and children.

So I've decided that I'm going to bring Shawna back! Maybe a move here (it's an absolutely lovely place), but certainly a weekend away.

Until then, though, I miss her and the kids terribly!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lesson's Learned

Let it never be said that you can't teach an early bird new tricks...or attention to detail makes one healthy, wealthy and wise...that doesn't sound right.

I dunno. At any rate, I learned something new this week--about giving, love and Valentine's day.

I learned that the greatest giving is multi-dimensional. I've always been a gift giver; I love giving gifts. This year, though, I wanted Valentine's day to be over the top. So I (as you, by now, know) began "wooing" Shawna on Monday. And I, of course, bought her a few small gifts. I took the kids shopping and they found some picture frames that I helped them paint (one evening while Mom was out). And I spent yesterday afternoon (while she was working) making a special dinner for her (it took me 5 hours, but she said it was good). And she and I spent the evening together tonight; it was a date (been a long time sinced we've dated! It made me feel almost young again).

And I realized that my giving, in as many ways as I could imagine, made me love her that much more! I'm passionate about her!

The greatest takeaway from this whole week, I think, was the idea behind Valentine's day. It's always been a day when you're obliged to buy a gift for the one you love. I realized this week that it CAN be an attitude. That deep seated love that is always in the forefront of your mind, that causes you to always be looking for ways to give of yourself as an expression of your love.

So today, at the end of Valentine's Day, 2009, I express my deep-seated, undying love to my wife and friend, Shawna. And I pledge to live each and every day in the spirit of Valentine's Day!

I love you, Shawna--with every thought and with all of my energy, I love you!

In all of my hopes, dreams and desires for my life, you're there. I look forward to a lifetime full of Valentine's with you.

Love always, Your Husband:

PJ

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ma Doulce Valentinee...

Je suis desja d'amour tanné
Ma tres doulce ValentinĂ©e…

Charles, Duke of Orleans, is said to have written these words (a declaration of love) to his wife, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

I thought they were appropriate words; I feel much as he must have felt when he wrote to his Valentine that he was sick in love with his sweetheart, soft Valentine. 'Cuz I've missed my Valentine today. She's been working all day, and I feel like I've been locked away in the Tower (although, for much of the afternoon, I did have Alexis and Gentry for company; makes it a bit easier).

But she's home now. And we just enjoyed the meal that I spent HOURS (literally) making. I've missed her...glad she's here now.

Want her to know that I, like Charles, feel, painfully, each moment that she's away.

And I love her.

Happy almost Valentine's Day Shawna!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

That Song!

I searched YouTube and found the song that Shawna used to play when we were dating! I'm reminiscent this week, aren't I?

Well enjoy it...

Shawna: I couldn't make it without you...

I love you with all my heart. Happy Valentines Day (#4)!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentines Day 3

The other day we pulled up and parked in front of a store. I put the car in park, turned it off and sat there while Shawna pawed through her purse looking for something. Lex and Gentry unbuckled their seatbelts and began bouncing around waiting to get out. Then Lex stood up on that little hump that runs down the center of the floorboard, and leaned up into the front seat to ask us something.

I didn't hear a word of it.

I smelled this scent--a scent that caused my breath to catch in my throat, my stomach to relax, and my mind to float away to nearly twelve years ago.

To a night after church when I walked up to the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen--a gorgeous blonde who wouldn't give me the time of day. I made it a point to shake her hand at least six times a night, everytime for as long as she'd let me hold on, all the while jabbering about inconsequential stuff, hoping beyond hope for a laugh, or even a grin.

Nothing. Except for a vague, "what a weirdo" look toward her friends.

I kept coming back, though. Eventually I softened her reserve and got a smile. And then a laugh. And then a reply. And a year and a half later, a wife.

But that scent was always the same. It was intoxicating, that perfume she wore. I swooned when I smelled it. I sprayed it on my sweatshirts when she wasn't looking. It was beautiful.

The perfume (I still know the name; I can name it by scent from 20' away), has since disappeared from the fancy cases at Macy's and now graces the "perfume-in-a-clear-plastic-case" shelf at Walgreens. And somebody bought it for Alexis.

I think I hugged Lex like 30 times that day.

Shawna still wears wonderful perfume, but theres something almost Pavlovian about the memories that first scent still unleashes. It reminds me of the day I realized I was in love with her. And I begin to go back through all the reasons I fell in love with her in the first place, and all the reasons I still love her today.

