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My 2012 New Year’s Resolutions

I know I am a little late with this post. But statistics say that 75% of the people who make resolutions have already failed with them. So, if I start late I will make it further into the year. 🙂

2012 is going to be an interesting year. Lots of big things happening in my life.

I’m engaged and plan to get married in the Spring. We live over 200 miles away from each other and we both have children. So we won’t actually live in the same house until the end of May (first of June), when school is out for the kids. We will have to get a bigger house for the larger family. Making sure the kids have space is a priority. I want each to have their own room and also a place where they can play together.

With all that in mind, I need to kind of tailor my resolutions around the family life.

  1. Start a family exercise program. Nothing crazy. The kids are all pretty young. I just want to encourage active lifestyles in all.
  2. Finish paying off my debt. I don’t have much left. Then I will start on debt that comes from my fiancee. We are both pretty frugal. So we should be able to make good progress on this.
  3. Start a daily cooking routine. With a bigger family, fast food is not economical or healthy. Everyone likes to help in the kitchen. So I want to make this a daily event where we all work together at eating healthy.
  4. Continue my woodworking passion. I really want to dive deep into it and so does my fiancee. I would love to get us back to Homestead Heritage and do some more advanced classes.
  5. I want to install my first solar panel this year. I’m not sure where it is going to be just yet. But need to start somehow.
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2011 New Year’s Resolution Recap

1. Lose weight. Getting down to 170 pounds was my goal. This didn’t happen. I did lose some weight, but have gained it all back. What I have found is that it is much easier to gain muscle, than it is to lose fat. Getting down to 170 pounds would put me almost in single digit body fat. Which is ridiculous for me. So I am going to approach this different next year. So a big fat FAIL on this resolution.

2. Pay off my debt. I am still working on this. I created no new debt and was able to pay off $4000 in debt. So I am a little over $3000 away from being debt free. Not complete like I wanted. But good progress.

3. Get my NABCEP certification. I have made no progress on this personally. But I did send my fiance through a week long training course in November. What we found was that there is a lot of electrical knowledge that the average person doesn’t have. But she learned a great deal of solar skills that we will work together on.

4. Help others with minimalism. Friends and family have seen the benefit of my journey. Several people have asked for advice and direction on this. I’ve spent time assisting and purging with people. I consider this a completed resolution. But will continue to work with people on this.

5. Assist others with weight loss. For some reason people don’t want help with this. Its a personal demon that must be battled alone. I still help people in the gym when then don’t know how to use equipment properly. But without a personal trainer title, people don’t ask for more. As much as I enjoy working out. I think I should concentrate on this myself and let others figure out their path.

6. Create some amazing memories for my son. This year we introduced my son to shooting. We bought him a .22 rifle.

Then modified it to something a little more fun, for a kid.

Then recently bought a .22 pistol for him.

He has progressed so fast in his shooting skills, that I don’t have much more I can teach him at an indoor range. We will have to start shooting outdoors. Bringing in multiple target from different ranges and moving ones too. 2012 should be an interesting continuance of this.

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Simple Man

While driving home from my 9 to 5 job this week I heard Shinedown’s cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song Simple man. One of the versus really struck me.

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you my son is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son if you can? Oh yes, I will

Beautiful!

Here is the YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgFQ6WmxdMs&ob=av2e

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First Woodworking Class

This last weekend I traveled just north of Waco, TX to attend a woodworking class at Homestead Heritage. What an amazing little community. They are self-sufficient and teach several different classes to help others be the same. I took the first woodworking class (Joinery I: Woodworking with Hand Tools), which I hope will be the first of many classes I take there. They taught us how to make three of the most important joins in woodworking: the dado, dovetail and the mortise and tenon. We used a hammer, chisel, saw and our hands during the class. No power tools at all.

It was amazing. Here are a few pictures:

One of the buildings at Homestead Heritage

This is me practicing my sawing skills

My love, showing off her amazing dado!


