Friday, November 11, 2016

Let's Try That Again, Shall We?

Wow, it's been quite a while since I last posted on my blog.  It's not that there hasn't been plenty to write about, I mean WOW!  This country is upside down, sideways, and inside out right now.  I have been hesitant to write because it's so emotional--which kinda flies in the face of why I even started this blog and titled it, "Was That Out Loud".  So, this morning I am coming back to it because I woke up dreaming that I was speaking to a group and trying to calm people down about this election.  I have no illusion of grandeur to think I would have any influence to change what's happening, but then again why write a blog?  Why do any of us thrust our "noble" opinions onto the world?  We are blessed or cursed depending on how you look at it, to have so much opportunity now that it's almost irresistible.  We can post on Facebook, Tweet on Twitter, or do--whatever it's called--on Instagram, the choices are many.  Passion! That is why we write, post, blog, or vomit our collective opinions all over the place.  We believe, we are right, and others are wrong.  Our opinion is what counts, right?  But, in reality it's like that color of the dress thingy that was posted.  I guess some people saw the dress one color and some saw it another--"That's called perspective, can you say perspective?"--sorry I was free associating Mr. Roger's Neighborhood for a second but I'm back now, anyway, I learned something very powerful as a business owner: my customer's perspective is my reality and how I deal with that reality is vital.  I may keep the customer and preserve the relationship and a source of future revenue, or do I deal with it from the standpoint that the customer is wrong and that pandering would be detrimental to the business, or perhaps there are other cases that may come into play; whatever, it became my new reality.  So, I guess this is why I'm writing this today.  Our perspectives have become very polarized, and I am no different.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Do You See What I See?

I once heard that our nation is struggling to find the "soul of America".  I didn't think much about it, after all, our nation is divided and we are engaged in a bitter and anxious election cycle.  Of course we are struggling, happens every four years.   Many of the current topics divide the nation and it seems appropriate that we would use this term, "soul of America", to describe our current state.  However, I have thought on this for some time.  I have asked questions of myself in order to gauge my own soul.  Without fail, I tend to hearken back to the days of my youth.  Most of the adults of my youth would voice concern over the "soul of America" even then.  When I would ask them about their youth, they would say that their parents would also worry about the same thing.  I guess you could say that our nation has been in a downward spiral, depending on your point of view, for a long time.  I wondered if I was putting too much concern over what is happening now, and whether I should just realize it is part of the natural progression of things.  I have come to the conclusion that, yes, it is a natural progression of things, but, I should be concerned.  To  illustrate my point, I would like to discuss only one principle, the first amendment and our freedom of religion.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Are We Divided? Can We Unite? Because, WE Are the Answer!

I find the division in our nation the result of failed political manipulation that has been going on for generations.  It has always amazed me, especially during an election cycle, that the politicians can push their snake oil on to us and in the process, tell us that certain classes of people are at fault for our unhappiness and frustration; they will then tell us that they are the only one that can fix it.  During the election season we invest our time, passion, money and state of mind, in extolling their virtues, or making excuses for the lack thereof.  There is only one reality in the whole process, and that is that once a person gets to Washington DC, they almost always disappoint us.  Why is that?

Well, they have been manipulating our rights over decades and decades to addict us to government hand outs.  They have outright lied to us about the stability of our financial systems, they have exempted themselves from the laws that you and I have to obey (for example, it kills me that they can't be prosecuted for insider trading, and they don't have to sign up for Obama Care), and they take our money and give it to their friends so they can get reelected.  This is not a Republican vs. Democrat problem, it is a systemic crisis of government across the nation.  I don't mean to make this an indictment of all politicians, I know that there are some who are genuine and honest, but, they are few.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

How About a Break from Politics?

Tensions are so very high, and they are high in every presidential election.  It does seem that they are increasingly high during this one.  So, in an effort to keep my blood pressure at a normal level, I thought I'd write about something else, RELIGION!!!!  Ha! Just kidding.  Seriously, with all the many things we can complain about today, I wonder how many of us, including myself, look for the good in life.  Question: Is there anything good going on in your life right now?  Can we share the good with each other?

Friday, February 26, 2016

I missed the fight?

Well, sounds like I missed the most exciting debate of the season last night.  Full confession, I missed it on purpose.  I knew the candidates would have the long knives out for each other, and if Trump is upset for the treatment he received last night, he need only look in the mirror and thank himself, in my opinion.  I know, I know that this stuff happens every election; every primary election cycle is an act of mass cannibalism, especially with the Republican Party.  As voters, we collectively say, "stick to the issues and give us details", but, that never really happens.  The truth is we are sycophantic lovers of the blood bath.  "Did you see Trump really give it to him and call him a liar?", or, "Did you see how Rubio finally slammed Cruz?", what a bunch of crap, in my humble opinion.  I am one who truly does want to know the Who, What, When, Where, and the all important, HOW!  But, the primary season is very exciting to be sure.