Most importantly though, it reminds me of that first love--the love that doesn't demand perfection, but rather creates an environment that cultivates growth. Most of our personal development happens when we're nurtured in a loving environment, and very little growth happens in harsh, critical environment. We've all loved in that way from time to time; you remember when you first fell in love? But often the pressure of everyday life causes us to get lazy in our love, and we let that loving environment begin to degenerate. And growth stops.

It's one of Shawna's greatest strengths--nurturing that loving environment that allows weakness to be strengthened and flaws to be worked out.

I hope I can be that type of husband and friend--one who manifests a nurturing environment of true love that enables those I love to be better people.

Thank you Shawna.

I love you still!

Your husband, PJ.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You Complete Me

There's this notion in business (called complexity theory) that basically says, in a functioning group of two or more people, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

It's true. I'm better--in all aspects of my life--for having Shawna as my partner. She enhances the parts of me that are good, supplements the parts that are weak, and takes up the slack for the parts that are nonexistent.

There was this song that Shawna used to listen to when we were dating (she had the CD on perpetual repeat, I think). It was a country song that says, "I'm everything I am because you loved me." I know they're lyrics to a song, and to a degree, kinda sappy, but as Day 2 of the week long Valentine, I wanted to express to Shawna that she's that partner for me. She's the one who takes me from what I am on my own to realizing my full potential.

Do you know how amazing it is to have someone like that in your life?

Think about it. Ask yourself this question: does the one I'm with ADD something to what I am, or do they DETRACT from what I am? There's an adage that's sometimes used in expressions of love: you complete me. There's also a polar opposite, though: you DEPLETE me. Does the one you love complete you, or do they leave you even less of a person than when you started?

It's a measure of true love, I think. I can honestly say, with all my heart, that Shawna completes me. I look forward to being with her, because I'm full when I'm with her. And it inspires me to more actively work toward being the one who completes her.

And for you few faithful readers: one final question. Do you complete the one you are with, or do you deplete them? Sometimes we're frustrated that the one we love isn't quite what they should be. Could it be that they can only be that with you actively working to complete them? That the part that's missing is directly linked to what you detract from the relationship? It happens; I promise you. I've been that one who was depleting in the relationship. Take this as an encouragement: examine your relationship; ask yourself do I complete my mate, or deplete them? And if I am depleting, is it causing the one I love to pull back?

And if you find you're depleting, then just work to change it. It's not that hard--I promise. Love is not very hard when it's active. When you are looking, actively, to express your love, it's very easy to add to the relationship--to complete the one you love. Passivity in love is the enemy of healthy relationships.

And so, I say all that to say this: I love you Shawna. You really do complete me. I can only be what I should be with you there, adding yourself to the mix.

Thank you for being my partner.

Love,

PJ

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Week's Worth of Valentine's

I don't usually get too personal here; it has just never seemed the right venue to spout off too much about my life. The way I see it, if you're important to me, you know what's going on in my life. If you have to visit my blog to find out about it, you're probably not important to me.

That's not intended to be rude. Frankly, the way I see it, most folks in the universe really couldn't care less about what's going on in my life, and for me to post it on the random chance that someone who really cares might stumble upon it is a waste of my time, and a waste of cyber-real estate.

Nevertheless, if you ARE important to me, and you DO care about what's going on in my life, I'm glad to chat with you about it--I'll get you all up-to-date; just give me a call!

...boy, that was starting to turn into a ramble wasn't it?

BUT, this week, as you know, is Valentine's Day--a day set aside for us to show that special someone--the one we love--how much they mean. And I thought, what better way to show The One in my life how much I adore her than by writing about her! I'll spend my time doing something I love, writing about someone I love!

Awesome!

At any rate, I know it's not Valentine's Day yet, but I started thinking: this May will be TEN YEARS of marriage for Shawna and me! Yep! Ten years!

Can you believe it?

But I realized something recently: after ten years of being with someone, the thought of being WITHOUT them is as scary as the thought of losing a limb. That whole, "...two become one...what God hath joined together" thing; it's really accurate. I had this realization that she is a part of me. Time without her is not quite complete.

It's always been like that though; business travel just depresses me to death (you know that, though; I've written about it here) because it feels like only half of me is there. But time really has a way of cementing that bond.