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Death Penalty Rant

I live in Houston, TX. That is one hour south of Huntsville, TX. What, not familiar with this small town? Well more death row prisoners are put to death there than any other prison in the US.

Do I agree with this? Yes I do. Sometimes I wish they would execute more. Why do I feel this way?

Well… Let’s tell a story:

A known criminal can walk into a donut shop that is full of police “on their breaks”. Pull out a pistol and shoot the single mother of three, behind the counter. Immediately drop his weapon and get tackled by the cops. 911 is called, an ambulance rushes to the aid of the lady with two gun shoots wounds to her chest. Paramedics work to stabilize the victim and then rushes her to hospital. An ER crew works for an hour trying to save her and then loses the fight. There are now three children who will never have a mother grow up with them.

The news reports this awful tragedy. But few people even hear the report. They are more interested in the traffic report for their ride to work, the latest scores on their football team of choice and a funny video of a dog that brings beer to his owner.

Court is scheduled. A jury is chosen. They are paid $6 a day for the six weeks of trial. Taken away from their family and regular job. Shooter is found guilty and sentenced for execution.

This should be a great relief for the family and the public right?

No. For the next ten to twenty years, he sits in prison. Enjoying three meals a day, free college, gym access, free health and dental services, a paying job and free housing. So much more than the average American has.

Meanwhile the three kids have grown up. Married and all have kids by now. Life was tough for them without a mother. Their children never know their grandmother.

The shooter will probably die of health issues or a stabbing before the death penalty is actually carried out.

Thousands of taxpayer dollars were spent on this whole process. Maybe hundreds of thousands. Wouldn’t it have been better if one of the donut shop police men had actually just fired a two dollar bullet at him? Or after such a air tight case, with a dozen law enforcement witnesses, the shooter is just put to death immediately? Maybe using something more simple like a guillotine.

People blame society for this type of crime. Gun companies are blamed for producing the tool that the shooter used. Computer game companies are blamed for creating violent games. Rap singers are blamed for violent lyrics and questionable videos. Movies are blamed for exalting violent lifestyles. Blame, blame, blame…..

Maybe the shooter was just bad. Maybe the single mom cut the shooter off while trying to get her kids to school. Maybe the shooter had nothing to live for and thought that life in prison would be easier.

Hundreds of years ago the man would have been executed quickly and efficiently. But now we are more civilized and think that we can fix them. Or that they have mental issues and don’t really know what they are doing. Are we more civilized? Is the death of an innocent person any different now than it was back then? I don’t think so.

If the case is tight and there is no doubt. Just execute them. This would rid the world of thousands of criminals, save tax payers millions of dollars and there would be less crime.

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ONE year old

Ta – Da!! Hard to believe that this blog has been around for a year.

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You will be missed

Steve Jobs (1955-2011) changed the way we think about technology. It doesn’t matter if you are an Apple fan or not. Steve Jobs made your phone, computer and mp3 player, cooler. Directly or indirectly.

If you would like to share your thoughts, memories, and condolences, please email rememberingsteve@apple.com

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Political Rant

I’m in my 40s and I have yet to vote for a single Presidential election. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in…….

First thing that probably comes to your mind is: “How can you possibly complain about politics, if you have never even participated!!”

You are right. I have no right. But honestly, I am just fine with that.

You see, I live in the United States. We are basically a two party democracy. The Republican and the Democratic Party are the only two parties that have had an elected President of the United States since 1800. They both have a standard stance on “political topics” and you are forced to choose sides. If you live in certain states, you are not even really given a vote. I live in Texas. My state is considered a Republican stronghold. The last President that had the majority vote from citizens, that was NOT Republican, was Jimmy Carter. He was elected prior to me even being old enough to vote. Texas is not considered a swing State. Republican Presidential candidates assume that Texas is “in the bag” prior to a vote being cast.

So does my single vote really make a difference? People will scold me and say “of course it does!” But history would clearly state: “No it wouldn’t have mattered in the least.”

No political talk would be complete without mentioning the Electoral College. I don’t like it. I think that the President should be voted in by majority vote, period. Let the people decide the future.