Monday, February 22, 2016

People vs. Establishment, and Why We Are the Answer

Wow! It's getting exciting folks.  The establishments of both political parties are freaking out, albeit Hillary won in Nevada on the Democrat side, they are still fearful of us, the AMERICAN PEOPLE!  It's far from over though.  Rumors about a brokered convention on the Republican side, and the ever present super delegates on the Democrat side, keep the establishments of both parties in play.  My opinions of this election is this: It is the parties vs. the people.

Having said all of that, I must now say that with all the excitement of the election, there is palpable fear.  We, as a nation, are more divided, more bitter, and more angry than I can remember since the 60's and 70's.  When I compare the two periods of revolt, the cry was for freedom...FREEDOM!  The same college professors extolling the virtues of Socialism (a system of government that limits freedom in order to produce sameness and fairness) are the same Hippies that were crying for the government to get out of their free love, and drug taking lifestyle.  I confess that I struggle to see the correlation, but, maybe they took too many of those drugs back in the 60's and 70's.  The cries we hear today are for more freedom and more liberty, more protection of our "inalienable" rights as listed in our constitution.  Many in the government are actively trying to limit these rights, and sadly, many in our country have no clue why we must protect ourselves from them.  College students are crying because they can't pay off their student loans, low wage workers are complaining that they don't make enough and are being mistreated.  The list of fears is very long, and what we are fearful of varies greatly.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bitter, Nasty, Sneaky?

We Americans, are watching a campaign for the office of President of the United States and the descriptive words I hear are, bitter, nasty and sneaky, among others.  We hear candidates using personal attacks and name calling, and even if a candidate appears above the fray, his/her supporting PAC's will conduct the game of blood letting.  Should we be alarmed?

Well, while the party participants may nip at the heals of the opposition from time to time, the intra-party cannabalism is what is most vicious, especially among the Republicans; true there are far more Republicans running than Democrats, but, the sniping can seem to some voters as off putting and nasty.  However, we can learn from our history that the early years of our Republic show that campaigns were every bit as nasty and even life threatening at times; some campaigns ended in duels.  But who is at fault?  Is it us?  Should we demand more clarity?  Do we respond to rhetoric over substance?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What the Heck is Woodbadge?

For two weekends this past January I volunteered as a staff member for a Woodbadge Course.  What in the world is Woodbadge you ask?  Well, it is a leadership training course offered by local councils of the Boy Scouts of America, and something I avoided for many, many years.  I have been involved in Boy Scouts for many years, I was a boy scout, I have been in several leadership positions in Boy Scouts and I have been luke warm through it all.  I never got my Eagle Scout rank, and I was never really into the dopey songs and silly things that the Scouts do.  I didn't want to wear a uniform and on, and on, and on.

So, why would I dedicate two weekends to such an organization?  Wait; two weekends? How about the training meetings I attended for the 6 months prior to the course, and the home preparation I had to do for my presentations and training that I would provide during the course.  Why indeed?  Well, sit down and let me tell you a story....

Once upon a time, there was a man that endured scouting because he felt an obligation to his church whose leaders sponsor scouting and its benefits for young men.  He endured it because he was asked to serve in many callings that involved scouting.  Over the years he hoped that the church would someday drop scouting all together, after all, there were many activities that were done outside of scouting that promoted the same principles of service and provided character building opportunities.  "It's so hard to balance them both", he would say; "and it is an added burden to families that are already involved in so many other good things".  On top of all of this, there is the added financial burden of, uniforms, donations, fund raising, scout camps, and more.  "What a waste of time and resources", he would say.

Fast forward to January, 2014, this same man was talked into spending $215 to attend a 6 day (over two weekends) WOODBADGE COURSE (NOOOOOO!); "okay", he thought, "this will finally shut them up and I can go back to my life".  So, prepared for all the rah, rah, and silly activities, he never liked doing before, he showed up in full uniform, dropped of his bags and was directed to go to what they called, The Gathering Games, where he was asked to play silly, childish games....or so he thought.  Pretty soon he found he was having fun and thought, "well, if the food is good, I guess this  could be worse".  He was asked to believe he was a Cub Scout (ages 8-11) and put into a Den.  As the day went on he progressed from a Cub to a Boy Scout and thought, "ok, I get it", he said, "I know that the program needs to be run properly, but, do I need to go through all this?  Couldn't we have a 2 hour meeting somewhere?", and then he realized, "actually, I have attended many 2 hour meetings....nothing really changed after that, hmmm".  But, as good as the training was, he still felt like he could be doing something more important, but, he committed to it and decided to stick it out.