That's not really what I wanted to say, though. I was thinking: I'd like to make this Valentine's Day memorable for her. It'll be our ninth as man and wife; our eleventh as two people in love with each other. It's OK if I wax a little sappy, though, isn't it?

No matter. If you don't like sappy, come back next week when I'm writing about boring inconsequential stuff again (like Obama and the ridiculous stimulus package).

Today though, and the rest of the week, I'm just gonna let it all hang out--straight up sappy!

And tell Shawna, in front of the whole world (or, at least the tiny fraction of the world that happens to stumble upon MyndFood) that she's still "That One" for me. I can honestly say that she's shown me what true, unending love is. It's something deeper than (sorry Mother and Dad) a parent's love; even deeper than Lex and Gentry's unwavering love.

It's a love that says, "I choose you. Even when it's not rosy and fun, I still choose you. And I love you--until it hurts; I love you."

See, Mother and Dad didn't choose me; I landed on their doorstep, and so they love me. I'm glad for it, but there's a bond there that's not really a choice; it's built into their nature. And Lex and Gentry landed on MY doorstep; they had no choice in the matter. The love that they express is undying, but it's the result of a paternal bond that is virtually impossible to break.

But Shawna: she chose me. Which means that she can un-choose me anytime. But she doesn't. In fact, she re-affirms that choice every single day.

So, here's Day 1 of my public written Valentine to my wife:

Shawna,

Thank you for loving me. I don't deserve you. And I'm amazed every day that you choose to love me. Your love completes me--it's what keeps me alive. I love you deeply--with every ounce of my being.

Thank you for nearly 10 years of marriage, and 11 years of unending love.

With All My Love, Your Husband, Partner and Friend,

PJ

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Me In The News

It's not a review of something I wrote, but it's news nonetheless. I'm quoted today in a news story published on the Drexel University website. I'm one of 28 students selected to be a part of their inaugural MBA cohort at their new Sacramento graduate campus.

Which I haven't told you about, have I?

I decided, last November, to pursue an MBA. It's something I've thought about for awhile, but was always worried I was under qualified; I'm that guy who's afraid of rejection--sometimes to the point where I won't even bother trying something for fear of failure.

But I decided to give it a shot. I registered for the GMAT (the standardized admissions exam that all MBA candidates must take), and actually scored well. I applied--and when it was all said and done, I was accepted with a very sizable scholarship!

As it turns out, I'm going to have an MBA from the number 10 part-time MBA program IN THE NATION for about what it would cost me to get the degree from a public school (like Sac State).

I'm excited, but truth is, the program is part of the reason I've been so sporadic here.

But then you all survived! Guess it's not that bad, huh?

Miss you all...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Economic Stimulus...Because I Said So (Shut Up if You Don't Like It).

White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, said yesterday while discussing President Obama's $1 Trillion economic stimulus package with reporters, that, "there was a lot of agreement in that room about the notion that we're facing an economic crisis unlike we've seen in quite some time...that we must act quickly to stimulate the economy, create jobs, put money back into people's pockets."

He was referring to a meeting that Obama held with key Congressional leaders to discuss the package. Obama is reported to have said, during a verbal interaction with a Republican Congressman who raised some questions about the amount of spending, "I won; I will trump you on that."

He WILL have his way, folks.

Last I checked, he's a representative of you and me, and the American public. As is that Republican Congressman (who was shut down by Obama).

Further, their program does very little to "put money back into people's pockets." Rather, it takes $1 Trillion, and puts it into SOMEBODY ELSE'S pockets.

That's not economic stimulus.

Arghhh...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Mother!

A very happy (and, I'm ashamed to say it, belated) birthday to Mother!

She's an incredible Mom--all the way around! And I love her dearly!

And, I'll admit, it took awhile, but I've just about forgiven her for making me wear the horrid elastic waisted, flyless camoflauge pants.

I love you very much Mom, and thank you for being everything you've been!

Hope you had a wonderful birthday, and look forward to taking you for dinner in celebration next time we see you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Camping Again

It's that time of year again; the week when I have to travel to that rustic campground on the coast for our company's annual week long meetings (you might recall, I wrote about it last year).

It really is rustic, but I have to say that this year I have a very nice room. It actually has carpet (which is more than I can say for last year's room). And I have it all to myself (I shared last year). Still no in-room Internet or TV, but overall, that's not that bad.