Then there is the matter of desire. Since I have been of voting age, not a single potential President has been so amazing that I strongly wanted to vote. Most people vote for the “lesser of two evils”. To me this is just settling. Honestly I never want to settle on anything, including my vote.

There is no such thing as a well educated “common man” having a chance of being elected President. If you can’t raise 100s of millions of dollars, you’re not even taken seriously. Which is a shame. The last non-politician that made an attempt and was taken (semi) seriously, was Ross Perot. This was only because he spent 100s of millions of his own money to be given a chance. How odd would it have been to have a successful business man in office that was not influenced by the donations given to his political party. Someone who wasn’t restricted by the standard stance of the two political party system. Someone who ran because he wanted to make a difference.

I also think that a new President should focus more on renewable energy. It is sad that we are so behind other countries in this area. Oil drives so much in the United States and we need to become less dependent. There has not been a President who has really put any focus on this yet. Perhaps if one of them did, I would run down to the voting booth.

If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever. – Dalai Lama XIV

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Religious Questions

Despite all philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings – Dalai Lama XIV

What do you base your religious beliefs off of? Is it what your parents taught you? Or is it radically different?

In comparison, when you buy a new car, do you do all of research to find one that you want. A car that you will enjoy driving every day. Or do you buy what your parents recommend blindly? Trusting that they know what is best for you.

If your parents are Baptist, Catholic, Mormon, Buddhist, etc… is that what you practice too? Have you ever explored other religions?

Is your religion the one true religion and everyone who doesn’t practice it, are they going to hell?

If your a Christian, is the Bible the end all be all guide for life? Who is King James? What is the history of the Bible? Who decided on the books that it contains? What was not included in the book? Why the specific order of books? Are the translations to English from the original Greek and Hebrew versions accurate?

Does your religion explain the dinosaurs? There is undisputed evidence that they existed. So where do they fit in?

Does your religion talk about the possibility of other worlds and other alien races? With billions of visible stars, there has to be other planets that contain living beings.

Questioning what you believe is important. Most people question everything in their lives except for religion. Why?

I was brought up in a very religious home. We were very active member of a Bible church. It was a non-denominational church. Later I found out that my father’s family was Catholic and my mother’s (growing up in Sweden) was Lutheran. So the church that I lived and breathed in most of my life was actually a compromise for my parents. It wasn’t the religion of choice for either parent.

Then when I was 16 I did a mission trip through an organization called Teen Missions. My church raised thousands of dollars for me to go on this trip. I was gone for most of the summer months. But while I was there I received very little mail from my church. I sent letters to people almost everyday explaining what I was doing and what a difference I was making in other people’s lives. But I heard nothing from my church. It was a real eye opener for me.

When I returned from my trip, I looked at things from a different view point. I saw things that I didn’t think existed before my mission trip. Church members that had trouble with the law, alcohol issues, teen pregnancies, members that used church only as a social environment. It seemed like 5% of the church members were SUPER religious and their whole life was dedicated towards it. While the other 95% of the church members were there strictly for the fire insurance. You know…. the whole hell thing.

My life has been different since then. I do not attend a church. I am often annoyed by the super religious people around me. I base my Sunday morning plans around the “church crowd” that lets out of a local Baptidome down the street. I explore and read other cultures and religions that move me. But even though I was super religious in my childhood. Now I am not at all.

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Work Rant

When asked “What thing about humanity surprises you the most?”, the Dalai Lama answered:

“Man…. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama XIV

The company I work for doesn’t love me. I’m not there because I love them. I work so that I can provide an income for my family. Nothing else. I work hard while at work. But I do not take my work home with me. There is no extra effort. I love what I do at work. I work with a lot of really good people. But upper management only sees me as a body to earn them money. When times are tough, they layoff people and talk about how times are tough. Then they fly to the Bahamas for a company paid “top sales” vacation.

The only way to truly enjoy your job is to own your own company and do what you love. I’ve tried that several times and haven’t succeeded yet. But I’ll keep trying.

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