As the day ended he laid in bed and said to himself, "okay one day gone, as if he was counting down to a coming birthday or vacation".  He was simply enduring, even though the training he was receiving was entertaining and fun, he just wanted to go home, and his attitude about scouting had not changed.  The second day was filled with fun activities and competitions, the staff was fun and silly and promoted a very, very, competitive atmosphere.  Everyone was having fun, but there was an edge to everything that was going on.  The participants were experiencing victory, defeat, being denied victory and being cheated.  Rules were changing on the fly and it was just crazy, but engaging.  By the time the night came there was a culminating activity. At the end of this activity, all were exhausted, all were pondering their own personal views, opinions, and not just about scouting, but, about life in general.

So much was going through his mind and this entire training had now taken on a new aura.  He saw scouting for what its founder, Lord Baden Powell, had intended it to be.  He thought to himself, "what organization asks of a young man to make an oath, based upon his honor, to to abide by a moral code of ethics on how he treats himself and his family, his community, his country and his God." Asking him to better himself through a program of games, activities, service, and high adventure, designed to have a higher purpose; a purpose that is designed to help him become a good man".  And we do need more good men in the world today.  An organization that helps a young man navigate a young man in today's world of victories and defeats, highs and lows, truths and untruths, is a worthy organization.

Okay, so, the story is obviously about me.  I can only say that it was a life changing event for me.  It helped me realize a lot more about myself rather than scouting structure, and I do not have the time to go over all that I experienced in this short blog.  The was great.  I had just finished my MBA and had gone through many leadership style classes, and the training I had at Woodbadge was every bit as effective.

At the course, participants are assigned to a patrol critter, and I am a proud Beaver.  We called ourselves the Thunder Beavers and had a lot of fun with it.  I made lifelong friends at my course, and now, as a staffer in 2016, I was able to increase my circle of very close friends and enhance what I had already learned in 2014 as a participant.

And as a Beaver I say, Gnaw it out Loud!  Support the BSA!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cruzing to a Bern?

Congrats to both sides of the political isle last night.  For Republicans and Democrats, a rebuke of the "establishment" of both parties was clearly on display.  Poor Hillary suffered a humiliating loss in 2008 and now she seems to have a humiliating victory/tie in 2016.  The country is sick of the Clintons and their misadventures.  Sadly for my Democrat friends, they have a 74 year old Socialist and a would be felon running for to be the nominee of the Democrat(ic) party.  As for the Republicans, there appears to be a 3 man race now, and other than maybe Marco Rubio, none of these guys are establishment candidates.  I am not a supporter of Donald Trump, however, I am glad he is in the race and has brought political correctness to it's knees (at least for the campaign) and discussed some very important issues that are usually treated, as the issues that shall not be named.  Still, Iowa was a great, and hopefully not temporary, victory for the non-establishment voters.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Super Debate Tonight!

Okay, I have to comment on the Republican debate tonight, I felt that Fox Business did a great job of bringing up substantive issues that the American people want to know about....well, I wanted to know about.  I'm not interested in keeping a score, but, I will say that Kasich and Bush did better than their last debates, buuuuut, don't think they moved the needle, but hey, it isn't over.  I thought Carson was funny and had some really good points on foreign policy, and Christy did a good job on those subjects as well.  Now, the three amigos, Trump, Cruz and Rubio, wow, they were on fire.  When I say they were on fire that does not necessarily mean I agreed with all they said, just that there were some good points scored against and for each of them.

Having said all of this, I would crawl, in shorts, on broken glass, to vote for any of them over any of the democrats.  I'm so tired of the, "hate this class of people over another", "punish the producers of this country", "the cops are all bad", "give our enemies billions of dollars", and "let's take more rights away so they have no strength" and, "Gee, our country sucks".  But hey, that's me. Socialism is simply and entry level drug for Communism, sorry, but that is what I believe....which leads me to a concern I have about this coming election.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Stand for Something, Even if You're Standing Alone

I've often heard the phrase; "stand for something even if it means you're standing alone", and when I hear it, I'm always moved to a self evaluation of sorts.  To my knowledge there is no one person to give credit to this phrase, and I've heard it delivered in slightly different ways but, to me it represents a person who has core convictions and high moral character.  Core convictions do not always mean correct convictions.  To be sure, there are many today who are willing to perform horribly outrageous acts in the name of their core convictions.  They are motivated by hate and disdain for anyone who is at odds with their beliefs.  These too, are willing to stand alone...and kill.  But this is not what I am referring to.