The worst part is being away from home. I tried to convince Shawna to come along (what an incredible place to spend a week together), but she just started a new job, and Alexis and Gentry felt a little uncomfortable staying home alone for an entire week (they said a day or two they can handle, but much longer would be too long).

But it's Thursday; which means I'm headed home tomorrow, and I can't wait. If you can't tell by now, I really don't like business travel.

At any rate, there's quite a lot I have to tell you about. And I haven't forgotten you; I really haven't. There's really no excuse. It's just plain, simple neglect.

Sorry! But stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Belief in Santa is a Good Thing

A wonderfully written article by my friend, Tony Woodlief, over at the Wall Street Journal online. A fantastic read by any measure...

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Holidays Were Great, Thanks for Asking!

Well, the holiday season is upon us...

Wait: I'm a little behind, aren't I? Let's try again:

Well, the holiday season is suddenly over, and much to my chagrin, I've not told you ANYTHING about ours!

Quell the sudden rush of angst and anticipation: it was a wonderful Christmas and New Years! We had a fantastic few weeks. It was pretty travel intensive, but it turned out to be one of the most relaxing vacations we've ever had.

We spent the Christmas holiday with Shawna's family over at the Central Coast (what a place to spend Christmas, huh?). And--OH! Before I forget, I want to say how thankful I am for my wonderful brother-in-law, Casey. He is always so gracious in allowing us to stay at his home when we visit--and he NEVER let's me forget it! ;-)

Seriously, we really enjoyed our time with Shawna's family. It was one of the best Christmases we've had since we've been married. Lex and Gentry are to that age where they really appreciate being with the family; it seems that they can't get enough! And we've grown very close, it seems, to the family as we've grown older and had children. We had a truly great time. The best thing about our Christmas was the non-traditional Christmas dinner. Sarah (Shawna's sister) cooked her world famous meatloaf (at my request)! Casey wasn't too excited; he'd argued for prime rib (that's what we typically do), but I (for once) won! It was wonderful! Thank you, Sarah! You made MY holiday!

And then it was off to see my side of the family at Camp Arizona. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Greg have been hosting the family gathering every year for the last 8 years, and we've never made it. We weren't planning on going this year either, much to everyone's disappointment. This year EVERYONE was going--even Poppy and Grandma Joyce; we were the only ones who were skipping. Unbeknownst to all (including me, until Christmas) Shawna decided we were going to head out and surprise everyone. So we drove over on Saturday evening, stayed at Ruth and Greg's that night, and surprised Mom and Dad, Deanna and Shane and Tay and Trevin at church on Sunday morning. It was worth it just to see the look on Mom's face (and the tears, I think, in Dad's eye).

And, of course, the endless "thank you for coming's" from Poppy (who, contrary to his typically optimistic nature, kept insisting that this was going to be his "last time to be with his whole family"; how depressing, huh?).

At any rate, we stayed for a very warm and relaxing week. Shawna got to shop; Greg got to unload eight years worth of good-natured (I think) verbal abuse on me; Lex and Gentry got to spend time with all the grandparents, aunts and uncles--as well as Tay and Trevin, Michael and Ashtyn; and we ALL got to spend good quality time with the new family additions--Erica and Caden (both beautiful kids; polar opposites in virtually every way, but incredible kids).

My only regret is that Mother waited until after we left to make her famed rice pudding (she's got some making up to do). On the other hand, I did get to eat some of Grandma Ruth's renowned Texas Sheet Cake, thanks to Aunt Ruth's careful handling of the super top secret recipe (which Grandma apparently handed off in a super top secret ceremony just before her passing).

Between the sheetcake, the family all together for the first time in years, and the late nights playing dominos, it almost felt like holidays past over on Boyd Drive in Kerman. It felt the way a holiday is supposed to feel, I think: more about family and time spent with those you love than about gifts, traveling frantically about the country, and fretting over overdone meals.

So, here's a very heartfelt thank you from Shawna and me, Alexis and Gentry to ALL of our extended family--on the Mohler/Johnson/Corella/Lokey side, AND on the Baglin/Green/Eccles/Amundson/Weidner/Teel/Freeman side: you all made this holiday season the best we've ever had. We love you all deeply, and thank God for you regularly!

Here's to a very happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year!

Oh; I almost forgot: how were your Christmas and New Years?