To me, standing for something means that a person is willing to break with today's norms and altered values.  It really wasn't very long ago that many of the things we considered morally valuable are now repulsed by the popular culture, and the popular culture includes far more than enthusiastic youth movements, in my humble opinion, it is throughout all classes and age groups.  The phrase, "stand for something even if it means you're standing alone,  requires one to examine his/her core values, does it not?  I ask myself, how important are my core beliefs and values to me?  I see many of them being mocked, belittled, destroyed and altered by popular demand.  Contrary to popular values, I do see people who brave the ridicule of pop culture and it seems to often come from our youth.  Youth? Yes, youth!  Don't get me wrong, there are still a lot of kids that willingly walk with the larger, more popular crowds but, if you look, you'll see kids that serve their communities, refuse to weaken themselves by through drug and alcohol abuse, choosing to abstain from sexual activity until they are married, and strive to speak with little to no foul language.  Contrary to the elite's who preach to the contrary, our youth do believe they can control appetites of the flesh and be the masters of their fate. They do believe they can maintain self control and be the masters of their destiny.

Okay, time for some personal observations and comparisons from my own historical perspectives.  In my youth, Christmas was, Christmas.  It was common to say, Merry Christmas with practically zero offense to others.  Oh sure, there where a very few who were anti-Christmas, but it was a very few.  Today, they have a prominent voice.  As a young man, we were urged to be morally clean, granted this has been an ongoing human struggle since the beginning of recorded history, but, it was commonly desired even though the failure was more common than not.  We were encouraged to abstain.  Today, our youth are encouraged to engage.  We can debate the reasons why, but, my only point is, that there is a shift in thought regardless of the reasons why.  Freedom was a common proclamation by the left, the "60's radicals" demanded freedom from the government in order to live lives deemed immoral by society,  and the conservatives were engaging the government to restrain them; today the same "60's radicals" are demanding the government control morality and conservatives are demanding the government get out of our lives.  Again, the reasons can be debated, but there is now a definite push toward socialistic policies and procedures on the left side of the political aisle and a demand for liberation from government over reach on the right side.

The previous paragraph is a simplified generalization of my point, that life and the world has drastically changed.  In many ways it has stayed the same too, yes, but it is clearly a different time.  As someone who believes in the worth of high moral character and Christian values, I am now finding myself feeling compelled to stand.  No, I'm not alone, nor am I a Sophie or Hans Scholl, I'm just someone who values religious freedom and views this constitutional freedom as the most valuable of the amendments.  We are guaranteed the freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.  I believe many are actively trying to take away the right to free worship.  I am almost surprised to hear that come from my mouth, "was that out loud", yes it was.  Never have I been a conspiracy theorist per se, but actions are louder than words and I do not trust this administration to preserve my freedoms.  For example; Obama was against gay marriage and then came out for it as if it was always a part of his lexicon.  By executive order we now have it, okay, so be it; but now we see people being sued for not baking cakes or hosting receptions of same sex weddings, what's next?  Well, the rumor is, that churches that are unwilling to perform such weddings could be in trouble.  I personally would have baked the cake or hosted reception, but I'm also a capitalists and I do not believe doing so threatens my personal values, however,  I support those who do not want to participate because the feel it does threaten their beliefs.  Isn't it their choice?  Apparently not, so, they stood for their values, and they were sued by activists and governments, even when the couple had no desire to sue their long time baker and friend.  Don't tell me there is no agenda.

So, I respect those who stand.  I've watched my kids and their friends stand, my good buddy who lost his life, Nate Ford was a great example who stood firm on his values, he was killed a few months back in a car accident.  His death resulted in a galvanization of our little community and a sense of brotherhood and friendship because he had that kind of effect on all our lives.  He was just a good young man who was always willing to stand for what is right, no matter the cost, and people noticed.  There is value in standing for something, even when you feel alone, when the world is screaming at your face, demanding you change....don't listen and don't change, be firm in your values.

And that should be "out loud".

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's update

Happy New Year everybody.  I haven't posted in a while, work has been pretty strenuous and busy as I have some dead lines to meet.  So, I am taking a few minutes to update my family room project.  Thought I'd leave politics and other opinionated blogs for another day.  So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here we are.

We started this project with two goals in mind; get rid of the built in shelving, and turn the TV area so it can be seen from the kitchen.

We have completed the drywall, paint, lighting and even have some temporary flooring and bookshelves.  The fireplace works and Lora has begun hanging family pictures and other wall art now that Christmas is over.

First a few catch up photos.  Drywall, not my favorite thing but has to be done.  My son snapped this shot of me mixing up some mud using an old school technique, yea that's it, old school.

Below are a few more shots leading up to where were are now, getting the drywall hung, taped, textured and applying paint.

To the right is a good shot of the inset area I wrote about during the framing stages on my last blog of this project, before and after taping or texture. My only regret here is not running a small spot light above the area, but it turned out pretty good.  Better shots are below...